Sarasota, Florida: By Land and By Sea
By Claire Duncan
Located along the stunning Gulf of Mexico, with pristine white-sand beaches and gorgeous tropical landscapes, Sarasota offers a rare glimpse into a wild and unspoiled Florida. It’s the perfect destination for the curious nature lover in all of us.
Exploring Myakka River State Park
On my first morning in Sarasota, I make my way, bright and early, to Myakka River State Park to enjoy its spectacular vistas and abundant wildlife. After a scenic drive through the forest, I arrive at the river, surrounded by vast prairies and dense woodlands. Within moments, I spot dozens of alligators and a myriad of bird species, forming an incredible cacophony of sound. The friendly locals point out a bald eagle flying overhead, and I can’t help but envy their daily ritual – a cup of coffee with a side of untouched Florida.
Nestled amidst these wild woodlands lives Florida’s first public treetop trail, 25 feet in the air. A haven for researchers and nature enthusiasts alike, the Canopy Walkway offers an in-depth look at tree life, and spectacular vistas for those brave enough to climb its 74-foot tower. Putting my mild fear of heights aside, I climb the unending wooden staircase to its peak, where I find myself perched high above the trees, with breathtaking views in every direction. The sun breaks through the early morning haze, lending a golden hue to acres of vast green foliage that surround me. I try to cement the image in my mind, to call upon during those bleak winter days back home.
Kayaking through Sarasota Bay
Next, I head to Lido Key to explore the exotic mangrove tunnels of Sarasota Bay by kayak. The setting is magical, with the afternoon sun pouring through the lush branches, and the calm waters offering a pristine view of the bustling wildlife below the surface. The intricate mangrove canopy hangs low above me as I delve deeper into the serene and tropical mangrove tunnel. I soon find myself face to face with a beautiful white egret, surprisingly unbothered by my presence, and my camera. Continuing on my journey, I notice another Florida bird trailing close behind me – apparently my paddle strokes disrupt the fish below, enough for him to score an easy catch.
Sarasota’s Sandy Shores
Sarasota County’s magnificent coastline extends for miles, making it difficult to choose which of its many amazing white-sand beaches to visit first. For all its adventurous offerings, Lido Key’s shores are surprisingly secluded and provide sensational sunset views. At Caspersen Beach, I cross over rolling dunes to discover fishermen and beachcombers of all ages lining the shore. It’s not long before I’m knee-deep in the water with them, marvelling at the exquisite shells, and hoping to uncover one of the many fossilized sharks’ teeth that the area is famous for.
Shopping In Downtown Venice
No vacation would be complete without a few souvenirs to take home, so I head south to the trendy town of Venice for some retail therapy. I stop in at The Soda Fountain for a strawberry float and a stroll down memory lane – the cute café is chockfull of classic memorabilia. Hopped up on sugar, I take to the streets of Downtown Venice, discovering an endless supply of adorable antique shops and trendy boutiques. Finally, after an exhaustive and fruitful shop, I settle in for a relaxed dinner at The Crow’s Nest, treating myself to some of the best oysters I’ve ever had. Here, while admiring the gorgeous waterfront views, I reminisce about my incredible trip, and dream of the next time I’ll visit.
For more information, please visit us:
Official Sarasota County Travel Information
When you goOutdoor Fun
Myakka River State Park
Almost Heaven Kayak Adventures
Sarasota County Beaches
www.visitsarasota.org Discover Natural Sarasota County
Visit Sarasota County