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Myakka River State Park picture in Sarasota
The Photography Factory / Getty Images

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  • Hiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation Type
  • 2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.8
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  • Value
    4.5
  • Facilities
    4.5
  • Atmosphere
    5.0

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Considered one of Florida's oldest and largest state parks, Myakka River State Park stretches across 58 square miles of wetlands, hammocks, pinelands and prairies. The area also features a river and two lakes, making it a prime place to enjoy water activities like canoeing, kayaking and fishing. Or, visitors can tour the lakes via one of the attraction's airboats, which are the largest in the world. Land-based tours are offered seasonally as well.

Though some travelers caution that finding the park's entrance and parking near the lake's main activities can be a bit of a challenge, many agree that this scenic spot is a must-visit for nature lovers. All sorts of animals – including alligators, roseate spoonbills and armadillos – are known to frequent the area. What's more, the park offers nearly 40 miles of hiking trails – including one walkway suspended 25 feet above the ground – and several biking paths.

Myakka River State Park sits 18 miles southeast of downtown Sarasota along the same highway that connects visitors to Sarasota National Cemetery. Public transportation is not available to the area, so travelers will need to hail a taxi or hire a car to get to and from the park. Free parking is provided, but fees apply to enter the park, which is open every day from 8 a.m. to sunset. Standard admission costs $4 per vehicle with one passenger (or $6 for every vehicle with two to eight people), while travelers who plan to camp in one of the on-site campgrounds can enter for $26 per night (plus a nonrefundable reservation fee of $6.70). Bikes, kayaks and canoes can also be rented by the hour, and airboat and tram tours – the latter of which are only available Dec. 16 through May 31 – cost $14 per adult and $7 for each child ages 6 to 12. Kids 5 and younger ride for free. Other amenities include restrooms, a cafe, a visitors center and two gift shops. For more information about Myakka River State Park, visit its website.

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#1 Myakka River State Park Considered one of Florida's oldest and largest state parks, Myakka River State Park stretches across 58 square miles of wetlands, hammocks, pinelands and prairies. The area also features a ... Read more » The Photography Factory / Getty Images

#2 The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, which features thousands of Medieval, Renaissance, Greek, Roman and Cypriot antiquities and works of art, is the main attraction on The Ringling ... Read more » Marje / Getty Images

Marje / Getty Images

#4 Lido Key Beach Though visitors have access to several beaches in Sarasota County, one of the easiest to reach from downtown is Lido Key Beach. Situated less than 5 miles southwest of the ... Read more » fallbrook / Getty Images

#5 Marie Selby Botanical Gardens Once the home and grounds of amateur gardener Marie Selby, the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens opened to the public in 1975 after the death of its namesake. The garden, which ... Read more » Photo by Cathy Scola / Getty Images

#6 Sarasota National Cemetery Designed to highlight Sarasota's background as a military post for flight training, the 295-acre Sarasota National Cemetery has served as the final resting place for thousands of fallen veterans ... Read more » Dennis Macdonald / Getty Images

#7 Golf To many travelers, Sarasota may not be the first Florida destination to come to mind when thinking of a golf getaway. But golfers regularly seek out this city's championship ... Read more » Marje / Getty Images

#8 Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium Part-research center, part-aquarium, Mote Laboratory & Aquarium features nine exhibits, including two interactive areas and a 135,000-gallon shark tank. In total, the property houses more than 100 species of ... Read more » genenphotos / Getty Images

#9 Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary Animal lovers and families will likely enjoy Sarasota's Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary. This attraction has cared for exotic animals like lions, tigers, bears and chimpanzees since ... Read more » Manuela Schewe-Behnisch / EyeEm / Getty Images

Myakka River State Park picture in Sarasota
The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art picture in Sarasota
Ca' d'Zan picture in Sarasota
Lido Key Beach picture in Sarasota
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens picture in Sarasota
Sarasota National Cemetery picture in Sarasota
Golf picture in Sarasota
Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium picture in Sarasota
Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary picture in Sarasota
Myakka River State Park picture in Sarasota
The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art picture in Sarasota
Ca' d'Zan picture in Sarasota
Lido Key Beach picture in Sarasota
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens picture in Sarasota
Sarasota National Cemetery picture in Sarasota
Golf picture in Sarasota
Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium picture in Sarasota
Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary picture in Sarasota

Spread throughout 58 square miles of wet and dry landscapes, Myakka River State Park offers an array of outdoor activities, such as kayaking, hiking and airboat tours. The Photography Factory / Getty Images

Housed in a U-shaped palace designed by former Ringling Bros. Circus founder and art collector John Ringling, The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art features multiple collections that include classical sculptures, Asian artworks and contemporary pieces. Marje / Getty Images

The Venetian Gothic-inspired Ca' d'Zan, which sits on the same property as The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, was once the home of Ringling Bros. Circus founder John Ringling. Marje / Getty Images

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Once the home of recreational gardener Marie Selby, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens houses eight greenhouses with roughly 5,000 species of living plants. Photo by Cathy Scola / Getty Images

Though this burial site isn't as well-known as Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., Sarasota National Cemetery offers an equally beautiful tribute to fallen members of the United States' armed forces. Dennis Macdonald / Getty Images

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In addition to serving as a marine wildlife research facility, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium has an aquarium with two touch tanks, a manatee exhibit and a 135,000-gallon shark habitat. genenphotos / Getty Images

At the Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary, travelers can see animals like lions, bears, chimpanzees and tigers up close. Manuela Schewe-Behnisch / EyeEm / Getty Images

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