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Sarasota Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019 2 years ago

No time to lose: Must do places to visit before summer is over

With the kids or without, here are five must-experience destinations for summer vacation in Sarasota.
by: Whitney Elfstrom Staff Writer

This can work two ways.

In a little more than a week, school begins, and your opportunity to plot a quick, fun, summer day around Sarasota with the kids will be gone.

Or if you prefer, in little more than a week, school begins, and your opportunity to plot a quick, fun, summer day around Sarasota without the kids will be here.

The choice is yours. But to help you plan, here are five destinations you must consider for an inexpensive (or free) adventure to close out the traditional summer vacation season.

See you there.

Siesta Beach

Sisters Monica, 6, and Angela Kaplan, 10, visit Siesta Beach from Georgia.

Do you really live in Sarasota if you haven’t spent a full day relaxing on Siesta Beach? We vote no. Spend one — or two or three — of your final summer days having a quintessential beach day. Stingray shuffle your way into the water, and soak up the Gulf. Tap into your inner child, and build a sandcastle, or play a game of beach volleyball. Eat your Publix sub — there’s a store just off the key at Gulf Gate — in the shade. Then stroll the length of the beach (it’s about 3.2 miles round trip from the public park to the south). 

Pro tip: Siesta Key is one of the top 10 beaches in the world, so it’s always busy. Be sure to get there early
to claim your spot.

Celery Fields

Nicole Ricciardi runs through Celery Fields three to four times a week.

Hike uphill? In Florida? Celery Fields, 6893 Palmer Blvd., offers more than 300 acres of nature, popular with birdwatchers, photographers and hikers. If a change of altitude is your goal (and you’re tired of causeways), try the trails or the park’s centerpiece 75-foot manmade hill. Don’t be surprised to see serious-looking hikers training for more hilly terrain. The trails are mostly gentle, but there are two nonsanctioned paths straight up, guarded by “Try at your own risk” signs.

Pro tip: If you visit Celery Fields right after it rains, you’ll most likely get the muddy trails to yourself — but maybe leave your good running shoes at home.


Nam Kaufmann often visits Pinecraft from Kissimmee because she says the town because "the pay and ice cream are to die for."

Surrounding the intersection of Bahia Vista Street and Beneva Road is an enclave of restaurants, ice cream shops, furniture stores and a fresh produce market. Home to nearly 3,000 Amish and Mennonite residents, the community is another side of Sarasota. Pinecraft Park borders Phillipi Creek and is a green oasis in the middle of the city. Don’t miss an ice cream cone from Big Olaf’s Creamery or a slice of pie from Yoder’s Restaurant and Amish Village. 

Downtown Sarasota

"BRAVO" by Sarasota artist Jorge Blanco is one of the many downtown sculptures.

Spend the day window shopping — or actual shopping — as you wander along Main Street. The city has a collection of public art in its roundabouts worth seeing, and more is on the way. 

The walk from U.S. 301 to U.S. 41 is about a mile and half roundtrip (you didn’t want to see the county jail, anyway, did you?). If you get hungry, eat. Thirsty? Drink. Want to buy something, take your pick of dozens of shops.

Legacy Trail

Legacy Trail stretches 10.75 miles long.

Although it’s mostly used as a cycling trail, the 10.75-mile path from Palmer Ranch to Venice is a great walking and running venue. Just watch out for spandex-clad riders exceeding the 15 mph speed limit. Jump on at Culverhouse Park or at any one of several access points along McIntosh Road or near Bay Street in Osprey. Highlight: the bridges over Dona Bay as the trail approaches Venice to the south. 

Pro tip: If you’re riding a bike, be sure to announce yourself as you close in on slower riders or people on foot. “On your left” is the phrase to use, and listen for it when riders or others are passing you.

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I’m the Sarasota community reporter, which means I cover the people, places and things of Sarasota. I graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a degree in journalism and digital communication and a minor in English. 

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