Hidden Gems for Kids in Sarasota

Hidden Gems for Kids in Sarasota

If you are visiting the Greater Sarasota area with kids, you’ll be happy to know there are plenty of attractions that will enthrall and delight children.  These are our favorite hidden gems for kids in Sarasota.

Shark feeding at Mote Marine Aquarium

The Mote Marine Aquarium (1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy, Sarasota, FL 34236) is already one of the favorite attractions in Sarasota for both adults and kids, but now it’s even cooler, especially if you’re a kid.  Mote’s Shark Encounter allows visitors to help Mote staff by feeding sharks every Wednesday at 10:30 am.  Sharks are awesome.  Feeding sharks is even more awesome!

With its controlled shark-feeding experience, kids help the staff and are educated about sharks at the same time.  The 135,000-gallon tank houses blacknose sharks, sandbar sharks, and nurse sharks.  The feedings take place every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  However, on Wednesdays, participants can join in during the feedings.

Historic Venice Train Depot

What kid doesn’t like trains?  Just south of Sarasota, kids young and old alike can get their train fix with the historic Venice Train Depot at Rollins W. Coakley Railroad Park in Venice (303 E. Venice Ave, Venice FL 34285).  This Depot was built in 1927 and renovated in 2002.  Now, you can explore the depot, a circus car, and a caboose.

In addition to the train cars, there are scenic walkways, picnic tables, and panel displays in the depot’s two waiting rooms.

Suncoast Science Center

The Suncoast Science Center (4452 South Beneva Road, Sarasota, FL 34233) offers summer camps and Saturday morning programs that make the study of science fun and exciting.  The building is full of 3D printers, and mills for fine metal work and has everything needed for rocket experiments, robotics, and other really cool stuff.  The center actively engages students in the world of science, technology, arts, engineering, and math with the mission to encourage life-long learning in a fun, educational, and hands-on environment.

The Ringling

Visiting The Ringling Museum in Sarasota (5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, FL 34243) can be a fascinating and enriching experience for kids, offering opportunities to explore art, history, and culture in a fun and engaging way.  The Circus Museum at The Ringling celebrates the history and legacy of the circus, which played a significant role in Sarasota's past. Kids can marvel at colorful circus wagons, costumes, props, and memorabilia, as well as interactive exhibits that allow them to experience circus life firsthand.  Outside, the expansive Bayfront Gardens offer a beautiful outdoor space for kids to run, play, and explore.  They can discover lush tropical plants, serene water features, and whimsical sculptures scattered throughout the gardens. It's a great place for a leisurely stroll or a picnic.

The Ringling regularly hosts family-friendly events, workshops, and programs designed specifically for kids.  These may include art-making activities, storytelling sessions, puppet shows, and guided tours tailored to children's interests and ages.

Myakka Junior Ranger Program

The Myakka Junior Ranger Program at Myakka River State Park offers children a unique opportunity to engage with nature, learn about wildlife conservation, and explore the natural wonders of Florida's wilderness.  The program usually begins with an introduction to Myakka River State Park, its ecosystems, and the wildlife that call it home. Rangers may share information about the park's history, geography, and conservation efforts.  

Children participate in a variety of educational activities designed to foster a deeper understanding of nature and environmental stewardship.  These activities may include guided nature walks, wildlife spotting, birdwatching, and hands-on learning experiences.  Upon completing the required activities and demonstrating their knowledge of the park, children are typically awarded a Myakka Junior Ranger badge or certificate during a special ceremony.  This serves as a symbol of their commitment to environmental stewardship and their dedication to protecting natural resources.

Circus in the Park

Sarasota is known as the “Circus Capital of the World” and  Sarasota’s hometown circus has returned in a new, custom-designed big top that still offers plenty of thrills, chills, comedic antics, and acts that seem to defy the laws of gravity.  Circus Sarasota is at Nathan Benderson Park (5851 Nathan Benderson Circle, Sarasota, FL 34235) and the amazing circus performances are showcased in a one-ring, European-style big top tent that the kids will absolutely love and talk about for years.

Stay While You Play

If you have a large family or are traveling with a large group to the Greater Sarasota area, Siesta Key Island Rentals has you covered.  They have professionally managed properties that sleep from 1-10 people with up to four bedrooms, plus full kitchens, dining areas, and living rooms in each unit – without the overcrowding or hassles of the big box hotels. 

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