10 Family Activities in Sarasota & Bradenton Area
1) Mote Marine Aquarium, Sarasota
Interactive Mote Aquarium starts the day breakfasting with sharks and more often than not ends up moonlight kayaking round Sarasota Bay. Conservation and education are as important here as fun. Early risers can join sharks for first feed, help with Morning Rounds or book a tour of the Seahorse Lab. Eco-boat rides and guided kayak tours extend the aquarium adventure out into the Gulf for sightings of manatee, dolphin, eagles and osprey. Mote easily fills a day – leave at least two hours to see the aquarium alone.
2) Treeumph Aerial Adventure Course, Bradenton Area
Head for heights? Head to Treeumph, South West Florida’s biggest, tallest and zippiest aerial obstacle course in over 14 acres of sunny and soaring Bradenton forest. The courses are a combo of zip-lines, bridges, slides, pulleys and spectacularly inventive obstacles you have to see to believe. All harnesses use advanced Clic-It technology. And nobody climbs anywhere until they’ve been thoroughly briefed by the friendly Treeumph team at Base Camp. Treeumph junior courses are designed for kids from age seven.
3) Kayak Tours, Anna Maria Island
For the laid-back, beachy and old time Florida charm, only found in ice cream paint colours, soda parlours, cute little stores, seafood shacks and acre upon acres of pure white sands; you want Anna Maria Island. Just 20 minutes from Bradenton Area, this pretty offshore island is a perfect family holiday base and land of adventure for nature lovers. If you need proof, take a guided kayak tour of Anna Maria Sound. Sailing through deeply mysterious Mangroves, spotting pods of dolphin feeding, gliding around rookeries, under bridges and close to oyster shoals, it’s an archetypal Gulf Coast experience guided by fun and ridiculously knowledgeable locals. Beach Bums on Anna Maria Island rent everything from bikes to paddle boards and even deliver to your holiday home.
4) Deep Sea Fishing, Bradenton Area
You don’t need more than a passing acquaintance with Florida’s Gulf Coast to be aware of its world class deep sea fishing. Hemingway was a big fan of the local sport and countless keen amateurs and hardy professionals follow his lead here every year. Truth is, you don’t need to know the difference between a Sea Bass and a Trigger for a family fishing trip. Expertise, tuition, equipment and encouragement are all part of a day out with Cortez. They even clean your fish, so all you have to do is catch and cook. The experience is nothing like sitting on a dock, patiently waiting for something to bite: it’s high energy, all action and far, far out to sea. No worries about bored younger kids, and teens will rise to the challenge in minutes. Plus there’s nothing quite like satisfying that primal urge to feed your brood – from scratch. Cortez go deep sea fishing twice a day, 363 days a year, weather permitting.
5) Family Boat Tours, Sarasota
When a boat tour is upfront with a guarantee of a dolphin or manatee sighting, you have to put it to the test. Especially if the tour company are so keen to keep their word, they’ll take you out sailing again for free if they don’t come good on cetacean spotting first time round. Le Barge Tropical Cruises in Sarasota aren’t shy on promises of dolphins, they’re good for manatee and stingray too and big on wild birds doesn’t even begin to describe their in-depth knowledge of what flies above the Gulf on any given day. A great choice for families, they offer discounts on group bookings, can be hired for private charters and if their boats could be cuter, it’s difficult to know how.
6) Circus Arts Classes, Sarasota
Sarasota’s circus traditions stretch back almost 80 years to the days when John Ringling first made the city his winter home for Ringling Bros. and the legendary Barnum & Bailey Circus. The historic legacy’s kept alive today by Circus Sarasota where the smell of greasepaint and the roar of the crowd are up for grabs all summer long, thanks to an innovative Circus Summer Camp. A week of non-stop thrills, skills and unique adventure aimed at introducing kids to the art of everything from clowning to high-flying, tightrope walking and ring mastery.
7) Sarasota Jungle Gardens
Year-round kids event programme, special occasion celebrations, adventure playgrounds and extensive nature trails are part of the fun. Jungle Gardens has been a firm favourite with generations of local families but still manages to stay fresh and exciting. Look out for star attractions like feeding flamingos, playing with mini-pigs, caring for injured animals and exploring Old Florida.
8) Manatee Village Historical Park, Bradenton Area
If you’ve ever wondered what life was like in Florida before orange juice and theme parks, visit Manatee Village and all will be revealed. This beautifully recreated pioneer village is precise down to the tiniest detail and sweeps you back to a time of mills and blacksmiths, wooden courthouses, dry goods’ stores, smokehouses, potteries and well-tended vegetable gardens. It’s a living museum without a hint of stuffiness thanks to a community of resident artists and artisans who work and exhibit here. There are events, big and small, all year round from farm markets to heritage open days – everyone welcome. And even the playground has a touch of history mixed in with the slides, chutes and swings. Manatee Village Historical Park has free entry year round.
9) Coquina Beach, Anna Maria Island, Bradenton Area
In 2015, Conde Nast Traveller named Coquina Beach one of the ‘Top Five Beaches in the World for Perfect Sand’. Fortunately this accolade hasn’t brought crowds flocking to Anna Maria Island to see for themselves. So, the sugary white shore is as flawless as ever but there’s still plenty of space to spread out, have a picnic, play with the kids and compose your own glowing review. Coquina Beach is part of Gulfside Park at the south end of Anna Maria Island and famously good for marked hiking trails.
10) Siesta Beach, Sarasota
TripAdvisor’ Traveller’s Choice Awards 2017 named Siesta, ‘Best Beach in USA’, and ranked it in the world’s top ten best. There are several volleyball courts, safe and shallow waters for swimming and full time lifeguard patrols. And, just for good measure, Siesta also has Blue Wave status for cleanliness and water quality. Picnic pavilions and shaded rest areas make a day out easy-going with younger kids in high summer and the beach is just 20 minutes’ drive from Downtown Sarasota.
For more information on outdoor adventure or any holiday to Sarasota & Bradenton Area give us a call on 020 8742 8299 and we will be happy to tailor-make a holiday to suit you!