While many parts of the country head inside during the cold winter months, residents of the Sarasota/Bradenton area in Florida are blessed with warm weather year round. If you’re lucky enough to be spending your winter on the Suncoast, here are five not-to-be-missed winter activities:
- Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium
The Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium allows visitors to see marine animals up close and personal. Check out the 135,000-gallon shark habitat, or take a tour on an eco-boat cruise. Visitors will cruise through Sarasota Bay and Roberts Bay, learning about dolphins, manatees, and osprey. For those who live here, seeing them in their natural surroundings is an everyday occurrence.
- Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary
Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary is a nonprofit safe haven in Sarasota. Visitors have the chance to see Siberian tigers, African lions, and rare white tigers. They also can view other animals such as such as bears, birds and chimps.
- Boating from Your Backyard
The brackish Manatee River flows through stands of moss-covered oaks and mystical mangroves as it makes its way to the Gulf of Mexico. For residents of The Islands, a private community nestled along its shores, relishing sunsets on the water can be a nightly occurrence. There’s no better way to enjoy waterfront dining than to arrive by boat, and there are plenty of places to visit. Here are half-acre homesites, expansive estate homes, private boat docks—amazingly priced from the $800s.
- Sarasota Opera
The Sarasota Opera hosts the annual Winter Opera Festival featuring works from Verdi, Beethoven and Mozart. The acoustics in the theatre are superb and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Check out opportunities to meet the singers and artistic staff as well as attend lectures. Sarasota is a mecca for the arts, and the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall or the Ringling Museum are sure to please.
- Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
This picturesque garden sanctuary showcases a living collection of rare and beautiful tropical plants. Located on the shores of Sarasota Bay, this urban oasis is a respected world leader in the study and conservation of indigenous plants and orchids. The center is open daily for tours and offers a wide variety of classes.
With picture-perfect winter weather, comes endless amounts of fun. Residents of The Islands on the Manatee River enjoy the best Florida has to offer all year long. Situated on 225 pristine acres, The Islands features estate-sized homesites with private docks, picturesque harbors and navigable access to the tranquil waters of the Manatee River. It’s an ideal place for birding, fishing, kayaking and boating. For more information on this waterfront community, click here.