Myakka River State Park
One of the oldest and largest state parks, Myakka River State Park is just ten minutes from us. It's the most popular day trip among our guests (and us). The park flows through 58 square miles of wetlands, prairies, hammocks, and pinelands. Wildlife viewing can be had from trails, boats, canoes, kayaks, and even from the treetops along a short canopy walkway.
The park has an excellent system of hiking and bike trails (bike rentals are available). Pontoon boat tours leave every two hours starting at 9 AM and ending at 5 PM. They recommend arriving 30 minutes in advance for the boat tour. The park is open every day of the year from 8 AM until sunset. We're near their north entrance, which is open on the weekends. General info is
here. For info on canoe, kayak, and bike rentals, see
MyakkaOutpost.com. For the park's restaurant menu, see
Pink Gator Cafe.
Lido Mangrove Tunnels Kayak Tour
Tour through the protected clear waters of the Sarasota Bay where you can see tropical birds, manatees, dolphins, and other sea life (no alligators... take the
Myakka River kayak tour if you'd like to see alligators). Perfect for beginners and advanced. 40 minutes from us. Tour is 2.5 hours. KayakFL.com
Crowley Museum and Nature Center
An old Florida treasure where you get nature and history in one. The Crowley is 190 acres of scenic beauty featuring hiking trails, an extensive boardwalk leading to a lookout tower, pioneer structures, wildlife, farm animals, museum and more. 10 minutes from us. $6. CrowleyFL.org
Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium
Small aquarium with big knowledge (it's a research lab). Best part is the boat tour of the mangroves. 35 minutes from us.
Emerson Point Preserve
Located on Snead Island, 45 minutes from us, Emerson Point Preserve is one of our favorite places owing to its diverse trails and beautiful views. The preserve offers hiking trails along the beach, through forested areas, on boardwalks, and to observation points. There are also bike, rollerblading, and canoe/kayak trails. On top of that, it's an archeological area with historic and prehistoric sites. You can't go wrong.
Emerson Point Preserve
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Stunning tropical conservatory and an oasis of tranquil gardens along the Sarasota Bay. 35 minutes from us.
Ten minutes from Casa Calm lies a unique experience: Your own private tour of bears in a natural setting. Established in 1926, the Welde family's ranch provides a habitat for bears and a rare opportunity for animal lovers where you can gain awareness and affection for these magnificent beings. Reservations required. Open October through April. Info here:
Oscar Scherer State Park
Birds are abundant in this 1,381-acre park, from blue scrub jays to bald eagles. You can view the wildlife while hiking one of their 15 miles of trails, or by taking a leisurely paddle down South Creek, or while cooling off with a swim in Lake Osprey. 40 minutes from us.
Oscar Scherer State Park
Robinson Nature Preserve
Over 600 acres of coastal preserve featuring hiking and bike paths, kayak and canoe waterways, bridges, mangrove forests, picnic area, children's playground, and a 53-foot-tall tower with a wide-open view of the Tampa Bay area. 45 minutes from us.
Robinson Nature Preserve
Nathan Benderson Park
In addition to being a world-class rowing facility that hosts regattas, this 600-acre community park has hiking trails, a bike path, a fishing pier, a boat ramp, and a 500-acre lake. 25 minutes from us. nathanbendersonpark.org,
The following beaches are a string of barrier islands off the Gulf of Mexico. For your use on any beach excursions, we have complimentary beach chairs, umbrella, towels, sunscreen, cooler, ice, and thermos.
The closest to our door, Lido Key is 35 minutes away and offers pristine beaches with lifeguards, trails, and a pool. Aside from being our favorite beach, Lido is best known for St. Armands Circle, a collection of 130 upscale shops and restaurants, providing for an enjoyable stroll, window gazing, dining, and maybe even a treat from their home-made chocolate, fudge or ice-cream shops. Free parking throughout.
Rated the number-one beach in the country, Siesta Key is an eight-mile-long island with a public beach, condos, homes, shops, and restaurants. Our favorite spot is Turtle Beach. Located near the south end of the island, Turtle Beach is less crowded than the main public beach, more tree lined, and home to protected turtle nesting areas. Siesta Key is 45 minutes from us.
Anna Maria Island
Seven miles long, Anna Maria Island is known for its fishing piers, sugar-sand beaches (Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach), quaint strip of shops, restaurants and other family-owned businesses. Two spots worth checking out are Historic Bridge St (located on the mid to south end of the island) and Pine Avenue (on the north end of the island). Anna Maria Island is 45 minutes from us.
12 miles of white sand beach. Need we say more. Like the other islands, it's called home to many residents. Located 40 minutes from us.
St. Pete Beach
20-mile-long barrier island located an hour north of us. Several neighborhoods to explore, ranging from the popular downtown area along Corey Avenue with its bars, shops and restaurants, to the quieter historic district of Pass-a-Grille on the south end of the island.
An hour away, but a hidden gem. Just over the bridge to the island of Manasota Key lies Englewood Beach, with a boardwalk, restrooms, and nearby restaurants and shops. A couple of miles south of Englewood Beach lies the more secluded Stump Pass Beach State Park, where you can hike the trails in an area where tortoises and egrets call home. North of Englewood is Blind Pass Beach, where you might find some fossilized shark teeth along the shore. Blind Pass includes a nature trail that meanders through mangroves and sand dunes. Farther north, Manasota Beach offers tranquility and a popular snorkeling area.
Located on Gasparilla island, Boca Grande is further (1.2 hours from us), but a favorite among guests who pass through our place. Boca Grande has managed to maintain idyllic old-Florida appeal with its charming historic small town, hiking and biking paths, sugar-sand beaches, beautiful blue water, and world-class fishing. (When we visited the beach, we saw a manatee.) Cayo Costa State Park is located off the island with access by boat or ferry. It offers miles of stunning beaches, acres of pine forests, and water that is rich with sea life.
Wineries, Breweries, and Distillery
Located 10 minutes from us. Tours include complimentary wine tastings and lunch. FiorelliWinery.com
3 Keys Brewing & Eatery
Family run. Locally sourced, freshly made food. Large vegetarian selection. Friendly, community atmosphere. Located in Bradenton, 30 minutes from us.
Sarasota Brewing Company
Been around for 30 years. Extensive food menu. 30 minutes from us.
Big Top Brewing
Games. Food trucks. Outside area. 25 minutes from us in Sarasota.
Naughty Monk Brewery
Games. No food, but you can bring in. Only 20 minutes from us in Lakewood Ranch.
9,500-square-foot warehouse in Sarasota. Food trucks. 30 minutes from us.
JDub's Brewing Company
Tours are Thurs, Fri and Sat, but taproom is open daily. Outdoor beer garden. Food truck. 30 minutes from us in Sarasota.
Bunker Hill Vineyard & Winery
30 minutes from us in Parrish. Owners Larry and Lenora created an environmentally responsbile winery. They've achieved a master-level green certification for their sustainable business practices and another certification for their wildlife habitat. They're passionate about what they do and love sharing their knowledge with others.
Siesta Key Rum Distillery
Small distillery located 30 minutes from us in Sarasota (not on Siesta Key). Free tours every day except Thursdays. Tour is under an hour and ends with free samples in the tasting room. Gift shop and tasting room open daily.
Henscratch Farms Vineyard, Winery and Country Store
Circus on the Ranch
Well beyond wine, the Henscratch Farms country store has homemade preserves, sauces, syrups, salsas, pickles, ciders, raw honey from their hives, and infused grapeseed oil. You can pick your own strawberries, blueberries, muscadines and scuppernongs when in season. Enjoy live music while sipping their selections of wine. One hour of scenic country roads from us.
Fun and Adventure
Located five minutes from us, ziplines are just the beginning in this elevated adventure park. Check their website for the several amazing courses. The pics alone will have you grinning ear to ear.
Circus on the Ranch
Why watch a trapeze artist when you can become one? At Circus on the Ranch, you can experience the thrill of flying through the air in a safe and structured manner. They have aerial arts classes too. Only ten minutes from us.
Casa Calm is located in horse country. We're surrounded by horse farms of every variety (i.e., breeding, training, therapeutic riding, recreational riding, lessons in dressage, jumping, barrel racing, trick riding, and playing polo). Here are some options.
Myakka River Trail Rides
Myakka River Ranch offers a wide variety of trail rides and lessons for everyone from beginners to advanced. Appropriate for kids of all ages. 20 minutes from us.
Prospect Riding Center
Therapeutic and recreational horseback activities. 5 minutes from us. Saddle up....
Prospect Riding Center
Lipizzan Stallion Performances
Catch Lippizzan stallions in action Thurs, Fri, Sat from December through April at Colonel Herrmann's Royal Lipizzan Ranch, where the horses are trained and the shows take place for the public. 10 minutes from us. $5. hlipizzans.com
Sarasota Polo Club
Ever been to a polo match? Well, now's your chance. Located 15 minutes from us on 130 acres, matches at the Sarasota Polo Club are open to the public every Sunday at 1 PM from mid-December through mid-April. General admission is $12 per adult and free for children 12 and under.
Sirius Day Spa
15 minutes from us. Massages, facials, drybar salon, waxing, mud wraps, mani/pedis, body wraps, more.
Organic Skin and Body
Also 15 minutes from us. All organic products. Facials, peels, microdermabrasion, microneedling, dermaplane, massages, waxing. Full line of organic skin-care products.
Big-city skyline with a charming small-town feel. Boutiques, art galleries, nightlife, and plenty of free parking. 30 minutes west of us. More info here: DsaSarasota.com,
St. Armands Circle
Adjacent to Lido Key, and right off the beach, St. Armands Key has a large selection of upscale shops and restaurants. Much fine dining, strolling, and window shopping to be had. Highly enjoyable. 35 minutes from us.
Mall at University Town Center
Manhattan comes to Sarasota. Shiny new mall with every store you could possibly desire. It's beautifully done and only 25 minutes from us.
Hidden artist colony in nice section of historic downtown Sarasota. Best to go during their monthly art walk, when you can tour the open studios, meet the artists, and enjoy live music. Good restaurants nearby. 30 minutes from us.
TowlesCourt.com, TripAdvisor Info
Oneco Farmers Market
Brand new air-conditioned market in Bradenton open year round with 115 vendors, located 30 minutes from us. Far more than just fresh produce, baked goods and local seafood. They have clothing, hand-made jewelry, a hair salon, barbershop, ice cream shop, game room, Boost Mobile, 10 restaurants, Habitat for Humanity Restore, a play area for kids, and more. 5108 15th Street East, Bradenton. Open 7 AM to 7 PM, 7 days a week.
Huge indoor air-conditioned flea market with over 600 booths of shopping, groceries, entertainment, and prepared foods. A unique experience. Check hours on website. 40 minutes from us.
Bradenton Farmers Market
Oct through May, every Sat, 9 AM – 2 PM, on Old Main St in Downtown Bradenton, right off the Riverwalk, a 1.5-mile park. Fresh produce, local art, live music, and demonstrations by local chefs. 40 min from us. RealizeBradenton.com
Ellenton Premium Outlets
Over 100 outlets in one spot. Ellenton Premium Outlet Stores is 25 minutes from us and includes Steve Madden, Banana Republic, Calvin Klein, Coach, J.Crew, DKNY, Guess, Gap, Kate Spade, Kenneth Cole, Lacoste, Lucky Brand, Ralph Lauren, Movado, Nike, Saks Fifth Avenue, and 100 more. For a full list, see
Built in the 1800s, the historic downtown district of Arcadia is lined with 24 antique shops, restaurants and other specialty stores. An outdoor antique fair is held on the fourth Saturday of every month. Located 30 minutes east of us, more info here: ArcadiaFlAntiques.com
Much more than just a circus museum, the Ringling estate has 66 acres of gardens, 28,000 works of art, special performances, and the Ca' d'Zan (a Mediterranean Revival mansion, which served as the winter home of circus owner, developer and art collector John Ringling and his wife Mable). They chose the site for its vistas overlooking the Sarasota Bay. Located 35 minutes from us, the Ringling is rated the number-one attraction in Sarasota. Free admission on Mondays. Ringling.org
Five-star rated opera company with performances housed in an ornate circa-1926 theater. The venue is on the intimate scale of European opera houses, with not a bad seat in the house. Located 35 minutes from us. Check their website for the current season offerings and tickets: SarasotaOpera.org
Van Wezel Performing Arts Center
Music concerts, Broadway shows, comedians, more. 30 minutes from us. See schedule of upcoming performances here:
The Dali Museum
Unparalleled collection of Salvador Dali art on a waterfront setting in St. Petersburg. (Bonus: A popular vegan cafe, Love Food Central, is five minutes from the museum.) They're an hour from us. TheDali.org
We're near so many golf courses, we dedicated a full page to them.
All of the excursions on this page except perhaps the wineries and opera have activities perfect for kids, from playgrounds to petting zoos, plus a few sandcastles in between. Here are a few more....
50,000-square-foot arcade center in Sarasota with go-karts, billiards, bazooka ball, bumper cars, video games, ticket games, a full bar and pub grub. 30 minutes from us. LivingstonsAmusements.com
The Fish Hole Miniature Golf
An 18-hole miniature golf course with a fish theme throughout, including a moving water wheel and a 3,000-gallon pond filled with brightly colored Koi fish. Kids can get fish food from the feeders to keep themselves busy between holes. The Fish Hole has two locations in the area. The one nearest to us is 20 minutes away in Lakewood Ranch:
Petting Zoos, Playgrounds and Farms
An adorable experience for kids (and adults) that's just 10 minutes from us. In addition to picking your own fruits and veggies, Hunsader offers a large petting zoo, playground, picnic area, country store, ice cream shop, antique shop and, in the fall, a pumpkin festival. Closed summer.
Dakin Dairy Farms
Less than ten minutes from our door, Dakin is a sustainable family-run farm with some great attractions for kids. Oct through May, Wed through Sun, Dakin offers daily $15 tours in which children take a hayride deep into the farm, bottle feed a calf, and witness all of the following:
milk traveling from cow to bottle
a pig race
and a cow train ride.
In the fall, they have a six-acre corn maze open Mon though Sat. They also have a market, cafe and gift shop open to the public year round.
Family-owned market open year round and seven days a week (those two things are a novelty around here), offering organic produce (another big deal), animals (i.e., horses, goats, chickens, etc.), a spacious playground, Amish-made goods, cheeses, jams,
and a pumpkin festival in the fall. 20 minutes from us.