Too late to land a reservation at your mom’s favorite restaurant? Replace panic with picnic.
The weather is on your side, with zero chance of rain this Sunday, May 9, and natural beauty is always nearby. Check out our top destination picks for a leisurely picnic in the park where the whole family can enjoy a sunny Mother’s Day.
Nestled behind the shuffleboards and the playground at this park, there’s a little forest with walking paths near Phillippi Creek. This park is unique because of its dips and crests, which are so unlike the flat ground we’re used to. Walk along and note the bird songs; because no dogs are allowed here, they’re in abundance. After eating under the pavilion, cross the little bridge and get lost together for a while. 1420 Gilbert Ave., Sarasota
Myakka River State Park
Make a whole day of it by stepping back in time at this primal nature sprawl that covers more than 58 square miles. Dozens of trails let you geek out on different types of native plants and trees and birds like herons, cranes and osprey. Stop to stare at the alligators and turtles relaxing in the river below the bridge. There's no shortage of space and shade to sit and soak in the savage beauty on display that makes Florida so alluring. 13208 State Road 72, Sarasota
This 1.5-mile waterfront park hugging Manatee River is Bradenton's community hub. It has sand volleyball courts, a skate park, playgrounds, a splash pad, public art and a discovery trail with educational signs for kids. As the beating heart of downtown Bradenton, it offers top-notch people watching and a front-row seat for admiring the boats that pass under the bridges connecting Bradenton and Palmetto. 452 Third Ave. W., Bradenton
Palma Sola Botanical Park
This tropical oasis sits on 10 acres and showcases rare palms, fruit trees and flowering trees. There are three lakes with fountains and fish, and a screened pavilion that offers a perfect lunch spot. Make sure to bring a charged phone to take advantage of the many photo opportunities. Before heading out, check the schedule to make sure there's not a wedding in progress. 9800 17th Ave. N.W., Bradenton
Ted Sperling Park at South Lido Beach
Siesta Key may often steal the spotlight, but relaxing in the shade of Australian pines at South Lido Beach is a treat. Find picnic benches, grills and a playground for an easy and beachy family getaway, minus the threat of a burn. Finish off the day with a blazing sunset over the sparkling waters where the Gulf, Big Pass and Sarasota Bay converge. 2201 Benjamin Franklin Drive, Lido Key, Sarasota
Feed the ducks and bring the dog for a run or stroll. This manicured park minutes from downtown has trails, benches and lots of wide open space for an idyllic picnic or a game of frisbee. Your pooch can run free at the dog park, or take a walk along a half-mile walking trail hugged by live oaks trailing Spanish moss. The nearby neighborhoods are also prime walking grounds, where house-gawking moms can see everything from Old Florida bungalows to recent, modern builds with flowering gardens. 2650 Waldemere St., Sarasota