With a warm and sunny climate, Sarasota is home to some of the best beaches in the country. In fact, Siesta Key Beach was voted the second-best beach in 2023 by Trip Advisor. However, Sarasota has so much more to offer in terms of outdoor attractions. Its many parks and natural landscape are favorable to exploring nature both for visitors and locals.
Let’s take a look at the kind of activities that you can enjoy outdoors in the Sarasota area. We’ve also included some useful tips and tricks about the best ways to store your hobby gear while not in use that will allow you to keep them in good condition.
If you live in Sarasota, kayaking is something you can do to spend some time on the water and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. There are many spots that are ideal for kayaking, including the Oscar Scherer State Park, which is teeming with wildlife. The park is home to over 200 bird species, alligators and more.
Other Sarasota parks, such as Celery Fields and Lido Key, also offer great kayaking opportunities while also offering the chance to see the wildlife. It’s especially exciting if you’ve never seen dolphins, manatees or fish up close.
As it turns out, Sarasota is a place where water sports are right at home and canoeing too. Spots that are kayak-friendly also cater to those who enjoy canoeing. The Nathan Benderson Park is a particularly great spot for canoe enthusiasts too.
Another water activity using a paddle, paddleboarding, is something you can take up in Sarasota too. Ted Sperling Park is ideal if you’re just learning to paddleboard, thanks to its gentle tides. You can also head to Nathan Benderson Park, where an artificial park lies, for more paddleboarding options. The park spreads over about 600 acres, and you can bring your own paddleboard, or you can rent one here.
Did you know that the Nathan Benderson Park has played host to the World Rowing Masters Regatta? It is a unique sporting event in that it’s the only course approved by the International Rowing Federation in North America. That’s why the park is ideal for rowing and rowing-related sporting events. Beginners can also take rowing lessons here.
The Sarasota coastal area offers scenic views that you can take in by boat as well. Whether you own your own boat or you’re renting one, the possibilities are endless. Boating here is a great way to explore the islands and do other activities, like fishing and scuba diving. If you’re vacationing here, you can take a boat tour to enjoy the sea breeze and watch the dolphins and the manatees.
6. Jet skiing
If you want to amp up the water fun a bit, jet skiing is sure to deliver. An ideal spot in the area would be the Sarasota Bay. If you’re a regular, you can bring your own equipment or you can rent the equipment.
Sarasota is also a haven for fishing enthusiasts, with plenty of fishing spots along the coast. Expect to find mackerel, flounder and redfish during the summer. You can also head out to Celery Fields for more fishing. Moreover, the Sunshine Skyway fishing pier is another place where you can throw your line. Spanish mackerel, grouper tarpon and kingfish are some species lurking beneath the water. If you venture away from the coast, you can even find sea bass, barracuda, amberjack and snapper.
8. Spend a day at the beach
Sarasota boasts 35 miles of beaches and amazing ones too. Siesta Key, Lido Key and Longboat Key are great options in the area. Soak up the sun and go for a swim for a simple day of fun. Both Manatee Public Beach and Anna Maria Island are great places for a beach day, with picnicking and grilling allowed here. Turtle Beach, which is not far from Sarasota, is another beach where you can spend a day – snorkeling is popular over here!
If you’re looking to take a break from water activities, you can also hike in Sarasota. The Oscar Scherer State Park is a perfect place to get out and about. With 15 miles of hiking trails, you can have your pick of hiking routes for the day. Besides Oscar Scherer Park, you can also hike at Celery Fields Park, which features scenic trails, wetlands, ponds and an observation mound.
Biking is just another way you can enjoy the wonderful Sarasota outdoors. Head out to the Myakka River State Park, one of the largest parks in Florida, spanning 37,000 acres. You can cycle around the park while catching a glimpse of the wildlife – don’t be surprised to see herons, armadillos and alligators here.
The Robinson Preserve, which spreads over 600 acres, also offers various cycling trails surrounded by mud flats, mangroves and waterfront habitats. Moreover, the Nathan Benderson Park also offers biking trails around the lake, which can make for a scenic spot to take your bike out for a spin.
If golfing is among your hobbies, you’re in luck, Sarasota is home to several golf courses. University Park, Founders and Sara Bay are some of them, but they require membership. Located close to the Siesta Key, the TPC Prestancia has played host to PGA championships. It is also a members-only club open to those joining the TPC. You can also consider Calusa, Waterford or Capri Isles, which are courses open to the public.
Besides regular golf, you can also segue into playing mini golf at the Sarasota Mini Golf Play, which comes with 18 holes – instead of nine – set up against a backdrop of caves, pirates’ ships, live alligators and a tropical setting peppered with waterfalls.
Birds are also part of Sarasota’s rich wildlife and a birdwatcher’s paradise. Celery Fields is a goldmine for those who are excited about bird spotting. You can expect to see sparrows, sandpipers, owls and meadowlarks here. Also, if you visit Save Our Seabirds – a rescue center for birds – you can also see birds that have been rescued and are in need of care.
If you enjoy camping, Myakka River State Park is ideal for sleeping under the starlit sky. It’s a big park, so you’ll have plenty of room to recharge your batteries in nature while observing the local wildlife, thanks in part to the expansive wetlands that still preserve the natural Floridian landscape. You can still enjoy nature out there by renting a cabin if traditional camping doesn’t suit you.
Lake Manatee is another ideal spot for camping. It is a man-made lake from the 1960s, created by the addition of a dam to the Manatee River. There are miles along the edge of the lake where you can camp, hike or even fish.
Tennis fans, rejoice! You can also partake in this sport in Sarasota. Head out to the Sarasota Public Tennis Courts located in the downtown area. You have access to 12 public tennis courts that come with canopy-covered bench seats, water fountains and locker rooms with showers. You can also take lessons here, serving juniors, adults and seniors.
For extreme sports enthusiasts, skydiving might just be the thing you can try in Sarasota. You’ll be able to get a wonderful view of West Florida from up above – with views spanning St. Petersburg to Port Charlotte. You can skydive in tandem with trained instructors and take in the amazing views of Sarasota, Tampa and Venice.
How to store your hobby gear when you’re not using them
Now that you’re familiar with all the kinds of activities you can enjoy in Sarasota, you should also plan what to do with your outdoor gear when you’re not out and about. Here’s what to take into account if storing the following:
- Skis and snowboards – brush and scrape the basis of your skis or snowboard and wax them to protect them during the summer
- Ice skates – wipe the blades to clean any residual snow to prevent them from rusting; also oil them before putting them in a bag
- Kayaks and canoes – clean inside out with a soft cloth to avoid any moisture from building up and also to remove any potential grime, salt or dirt that can harm them while they’re stowed away
- Fishing gear – wipe each part of your fishing pole to prevent any water, chemicals or oil from causing rust; once cleaned, keep fishing poles on a flat surface, a rack or a bag where they can stay straight
The next step is for you to decide whether these items are staying inside your home or not. If you have plenty of room in climate-controlled areas, storing your hobby gear at home could be a great idea. However, with home sizes trending smaller, chances are keeping them at home can be a challenge. Instead of keeping your bike, kayak, fishing gear or more inside your home – where they can clutter your living space – you can put them in storage. Renting a Sarasota, FL, storage unit can cost between $35 and $900 per month, depending on unit size. If you’re planning on storing smaller items, a 5’x5’ unit will suffice, but if you want to keep your bike or fishing gear in storage, you should consider a 5’x10’ or a 10’x10’ unit for even larger gear.