Sarasota

I spent this past weekend in one of my favorite Florida cities, Sarasota. I left early Saturday morning, where I was treated to a gorgeous big full moon as I made my way west across the state. My first destination was Myakka River State Park. Once in the park, I made a b-line to the canopy walkway. The walkway is suspended 25 feet above the ground and leads to a tower that is 74 feet high overlooking a nice portion of the park. I then went over to the river, where I was greeted by a flock of turkey vultures. I didn’t go canoeing this time, but in the past, I’ve gone canoeing here, where you see alligators all over the water. It’s a bit intimidating, to say the least.

After exploring the park a bit more, I drove over to the disc golf course at North Watertower Park. I played a quick round there and then headed over to the Sarasota Jungle Gardens. I’ve only been here once, about 7 years ago, and always wanted to go back. And it was just as nice as I remembered it the first time. Known as a zoological gardens, there were some animal exhibits and shows there but not as many as a typical zoo. There was also a great paved ‘jungle’ trail that winded in and around the gardens. After spending about an hour there, I was still in the mood for some golf, so I drove back over to Watertower Park for another round.

I then headed into the downtown section where I stopped at Bayfront Park for a few hours. I’ll always make a point of stopping here when I’m in town, and I could easily spend all day out here. I also meandered over to the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, but there was an Asian Festival going on, so I decided not to go in. I also walked around Sarasota’s historic downtown section before making my way onto Siesta Key.

I reserved a campsite on Turtle Beach, which is just south of Siesta Key, and after getting my tent set up, I headed over to the beach on Siesta to watch a beautiful sunset. With its white sands, this is one of my favorite places to watch the sunset and it was another gorgeous one. I then headed a little further north to St. Armands Circle on Longboat Key for dinner and an evening stroll around the area. Since I was already passing by there on my way back to the campground, I made one more stop at Bayfront again to enjoy the perfect night along the bay.

Since my campsite was right next to the beach, I took a nice Sunday morning stroll on the white sands of Turtle Beach. I then drove back over to Longboat Key, where I walked along the bridge for some great views of the downtown Sarasota skyline. Next, I went back to St. Armands for breakfast and photos. I then continued north on Longboat up to Bradenton Beach, where I hung out for an hour or so. My next stop was at Mote Aquarium, which was my second time there. A small aquarium, it has many cool features, including a shark tank full of hammerheads and a sea turtle tank where you can practically touch them. Of course, you’re not allowed to, and plus they bite! Just outside the aquarium is a bird rehabilitation center called Save Our Seabirds Sanctuary.

After the aquarium, I drove back through Sarasota and stopped at Oscar Scherer Park for some hiking and lunch. I was last here a couple years ago where my disc golf buddy and I camped out for our west coast disc golf adventure. But I didn’t get a chance to hike the trails, so I was really looking forward to coming back here. A few of the hikes go along the South Creek, with excellent views of the waterway and wildlife. It’s also great for canoeing, which I still have yet to do at this park. Hopefully next time, though.

I was hoping to catch another sunset, so I decided to leave Sarasota and drive a couple hours south to Bonita Springs, where I was just at a month earlier. I got in a round of golf at the course there, and then drove over to the beach in hopes of finding a parking spot in time for the sunset. It wasn’t looking good for a while there, and I kept driving around, but amazing found one just in time for one of the coolest sunsets I’ve ever seen. After the sun sank behind the pink clouds, it then reappeared just over the water in a beautiful purple tint, where I watched it melt into the water. It was like 2 sunsets for the price of one. I felt extremely lucky to get a parking spot and even luckier to witness such a majestic sunset.

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