Girl feeding flamingo at Sarasota Jungle Gardens

10 Ways to Play in Family-Friendly Sarasota County

Looking for some family fun in the sun? You’ve come to the right place.

There are lots of family-friendly ways to explore and enjoy Sarasota County. Whether you’ve got toddlers, tweens or teens in your traveling party, Sarasota County offers all kinds of options for the young (and young at heart).

Here are 10 kid-approved activities to add to your vacation itinerary:

Hit the Beach.

Shark's Tooth Festival

Siesta Beach has gotten lots of national attention in recent years, and for good reason. It’s got about 100 acres of nearly pure quartz crystal sand that’s fine, white, and powdery, offering lots of room for playing Frisbee, sandcastle building or just running around. And a major improvement project has added more parking and updated the tennis courts, playground, restrooms, and concession areas. Or you can head further south to Venice, Caspersen or Manasota Beach to hunt for fossilized sharks' teeth, a cool souvenir to take home from your trip.

Make a Splash.

From spring through fall, kids can run through the fountains, swim around the pool, and careen down the waterslides at the Sarasota Family YMCA Water Park. It’s a fun—and cool—way to spend a warm day. During the summer, purchase a day pass for Sarasota’s Sun-N-Fun RV Resort and Campground and zip down its waterslide, play in the Olympic-size pool and splash zone or tackle a water obstacle course. Or head to Bayfront Park to watch the kids splash around in the public fountain and enjoy the playground with sailboats in the marina as your backdrop.

Cast a Line
Girl holding a fish she caught

Bring your own gear or rent some to see what’s biting at spots like the Venice Fishing Pier at Venice Jetties and Tony Saprito Pier in Sarasota. Or get out on the water with the help of local fishing guides/operators at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, Outriggers Charter Fishing, and Siesta Key Fishing Adventures, which offer folks the chance to land everything from snapper and redfish to tarpon and cobia.

Grab a Paddle
Family in red and yellow kayaks on the water

Kayaks and paddleboards serve as great ways to explore the local waters. Companies like Bay and Gulf Adventures and Almost Heaven Kayak Adventures lead kayak tours suitable for all ages around spots like the Myakka River and Lido Key and its mangrove tunnels. Or take a family paddleboarding lesson through WhatSUP at Ted Sperling Park. If you’d prefer a DIY approach, you can rent kayaks, canoes and paddleboards from outfitters like Economy Tackle/Dolphin Paddlesports and Enticer Water Sports.

Sink a Putt
PopStroke Sarasota

At Smugglers Cove Adventure Golf in Sarasota, you’ll travel through caves and past waterfalls and pirate ships as you tee up at the course’s 18 miniature golf holes. When you’re done with your round, check out the live alligator exhibit where you can even feed the reptiles with bamboo fishing poles. PopStroke is another family-friendly golf and open-air dining venue, featuring two 18-hole putting courses with an ice cream parlor, outdoor games, a rooftop bar and playground!

Catch a Ball Game
CoolToday Park has 8,000 seats and a 360-degree concourse walkway for fans to navigate all game! [Photo: Visit Sarasota County]

Bring the whole family for a MLB Spring Training baseball game at one of our home stadiums. The Atlanta Braves call CoolToday Park in North Port home, while the Baltimore Orioles play at Sarasota's Ed Smith Stadium during training season. During Spring Training, the kids will get the opportunity to witness professional ball and its players close up, as games are not nearly as crowded or sold out like regular season games.

Spin your Wheels
people riding bikes on the beach at sunset

There are lots of places to pedal around Sarasota County. Covering more than 10 miles, the Legacy Trail stretches from Sarasota to Venice and connects with Venetian Waterway Park, which features five more miles of biking and walking trails on either side of the Intracoastal Waterway. Both offer flat, car-free pathways easily maneuvered by bike riders of all levels and ages. (If you don’t have your own bikes, you can rent them at places like Village Bikes and Siesta Key Bike & Kayak.) Kids 10 and up can ride with Sarasota Bike Tours, which supplies all the necessary equipment and takes participants on rides through places like downtown Sarasota and Siesta and Lido Keys.

Find the Wild
Girl holding a bird at jungle gardens

Got little animal lovers? They can have encounters with all kinds of creatures in Sarasota County. Head to Myakka River State Park to see alligators gliding through the water or sunning on the shore. Visit famous local manatees Hugh and Buffett, rescued sea turtles, and other aquatic animals at Mote Marine Aquarium or feed flamingos and catch a reptile show at Sarasota Jungle Gardens. Bring binoculars to spot birds and even sometimes bats at the Venice Area Audubon Rookery and see the big cats roar at Big Cat Habitat & Gulf Coast Sancturary.

Take a Tour
LeBarge Tropical Cruises boat at sunset

When Mom and Dad need a break, let an expert show the family the area sights. You can dip nets in seagrass flats or go birding with the help of Around the Bend Nature Tours. Sarasota Bay Explorers offers boats tours where kids can both learn about and get hands-on with local sea life. Le Barge Tropical Cruises heads out into Sarasota Bay for dolphin and manatee watch and nature cruises, while National & State Park Concessions runs airboat and tram tours that explore Myakka River State Park.

Enjoy a Good Meal

Forgo the fast food and chain restaurants. When it’s time to refuel, there are lots of restaurants in the area that provide a family-friendly atmosphere and eats that Mom and Dad will like as much as the kids. Brunch it up at neighborhood breaky spot, First Watch, with a giant menu for the whole family. Grab some a la carte tacos at Circo, a build-your-own pizza at Siesta Ripfire Pizza, tapas at local institution Columbia or homemade ice cream at downtown's Rise & Nye's. And you can’t come to Florida without supping on seafood—Marker 4Old Salty Dog and Captain Curt's Crab & Oyster Bar all offer interesting settings and plenty of menu options for young and old.

Sarasota's Saturday farmers market is also a great place to find local food products and yummy treats, as well as Waterside Place's Ranch Nites, where dozens of area food trucks line up and park for hungry families to have a bite and taste all different cuisines.

A Family-Friendly Destination

Sarasota County
A Family-Friendly Destination