Insider's Guide 2017

Insider's Guide: Outdoor Resources

In Sarasota, there's plenty to do outside—from biking to water sports to festivals.

November 30, 2017 Published in the December 2017 issue of Sarasota Magazine

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Image: Shutterstock

Bike Rentals

POPCYCLES Borrow an Electra Townie, American’s best-selling bike, from this shop, located near I-75. 5130 Clark Road, Sarasota; (941) 921-2453;

SIESTA SPORTS RENTALS Located on Siesta Key, this company can outfit you with anything you need: bikes, scooters, kayaks and more. 6551 Midnight Pass Road, Siesta Key, Sarasota; (941) 346-1797;

VILLAGE BIKES Looking for a sleek road bike? Hit up one of this shop’s two locations to borrow a Cannondale SuperSix EVO. 3898 S. Osprey Ave., Sarasota, (941) 366-7702; 8111 Lakewood Ranch Main St., Lakewood Ranch, (941) 388-0550;

Watersports Rentals and Tours 

ALMOST HEAVEN KAYAK ADVENTURE Hit the water with this company, which rents kayaks and leads guided adventures. (941) 504-6296;

BAY AND GULF ADVENTURES This group offers guided kayak tours of Lido Key and Myakka River State Park, plus special bird watching trips. (941) 893-7221;

ECONOMY TACKLE DOLPHIN PADDLESPORTS Pick up a kayak or a standup paddleboard at this South Trail shop, which also stocks snorkeling and spearfishing gear. 6018 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota; (941) 922-9671;

HAPPY PADDLER Professional guides lead kayak tours and eco-adventures on Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key and Sarasota. (941) 773-1920;

ISLAND STYLE WATERSPORTS Go kayaking, windsurfing, kiteboarding or paddleboarding with this North Trail outfit. 2433 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota; (941) 954-1009;

LIQUID BLUE OUTFITTERS Spot manatees and dolphins with this company, specializing in guided trips through the Lido Key mangroves. 190 Taft Drive, Lido Key, (941) 306-1220;

H2O WATERSPORTZ Rent a jet ski, waverunner or 14- to 24-foot boat from this Manatee County outfitter. 4110 127th St. W., Cortez; (941) 538-4290;


DEER PRAIRIE CREEK PRESERVE Located between Venice and North Port, this 6,439-acre preserve has more than 70 acres of unpaved hiking trails. North entrance: 7001 Forbes Trail, Venice; south entrance: 10201 S. Tamiami Trail, Venice; (941) 861-5000

ENVIRONEERS ADVENTURE OUTFITTERS This Sarasota store has all the latest gear and gadgets for both short hikes and extended camping trips. 5373 Fruitville Road, Sarasota; (941) 371-6208;

LEMON BAY PARK AND ENVIRONMENTAL CENTER Secluded nature trails wind through this 210-acre park, which includes 1.7 miles of beautiful shoreline. 570 Bay Park Blvd., Englewood; (941) 861-5000

MYAKKA RIVER STATE PARK It’s a cinch to get lost in wonder on this magnificent spread, which takes up 58 square miles of wetlands, prairies and pine woods. 13208 S.R. 72, Sarasota; (941) 361-6511;


FIT2RUN This chain offers a huge selection of sneakers and running wear. 1400 Main St., Sarasota, (941) 364-2600; 140 University Town Center Drive, Sarasota, (941) 893-1197;

FLEET FEET SPORTS Knowledgeable staffers will help you find the perfect fit for your foot and your sport. 711 S. Osprey Ave., Sarasota; (941) 894-3338;

Spectator Sports

NATHAN BENDERSON PARK This world-class rowing facility hosted the 2017 World Rowing Championships in September, and has a full calendar of sports events this winter. 5851 Nathan Benderson Circle, Sarasota; (941) 358-7275;

PREMIER SPORTS CAMPUS AT LAKEWOOD RANCH With 22 fields spread across 140 acres, this facility hosts soccer, football, field hockey and lacrosse contests. 5895 Post Blvd., Lakewood Ranch; (941) 757-1582;

SARASOTA BMX This Olympic-level BMX course is open to the public, but it also hosts some of the world’s biggest bike tournaments. 1590 N. Tuttle Ave., Sarasota; (941) 960-1578;

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Five to Try

Musical experiences take you outside.

Friday Fest

Thousands gather on the Van Wezel bayfront lawn every month from June through September for the performing arts hall’s big, free Friday Fest outdoor concerts. Bands range from reggae to rock ‘n’ roll, and dancing is a guarantee. Great way to celebrate Sarasota’s sunsets, and did we mention that it’s free? 777 N. Tamiami Trail, (941) 955-7676;

Garden Music

Live music, everything from Latin to classical, under the banyans at beautiful Marie Selby Botanical Gardens draws a crowd to its Garden Music concerts in the fall and spring. Free if you’re a Selby member, like some 12,000 local households, or included in your admission. 900 S. Palm Ave., (941) 366-5731;

Ringling by the Bay

The Ringling Museum’s popular Ringling by the Bay dance parties, held on the wide, open bayfront beside its Ca d’Zan Italianate mansion, are held 10 times from November to late May. $15. 5401 Bay Shore Road, (941) 359-5700;

Free Concerts at the Venice Gazebo

Venice MainStreet hosts twice-monthly free concerts on Friday evenings at the old-timey, white-picket gazebo in Centennial Park, a nice way to kick off the weekend. 200 W. Venice Ave., (941) 484-6722;

Bradenton Blues Festival

Bradenton’s 1.5-mile Riverwalk, set along the Manatee River, hosts the big annual Bradenton Blues Festival every December, and also smaller free concerts at the 400-seat Mosaic Amphitheater. There’s also a lovely outdoor sculpture garden, with 19 pieces, including a sound sculpture.

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