Sarasota County State Parks of Unparalleled Beauty

While it might be tempting to sit and sip a beer by the pool of a gulf and bay resort, you’ll want to make sure you get moving while on vacation down south. Florida is home to 175 state parks and public outdoor spaces that help our increasingly urban population get out in nature.

Whether it’s a family hike, a parent-child fishing trip or a special event, Florida state parks are an integral part of any family vacation at Siesta Key, Florida. Walk, bike, or paddle these stunning state parks to get a little taste of South Florida landscape.

Myakka River State Park boardwalk in the trees

Myakka River State Park

Myakka River State Park is a gem of Sarasota County Parks. This large preserve boasts 37,000 acres of forests and wetlands, with a river winding down its westerly side. There are plenty of things to do and see in the park when you visit for the day.

The Myakka River is a hub of activity in Myakka State Park. This “wild and scenic” 66-mile body of water offer opportunities for canoeing and kayaking. Paddle through wildflower-covered fields, wetlands, and pine forests. Be sure to check water levels, particularly during the wet season, as conditions can vary depending on the time of year.

Myakka has nearly 40 miles of hiking trails for vacationers on Siesta Key, Florida, to explore. A combination of backcountry roads and trails create loops of varying lengths and difficulties. The best time to hike in Myakka is fall through spring, as summer can be extremely hot.

Myakka River also offers seven miles of paved road for cycling, plus a few backcountry dirt roads for mountain biking. Bike and canoe rentals, as well as camping supplies and souvenirs, are available at the Myakka Outpost, Rentals, and Café in the park.

However you get around the park, there’s plenty of flora and fauna to see. The forests and wetlands teeming with life, especially birds. Be sure to pick up bird and butterfly identification lists at the Ranger Station before heading out on the trail.

Myakka River State Park is open daily from 8 a.m. until sunset. The parking fee is $6 per vehicle, with additional costs apply to some vehicles and camping.

Oscar Scherer State Park

Oscar Scherer State Park is the closest park to Siesta Key at just 15 minutes away by car. Located in southern Sarasota County, this popular park sees about 250,000 visitors each year and is a favorite day trip for both locals and visitors.

Oscar Scherer State Park is an oasis in suburban Sarasota County, nestled among planned communities, golf courses, and sprawling oceanfront homes. Cycling, birding, hiking, and camping are just a few of the ways to explore this park’s unparalleled beauty.

Launch your canoe into the tidal blackwater stream, South Creek, and explore the brackish water habitats. You can also rent a canoe or kayak at the Ranger Station. Paddle on your own or join a weekly guided trip or monthly night paddle through the mangrove tunnels. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot an alligator or an otter along the way.

Oscar Scherer is home to the 12-mile Legacy Trail, a paved pedestrian highway for walkers, runners, and cyclists. It has another 15 miles of hiking trails, many of them accessible and relatively flat. These are great spots to catch a glimpse of the scrub jay, the only species endemic to the state of Florida.

Fishing is another popular sport at Oscar Scherer, in part due to its access to both fresh and saltwater. Lake Osprey offers the opportunity to catch bass, catfish, and other freshwater swimmers. Saltwater species can be found along South Creek. If you’re not much of a fisher, you can enjoy a swim or catch some rays on the sandy beach of Lake Osprey.

Other nearby state parks

Technically in Manatee County, Lake Manatee State Park and Wingate Creek State Park are located about 40 minutes from Siesta Key, Florida, and are worth a visit if you don’t mind the drive.

A trip to Siesta Key beachfront vacation rentals offers an idyllic holiday on the Gulf of Mexico. Relax on the beach, then head over to the mainland to enjoy a backcountry escape in the pristine nature of Florida. Take a look at our monthly vacation rentals on Siesta Key and start planning your trip today.

Contact Us

Peppertree Bay Association
6056 Midnight Pass Road
Sarasota, Florida USA 34242

T 941.349.7777
F 941.346.0371


facebook iconinstagram iconyoutube icon

Sign Up for special offers and updates from Peppertree Bay