Mote Marine Laboratory Aquarium is located in north Sarasota a short drive from Anna Maria Island. The Aquarium is a wonderful day-trip full of fun activities for everybody. Enjoy the touch pools, working labs and high tech interactive exhibits! Mote marine also has weekly shark-feedings that are fascinating to watch. You can even book an Eco boat tour during your visit. There is plenty to do and see at this wonderful non-profit organization.
Mote Marine Laboratory Aquarium
The entire facility is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m daily including all holidays.
Mote Marine has two buildings filled with Aquariums along with a shark tank, turtle tank and an Otter exhibit. You will need to walk across a street to see all the areas so be sure to wear comfortable shoes.
Also consider stopping at the Save our Seabirds (SOS) facility located in between the two Mote facilities. Admission is half price with a Mote Marine ticket. Ticket sales go to help this great organization rehabilitate injured wildlife.
Check out Mote’s website for daily events and activities for the entire family! Island Real Estate also has more information on aquariums close to Anna Maria Island.
If you need a break from the beach take a ride to the “real” Florida. The Highlands Hammock State Park is centrally located in the middle of Florida, near Sebring. This park is one of Florida’s first state parks and known for its beautiful old-growth hammock and cypress swamps. A 3.1 mile loop drive gives a first impression. In addition there are nine different nature trails that take visitors through lush, jungle-like foliage. There are habitats like the pine flatwoods, hardwood swamp, marshes, scrub vegetation and lots of wildlife to discover. White-tailed deer, raccoons, bobcats, tortoises, herons, anhingas, ibis and of course alligators are among the animals living in the state park. The most popular hiking trail is the Cypress Swamp Trail that takes you on a 30 minute walk on an elevated boardwalk. The swamp borders a blackwater stream in the lowest elevation and numerous key points include the variety of plants, birds and other wildlife.
A large picnic area, 159 campsites, horse trails, playground, restaurant and the Civilian Conversation Corps Museum are other features of the park. During my visit I took the tram ride that leaves daily at 1 pm if there are at least 5 passengers present. For $5 this is possibly the best value you can get in any state park. Our park ranger Nick provided us with a wealth of information while touring the remote areas on this 60 minute ride. I guess it is even more interesting as we were very lucky to see all kinds of wildlife including a wild boar. Take a look at the pictures!
Sea World offers a great mix of entertainment for children. Just a 1.5 – 2 hour drive away from Anna Maria Island, it offers a great full day get away. Jump in the car and within a two hour drive you can be in Orlando soaking up the Florida Sun, getting entertained by some of the Worlds best shows.
Sea world is a great amusement park for the entire family. Teenagers love the roller coasters, water log ride, and who does not love a tunnel aquarium? Younger children love the wild sea lion, and dolphin show. Adults will love it just as much as the kids. And nothing beats seeing the look of wonder on your family’s faces.
Aside from the fun rides, and entertaining shows, SeaWorld also offers incredible animal experiences. You can take a behind the scenes tour and see how the trainers care for the animals! Now that’s cool!
Helpful Tip: It is best to go straight to Sea World and use parking at the park itself. Parking runs about $17 and it is well wroth it to walk from your car to the park. One trick if you are hungry as you arrive is to stop by Denny’s for a quick breakfast. You can see the Sea World main entrance sign from the Denny’s parking lot on International Drive.