If nature you seek, and can do without playgrounds, pavilions and bathrooms, Quick Point Nature Preserve on Longboat Key is your place.
Buzz Aldrin famously described the moon's surface in 1969 as 'magnificent desolation.'
While Quick Point Nature Preserve, and the adjoining Overlook Park, are anything but desolate, they are pretty magnificent. And, on a recent stop there, a visitor encountered exactly the same number of people encountered by Aldrin and Neil Armstrong on their Apollo 11 lunar-landing mission.
Pets are not allowed, but you'll probably see plenty of wildlife to make up for leaving the dog at home. The 34 acres of the nature preserve connects with a trail under the New Pass drawbridge to Longboat Key's Overlook Park, from which anglers often cast a line or a net.
To find it, look for the turn off Gulf of Mexico Drive on the west side, between the bridge and the traffic light at Longboat Club Road. It closes at dark.
In the nature preserve, there are tidal pools — natural and created — that attract juvenile and mature fish and an array of birds. Ospreys are particularly well-represented.
Mangroves, naturally, are everywhere.
White, sandy beaches overlook New Pass, and there are plenty of sightseeing vantage points of Sarasota Bay and beyond.