Florida is one of our favorite places to visit, race, and train, especially the Gulf Coast. We have found that the beaches are amazing, the food clean and delicious, and that there’s plenty to do for the active sports’ family. Yes, there are the beaches and amazing cultural activities, but beyond that, Sarasota County is a hub for sports and those who love sports.
Here are some of our favorite outdoor activities in Sarasota County Florida. You’ll easily see why the area is a vacation haven for the sports loving family…
Sports Venues Where World Class Athletes Compete
Like most triathlon families, we love all water sports and confess to being a coxswain for West Virginia University, so this first rowing venue holds a special place in my heart. In 2017, Sarasota’s Nathan Benderson Park will be home to the World Rowing Championship. This competition has not been in the United States since 1994. It is the only International Rowing Federation approved course in North America.
Now let’s talk swimming. The YMCA Selby Aquatic Center, home to the 2013 Pan American Masters Swimming Championship is right in Sarasota. The best part of this amazing World Class facility with bleachers to seat 1200 people is that you can swim there! Imagine getting your workout in on vacation at a facility like this! The best part of for the family is the waterpark right there. It’s like icing on the cake…The triathlete can get a workout in and the family can play.
Looking to watch a new sport? How about Polo? The Sarasota Polo Grounds is nestled on 130 beautiful acres with nine polo fields. It is one of the largest clubs in the country. We totally suggest taking the family out for a day of polo spectating and enjoying their beautiful clubhouse and pavilion.
You can’t forget baseball when you are in Florida during spring training. The Ed Smith Stadium is home to the Baltimore Orioles and this 8,000 seat stadium is a great place to be during training season. The Buck O’Neil Complex is connected and offers all types of baseball fun for the whole family.
Spas and Yoga
As a triathlete family, we are always thinking about health and wellness. We invest a lot in this sport and thus, a lot in ourselves and our total well being.
This is both for the triathlete to get in a good sports massage for training and recovery purposes, but more importantly, for the well being of the trisupporter. We often travel to race and training sites and while the triathlete swims, rides, and runs for hours on end, we like to take care of ourselves at the spa. In fact, the TriWivesClub got there start in a hot tub and massage facility in the Hawaii rainforest.
Sarasota is home to two of our favorite spas. The Ritz-Carlton Members Spa Club, yes, you must be a member or staying at the hotel to use, so book your stay there! We highly suggest scheduling a couple of the experiences over the course of your stay. Another wonderful spa is the Island House Spa at the Resort at Longboat KeyClub. We have found the best way to book is by getting one of the spa packages with a night’s stay or a full-day Signature Ritual Experience.
Yoga has become a big part of our off-season together, although some in the family continue year around. Sarasota offers an abundance of yoga classes for your visit. While the list is endless, we have found a few local favorites.
First, make sure you check out Yoga on Siesta Beach. They are right on the beach and offer a wide variety of times you can find on their schedule, It is a donation-based class, so please be generous! Sarasota has a Bikram studio for those who love hot yoga and for craft beer loving yogis, you can enjoy both at JDub’s Brewing Company with The Yoga Shack every Wednesday evening at 6:30 p.m. A must is Yoga on the Terrace at the Ringling Cà d’Zan mansion. Image yoga at this historical location overlooking the beautiful bay.
We also know the sports’ loving family wants adventure and Sarasota County has its fair share for all, on both land and water. Beyond the beaches and beach activities, families can enjoy the public parks.
The entire county is really bike-friendly and offers many trails and bike rentals. The Legacy Bike Trail is a nice 10.8 mile paved trail from Sarasota to Venice. Once you arrive in Venice, you are in a designated Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. There are also various trail riding areas. Oscar Scherer State Park is a favorite and has 15 miles of walk and bike trails where you can see anything from an armadillo to an alligator.
Although the county offers many areas for great walks, you will be missing out if you do not visit Myakka River State Park. The park covers 58 square miles. Its huge with an 85 foot Canopy Walkway. The park is diverse with wetlands, prairies, hammocks, and pinelands. You can walk the trails and explore the suspended bridge high in the trees and go up the 74 foot tower for amazing views. You can also tour the back country by airboat and/or tram.
Yes, there is the beach, but Sarasota County offers so much more on the water. Lido Key is home to one of the most unique and exotic mangrove tunnels. Jump in a kayak and explore all day.
You can see so many different types of fish and birds as you explore. Another great family water activity is fishing. They say you can drop a line anywhere in the county and pull up a fish. I wold like to test this theory with some fly fishing… but you can find more fishing adventures on the Visit Sarasota website.
Here are also a few of our favorite dining spots in Sarasota County, because you’re going to be very hungry after all this outdoor adventure.