Myakka River State Park#1 in Best Things To Do in Sarasota
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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#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 museum campus. Numerous galleries showcase pieces from Ringling Bros. Circus co-founder John Ringling's personal collection, including paintings by Velázquez, Rubens and Veronese. And in the museum's courtyard, 20th-century bronze and stone casts of iconic works like Michelangelo's "David" are on display.
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