Sarasota, Florida, USA town cityscape from Sarasota Bay at dusk.
Sarasota is home to two of the biggest and most curious attractions in Florida.
First is The Ringling which is, as you may have guessed, a circus museum. The Ringling was set up to preserve the legacy of the Ringling Brothers (John and Mable), and the campus is quite expansive. It includes the historic Ca’ d’Zan Mansion, once the winter home of John Ringling and his wife, four museums (the State Art Museum, two circus museums, the art library), the Bayfront Gardens, and the Asolo Theater. This attraction is family friendly, educational, and downright astonishing. You can spend a handful of hours here and easily get lost in the gargantuan estate that once might’ve held circus animals.
If you prefer your vacation take a more agricultural slant, Sarasota also has the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. This 15 acre nature preserve is a tropical oasis, showcasing beautiful exotic plants from all around the world. The perfect place for a long romantic stroll or a fresh air filled walk with the kids, it’s hard to go wrong with the botanical gardens.
Also in Sarasota is the Siesta Key Rum distillery. While this may be less family focused than the other options on this list, you’re welcome to bring the family and take a tour of one of the finest distilleries in Florida. You can even schedule a tasting if you’re interested in the fruits of their labor.
Fort Myers, FL
Beautiful First street in old town Fort Myers
Fort Myers has a similar lineup.
The first big attraction is the Edison and Ford Winter Estates. Another educational stop, these are the buildings were Thomas Edison and Henry Ford lived. It includes a jam packed museum with hundreds of exhibits on all sorts of inventions and artifacts. You can tour the buildings where Edison and Ford lived, and soak up all the history.
After your thirst for knowledge is quenched, we recommend you go out in the sun and work up a sweat. Fort Meyrs is home to several beautiful outdoor areas for strolling, frolicking, and otherwise enjoying the Florida sun. The Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve is perhaps the number one outdoor attraction in Fort Myers, including 11 miles of boardwalk and rest stops. Here you can take in all the natural beauty the area has to offer, including the bountiful wildlife.
If you’re looking for a less rough and tumble experience, you should visit any one of the wonderful parks and beaches Fort Myers has to offer. Lakes Regional Park, Manatee Park and Bunche Beach are some of our favorites.
Interested in sports? JetBlue Park might be the place for you. One of the sites used in Spring Training, JetBlue Park stays open for the AAA season, where they house the GCL Red Sox, a minor league affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. While the level of competition might not be quite as high, the intimacy of a minor league game is unmatched by any experience you can have at an MLB game. The stadium is much smaller, which means you’ll be right up in the action.
Pier Jetty At Sunset In Naples, Florida
Naples continues to showcase the natural beauty of Florida, starting with the Naples Botanical Garden.
It’s 170 acres of pristine natural beauty, with plants ranging from the Caribbean to Asia to Brazil. You’d be hard pressed to see every inch of these gardens even if you lived here, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying. Remember to pack sunscreen and water, and soak in all the flora, the fauna, and the water features.
If you prefer the fun to be a little more man-made, Revs Institute is the place for you. Packed to the brim with beautiful restored and maintained cars from every era, Revs Institute is the perfect place to take Dad after a long day of wandering through the floral grasslands of the Botanical Gardens. From race cars to sports cars to spy cars, Revs has a lot to offer to anyone with an interest in motorsports. Another educational attraction is the Naples Historical Society’s Historic Palm Cottage, one of the oldest American settlements in Florida.
Built in 1895, the Historic Palm Cottage is like a time machine back to the days before… well, before a lot of things. The Historic Palm Cottage is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is available for walking tours. While this maybe isn’t quite as high octane as Revs Institute, it’s the perfect place to soak in some of the history of one of the oldest places in the state.