Sarasota is known for its beaches. It has coastal hiking trails that show off Sarasota Bay and the estuaries, and paddling routes to follow along the protected side of the barrier islands. It also is the northern terminus of the Legacy Trail, which stretches along the former Atlantic Coast Line route that the Ringling Brothers Circus once took to its winter home in Venice.
To its east is a large swath of natural lands protecting the Myakka River floodplain. Foremost among these is Myakka River State Park, a well-established state park with great camping and historic cabins. Backpackers have one of the state’s longest backpacking loops to explore on the Myakka Hiking Trail amid wide open prairies and oak hammocks.
When you live in a tightly packed space, you need somewhere green as your go-to place nearby. These are our top picks for parks in Florida’s urban areas, chosen for their diversity of outdoor activities and/or their unique green spaces.
At Spanish Point, scents hang heavy in the morning air: a moonflower in the act of closing for the day, the sweetness of citrus blossoms, the purple morning-glory clambering over mangroves, the brush of salt breezes.