Near downtown Sarasota, Phillippi Estate Park contains a compact chronicle of the ancient past, Cuban ranchos, Chicago connections from the 1900s, and current cultural offerings.
Nature trails, both paved and shell, provide shaded walkways through a coastal hammock and follow alongside a mangrove habitat.
Live oaks, cabbage palms and slash pines on a 0.4 mile coastal hammock loop have a thick understory of beautyberry, wild coffee, coral bean and bracken fern.
A sizable gazebo next to the west parking lot faces a large grassy area with picnic tables and a children’s playground. A paddling launch and fishing piers are other popular destinations.
Because of its importance to regional history, the entire park is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Resources for exploring the area
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Length: 0.9 mile loop
Trailhead: 27.2700, -82.5338
Address: 5500 South Tamiami Trail, Sarasota
Restroom: At the trailhead
Land manager: Sarasota County
Open 6 AM to midnight daily. Leashed dogs welcome.
Paved paths are accessible. Bicycles allowed on all trails, paved and unpaved. A walk-in neighborhood pedestrian entrance is across from the gazebo and restrooms.
The Nature Trail Loop can be very buggy during the wet summer months.
From Interstate 75 in Sarasota, take the Bee Ridge exit. Travel west for 5.1 miles. Turn left onto Tamiami Trail (US 41), go 2 miles then turn right into Phillippi Estate Park. After turning into the park, the Edson Keith Mansion is straight ahead. Parking lots located to the left and right.
From the front entrance turn left into the west parking lot. Begin your hike on the paved sidewalk starting between the restrooms and the gazebo.
An information kiosk is located here and contains a trail map.
Go behind the gazebo and then straight ahead to start the Phillippi Estate Walking Trail loop. A sign says this is a 0.4 mile walk (500 steps). To count or not to count? That is the question.
The trail is shaded by cypress, oak and palm trees. Beneath them are ferns, beautyberry bushes, and tall wild coffee with lush, polished leaves.
At 0.2 mile, a sign notes a beehive is in area. Bees are not naturally aggressive. These are wild bees in the trees, and the sign moves around as the bees change location in the park.
Emerge from the shell path (Nature Trail Loop) and continue on the paved trail past a playground and a Little Free Library.
The paved trail curves at the water’s edge. This is the site of the canoe/kayak launch.
After a half mile, just past a fishing pier walkway on the left, is the entrance to the Rose Garden.
Most of the roses have been removed by volunteer gardeners and replaced with natives and other flowering bushes. A large gardenia bush is quite fragrant when in bloom.
Benches placed along the shell path have generous views of Phillippi Creek. There are also benches at the ends of the fishing piers.
At 0.6 mile the shell trail goes into a loop identified as a Selby Foundation Legacy Path.
Do the loop then head back on the shell trail towards the mansion. Take the shell trail that runs directly behind the mansion.
The side of this part of the trail is heavily planted with muhly grass and beach sunflowers. As with other parts of this walk, signs with history of the area are posted.
Continue on the shell path that ends at the restrooms, and you’ll complete the paved path where the walk began.
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Joan M. Durante Community Park
A bayfront park on Longboat Key with boardwalks meandering through mangrove forests plus wide shell paths traversing a native upland hammock.
Urfer Family Park
Share nature with the kids along Bee Ridge on 1.4 miles of family-friendly trails in a popular county park with four playgrounds surrounding a 1905 home open for tours.
A historic agricultural area transformed into a haven for birders, Celery Fields offers easy walking, running, and biking on paved and unpaved trails built around restored wetlands.
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Most notable for its collection of more than 6,000 orchids, Marie Selby Gardens are a must-see for those who love tropical plants, especially epiphtyes. The many specialized gardens range from a children’s garden play area to succulents and cycads to a banyan grove, mangrove walkway, and tropical fruit and medicinal gardens.