Myakka State Park's Canopy Tree Walkway
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
The Ringling Museum Courtyard
Celery Fields
Mote Marine Aquarium
Legacy Trail
The Bay Park walking path

Best Spots to “Unplug” in Sarasota

Enjoy these relaxing locales—perfect to shut off and reset for National Day of Unplugging, and however long thereafter

February 15, 2022

On the first Friday in March every year (in this year’s case: March 4th), the world celebrates National Day of Unplugging. The 24-hour period from sundown to sundown is meant to carve out precious time in the day to unplug, unwind and relax—created in hopes to remind us all to take a little break from our many devices. With less screen time, the idea inspires more time spent outside, more self-care, more reading, more quality hangs with loved ones—without electronics or the urge to document it on social media. 

Luckily, if you happen to find yourself in Sarasota County on this particular Friday, or any Friday for that matter, you’ll be pleasantly content with the number of scenic places outdoors to disconnect from followers and reconnect with nature. So much so, that a 24-hour respite from technology may seem too short to plug it all back in again. 

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

With 45 acres of bayfront sanctuaries connecting people with air plants of the world, native nature and flourishing with deep-rooted history. Selby Gardens is composed of the 15-acre Downtown Sarasota campus and the 30-acre Historic Spanish Point campus in the Osprey area of Sarasota County. The Downtown Sarasota Campus on Sarasota Bay encompasses outdoor trails to stroll, wander and get lost, as well as greenhouse areas filled with vibrantly colored flowers such as epiphytic orchids, bromeliads, gesneriads and ferns, and other tropical plants.

Meanwhile, the Historic Spanish Point (HSP) Campus is located less than 10 miles south along Little Sarasota Bay and is one of the largest preserves showcasing a verdant oasis rich with history, native botany, plants and architecture—celebrating nearly 5,000 years of Florida history. 

Sarasota Jungle Gardens

An old Florida zoological garden, get lost walking among the lush gardens tucked away off the main road. You'll be able to hand-feed flocks of free-roaming flamingos, pose with a parrot, hold an alligator, see crocodiles, lemurs and many other rescued animals among beautiful gardens of palm trees and tropical flowers. Jungle Gardens is truly a place to get lost in nature and wildlife instead of just watching it through the TV screen from a documentary on Netflix.

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

Similarly, you can explore wildlife and the exciting biodiversity under the sea—from touch pools, viewable working labs and high-tech interactive exhibits that showcase the world-renowned research of the adjoining laboratory. Walk through lifesize indoor/outdoor glass tank exhibits to see more than 100 marine species, mostly from Florida waters—including sharks, manatees, sea turtles, jellyfish, stingrays and more. The urge to take photos through the glass will be strong, but just being present in the moment with these majestic creatures will be well worth the trip. 

Myakka River State Park

With its dozens of miles of hiking trails, palm trees and slash pines, wetlands and canopies, it seems like you're a world away instead of in Sarasota County. An easy adventure for any time frame, don't hesitate to feel immersed in jungle-like flora/fauna by entering the trailhead to the Canopy Walkway, a wooden, 100-ft length walkway 25-feet above the ground. Walkers gain a new perspective above and below the typical line of vision—especially from the even more elevated 75-foot-high tower at the end, which gives an expansive vantage point of the entire park as far as the eye can see. Whether you have only a few hours or a few days, Myakka River State Park offers a jungle-like adventure to get lost in.

Oscar Scherer State Park & Legacy Trail

This state park’s 1,381 acreage of scrubby flatwoods makes it one of the best places in southwest Florida to view an abundance of Florida birds and enjoy nature. In addition to viewing wildlife, an array of other land-based and water-based recreational activities await—including canoeing, fishing, swimming, picnicking, hiking, off-road bicycling and more. Picnic areas are equipped with grills for cooking out over the open fire and the park has full-facility as well as primitive campsites for camping. Fifteen miles of trails provide solitude, beauty, challenge and a healthy adventure for everyone. 

The park also has access to the Legacy Trail; another perfect place to unplug, get active and explore miles of newly-paved rails to trails—suitable for walking, biking, jogging or rollerblading.

The Ringling Museum

The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art is home to preeminent art and cultural collections in the United States, as well as gorgeously-landscaped escape and worldly art treasures to explore amongst the 66-acre estate of John and Mable Ringling. Along with the art within the museum, it also includes a Circus Museum, the Ca' d'Zan and Bayfront Gardens and more. From fascinating exhibitions to classical sculptures that fill the grand courtyard and the famous Venetian-Gothic style palatial mansion that dazzles on the water, spend the entire day soaking in the arts and culture of Ringling.

The Bay Park Conservancy

Head to the northern portion of Sarasota Bayfront, where a community, city and park conservancy initiative is conserving and transforming 53 acres of city-owned land into a signature public park. The Bay project is in the works of transforming land that was mostly a parking lot into a blue and green oasis to celebrate nature and promote environmental sustainability. From access to water, nature, wildlife and stunning sunsets every day, The Bay is accessible, free and welcoming to the full diversity of locals and visitors. The restored Fountain Garden is open daily and multiple walking/bike trails are throughout the park—including a Mangrove Walkway and kayak launches for some peaceful solitude sans smartphone.

Celery Fields

An ideal location for bird watching and passive recreational use for hikers, joggers, dog walkers and people just looking for some peace and quiet outdoors. Celery Fields is on the Great Florida Birding Trail and remains an idyllic landscape with more than 300 acres of greenery. Its lush, winding trails wrap around the elevated hilltop, which boasts one of the best spots to catch a Gulf Coast sunset.