Mangrove tunnels at Ted Sperling Park at South Lido Beach Nature Park. Photo credit: Liz Sandburg
Mangrove tunnel trails along South Lido Key

Must Do Outdoor Activities in Sarasota County

Limited on time? Looking for more than beach lounging? Here are the top things every nature-loving visitor must try during a trip to Sarasota County!

June 25, 2020

Note: Please check with individual parks to confirm hours and availability which are subject to change due to COVID-19.

Megalodon shark tooth, Venice, Florida

South County Shark Tooth Hunting

Hunting for fossilized shark teeth is a treasured Sarasota County pastime. A bountiful cache wash up along the beaches of Venice and Manasota Key every year for barefooted beachcombers to find and keep.

SUP in the Mangrove Tunnels. Photo credit: Liz Sandburg.

Lido Key Mangrove Tunnels

A trek through the mangrove tunnels at Ted Sperling Park at South Lido Beach Nature Park give kayakers and stand up paddleboarders a unique adventure through a hidden ecosystem. Fish swim just inches away in crystal clear water, crabs scurry along the exposed mangrove roots at eye-level as the sun peeks through a private tunnel of natural Florida beauty.

The “silver kings” put up a memorable fight for those lucky enough to hook them [Photo: Nicole Coudal]

Tarpon Fishing

There are many species of game fish that anglers pursue along our coast, but one causes fisherman to go crazy during peak months of May, June and July. That’s when tarpon make their annual migration through the Gulf of Mexico. Grab a guide and wrangle a Silver King for a truly epic fishing story.

A Scrub Jay sighting at Oscar Scherer State Park

Bird Watching at Oscar Scherer State Park

This state park oasis in Osprey is a sanctuary for the adorable Florida scrub-jay, an imperiled species found only in this state. Our country’s bird—the bald eagle—is also abundant at the park and a truly thrilling in-person experience if you’ve never seen one in the wild before. Watch these feathery friends from your picnic, bike, tent or canoe year-round.

Paddle the North Port Blueways

Often overlooked in Sarasota County’s southernmost city is a staggering 80 miles of freshwater trails known as “Blueways.” Not many vacationers realize some of the area’s best paddling paths are found in this inland community with access to the Myakkahatchee Creek and Myakka River.

Ride the Legacy Trail

Whether you prefer bicycles, razor scooters, skateboards or plain old tennis shoes, multiple modes of transportation are permitted along the 12-mile  Legacy Trail. Cyclists especially love the trail for its wide lanes and smooth pavement that create a breezy, secluded ride free of automobile traffic and worry. The trail opened in 2008, complete with 15 rest areas and 7 trailheads offering free parking. Not to mention beautiful landscaping, informational signage and old railway hardware at the crosswalks.

Historic Spanish Point

The charm and appeal of Historic Spanish Point can be easily summed up in four P’s—prehistoric, pioneers, (Bertha) Palmer, and plants. Nestled in sleepy Osprey, this verdant oasis is rich with thousands of years of human history, from ancient settlers to a Chicago socialite. History buffs love walking the trails through archeological history and shell middens, but this peninsula park also offers a one-of-a-kind view of Sarasota Bay.

couple parasailing

Parasail Siesta Key

Parasailing is one of the best ways to take in the spectacular views of the best beach in the U.S., but it’s not for the faint of heart. The trip to the top can be an exhilarating one, but many find a surprising tranquility high above the turquoise waters of the Gulf Coast.

Myakkahatchee Environmental Creek. Photo Credit: Robin Draper

Myakkahatchee Creek Trails

This North Port park is home to nine miles of primitive trails perfect for pedestrians, horseback riding, mountain biking, or all three! Enthusiasts say the mountain biking trails are some of the most challenging in Southwest Florida along the canopy-covered Myakkahatchee Creek—lined with pristine oak trees, slash pines, palms and wildlife common to our section of the state.

Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy

Canopy Walkway at Myakka River State Park

North America’s first public treetop trail was completed in Myakka River State Park in 2000 and still stands 74 feet tall above the treetops of one of Florida’s oldest and largest parks. Visitors delight in traversing the swinging suspension bridge held 25 feet above the ground and extending 100 feet through the hammock canopy. Climb the taller tower 74 feet in the air for a breathtaking view (and picture) of “Old Florida.”

Related Topics: