Eco-Destinations

 
The Sarasota-Manatee Gulf Coast region is home to many inspiring, eco-friendly destinations. From the beauty of our plants and wildlife to the latest innovations for living green, these fun destinations showcase the intersection between human ingenuity, stewardship, and the diversity of our natural environment.
Florida House Institute (FHI) is working to promote and advance sustainable practices that improve the quality of life for people in Florida’s Gulf Coast. As the first green building open to the public in the United States, Florida House has been educating the public and creating new regional markets for energy, water conservation, recycling, and landscape design for nearly 25 years. They provide living breathing examples of urban agriculture, pollinator gardens, Low Impact Development (LID), renewable energy, and rainwater harvesting in addition to providing hands-on educational opportunities for students.
The Nature Center is located in the heart of the Celery Fields – Sarasota County’s number one birding destination! Once an agricultural mecca for celery farmers, today the Celery Fields is the county’s award winning storm water treatment area and one of the ‘birdiest’ places on the Great Florida Birding Trail. With 440 acres of restored wetlands, it provides habitat for 220 species of birds and a diversity of wildlife. Stopping by the Nature Center will enhance your enjoyment of the Celery Fields with education, information and amenities.
Originally the home of William and Marie Selby, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens today is an urban, bayfront oasis showcasing a living collection of rare and beautiful tropical plants. The Gardens is also a respected world leader in the study and conservation of plants, particularly epiphytes–plants adapted to live in the tree canopy, including orchids, bromeliads, gesneriads and ferns,
The Save Our Seabirds Wild Bird Center and Living Museum is one of the largest wildlife rescues in the state of Florida, with approximately 5,000 animals rescued every year and over 200 permanent bird residents. They receive over 4,000 distress calls each year from caring citizens throughout the Sarasota-Manatee area. Birds that are unable to be released back into the wild are given permanent homes in their Wild Bird Learning Center, which is open to the public every day from 10 to 5.
Historic Spanish Point is a 30-acre environmental, archaeological, and historic site on Little Sarasota Bay. It features the nation’s only archaeological exhibition built inside of a shell mound. The meandering grounds feauture gardens, relics from Florida’s pioneer heritage and maritime history.
South Florida Museum is the largest natural and cultural history museum on Florida’s Gulf Coast, interpreting the region from the Pleistocene to the present. The organization also includes the Bishop Planetarium and the Parker Manatee Aquarium.
One of the oldest and largest state parks, Myakka protects one of the state’s most diverse natural areas. The Myakka River, designated as a Florida Wild and Scenic River, flows through 58 square miles of wetlands, prairies, hammocks, and pinelands. Visitors can enjoy wildlife viewing from a boardwalk that stretches out over the Upper Myakka Lake, then take to the treetops with a stroll along the canopy walkway. The park´s river and two lakes provide ample opportunities for boating, freshwater fishing, canoeing, and kayaking.
This park’s large acreage of scrubby flatwoods makes it one of the best places in southwest Florida to view Florida scrub-jays, an imperiled species found only in Florida. The birds are abundant in this 1,381-acre park. In addition to viewing wildlife, an array of other land-based and water-based recreational activities awaits you. There is always something to do at Oscar Scherer State Park.
The Legacy Trail is a trail system connecting communities across Sarasota County and stretching into neighboring Charlotte County. The Legacy Trail offers rest stops, trailheads and free parking, Users will find rest station areas approximately every mile.
Mote is an independent, nonprofit marine research institution that believes conservation and sustainable use of our oceans begins with research and education. Their working aquarium gives you an up-close experience with a variety of marine animals and fish, including two touch tanks, a 135,000 gallon shark habitat, and viewable working laboratories.
Manatee County has many beautiful parks and preserves for hiking, biking, swimming, kayaking, and wildlife watching. The area offers access to nearly 30,000 acres of conserved public land including: Robinson Preserve, Emerson Point Preserve, Duette Preserve, and more.
Did you know that Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources manages over 50,000 acres of natural areas? Enjoy hiking, biking or horseback riding through prairie hammocks and pine flatwoods. Explore the Celery Fields, Quick Point Preserve, Carlton Preserve, Jim Neville Marine Preserve, and more.

Many of our partner tour operators and organizations are Florida Society for Ethical Ecotourism (FL SEE) certified.  In fact, the Sarasota-Manatee area has more certified eco-destinations and guides than any other region of Florida AND we have the only two Platinum certified guides in the State!

 

FL SEE is a statewide certification program that encourages an awareness and stewardship of Florida's natural and cultural heritage by:

  • Endorsing compliance with federal, state, and local laws regarding the protection of natural resources and customer safety.
  • Providing environmental education and awareness which encourage behaviors that contribute to the sustainability of Florida's natural ecosystems and resources.
  • Promoting professionalism and integrity within the ecotourism industry by providing and maintaining a certification/recognition program for ecotour providers.

 

Thank you to our partners for attaining FL SEE certification and encouraging environmental stewardship in everything you do!