Sarasota

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Optimum Sarasota day trips are largely to nearby beaches, where you can horseback ride on the beach, or even hunt for sharks’ teeth. Outlying areas within a 30-minute drive provide a bounty of opportunities to explore the region’s natural side, as well as its history.

Day Trips from Sarasota

Historic Spanish Point in Osprey

This 30-acre outdoor museum celebrates the 140-plus-year pioneer heritage of one of the region’s first settlements and gives a glimpse back in time courtesy of “A Window to the Past,” the only exhibition in the country offering a look inside a prehistoric shell midden (mound). Nature trails lead to the estate of socialite Bertha Palmer, a reconstructed citrus packing plant, botanical gardens, and charming Mary’s Chapel.

Take Tamiami Trail south about 10 miles to Osprey, www.historicspanishpoint.org
Tags: family | great value | history | day trip | gardens

Myakka River State Park

Explore the park’s 39 miles of trails by car or foot, including the 7-mile Scenic Park Drive, the Bird Walk, and suspended Canopy Walkway. Rent a kayak or canoe, or board the Gator Gal, the world’s largest airboat for the chance to see Florida alligators up close.  

Nine miles east of I-75 on State Rd. 72, www.myakkariver.org
Tags: family | hiking | day trip | wildlife | adventure

Orlando

Disney World, SeaWorld, Universal Orlando Resort, and O-Town’s other top attractions are just a 2-hour drive from Sarasota. Bonus of a Sarasota stay: You’ll pay it’s comparatively cheap hotel prices and escape the crowds at the end of the day. See our Orlando Travel Guide.

About 125 miles northeast, www.orlandoinfo.com
Tags: family | smart splurge | day trip | amusement park

Palma Sola Bay in Bradenton

Tim Mattox, a former polo coach, is one of the few Florida equestrians to bring his ponies to the beach to play – and the only one offering “horse surfing,” when the horses horse around in the water. Expect to get wet!

Follow Longboat Key’s Gulf of Mexico Dr. north for about 10 miles, turn right onto Manatee and look for the horse trailers, www.beachhorses.com
Tags: beach | family | smart splurge | day trip | horseback riding | adventure

Prime Outlets in Ellenton

Browse outlet and factory stores like Coach, Saks Off Fifth, and 130 others for apparel, housewares, sporting goods, and more. Should the kids get bored or hot, check out the public skating rink at the Ice and Sports Complex.

About 20 miles north of Sarasota; take I-75 to exit 224, www.primeoutlets.com
Tags: family | shopping | great value | day trip | designer

Venice Beach

Although shark sightings are rare, Venice Beach offers proof of their once mighty presence in the form of fossilized teeth (some even hail from extinct species). Venice’s municipal beach is touted as the shark-tooth capital of the world, and almost any visitor will find some choppers. Nearby restaurants and shops provide a respite from the sun.

About 20 miles south of downtown Sarasota, www.venicechamber.com
Tags: beach | family | history | day trip

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