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31 activities in Sarasota County to “Take Your Child Outside”

Did You Get Outside During Take A Child Outside Week!

September 24-30 was “Take A Child Outside Week”. UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County partnered with multiple agencies to offer opportunities for families to participate in nature-based experiences. If you missed out on any of those opportunities we invite you to find your own adventures on the list below. It includes 31 activities in Sarasota County to explore with your family or on your own. That’s enough for an entire month of adventures!

Health Benefits of Nature

While you’re out having fun and connecting with family in nature, also know that you and your family are benefiting physically and mentally!

Multiple studies have shown a direct link between nature and improvements in both mental and physical health, including:

  • increased physical activity, so important to combat the rising rates of obesity and diabetes in our youth. Cardiovascular activity is also linked with academic success!
  • decreased heart rate and blood pressure
  • decreased cortisol levels (cortisol is a hormone produced during stress)

    Hiking together at Myakka River State Park! Photo: L.H. Byron

  • improved immunity
  • improved engagement in academics
  • decreased school absences
  • increased self-discipline and impulse control: this leads to an increased ability to delay gratification, another predictor of academic success and resiliency
  • increased self-confidence
  • improved leadership skills, problem-solving abilities, and communication skills
  • reduction in the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD)
  • decreased anxiety, depression, and aggression
  • improved mood and attention
  • increased feelings of awe, gratitude, and selflessness


A Month of Nature-based Activities

Below is a list of 31 nature-based family activities in Sarasota County. Enough for every day for a month! Explore and Enjoy!

Explore Your World Backpack Photo:  K. Clements

  1. Check out an Explore Your World backpack for free from your local Sarasota County Library and go explore!
  2. Find the owls located on the trails at Pine Craft Park.
  3. Go skim boarding at Lido Beach.
  4. Go snorkeling at Nokomis Beach.
  5. Kayak the mangrove tunnels and relax at the island at Ted Sperling Nature Park.
  6. Take a bike ride on the Legacy Trail.
  7. Park your car at Oscar Scherer State Park and bike for ice cream in downtown Venice.
  8. Catch and release crabs at the North Siesta Key Bridge at low tide. Don’t forget to look out for dolphins at Nora Patterson Bay Island Park too.

    Snorkeling fun! Photo: L.H. Byron

  9. Bring nets to catch grasshoppers along the trails at Jelks Preserve.
  10. Hike the loop along the Myakka River at Sleeping Turtles Preserve North.
  11. Snorkel at Siesta’s Point of Rocks (Park at Beach Access 12).
  12. Go dip netting in the seagrass flats at Ken Thompson Park.
  13. Explore the beaches and boardwalks at Quick Point Nature Preserve on Longboat Key.
  14. Look for sharks’ teeth at Manasota Beach.

    Find a shark’s tooth! Photo: L.H. Byron

  15. Play frisbee golf at North Water Tower Park.
  16. Take your dog out for a run at the dog park at Lakeview Park.
  17.  Skateboard at Payne Skate Park.
  18.  Check out the boats and then relax on a swing while the kids play on the playground at Bayfront Park and Marina.
  19. Go fishing at Tony Saprito Fishing Pier.
  20. Look for turtles and ducks in the pond at Arlington Park.
  21. Bring a picnic dinner to Phillippi Estate Park, then walk the short trail and  play on the playground.

    Hug a tree! Photo: K. Clements

  22. Explore the scrub and flatwoods at Old Miakka Preserve.
  23. Find a tree to hug at Red Bug Slough Preserve.
  24. Walk the mangrove trail at The Bay Park.
  25. Take a picnic dinner and watch a sunset at Bay Preserve at Osprey.
  26. Explore the canopy walk, take a bike ride along the park road, look for alligators at the bridge, or look for birds at the boardwalk at Myakka River State Park.
  27. Paddle the southern Myakka River from Snook Haven (and stay for lunch or dinner).

    Kayak one of our amazing freshwater or coastal sites! Photo: Sarasota County PRNR

  28. Kayak along the creek at Deer Prairie Creek Preserve.
  29. Fly a kite at Siesta Beach.
  30. Hike the hill and bring your binoculars to look for birds at Celery Fields Regional Stormwater Facility.
  31. Walk the trail and look for deer at Rothenbach Park.


For more nature-based opportunities Register for one of our classes, enjoy a virtual shinrin yoku (forest-bathing) experience, or learn more with our LIFE: Science Short videos.

Contributors also include: Lee Hayes Byron, County Extension Director; Abbey Tyrna, Water Resources Agent; and Sara Kane, Sustainability Program Supervisor for UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County

2 Comments on “31 activities in Sarasota County to “Take Your Child Outside”

  1. Lots of good idea for our Christmas week with the grands. They earned Junior Ranger badges at the Cape Cod National Seashore this summer and we want them to continue to explore and enjoy our natural world.
    Katherine, I am also a MGV

    • So great to share the outdoors of Cape Cod and Sarasota with your grandchildren! What happy memories and amazing experiences they will have!