VSC_september_shoot-7_rgb_72 (2).jpg

Kid's Play - Sarasota County for the Family

There is plenty of family fun to be had in Sarasota County. Enjoy a list of 11 activities featuring wildlife, physical activities and natural entertainment.

As any parent will tell you, on a vacation with children, it's clear who's running the show. Sure, you're the adult "making the decisions," but let's be honest: if the kids aren't happy, nobody's happy. That's why it's important to have a full arsenal of kid-friendly activities at your disposal. Luckily for you, we've put together a surefire list of all the best activities and destinations to keep your trip running smoothly -- and you happy.

Where the "wild" things are:

Animals are a failsafe when it comes to children's entertainment, and Sarasota County has plenty to offer in the way of the wild.

Sarasota Jungle Gardens

This well-known attraction of Sarasota Jungle Gardens, opened in 1939, houses more than 150 exotic animals, including flamingos, alligators, crocodiles, primates, birds and many others. Children will love the opportunity to get an up-close-and-personal look at all the different animals as they explore the garden's 10 acres of land and learn more about the wildlife. Check out the video below for more information:

Big Cat Habitat

Who doesn't love big cats? With the expertise of the Roasire family -- who has years of experience rescuing and working with native and exotic big cats -- kids can learn all about the more than 100 animals who call this nonprofit Big Cat Habitatsanctuary their home, as well as learn more about their preservation. Families can catch an educational demonstration from Kay Rosaire and her son, Clayton (who entered business as one of the youngest lion and tiger trainers in the world at the age of 17). Demonstrations feature exotic and endangered species of tigers and lions that will keep the kids talking for years to come.

Mote Marine and Aquarium

Mote Marine and Aquarium is a marine-research institution and aquarium -- and a must-see for children interested in animals. With a wide variety of marine life, including fish, sharks, sea turtles, manatees, dolphins, jellyfish and more, there's enough to keep the kids enthralled for hours. And what better way to experience Sarasota County than with an immersive look at its native marine life?

Southeastern Guide Dogs

Witness firsthand the fascinating and uplifting training regimen of Southeastern Guide Dogs. Not only does this nonprofit organization do incredible work to provide people with visual impairments with guide dogs, but it also welcomes visitors for regular "hug a puppy" events. How can you beat that?

Cat Depot

Cat Depot is a nonprofit organization which rescues, shelters and finds permanent homes for homeless cats in the area, and for cat-lovers, it's also a great place to come tour the nationally renowned facility and play with some of the furry felines.

Get in the game

Whether it's watching or participating, athletic activities are a great way to keep younger travelers entertained.

Sarasota BMX

Does your child have the need for speed? Put the pedal to the metal at this state-of-the-art Sarasota BMX facility, which has been the place to race in Sarasota County since 1974. Since opening, it's been a destination for enthusiasts around the country and even the world. Stop in for an evening practice session, sign up for a race or even rent the facility out for a private party.

Payne Skate Park

Strap on a helmet and some pads and hit the ramps at this 25,000 sq. ft. outdoor concrete skate park, which features vert, street and bowl areas. Bring a skateboard, bike, roller blades or scooter and practice your best tricks in a safe place. With outdoor lighting, kids are free to skate after dark.

Tree Umph! Adventure Course

Climbing trees is practically engrained into kids' DNA. At this huge, outdoor playground, guests can take to the treetops to tackle obstacles like rope bridges, hanging nets, bungee swings and zip lines. Spend the day above the canopy doing your best Tarzan impersonation and getting your adrenaline pumping.

Ed Smith Stadium

Sarasota County is proud to call itself the spring-training home of the Baltimore Orioles. In the spring, you can catch a game for a moderate price and see the pros up close as they prepare for the regular season. In the off-season, the stadium also serves as a venue for other various events, so stop by and take a look.


Hear the call of the wild

Sarasota County has a wealth of natural beauty. In addition to the obvious beaches, there are plenty of other scenic areas that are worth a look.

Sarasota Children's Garden

For younger children, Sarasota Children's Garden is truly a hidden gem in the area that offers a whimsical experience. Children can explore the winding trails, scenic plant life and artistic décor. Good luck getting them to leave the Technicolor mountain of tires. The garden also hosts a variety of special events, so be sure to check the events calendar online.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Already one of the most scenic places in Sarasota, Marie Selby Gardens' recent addition of its Children's Rainforest Garden makes it tough to beat as a kid-favorite. Feed the fish, chase butterflies, admire the plant life, climb the banyan trees and soak in the beauty of the bayfront view at this iconic Sarasota landmark.

Myakka State Park

As far as state parks go, it's going to be tough to out-do Myakka in the eyes of a child. One of the oldest and largest state parks in Florida, it includes a variety of natural scenery, including wetlands, prairies and pinelands. Wildlife boat tours, canoeing and kayaking, hiking fishing, canopy tours and much more will provide hours of entertainment in the park's 58-square-mile expanse. And, if you want more time, Myakka also offers a variety of full campsites