One Step at a Time
Eight miles of trails—at least three hours of hiking—let you explore this wilderness at your own pace. The trail system includes 1.6 miles of scenic pathway as well as boardwalks over wetland areas, especially in the southern part of the park.
For a real sense of natural Sarasota, Lemon Bay Park has 1.7 miles of some of the last remaining undeveloped shorelines in the county, making it vital to the health of local waters. Mangroves provide homes for a variety of fish and shellfish, and the creatures and trees help filter the water.
Eyes to the Skies
Habitats within the preserve include maritime hammock, salt marsh, scrub, and mesic flatwoods—all housing various kinds of wildlife, especially birds. Take your binoculars and a birding guide to spot numerous species in the trees, including bald eagles and scrub jays.
Canoe or Kayak
Bring your preferred paddle-driven watercraft to the launch near the nature center so you can explore the Lemon Bay Aquatic Preserve from the outside in. Motorless boats let you slip quietly in and out of the mangrove tunnels for an up-close-and-personal wild experience.
Also near the nature center, a butterfly garden hosts monarch, swallowtail, white peacock and other examples of the delicately beautiful insects. A great place to grab a seat and sit in peaceful silence.
Pack a Lunch
Food tastes better in the great outdoors. In addition to benches and picnic areas, the park has plenty of natural space to spread a picnic blanket and kick back in the grass. What better excuse for spending a few moments sitting still and appreciating nature?
570 Bay Park Blvd., Englewood (941) 861-5000. Hours: 6 a.m.-midnight