Myakka State Park
Breathtaking vistas and captivating wildlife are the order of this glorious park, where the Myakka River meanders through mile upon mile of stunning wetlands, prairies and woodlands. Hiking trails abound, but there are plenty of other ways to drink in the scenery: by bike; kayak; on horseback; by air boat; or from walkways suspended eight metres above the ground.
There are plenty of beaches to explore, each with its own personality - but all with the same velvety soft sand and clear waters. Turtle Beach is quieter and ideal for families, with a secluded feel and picnic shelters. South Lido Park has nature and kayaking trails, and is the perfect spot for watching the sun set into the water through a ribbon of Australian pines.
Sarasota's arts scene will have culture vultures drooling in anticipation. Two fantastic venues, the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and the FSY Centre For The Performing Arts, put on top-class productions in theatre, dance and music. Plus there's the Opera House, the Ballet, a whole raft of theatres - and arts festivals galore.
Not Just Any Museum
The estate of circus magnate John Ringling provides a fascinating three-in one experience. First there's the extensive Museum of Art, with its striking collection of works including Rubens and Gainsborough; then there's the astonishing Ca' d'Zan Mansion, built in the style of the Doge's Palace in Venice; and to top it all a circus museum with miniature models.
At the aquarium branch of Mote's world-class marine research lab you can explore the secrets of the sea through touch pools, viewable working labs and high-tech interactive exhibits. Sharks, manatees, sea turtles and 100 other species are all on view, plus you can take an explorer trip by boat into the Gulf.