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Visit Sarasota county

Florida's Gulf Coast

Authentic Florida: Try Our State Parks

By Robin Draper

Beyond Sarasota County’s beautiful beaches, shopping, dining and cultural amenities, there is something else to make your visit special.Discover a glimpse of Florida’s “natural” side and its authentic beauty in our Florida State Parks.

Myakka River State Park

East of Sarasota off State Road 72, Myakka River State Park is one of Florida’s oldest and largest parks covering approximately 58 square miles of wetlands, prairies, hammocks, pinelands and riverine swamps. Towering oak trees draped in moss shade the roadways and many of the trails. Acres of Florida vegetation including the state tree, called the Sabal Palm, covers miles of scenic beauty. The Myakka River runs through the park and is considered one of Florida’s most spectacular waterways anywhere.

Myakka Park is a delightful family getaway with a little something for everyone. Visitors can hike, bike, fish, bird, boat, or enjoy an old-fashioned tram ride, canopy walk, camp or picnic – all in the surroundings of one of the area’s best “old” Florida settings.

Oscar Scherer State Park

Located south of Sarasota off U.S. Highway 41 lies one of the area’s best secrets, Oscar Scherer State Park. Visitors can hardly believe that this natural and scenic sanctuary is so close to neighboring developments and urban amenities. It is a pristine pocket of natural beauty along South Creek.

Oscar Scherer protects the rare scrubby and pine flatwoods habitat that was once widespread throughout Florida. The park is also one of the state’s best places to experience an up-close encounter with the Florida scrub-jay. This little blue bird with a curious demeanor is a true native Floridian and a threatened species.

 Myakka State Forest

For the serious outdoor adventurer, a must-visit is the Myakka State Forest. To get there, head south of Venice to the City of North Port.

This is the place that avid mountain bikers, hikers, horseback riders and primitive campers call their outdoor playground. Myakka State Forest, located off River Road, provides a rare opportunity to enjoy and play in thousands of acres of pristine, natural Florida. With so much area to roam and the plethora of wildlife, you are in for a special and authentic Florida experience.


For more information or to download a Discover Natural Sarasota guide, visit today. 

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