Siesta Key Area Attractions & Theme Parks

Oscar Scherer State Park
Oscar Scherer State Park

Oscar Scherer State Park is a state park in neighboring Osprey, that provides a taste of Florida's natural habitat. Bald Eagles nest here in winter and are commonly seen; however the park is known as the best place to see the Florida scrub-jay, a threatened species found only in Florida.

The park provides fifteen miles of trails for hiking and bicycling. Canoeists and kayakers can paddle along South Creek, a tidal blackwater stream, which flows to a nearby bay. Freshwater and saltwater fishing are both available in the park, along with a swimming hole at Lake Osprey. Picnic areas are equipped with grills. The Lester Finley Barrier Free Nature Trail is accessible to those with sight, hearing or mobility impairments. There is also a wheelchair accessible fishing dock, butterfly observation area and drinking fountain.

Oscar Scherer State Park has 104 campsites which include a picnic table, grill/campfire ring, electric hookup, and water hook-up. The campground also has five restrooms with hot water showers, sinks and toilet facilities. Registered campers also have use of coin washers and dryers.

Hours:

8am until sunset, 365 days a year

Ticket prices:

$5 admission fee per vehicle, $2 per person pedestrians and bicyclists

For camping reservations and information please contact Reserve America at (800) 326-3521 or visit www.reserveamerica.com

Oscar Scherer State Park

Oscar Scherer State Park Phone: (941) 483-5956
Address: 1843 S. Tamiami Trail, Osprey, FL
Website: www.floridastateparks.org/OscarScherer


The Legacy Trail
The Legacy Trail

The Legacy Trail is the largest public recreation project ever constructed in Sarasota County. Totaling more than 10 miles in length the trail runs from just south of the city of Sarasota to Venice following the former CSX railroad corridor. The trail is open to walkers, joggers, cyclists and roller bladers.

The Legacy Trail offers several areas to stop, rest and enjoy the natural beauty of the area. Trailheads/Rest stops offer access points with parking.

Trailheads are located at:

Culverhouse Nature Park: 7301 McIntosh Rd., Sarasota

Laurel Park: 509 Collins Road, Laurel

Nokomis Community Park: 234 Nippino Trail East, Nokomis

Oscar Scherer State Park: 1843 South Tamiami Trail, Osprey

Osprey Junction Trailhead: 939 E E. Bay Street, Osprey

Patriots Park: 800 Venetia Bay Blvd, Venice

Venice Train Depot: 303 East Venice Ave., Venice

Hours:

From dusk until dawn, 365 days a year.

(motorized vehicles are prohibited)


Myakka River State Park
The Gator Gal Airboat Ride at Myakka State Park

The “Florida Wild and Scenic” Myakka River flows through 57 square miles of wetlands, prairies, hammocks and pinelands producing one of Florida’s largest and most diverse natural areas. The river and its two shallow lakes attract a myriad of wetland creatures making birding, canoeing, fishing, camping and wildlife observation popular activities. A 7-mile scenic drive winds through shady oak-palm hammocks and along the shore of the Upper Lake. Over 39 miles of hiking trails and many miles of dirt roads provide access to the remote interior that includes large expanses of globally-imperiled Florida dry prairie. Myakka River State Park is located 9 miles east of Sarasota on S.R. 72.

Birding

With nearly 100 species of birds listed as common or abundant on the park bird list, Myakka is a great place for birding. The park features shallow lakes and wetlands that are home to eagles and osprey, along with wading and migrating birds.

Bicycling

There are seven miles of paved road and more than twenty miles of dirt roads for cyclist to explore. Bicycle rentals are available at the park concessionaire.

Tours

Hop aboard one of the world's two largest airboats, the " Myakka Maiden," or the "Gator Gal" for a scenic cruise. These air-powered vessels go into shallow, grassy areas where traditional crafts are not able to go. The ride is so smooth you'll have no problem taking photos to bring home. Another way to experience the backcounty of Myakka River State Park is on the " Tram Safari". Pass through shady hammocks and grassy marshes on this 7-mile drive.

Canoes and Kyaks

Bring your own canoe or kayak, or rent from Myakka River Outpost. A boat ramp on the Upper Myakka Lake provides access to the river and both lakes. Additional canoe launch locations are at picnic areas along the main drive.

Hiking/Nature Trail

Myakka has over 39 miles of trails to explore, including a walkway through the treetops and a 74-foot tower that provides an amazing view. Trails are easily accessible and are a great way to explore the back woods.

Fishing

Fishing is a great past-time at the park. The Myakka State Park provides an ADA accessible fishing pier that is easily wheelchair accessible.

Historic Log Cabins

Stay the night in a log cabin at one of Florida's oldest and largest state parks. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps between 1934 and 1941, each of the historic palm log cabins includes a bathroom with shower, fully equipped kitchen and a large common room that sleeps up to six guests. A porch and fireplace add to the charm of these historic cabins. Linens, light thermal blankets, kitchen utensils, coffee pot and microwave oven are provided. Reservations may be made at ReserveAmerica.com, or by calling (800) 326-3521. Pets are not permitted in cabins.

Camping

The park features three campgrounds with 90 campsites. Each site is equipped with a 50 amp electrical service, water, a fire ring and picnic table. Laundry facilities and restroom facilities with hot showers are also available.


Hours:

8am until sundown, 365 days a year

Prices:

$6 admission fee per vehicle, $4 single occupant vehicle, $2 per person pedestrians and bicyclists
Overnight camping is $26 for RV/trailer or tent. Reservations must be made at least one day in advance and can be made thru their website at floridastateparks.reserveamerica.com.

Myakka River State Park
941-361-6511
floridastateparks.org/myakkariver
13208 State Road 72
Sarasota, FL 34241

Top The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
The Gator Gal Airboat Ride at Myakka State Park

The Ringling was established in 1927 as the legacy of John Ringling and his wife, Mable. The Ringling is home to six venues, including the Museum of Art; Circus Museum; Ca' d'Zan; Historic Asolo Theater; Bayfront Gardens; and Art Library.

The Museum of Art galleries boast a world-renowned collection of old masters including masterpieces by Rubens, Van Dyck and Velazquez, plus Asian, Cypriot, modern and contemporary art.

Ca' d'Zan ("House of John"), John and Mable's waterfront home is a Venetian-style mansion built between 1924 and 1925. It was restored in 2002. Ca' d'Zan sits on Sarasota Bay and is adorned with furnishings from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

The Circus Museum, including the Tibbals Learning Center, displays the world's largest miniature circus (Howard Bros. Circus Model), posters, parade wagons, interactive galleries, and the Wisconsin, John & Mable's private rail car.

The Bayfront Gardens span 66 acres, and includes Mable's Rose Garden, the Dwarf Garden, Secret Garden, Millennium Tree Trail, Bolger Campiello and a newly installed David F. Bolger Playspace.

The Historic Asolo Theater was created in Asolo, Italy in 1798, brought to Sarasota in the early 1950s and painstakingly restored in 2006. The theater is one of the most beloved objects in The Ringling collection.

The Art Library is one of the largest art reference libraries in the southeastern United States, housing more than 88,000 volumes from the 16th-21st centuries. It also features a number of special collections, including some 800 books from the personal library of John Ringling.

Hours:

Open daily 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Thursdays until 8:00 pm; closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, & New Year's days

Ticket prices:

$25 Adults; $23 Seniors (65+); $10 Active US Military; $5 Children 6-17 and College Students with valid ID
Art After 5 discounted Museum admission available Thursdays 5:00 - 8:00 pm. $10/Adults; $5/Children 6-17

Myakka Treetop Walkway

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Phone: (941) 359-5700
Address: 5401 Bayshore Road, Sarasota
Website: www.ringling.org

Photos Courtesy of The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the State Art Museum of Florida

Top Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Experience nature where fun is in full bloom!

The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is a not-for- profit institution fostering understanding and appreciation of tropical plants, especially epiphytes (plants that grow on other plants), through programs of research, conservation, education and display. Selby Gardens is perhaps best known for its living collection of more than 6,000 orchids.

The 9.5-acre bayfront property is an open-air and under-glass museum of more than 20,000 colorful plants, many collected in the wild on more than 150 scientific expeditions to tropical rain forests by Selby Gardens research staff. The stunning Tropical Display House with its lush rain forest atmosphere displays unusual flora that can be seen all year around. It is one of eight greenhouses that house collections used for scientific research and plant identification.

Throughout the grounds of the historic Selby estate you will find many distinct gardens; towering Bamboo and Banyan Groves, Cactus and Succulent Garden, and Cycad Collection Marie Selby Botanical Gardens Experience nature where fun is in full bloom! as well as trees filled with orchids, bromeliads, and other epiphytic plants. Also on the grounds example of eclectic Southern Colonial architecture. The Mansion, on the National Register of Historic Places, is home to ever-changing botanical art and photography exhibits.

Children will delight in our brilliant dart frog collection, the koi pond, and our gardens abundant with tropical flora and fauna.

Selby Gardens’ Center for Tropical Plant for The Bromeliad Identification Center, the Orchid Identification Center and the Selby Gardens’ Herbarium.

Hours:

10am-5pm daily (Closed Christmas day).

Ticket prices:

$19 Adults, $6 ages 4-11, Children 3 and under Free

Orchids at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens Phone: (941) 366-5731
Address: 811 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota
Website: www.Selby.org


Top Sarasota Jungle Gardens
Sarasota Jungle Gardens

"A Tropical Adventure" The area’s only ZOO’logical gardens!

Sarasota Jungle Gardens is a family-oriented attraction that is located on 10 acres of lush tropical foliage. Along its winding trails you will find over three thousand species of native and exotic plants.

There is a variety of birds, reptiles and other mammals that make their home in Sarasota Jungle Gardens, with 85% of the animals having been donated or rescued. The park features daily shows including "Birds of Prey & Critters & Things", "Reptile Encounter", and "Birds of the Rainforest". The shows are both educational and entertaining.

At Jungle Gardens you can get your picture taken with an Alligator, or have a "free roaming" American Flamingo eating out of the palm of your hand. There is a "Kiddie Jungle" play ground, along with a Cafe that serves sandwiches, ice cream and snacks.

Hours:

Open daily 10am-5pm (Closed Christmas and Thanksgiving Day)

Ticket prices:

$15.99 Adults, $14.99 Seniors (62+), $13.99 Military with ID, $10.99 Children (4-16), 3 and under Free

Sarasota Jungle Gardens

Sarasota Jungle Gardens Phone: (941) 355-5305
Address: 3071 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota
Website: www.sarasotajunglegardens.com


Top Historic Spanish Point
Historic Spanish Point

Explore 5,000 years of history through prehistoric Indian mounds, pioneer era buildings and the colorful gardens of Mrs. Potter Palmer located on the shores of Little Sarasota Bay. A Butterfly Garden, nature trails, exhibits, picnic facilities and a Museum Store are also part of your experience.

As part of the history of Spanish Point, prehistoric people occupied the site as early as 3,000 BC and lived along the shoreline for nearly 4,000 years. Shell middens and burial mounds left by them make up one of the largest intact prehistoric sites along Florida’s west coast. Another part of the history at Spanish Point includes that of the John Webb family, who moved here from New York in 1867 to establish a homestead. A trader the family met in Key West told them of the elevated point of land in Sarasota. The family named it Spanish Point to honor him. Along with crops and a packing house, the Webbs encouraged winter boarders to come stay with them. These boarders enjoyed the climate, beaches, fishing and other leisure activites of the day. Thus the first tourist resort in the area was established.

In 1910, Chicago socialite Mrs. Potter Palmer came to Sarasota to establish a winter estate. She purchased thousands of acres for cattle ranching, citrus groves, and real estate development. The Webb homestead was part of the land she chose for her 350-acre estate which she named “Osprey Point”. She preserved the pioneer buildings and connected them with lavish formal gardens and lawns.

Hours:

Mon.-Sat. 9am-5pm, Sun. 12pm-5pm

Ticket prices:

$12 Adults & Teens, $10 Seniors (65+)
$5 Guests Accompanying Members
$5 ages 5-12, Children under 5 Free

Historic Spanish Point

Historic Spanish Point Phone: (941) 966-5214
Address: 337 North Tamiami Trail Osprey FL 34229
Website: www.historicspanishpoint.org


Top Mote Aquarium
Mote Aquarium









A must-do for any Sarasota visitor, and a local favorite, is Mote Aquarium, located on City Island just north of St. Armands Circle.

Focusing on the estuarine and marine animals of Southwest Florida, at Mote you can explore the secrets of the sea with touch pools, shark, dolphin, manatee and sea turtle exhibits and over 100 other species of marine life. This unique attraction offers viewable working labs and high-tech interactive exhibits showcasing the world-renowned research of Mote Marine Laboratory.

Aquarium visitors can learn about the ocean’s top predators and shark research at Mote’s Shark Zone with a 135,000 gallon shark habitat, Shark Attack sensory theater and the interactive SharkTracker exhibit. At SharkTracker, visitors take on the role of scientists and learn how sharks are tracked in the wild.

Highlights of the facility include Contact Cove, where horseshoe crab, sea urchins, sea stars, rays and other animals are all within reach. Learn more about beautiful and exotic seahorses at The Seahorse Conservation Laboratory, our breeding facility that shares offspring with more than 20 AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums nationwide. You will also find a variety of both fresh and saltwater fish that inhabit our waterways.

Be sure to visit manatees Hugh and Buffett, explore sea turtle exhibits and meet our resident dolphin, Moonshine. Learn what you can do to help protect threatened and endangered wildlife.

Hours:

10am-5pm (Including all holidays)

Ticket prices:

$19.75 Adults (13+), $18.75 Seniors (65+), $14.75 ages 4-12, Children 3 and under Free

Mote Aquarium

Mote Aquarium Phone: (941) 388-4441
Address: 1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy., Sarasota
Website: www.mote.org


Top South Florida Museum
South Florida Museum

South Florida Museum, Bishop Planetarium and Parker Manatee Aquarium

The South Florida Museum features fossil evidence of Florida's earliest marine and mammal inhabitants and archaeological material representing paleoindian, archaic and pre-contact cultures. Included in the collection is the world renowned Montague Tallent collection of prehistoric artifacts.

In addition you will find decorative arts, textiles, ethnography, minerals, modern shells and more. The Museum's extensive open storage system makes objects from the collections visually accessible to the public.

The Bishop Planetarium is a state-of-thescience, all digital full dome theater, featuring a wide variety of astronomy-related presentations, thrilling sound and light shows and specialized wide screen, large format programs. Find living history at the museum’s Parker Manatee Aquarium, home of Snooty™, the oldest living manatee born and nurtured in a man-made, protected environment. The South Florida Museum is a unique and dynamic family learning experience!

Hours:

Mon.-Sat. 10am-5pm, Sun. 12pm-5pm.
Closed Monday May-December.
Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and
New Year's Day, Nov. 7

Ticket prices:

$19 Adults, $17 Seniors (65+), $14 ages 4-12, Under 4 free

South Florida Museum

South Florida Museum Bishop Planetarium and Parker Manatee Aquarium
Phone: (941) 746-4131
Address: 201 Tenth Street West, Bradenton
Website: www.southfloridamuseum.org