If you’re like us, you’re looking for low-maintenance and fun things to do on the weekends reasonably close to home. Here you’ll find a list of off the beaten path outdoor family-fun ideas near Lakewood Ranch. Florida has a lot to discover – with many activities close to home!
1. Marie Selby Gardens
A tropical, urban oasis featuring unparalleled horticulture displays and a Sarasota bay-front setting. Selby Gardens offers lush paths to explore adorned with whimsical and rotating art installations. Your kids will enjoy the sprawling children’s play area featuring a waterfall, rope bridge, and plenty of hands on activities. Consider the annual family membership. Plan for 2-3 hours.
2. Hundsader Farms
Hundsader Farms is a fun place to visit year round. We all make it up there for the Pumpkin Festival but there is so much more to do the rest of the year! The playground, farm stand and petting zoo are always open. One of our favorite things is U-Pick. From Strawberries and green beans to eggplants and rhubarb, the whole family will have a blast picking their own and learning more about the foods we eat. Plan for 2 hours.
3. Ringling Playground
The David F. Bolger Play Space located on the Ringling grounds, offers one of the best playgrounds in town. Find a tower and slide, basket swings, hand-powered fountains, and novel playground equipment delivering fun for all. The playground is located in the Banyan trees creating plenty of shade and natural beauty. Stroll through the rose garden to the waterfront and enjoy watching the boats. Plan for 2-3 hours.
TreeUmph! is an awesome place to visit for kids 7 and up. Offering over 10 football fields of high ropes challenges and hundreds of aerial adventure games. Your kids (and you) will be cruising through the forest from tree to tree on super-fun obstacles that defy gravity. Plan for 4-6 hours.
5. Cruise Anna Maria and visit the Shiny Fish Emporium
Summer isn’t the only time to visit Anna Maria Island. The winter months make for an excellent day exploring and getting into weekend vacation mode. Outside of a walk on the beach or visit to the pier, spend time on Pine Street. After you’ve consumed a weeks worth of calories at The Donut Experiment stop by the Shiny Fish Emporium and paint a sand dollar with a plethora of paints, glitters, gems, and ribbons. Plan for 3-4 hours.
6. The Farm Experience
Newly opened in 2019, this is one real cool place for the whole family. Located on a full fledged ranch The Farm Experience has over 43 animals you can interact with. Create a visit customized to your family by choosing from options like: Milking a cow by hand or learning how to milk a cow using a milk machine, bottle feeding a baby cow or goat, cuddle with a cow, hug or wash a horse, hold bunnies, goats, chickens, or even check the coop for eggs! Plan for 2-3 hours.
7. Alafia River State Park Trails
The Alafia River State Park trail system is a great choice for outdoor family-fun near Lakewood Ranch. The trail system offers over 20 miles mountain bike trails. You’ll find varied rolling terrain, harrowing drops, off-camber hillside ledges, high speed banked turns, and intimidating ridge top trails. The trails are identified like ski trails – Green, Blue, and Black. Three Green trails (easiest) are connected together to form the “Easy Loop” – an 8 mile, one-way trip. These 3 trails are perfect for children with with basic mountain bikes. Pack a lunch and enjoy a trailside picnic. Plan for 3-4 hours.
8. Adventure Park’s playground and trail system
For those looking for a close to home option, check out Greenbrook’s Adventure Park. Here you’ll find a skating/scooter track (helmets required), a large playground, basketball courts, multiple sports fields, and miles of trails to hike and explore. The park is open to anyone looking for a fun way to spend an afternoon. Bring plenty of water and a packed lunch to create a picnic for the family. Plan for 2-3 hours.