Family vacations, whether they last a weekend or a month, are a great opportunity to spend quality time with your loved ones.
How can you make the most of your time in Lakewood Ranch?
We have some ideas for great family activities, and we invite you to check out our list of fun things to do. When you’re ready to finalize all the details of your Florida trip, make sure you talk to us at Anchor Down Vacation Rentals. We can help you find the best place to stay depending on who in your family is coming and how long everyone is staying.
Local Lakewood Ranch Activities
Lakewood Ranch is a master-planned community just outside of Sarasota-Bradenton, near Florida’s Gulf of Mexico coast. Because the community is so amenity-rich, sometimes you don’t even have to leave the neighborhood in order to have fun.
When you’re looking for something to do that will keep the whole family happy and occupied, start with some of the things that are right in your backyard. Here are some ideas:
- Pools. A variety of pools are found throughout Lakewood Ranch and its communities. Soak up some sun, splash around in the water, or swim some laps. Most pools include large patio areas with seating and even umbrellas and tables when you need some shade or want to serve snacks.
- Playgrounds. If you’re traveling with kiddos, there are several parks and playgrounds found throughout Lakewood Ranch.
- Walking and biking trails. You’ll find 150 miles of walking paths, bike trails, and boardwalks throughout the community. This means a potentially new walk every single day.
- Sports courts and fields. There are enough athletic fields and courts for every family member to have some fun. Look for tennis courts, pickleball courts, softball fields, soccer fields, volleyball nets, and basketball courts.
- Splash Park. Lakewood ranch offers a great way to cool off without going to the pool.
- Kayak, canoe, or fish. Head over to James Patton Community Park, where you’ll find a large fishing lake as well as spots to launch a kayak or a canoe. You’ll also find nature trails, a playground, and amenities like bathrooms and picnic tables.
- Stroll down Lakewood Ranch’s Main Street. You’ll find great places to grab a coffee or treat the kids to ice cream.
This is just to get you started when you’re inside the Lakewood Ranch community. The great thing about staying in this area for a while is the abundance of recreation and entertainment that’s just a few minutes away.
Check the community event calendar as well. Depending on when you’re visiting and where exactly you’re staying in Lakewood Ranch, you’re likely to learn about farmer’s markets, outdoor concerts, art shows, and other events.
Hit the Beach
It’s hard to imagine a trip to Florida without some beach fun.
There are some beautiful beaches within half an hour of wherever you happen to be in Lakewood Ranch. These are the shores you want to try:
- Siesta Key Beach
Arrive early with the family in tow, and you’ll have your choice of free parking spots.
Notice the sand when you step onto Siesta Key Beach. It’s 99 percent Appalachian Mountain quartz, giving the entire beach a silky, perfect feel under your feet. It’s white, smooth, and beckoning.
Siesta Key is popular with families because the lifeguard posts are well-manned, the waves are not shocking, and visibility is good. Play in the water, build a sandcastle, or take a long walk on the edge of the water.
- St. Armands Circle
Follow the John Ringling Causeway out of Sarasota into St. Armands Circle. This area has a beautiful, quiet beach that’s within walking distance of shops, restaurants, bars, art galleries, and cafés. Once you’re burned out from the sun, you can take the kids for ice cream and buy some souvenirs.
- Coquina Beach
Coquina Beach is on the southern end of Anna Maria Island, and an easy trip from Lakewood Ranch. You’ll find the quintessential beach experience here, with long stretches of perfect sand, calm and warm waters, and opportunities for everything from swimming to jet skiing to fishing and seashell hunting.
There are plenty of amenities at Coquina Beach, making it a great spot to set up for a family beach day. You’ll find lifeguards, restrooms, picnic tables, changing stations, playgrounds, and free parking.
- Turtle Beach
On the south side of Siesta Key is Turtle Beach, named for the astonishing number of sea turtles who nest on the shore in protected areas. There’s plenty of space for swimming, camping, and enjoying a picnic as well.
Spend Some Time in Museums
Outdoor activities are almost always the preferred way to spend your time in Lakewood Ranch. But, you’ll want to escape the heat and sometimes it might rain. The best thing to do under those circumstances is to visit one of the area’s incredible museums.
You have a lot of choices, so put together a family vote and see which one to start with. Here are some of your best options:
- Crowley Museum and Nature Center. This hands-on museum allows kids to learn by playing and experiencing a bit of “Old Florida.” There’s a huge introduction to pioneer living, and your family can visit a pioneer cabin, blacksmith shop, working sugar cane mill, and a boardwalk that moves for half a mile through various Florida habitats. Climb the observation tower to get a glimpse of the surrounding marsh and the Myakka River. You’re likely to spot alligators, birds, turtles, and more.
- Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy. This is a fun one. There’s a lot of gorgeous artwork to admire, but there’s even more strange stuff that will get your family talking. The pieces make great use of natural Florida materials, including sea shells, glass, and brightly painted flamingos. Entry is free and donations are requested. The landscaping surrounding the museum is also well-maintained and a habitat for butterflies, snakes, and birds.
- The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature. There’s a lot to explore in this science museum, including a Planetarium. Visit with the manatees who are rehabilitating and get to know more about the area’s flora and fauna.
- The Ringling Museum. One of the largest art museums in the country, The Ringling Museum has stunning pieces of art – more than 28,000 pieces, in fact. There are permanent collections as well as revolving exhibits that your family won’t want to miss.
See Some State Parks
Florida has a pretty extensive state park system, and residents and visitors enjoy exploring the trails, springs, lakes, rivers, forests, and utter wildness that’s out there.
Lakewood Ranch is near some of the most impressive state parks you’ll find.
Whether you want to camp, fish, swim, look for wildlife, or run across a swinging rope bridge, there are some great options while you’re staying in Lakewood Ranch. Don’t leave without visiting at least one of these parks:
- Myakka River State Park
Sunbathing alligators, deer grazing in the woods, and an occasional flock of wild turkeys are some of the things you’ll see at Myakka River State Park. There’s also a canopy walkway, which is a 100-foot suspension bridge connected by two high observation towers. It’s the first public treetop trail in North America.
One of the state’s largest and oldest state parks, it covers 37,000 acres. People come to ride bikes, hike the numerous trails, camp overnight, and enjoy wildlife encounters.
- Lake Manatee State Park
On the southern shores of Lake Manatee you’ll find this state park, which has tons of family-friendly opportunities. You can go swimming or launch a canoe or kayak into the water. It’s a perfect place for a picnic, with many of the pavilion sheltered from the sun by live mature oak trees.
Nearly five miles of trails take the family through diverse pine forests, scrub, and marshland. If you like fishing, you can expect to catch largemouth bass, catfish and bluegill.
- Little Manatee River State Park
Equestrian trails, biking trails, and hiking trails of all lengths and levels are available at Little Manatee River State Park. Fishing from the banks of the Little Manatee River is also possible, but it’s even better to fish from a kayak or canoe. This is a rain-fed, tidally influenced freshwater river, providing fishing opportunities for both fresh and brackish water fish species.
Most of the trails are shady, making this a great place to spend the day even if you’re visiting in the height of summer.
- Oscar Scherer State Park
Not far from Lakewood Ranch is Oscar Scherer State Park, a lesser-known natural space that’s definitely worth exploring with your family. Florida scrub jays are found here, and they’re a rare bird species endemic to Florida. Bald eagles are also known to nest in the park, and Lake Osprey is available for swimming and fishing.
Join paddlers who are meandering down South Creek on their boards or in their kayaks. Take a bike and cross the Legacy Trail. Over 15 miles of trails through this park provide solitude, beauty, and a healthy adventure for everyone.
There’s a lot more to explore during your stay in Lakewood Ranch. We can’t wait to help you discover it.