Attractions - Nature

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At SeaSide Garden Retreat we embrace the beauty of nature in our own gardens, and encourage you to enjoy the wonder-filled natural beauty of the Southwest Florida. Here are just a few of the many ways you can get out and experience the abundant gifts that mother nature has bestowed on Longboat Key and Sarasota.

Bicentennial Park
2730 Gulf of Mexico Drive

Just south of SeaSide Garden Retreat along the walking path is this lovely, one acre garden park near the corner of Gulf of Mexico Drive and Bay Isle Road, west of Town Hall. It's a scenic resting place to take a break from your walk or bike ride. The beautiful gardens and foliage have been established and maintained by the Longboat Key Garden Club. The State of Florida has designated the park a Florida Model Garden. Do take a few minutes to walk down and enjoy this nearby garden spot.

Mote Marine Aquarium
1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, City Island

Just a couple miles south of SeaSide Garden Retreat you can come face to face with Florida marine life at Mote Aquarium, one of our country's leading marine research centers. Whether you enjoy watching the sharks in their 135,000-gallon tank or petting the stingrays in their touch pool, there is much to see and do as you learn about the fascinating creatures that inhabit rich waters around Longboat Key. The aquarium is also home to Hugh and Buffett (no relation to Jimmy), Mote's resident manatees. You get a chance to see the labs and talk with marine researchers in action.
This is a can't miss for the kids and grandkids.

Sarasota Bay Explorers
1600 Ken Thompson Parkway

located at the Mote Aquarium / 941-388-4200

Marine life cruises and backwater kayak adventures are available through this wonderful extension of Mote Marine Aquarium. This is memorable way to discover the beauty of our Longboat Key area marine wildlife with the help of local marine biologists. You'll have several trips to choose from including dolphin & manatee watching, shelling, snorkeling, sightseeing, island picnics, or kayaking. Please call for times and reservations.

Myakka River State Park
14 miles east of U.S. 41 on State Road 72

If getting out on the Gulf of Mexico is not for you, there are other ways to enjoy the aquatic beauty of the Southwest Florida coast. For the beauty of natural, fresh water Florida, try the Myakka River State Park. This 28,865 acre State park offers you a chance to catch a glimpse of an alligator or any of the more than 200 species of birds. Take a ride on the world's largest airboat or the open-air train and learn more about Florida's wildlife from the friendly and informative park service guides. Don't forget your binoculars and camera!


Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
811 South Palm Avenue, Sarasota


If you're a gardener at any level, you'll thoroughly enjoy your stroll through these impressive tropical gardens. Marie Shelby Botanical Gardens is an internationally recognized plant research center and live plant showcase. The 13 acre bay-front setting has more than 20,000 colorful plants displayed in open-air and under-glass gardens. The gardens include the Tropical Display House, Hibiscus Garden, Palm Grove, Bay Walk Sanctuary, Cycad Collection, Bamboo Pavilion, The Banyan Grove, The Waterfall Garden, Butterfly Garden, Tropical Food Gardens and Cacti and Succulents. The elegant Christy- Payne mansion on adjoining property was purchased and now houses the Gardens' Museum. Box lunches served daily in the Banyan Grove.