Fun Outdoor Fitness Ideas Near Sarasota
If you’re looking to start an exercise routine and shed some unwanted pounds or escape everyday mundane gym workouts, look no further than Florida’s Gulf Coast for outdoor fitness and adventure. There’s always the tried and true gym equipped with everything you need to burn fat and achieve wellness, but what about the great outdoors? Get geared up, down that protein bar and get ready to head out to these beautiful destinations that are perfect for an active lifestyle.
TreeUmph! Adventure Course
Treeumph! is a sprawling, 14-acre adventure playground where the surrounding trees have been transformed to become a series of physically challenging games such as a wobbly bridge, rock-climbing walls, zip lining and so much more. There are 104 different games to challenge your mind and body at this aerial obstacle course staffed with highly skilled outdoor instructors with years of climbing experience that not only maximize the fun factor for each and every visitor but they also provide peace of mind with their attention to detail in all matters of safety. The degrees of difficulty varies greatly from challenges suitable for pre-adolescent kids and Seniors all the way up to super intense courses that push you to your physical limits.
Robinson Nature Preserve
Influential in the development of modern environmental ethics and in the movement for wilderness conservation, Aldo Leopold’s lasting legacy is at the heart of this restored and recreated natural landscape. The preserve’s 487-acres contains mud flats and mangrove swamps on what used to be farmland used as a plant nursery. The expanse of waterfront habitats has undergone extensive restoration which involved the removal of invasive species and the recreating of tidal creeks and basins nourished by the rise and fall of Tampa Bay. Its most notable feature is a 5-story observation tower that offers up some pretty stunning views. Hikers, cyclists, and paddlers will literally have a field day with the preserves many trails.
Terra Ceia Preserve State Park
Protecting the northern shoreline of Terra Ceia, an island to the north of Bradenton, this natural preserve is also located on one of Florida’s most important archeological sites. More than 2,000 acres of wetlands, mudflats, mangrove forests, marshes, tidal ponds, oyster bars, bays, and creeks make up this ecologically diverse area. Some of the best ways to discover the nature that surrounds you are either through the labyrinth of waterways that snake through the preserve or, if you’d rather stay on terra firma, the hiking here is excellent with an opportunity to spot tons of local wildlife like herons, egrets, and cormorants as they hide in the trees, or head over to the lake and discover redfish and tarpon.
Oscar Scherer State Park
There is a sense of remoteness and isolation within the confines of this park despite its geographical location between Sarasota and Venice and the burgeoning Gulf Coast development boom that surrounds it. Activities center around Osprey Lake, with South Creek flowing towards the Gulf, a delight to paddle in search of manatees. The Legacy Trail, a paved bicycle trail connecting Sarasota and Venice, slices through the forest, and a network of hiking trails gets you up close to scrub-jay habitat (a rare, blue-flecked bird found only in Florida) and out farther in the woods than you would have imagined possible along this coast.
Myakka River State Park
This spectacular park is dubbed Florida’s ‘Big Sky Country’ for good reason. Herons and egrets wade along the shoreline and alligators cruise the shallows. A birdwalk provides a gentle, accessible approach to the river for watching wading birds. This is one of Florida’s oldest state parks and it’s a haven for hikers and backpackers. The Myakka Hiking Trail is nearly 40 miles long and, while the landscape is flat, the scenery is spectacular. Water generally is not a problem. If you’d like to elevate your hiking experience, definitely try the canopy walk. Soar high above the tree-lines for sweeping views. It was modeled after ones used by scientists in the rainforests of South America and provides an intimate look at the live oak canopy from its 76-foot observation platform.
Arlington Park & Aquatic Complex
This popular city-owned and managed park just recently added a brand new outdoor gym that allows for circuit training across several innovative machines. Among the many amenities one can partake in for a reasonable fee are a 50-meter lap pool, outdoor basketball court with lights, outdoor tennis courts with lights, outdoor racquetball court with lights, and a ½-mile paved walking trail.
Venetian Waterway Park
In addition to its status as the shark tooth capital of the world, the City of Venice was recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as a Silver Bicycle Friendly Community and this park is particularly two-wheeler friendly. This scenic 10-mile trail was developed by Venice Area Beautification Inc. with assistance from the city of Venice and Sarasota County. There are five miles of bicycle or walking trails on either side of the Intracoastal Waterway and it connects to The Legacy Trail at the Historic Venice Train Depot. The park is home to scrub jays, alligators, and bobcats, especially on the southwest side.
Crossing this bridge by foot is considered a rite of passage for anyone wishing to be called a Sarasota local. As one may presume by its namesake, the first incarnation of the bridge was built in the 1920s by circus magnate and developer John Ringling and has since been rebuilt twice, most recently in the early aughts. Walking across and back takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour depending on how often you stop to admire the view and there is plenty to admire. This is where Sarasota comes to enjoy the sea and sky as they meditate on the beautiful vista before them.
Cedar Point Environmental Park
This park is a 115-acre Charlotte County Park located in Englewood across from Lemon Bay High School that borders Ainger Creek, Oyster Creek, and Lemon Bay. Three hiking trails lead directly to Lemon Bay. Hikers will enjoy a broad range of habitat diversity and wildlife sightings along its trail system, the most sought after being the American Bald Eagles that nest here in the fall before they migrate for the summer. Starting in dense pine flatwoods, the trail system branches out in two opposite directions to lead you to the edge of mangrove swamps on Lemon Bay or through cedar flats to Cedar Point itself.
Oyster Creek Environmental Park
This park protects 250 acres of old growth slash pines, scrub, and pine flatwoods along the banks of Oyster Creek, a mangrove-lined tidal creek flowing into Lemon Bay. An extensive network of gentle hiking trails along with numerous access points from surrounding neighborhoods make this a popular getaway for locals, and an easy-to-find hike for visitors. The trails here are color-coded with the red one suitable for bikers and the green one ideal for those who prefer to make a go of it on foot. Many representatives of Florida’s unique flora are on display here from Spanish Moss draped oak trees to tall slash pines.
Stump Pass Beach State Park
Known for its vast array of seashell varieties, first-class fishing, and unobstructed views of the Gulf of Mexico, this state park is a popular destination for those looking for rest and recreation. A hiking trail passes through five distinct natural communities that provide homes for many species of wildlife. Visitors might encounter West Indian manatees, gopher tortoises, snowy egrets, least terns, and magnificent frigate birds. Ranger-led turtle walks and beach nature walks are also available in the summer.
Florida’s Gulf Coast hosts a myriad of exciting and wonderful places to take a long walk, bike, backpack, kayak and deeply appreciate the unique, natural world the Sunshine State has to offer!