Nature Tours

See also Environment and Nature; Trails; Canoes and Kayaks

If you want to really see and understand what is around us, take an eco-tour. Mote Marine has more than 60 PhD's running around doing research on sharks, sturgeon, reefs, loggerhead turtles and tons of other marine life. We are so lucky to have them here. (Most people think that Mote is just a big cool aquarium with shark tanks but now you know the inside scoop. They are a world renowned research organization too). Hop aboard the Sarasota Bay Explorer at Mote for a sealife encounter cruise with a marine biologist. We could go on and on but there are many more places to see and experts to reveal their secrets.

Environeers has a staff that knows everything about our environment and they have the gear to help you enjoy it to the max. They can take you backpacking or run a survival school in the swamp for you and your co-workers.For rest and relaxation they climb mountains. Biotica, Take a Wlak on the Wild Side and others bring you into the environment to experience our hidden treasures. Paddle silently through mangrove tunnels, take a moonlit canoe trip, look for manatees, trutles, rays and dolphins. Sarasota County is protecting natural lands in part for people to enjoy and understand the need for conservation. The organizations below help fulfill that mission in active and exciting ways.


Check It Out!

Audubon Society (Sarasota County)

Phone: 941-364-9212

Each local Audubon Society offers a wealth of knowledge about local and migratory birds. Best of all, each offers special programs, day trips and overnight tours — a great excuse for families and friends to get outdoors. Call for schedules and activities.

Environeers Outfitter’s
John or Ann Krotec
5373 Fruitville Road
Sarasota Florida
Phone: 941-371-6208

John knows survival and he knows this area. Periodically, he coordinates a survival school in our area. Contact him for more info. Don’t call or email. Go to the store. They have everything for camping, climbing, heat, cold, rain, desert and they have done it all before. It’s worth a trip just to see the pictures and talk to the Krotecks because these people know the outdoors. They also offer orienteering courses, overnight local backpacking trips, and international climbing and trekking trips (South America).

Florida Ever-Glides Segway Tours
200 S. Washington Blvd.
Sarasota Florida
Phone: 941-363-9556

Just Ducky Sightseeing Tours
Capt. Stewart
1011 S. Tamiami Trl.
Nokomis Florida
Phone: 941-485-6366

LeBarge Sightseeing Cruises
U.S. 41 at Island Park Circle (near Marina Jack)
Sarasota FL
Phone: 941-366-6116

Daytime Narrated Sightseeing Cruise: 2-4 p.m. daily: adults $20, children 4-12 $15, children 3 and under free
Sunset Entertainment Cruise: 7-9 p.m. daily (depending on time of sunset): $23 per person.
Dolphin Watch Tour: Tues./Thurs./Sat. morning at 11 a.m. narrated by marine biologist (guaranteed to see dolphins or free pass for any regular scheduled cruise): adults $20, children 4-12 $15, children 3 and under free
25-mile trip on Sarasota Bay. Daytime cruise features running commentary on points of interest and wildlife, sunset cruise takes you out to the Gulf to see a spectacular Sarasota sunset and enjoy live entertainment. Food and drink are additional. Private charters available. Call for schedule and reservations (recommended).

Mote Marine Aquarium
1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy.
Sarasota FL
Phone: 941-388-4200

Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily 365 days a year
Admission: adults (over 12) $17, seniors (over 65) $16, youth (4-12) $12, children 3 and under free
Have you ever seen a giant squid? Come and see Molly Mollusk, Mote Aquarium’s 25-foot specimen of the Giant Squid, so rare and elusive no one has ever seen one alive! Molly is the centerpiece of Mote’s newest exhibit, “Mysterious Mollusks,” featuring cuttlefish, scallops, green mussels, octopus and various shell exhibits.

Also at Mote is the Shark Attack Theater, Remarkable Rays Exhibit, and 135,000-gallon shark exhibit. Displays at Mote Aquarium explain more than 45 years of research conducted by Mote scientists and encourage understanding and appreciation for aquatic environments. Don’t miss seeing the sea turtle exhibits, and Hugh and Buffet, Mote’s resident manatees. Knowledgeable guides are ready to answer questions about the exhibits and the work of scientists at Mote.

Also available are tours on the Sarasota Bay Explorer for a relaxing one-hour-and-45-minute tour of Sarasota Bay waterways. View nesting sea birds and see firsthand the fascinating creatures living in local grass flats.

Myakka River State Park
13208 State Road 72
Sarasota Florida
Phone: 941-361-6511

Myakka River State Park is one of Florida’s oldest and largest state parks, famous for its panoramas of lakes, river, marshes, hammocks and prairies, and for its abundant wildlife populations. Deer, alligators and many species of wading birds are abundant, as well as thousands of waterfowl in the winter months. Ospreys, bald eagles and sandhill cranes are commonly seen. A visitors’ center has exhibits of wildlife and plant communities on display. Park rangers provide videos, guided walks and campfire programs according to seasonal attendance. During the winter, they offer bird watching for beginners. A 7,500-acre wilderness preserve resembles Florida as it looked before the arrival of Europeans. A limited number of visitors are allowed to visit this preserve each day on foot or by boat. All plant and animal life is protected in state parks. Intoxicants are not permitted in any area of the park.

Park Highlights: Over 28,875 acres of pristine area, wildlife trails, canoeing, biking, camping, visitor’s center, elevated tree canopy walk, snack bar and highly recommended airboat rides and tram tours; each ride and tour takes about an hour, and no walking is required.

Canoes and bicycles are available for rental, picnic tables are located near boat and tram tour rides. If you are planning to take one of the tour rides, getting there early is a good idea. No reservations are accepted. Group rates and charters are available.

Tour Highlights: Extremely knowledgeable and entertaining tour guides; ranger-guided walks Sat. mornings at 9 a.m.; “Gator Gal” (the world’s largest airboat); alligators, deer, bobcat and bald eagles in the wild; plenty of fresh air. Fares: Adults $10; children (6-12 years) $5; toddlers (5 and under) free if held in lap.

A Brief History of Myakka River State Park
In the early 1920s, A.B. Edwards, a prominent resident and Sarasota’s first mayor, launched a movement to set aside a natural area for recreation and preservation. Edwards persuaded the Florida Internal Improvement Fund to buy more than 17,000 acres (at 37.5 cents an acre!) from the A.C. Honore Estate. A few weeks after the purchase, Honore and Potter Palmer donated more than 1,900 acres to the state — a memorial to their mother Bertha Palmer. In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps (one of many federal relief agencies established through President Roosevelt’s New Deal to help ease the Depression) brought in 200 men to make the 26,000 acres usable. From 1934 to 1941 the crew built roads, bridges, cabins, dug drainage ditches and planted over 100,000 trees. Everything constructed was done with native materials. The park opened to the public June 1, 1942.

North American Butterfly Association (Manasota Chapter)

Phone: 807-2416

Oscar Scherer State Park
U.S. 41 (Tamiami Trl.)
Osprey Florida
Phone: 941-483-5956

Hours: 8 a.m. until sunset
Admission: $4 per car (up to 8 people), sunset entrance $3
This park includes The Lester Finley Nature Trail, a special hiking trail constructed in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The park originally consisted of 462 acres of scrubby flatwoods and mesic flatwoods; South Creek, a blackwater stream, flows through this area. An additional 922 acres acquired in 1992 contain tracts of depression marshes, pine forests and additional flatwoods on the banks of a small tidal creek. The park is noted for its population of Florida scrub jays, a threatened species (some will land on your outstretched hand). Bald eagles, as well as bobcats, river otters and alligators, are often seen in the winter months, as are many birds. The rare gopher tortoise, gopher frog and indigo snake are occasionally seen here. Pick up an animal identification booklet at the entrance.

Highlights: Self-guided nature trail, voicebox information stations, freshwater lake swimming, picnic area, canoe rentals, fishing, both freshwater in the lake and saltwater in South Creek, campsites with water and electric hookup, plus the very impressive Lester Finley Nature Trail for outdoor enthusiasts with disabilities — a sight-impaired-adapted and wheelchair-friendly hike with touch-activated audio speakers that provide interpretive information.

Sarasota Bay Explorers Nature Tours & Cruises
1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy.
Sarasota Florida
Phone: 941-388-4200
Ticket prices vary by type of cruise; combination tickets (cruise plus Mote Aquarium visit) are available. Call for details. A wonderful extension to a visit to Mote Marine Aquarium. Offering several types of eco-tours including our renowned Sea Life Encounter Cruise, Guided Kayak Tours, Nature Safari and private charters aboard the Miss Explorer. You may see dolphins, manatees or osprey. You will discover the remarkable creatures living in our local waters. A short stop on an uninhabited island is included. Each trip is narrated by a marine biologist. Reservations requested. A wonderful extension to a visit to Mote Marine Aquarium. Offering several types of eco-tours including our renowned Sea Life Encounter Cruise, Guided Kayak Tours, Nature Safari and private charters aboard the Miss Explorer. You may see dolphins, manatees or osprey. You will discover the remarkable creatures living in our local waters. A short stop on an uninhabited island is included. Each trip is narrated by a marine biologist. Reservations requested.

Silent Sports Outfitter
2301-E N. Tamiami Trl
Nokomis Florida
Phone: 941-966-5477

Snook Haven Restaurant & Boating
Phone: 941-485-7221

Walk On The Wild Side
629 41st Street
Sarasota Florida
Phone: 941-351-6500

Wildlife Services of Florida
Mark Barrow
Local Canoe Adventures, Fossil Hunts, Wilderness Survival Skills

More From What to See & Do in Sarasota County

  • Sponsor_SCF
  • Sponsor_SC
  • Sponsor_GCCF
  • Sponsor_SCaVB
  • Sponsor_GCCF