A wooden footbridge leading to the beach

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Sarasota’s Most Captivating Nature Attractions

Sarasota’s Most Captivating Nature Attractions

One of the great pleasures of being in the Longboat Key and Sarasota area for any amount of time is the year-round access to nature. Here, getting up close and personal with the flora and fauna is one of the main delights of being outdoors. You don’t need to visit an enclosed aquarium or exhibit to experience nature in January. Instead, our plants, flowers and animals thrive in every season, with some flourishing in the subtropical heat and others preferring the cool winter. Visit these 5 places about town to enjoy our natural diversity, and don’t forget your camera.

Bayfront Park 

Ask a local where they take photographs of their own city, and Bayfront Park will likely be at the top of their list. This green space juts out into Sarasota Bay and is replete with trees, stunning views, a marina, a tiki hut, a playground and a splash pad area. Enjoy a picnic or a stroll with your binoculars; there’s some excellent bird viewing here.

Celery Fields

Speaking of birds, this storm water collection zone is also on the Great Florida Birding Trail (the Sarasota Audubon Society’s Center can be found here too). At 360 acres, it’s also a wonderful place to stretch your legs by hiking or venturing along the two boardwalks. About 100 acres are reclaimed wetlands, with tons of newly planted plants and trees blooming and many more hiking, biking and kayaking trails planned.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Selby is one of Sarasota’s crown jewels, and for good reason. This meticulously cultivated garden bills itself as a living museum, and it is. Here you’ll encounter a koi pond, bamboo garden and a banyan grove. Walk the mangrove path, frolic in the butterfly garden or simply move along the perimeter of the whole space, which is set on Sarasota Bay. The native flora you’ll see here will leave a lasting impression.

Myakka River State Park

Venture out to what locals think of as “Old Florida.”¬† The river here is 58 miles long, giving way to wetlands, hammocks and prairies that preserve much of the native habitat. Hiking trails, lakes, tram tours and all manner of watery transport give visitors total access to the animals living here, including alligators, spoonbills, wild hogs and more.

Sarasota Garden Club

SGC is nestled like a jewel along 41 near downtown Sarasota—you’ll recognize its sloping turquoise roof right away. Enter to find an acre of 13 gardens, each with its own distinct character. This oasis in the middle of the city is full of striking subtropical plants and flowers like bromeliad and hibiscus. Along with a fern garden, there are also ones devoted to herbs and roses, a sweet bonus.