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Off The Beaten Path
Out of the way places around Sarasota

Anna Maria Island & Historic Bridge Street Azure blue gulf waters, beautiful beachs, tropical island bars, totally radical surf shop, and world class restaurants. 'nuf said. Anna Maria Island

Bearadise-Ranch Bear Park
With over 20 Bears onsite, there is plenty to see and do. Watch the bears play in their very own pond, enjoy the trained bear show, and then stick around for lunch in the museum/gift shop. Thursday & Saturday tours. Call ahead for reservations.

Casey Key And The Historic Swing Bridge
Casey Key is an 8 mile long island with no high rises, no traffic lights and fantastic views of the Gulf. Million dollar mansions with tropical palm trees and sea grape dot the island. The historic swing bridge was built in 1925 to connect the island of Casey Key to the mainland. Bridges Of Casey Key

Beggar The Bottlenose Dolphin (Casey Key Area)
Beggar is a dolphin that lives in the intracoastal waterway around the Nokomis (Casey Key). Beggar was first discovered in the intercostal waterway by the Mote Marine scientists around 1990, and has been begging even since. Beggar The Bottlenose Dolphin

Egmont Key State Park (Bradenton/St. Petersburg)
The island of Egmont Key has unique natural and cultural histories which have made it a valuable resource since the time settlers first arrived in Florida. Named in honor of John Perceval, the second Earl of Egmont and member of the Irish House of Commons in 1763, Egmont Key has had Spanish conquistadors and nuclear submarines pass its shores as they entered Tampa Bay. On March 3, 1847, Congress authorized funds to construct a lighthouse on Egmont. The construction was completed in May, 1848. Once completed, it was the only lighthouse between St. Marks and Key West. At the end of the third Seminole War in 1858, Egmont Key was used by the U.S. Army to detain Seminole prisoners until they could be transported to Arkansas Territory. In 1939, the Lighthouse Service was transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard, which has maintained the light as well as radio guidance equipment. The Key was designated a National Wildlife Refuge in 1974, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Visitors can spend the day on the beach sunbathing, swimming in the warm bay waters, walking through the historic ruins of Fort Dade, or walking the brick paths that remain from the days Fort Dade was an active community with 300 residents. A gopher tortoise can be seen at almost every turn as you walk the historic paths. Many visitors are treated to the sight of hummingbirds as well as other seabirds.

January through May guided walks are conducted on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month from 10:30 AM until 3:30 PM. These walks allow the participants to view the wildlife and natural environment of the island, learn the history of the island and tour the historic lighthouse.

Access to the island is by boat only. The park is located at the mouth of Tampa Bay, southwest of Fort DeSoto Beach. To visit Egmont Key State Park, contact one of the following ferry services for schedules and fees. Fort Desoto County Park. Call 727-867-6569 for reservations.
Cortez Lady (941) 761-9777 (departs from Cortez)
Capt. Bill (727) 867-8168
Capt. Daves (727) 367-4336
Capt. Franks (727) 345-4500
Capt. Kidd (727) 360-2263
Dolphin Landing (727) 360-7411
Hubbards Sea Adventures (727) 398-6577. (departs from St. Petersburg area)


Sarasota Florida Horses
Fallen Pine Ranch Miniature Horses (Sarasota)
Location: Rainbow Ranch Acres (End of Fruitville Rd.) Sarasota (941) 322-1897
Hours: By appointment only. Norm and Judy Middleton have been raising miniatures for 22 years and are primarily responsible for turning Florida into the second largest population of "minis" in the country. They will personally guide you and your family on a tour of their pastures, filled with these very affectionate miniature horses.

Gamble Mansion (Ellenton)
3708 Patten Avenue - Ellenton. One mile West on Exit 43 off I-75, Manatee County.
Guided Tours: Thursday - Monday, 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and every hour from 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Site of the oldest building in Manatee County, the "Old South" brought back to life by the United Daughters of the Confederacy who bought this ruined mansion in 1925 and caringly reconstructed it with authentic period design, today operated by the Florida Park Service. Entrance to mansion is by guided tour only and will take 40 to 45 minutes. Call (941) 723-4536 for more info. Gamble Mansion.

Florida Railroad Museum (Parrish - Manatee County)
The Florida Railroad Museum, Inc. was founded in 1981 to acquire, protect, preserve and operate interesting and historic examples of railroad rolling stock, artifacts, and other aspects of railroad history, with emphasis on railroads that served the state of Florida. It is a not for profit Florida corporation. On weekends (only), you can see the sights of rural Manatee County northwest of Bradenton on a 1-1/4-hour narrated sightseeing tour aboard a 1950's diesel-engine train operated by the Florida Gulf Coast Railroad, 83rd Street East, off U.S. 301 in Parrish (941) 776-0906. The schedule and fares are seasonal, so call before driving out. Florida Gulf Coast Railroad Museum

Historic Spanish Point (Osprey)
As this regionís premier historic site museum, Historic Spanish Point actively preserves and interprets its valuable archaeological record. Prehistoric people occupied the site as early as 3,000 BC and lived along the shoreline for nearly 4,000 years. Located on the shores of Little Sarasota Bay in Osprey. Historic Spanish Point.

Linger Lodge/Restaurant & RV resort (Bradenton)
7205 Linger Lodge Road, Bradenton, FL 34202. Manatee County. (941) 755-2757
Surrounded by the Braden River, 10-acre, 100-unit recreational vehicle and park model resort with an unusually decorated and popular restaurant. Florida wildlife exhibit, and a deck overlooking a small island with wild pigs. The Linger Lodge is old Florida at its best. I-75 to exit 41 West to State Road 70. Turn South on Braden River road (63rd Street East) which turns into Linger Lodge Road. Follow to the end (4.5 miles). Private beach, boat dock, fishing, canoeing, shuffleboard, restaurant, and lounge. Closed Mondays year-round. Closed Tuesdays May 1 to Nov. 1.

Myakka River State Park
One of Florida's "Wild and Scenic Rivers". Twelve miles of Myakka River flows through Myakka River State Park. The Park is 45 square miles (28,875 acres) of wetlands, grassy marshes, prairies, river floodplains, pine flatwoods and oak-palm hammocks and is one of the original Civilian Conservation Corps parks. The park is also a premiere bird and wildlife observation area in Florida. Myakka River State Park.


Oscar Scherer State Park (Sarasota)
Along with the wildlife easily observed at Oscar Scherer State Park, there are a number of recreational activities available. A small freshwater lake provides visitors with a perfect location for swimming. Fishing is enjoyed in South Creek with freshwater species found above the dam and saltwater species found below the dam. A Florida freshwater fishing license is required for all persons 16 years of age or older. A saltwater license may be required. See a park ranger for specific license requirements.

Visitors with a sense of adventure will find South Creek ideal for canoeing. Canoes may be rented at the ranger station. You may want to join a park ranger for a guided canoe program and learn more about the park's history and plant and animal life.
Contact: Oscar Scherer State Park - 1843 S. Tamiami Trail, Osprey, FL 34229. (941) 483-5956.

Sarasota National Cemetery
This beautiful 295-acre preserve is Florida's newest National Cemetery. To be completed in phases, this veteran's memorial cemetery will include an administration and public information center complex with an electronic gravesite locator, public restrooms, a cemetery entrance area, a flag assembly area and a memorial walkway. When the first phase of construction is complete, it will provide for nearly 18,200 gravesites.
Open daily from sunrise to sunset. Closed Federal holidays. Sarasota National Cemetery

Seminole Gulf Railway Dinner Train Theater (Ft. Myers)
For over ten years, The Dinner Train Theater has entertained Southwest Florida with its renowned Murder Mysteries and has served over 120,000 dining patrons aboard its four 1930's - 1940's vintage rail cars. You can enjoy fine wines and your favorite drinks while your meal is being prepared fresh on board. Your five-course meal begins with a fruit and cheese platter followed by an exquisite soup du jour, fresh rolls, and garden salad.

Murder Mystery Trains depart from Colonial Station in Fort Myers Wednesday through Saturday at 6:30 PM and on Sundays at 5:30 PM. Five nights a week for an evening of intrigue, food and fun. Or try one of the daytime excursion trains to the Caloosahatchee River. For more information, call 941-275-8487 or 800-SEM-GULF, or see their Seminole Gulf Railway Dinner Train Theater.

Solomon's Castle (Ona)
Featured on CNN, Better Homes & Gardens, and Extreme Homes.
This structure was built entirely by the hands of the artist, Howard S. Solomon, internationally known sculptor. The gleaming exterior is made of printing plates discarded by the local weekly newspaper. There are more than 80 interpretations of stained glass windows throughout the Castle.
Lunch, "fit for a King" is served from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM on "The Boat in The Moat", a replica of a 60 foot 16th century Spanish galleon.
(863) 494-6077 Solomon's Castle.
Tours Daily 11:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. Closed Mondays AND the MONTHS of July, August and September.


S.W. Florida's Wineries and Vineyards
Local Florida Wineries offering Award Winning Wine, Tastings, Tours, and Retail Sales. S.W. Florida's Wineries




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