The Sarasota Payne Park skating facility is now operated by Sk8skool. In 2010, they took over operation of the skate park from the city of Sarasota. Sk8skool operates it as a not-for-profit organization. Sofia Maldonado is a New York muralist and a skater. Recently she designed a mural and worked with students from Sarasota School of Arts and Sciences, Booker High School and Southeast High School to execute the design in the Payne Skate Park bowl. This new mural is a vibrant addition to a park that already has skater inspired art. Extended hours and lower rates draw local skaters. And if you’re vacationing in Sarasota, add the skateboarding at the park to your list of things to do.
Drive through Sarasota, and you can’t miss our beautiful Bayfront Island Park. Right on Sarasota Bay, this lively park is surrounded with water. The winding sidewalks run all along the perimeter of the park and invite you to walk, jog, roller blade, or walk your dog. In fact, this park is a favorite with local dog owners who often congregate on weekends for some doggy socialization.
With huge grass play areas, picnic tables in the shade, trees made for climbing and plenty of benches and swings, Island Park appeals to all ages. Children love splashing in the water fountains and birthday parties are frequent in playground area. It’s located right across 41 from downtown, so this park is convenient. There’s plenty of parking, so whether you walk, drive, bike or boat to the park, you’re sure to enjoy you time here.
And stop in at the tiki bar at O’Leary’s for a drink or a meal. It’s a great place where you can listen to music, enjoy the tropical breeze and watch the boats go by. Your four legged friends are welcome, too.
Make sure you add Bayfront Island Park to your list of great things to do when you vacation in Sarasota.
Plunge your bare feet into the pure white sand of Siesta Key beach, and you’ll understand how beach sand can be trademarked: Worlds Finest, Whitest Sand™. In fact, in the Great International White Sand Challenge, this sand was scientifically proven to be the world’s finest, whitest finest beach sand. First time visitors are amazed by the temperature of this perfect barefoot beach. The sand is 99% pure quartz, so regardless of the temperature – this incredibly soft sand never heats up!
You just can’t beat this location for a vacation. This wide, flat, crystal white beach is truly kid friendly with its gentle gulf waves. There’s a large shaded pavilion with food, changing rooms and retail shops, a number of picnic areas, tennis courts and a playground.
Dr. Beach ranks beaches using 50 criteria from softness of sand, condition and temperature of the water, slope, currents and sand and water color. He also considers amenities, lifeguards, cleanliness and competition for resources. Siesta Key Beach repeatedly ranks in the top 10 and in 2010 was ranked the #2 beach in US by Dr. Beach.
The Travel Channel describes Siesta Key beach sand as “soft and white as sugar” and rates it 5 out of 5 in swimming, sand and child friendliness. See their article on Siesta Key beach here.
And Siesta Key isn’t the only great beach in Sarasota County you’ll want to visit. Go diving or look for shark teeth in Venice or enjoy the solitude at Caspersen Beach. And if you have your best friend along – visit Brohard Paw Park and Dog beach. You can let your four legged friend off leash to play in the surf. The park is on the island of Venice at 1600 Harbor Dr. S.
All in all, we locals know how lucky we are to live near these wonderful beaches. Come on down for a vacation, the water’s fine!
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens – Sarasota, Florida.
Opened to the public on July 7, 1975, Selby Gardens sits on a stunning 14 acre location on Sarasota Bay. Over 130,000 visitors annually come to this museum of over 20,000 plants. In addition to thousands of colorful exotics, Selby Gardens has a remarkable collection of more than 6,000 orchids. The grounds are often a venue for private parties and weddings.
The cafe is open everyday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and offers sandwiches, salads, soups, pastries and other snacks. The Garden Shop offers a selection of plants, books and gifts especially for children. A great place to shop for gifts for plant lovers, this shop also helps support the gardens.
The Gardens are open 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM every day except Christmas Day, so make it a point to schedule part of your vacation time in this lush tropical spot.
Admission prices: Adults $17, Children 6-11 $6, Members Free.
An annual membership begins at $60 and includes:
- Membership for one adult
- 1 guest per visit
- 2 free distribution plants annual Fall Members’ Day
The gardens is the location for many Sarasota events also offers classes year round: gardening, photography, art, and health/self discovery! Members get discounts on class fees.
See a list of the current events at the gardens on their website calendar. Contact the gardens for information about group tours and school programs at 941-366-5731.
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is located at 811 South Palm Avenue in Sarasota.
Tucked into the city of Sarasota is a fanciful two acre garden for children. Want to cultivate a child’s imagination? Just set them free in this park under a beautiful shade canopy. It’s a feast for the eyes with whimsical art, topiary animals and funky buildings.
I last visited during the annual Reading Day event and was delighted with the fun that children of all ages were having. With sculptures to climb on, a stage for performing, a pirate ship to stimulate creative play and colorful creatures around every corner – this may just the best place in Sarasota for interactive play!
The garden is open 7 days a week from 10-5. It’s also available for birthday parties and weddings as well as the weekly story time on Thursday mornings. Make a Wish foundation, All Faith’s Food Bank, and the Humane Society of Sarasota are just a few of the local organizations that benefit from special events Robin holds at The Children’s Garden annually.
The Sarasota Children’s Garden is a non-profit gem located at 1670 10th Way. The cost per child (under 13) is only $5, for kids over 13 – including adults who may feel like a kid in this fairyland – a day ticket is $10. Many locals who frequent this amazing playground take advantage of the Family Membership. It’s just $75.00 for 2 adult cards and 3 guests. Check out their special events and other details at their website.
Sarasota offers a wealth of outdoor activities. There are trails, parks, waterways and beaches to explore. Myakka River State Park is one of Florida’s largest parks with hiking, camping, and fishing. The Myakka River flows through 58 square miles of wetlands, prairies and woodlands.