Off the Island

off the island

There is so much to do around Anna Maria Island!

off the island

There is so much to do around Anna Maria Island!

Myakka State Park

You will always spot an alligator at Myakka State Park. One of the oldest and largest state parks, Myakka protects one of the state’s most diverse natural areas. The Myakka River, designated as a Florida Wild and Scenic River, flows through 58 square miles of wetlands, prairies, hammocks and pinelands. Visitors can enjoy wildlife viewing from a boardwalk that stretches out over the Upper Myakka Lake, then take to the treetops with a stroll along the canopy walkway. 

13208 State Road 72
Sarasota, FL 34241

Manatee Viewing Center

In cooler weather, manatees can be seen in large numbers in the power station’s discharge canal, where saltwater – taken from Tampa Bay to cool Unit 4 – flowed, clean and warm, back to the Bay. When Tampa Bay reaches 68 degrees or colder, the mammals seek out this refuge. Big Bend’s discharge canal is a state and federally designated manatee sanctuary that provides critical protection from the cold for these unique, gentle animals.

Inside the MVC’s environmental education building, colorful displays immerse you in the world of the manatee and its habitat. Others show how Big Bend Power Station generates electricity for the community in an environmentally responsible way. See some of the power station’s beneficially reusable byproducts. Inspect actual manatee bones and piece together puzzles. 

Outside, stroll among award-winning butterfly gardens and Florida-friendly landscaping. You also can see a variety of native and coastal plant life as you stroll along the center’s tidal walk. Catch a glimpse of animals in the wild that make the center’s habitat their home.

6990 Dickman Rd
Apollo Beach, FL 33572

Florida Railroad Museum

Florida Rail Road Museum offers one of the most unique museum experiences in the world.The museum operates a heritage railroad and offers round-trip tourist excursions along six miles of the former Seaboard Air Line Sarasota Subdivision in Manatee County between Parrish and Willow.

The Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm year-round. Diesel train excursions operate most Saturdays and Sundays, departing at 11 am and 2 pm.

Check out their website for details on special events including Thomas and Friends and Pole Express.

12210 83rd St East
Parrish, FL 34219 

Mote Marine & Aquarium

Meet the fish and the scientists at Mote Marine and Aquarium. The working aquarium gives you an up-close experience with a variety of marine animals and fish, including two touch tanks and a 135,000 gallon shark habitat. You can also witness the scientific research—as it happens—in viewable working laboratories.

Be sure to say “Hi” to some of the star residents like the manatees Hugh and Buffett, and the sea turtles Hang Tough, Harry, Shelley, Montego and Squirt 2. More than 100 species of marine life call Mote their home, and you are more than welcome to meet them all.

Mote Aquarium is proud to be accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and has met rigorous, professional standards for animal care, wildlife conservation and research, education and more.

1600 Ken Thompson Parkway
Sarasota, FL 34236

Big Cat Habitat

Big Cat Habitat is a full sanctuary with the goal of rescuing exotic cats and other native and exotic wildlife in need of a permanent home. Their commitment is for the animals lifetime, which is more than 20 years – double their normal life span in the wild.

There are 3 large indoor/outdoor housing complexes with adjoining exercise habitats. Each habitat has a swimming pool, toys and palm trees to provide the emotional enrichment that maintains optimal mental and physical health.
View the special relationships with the animals making every demonstration thrilling to watch, with the opportunity to see the animals in a close encounter of the exotic kind! Explore the facility and learn about exotic and endangered Siberian Tigers, Royal Bengal Tigers, African Lions and rare White Tigers.

7101 Palmer Blvd., 

Sarasota, FL 34240

Busch Gardens

Tampa’s Busch Gardens® attractions are a must-do for anyone looking for one of the best places to visit in Florida. Their large collection of roller coasters make them Florida’s thrill ride leader, and their world-class shows provide entertainment for all ages. State-of-the-art animal habitats are home to more than 12,000 animals making Busch Gardens® one of the largest zoos in North America.

10165 N McKinley Drive,

Tampa, FL 33612

Experience a SeaBreeze vacation for your family