A Great Way to Spend a Day Unplugged (and Get your Kids Away from their Phone and Computer)

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There is a hidden jewel of exotic Florida beauty accessible in a small park on Lido Key in Sarasota, Florida. Lido Key, along with its neighbor, St. Armand’s Circle, is mostly known for white sandy beaches, beautiful mansions, great shopping and nice restaurants. However, if you travel to the end of Lido Key and locate Ted Sperling Nature Park, the dynamic is much different. Traveling to the very end of the park, you will find a small 20 foot opening in the mangroves to Sarasota Bay. Only non-motorized watercraft are able to use this access, which leads to a plethora of wonderful nature experiences.

I have been a guide for over 30 years throughout the United States, and have never encountered a more uniquely diverse place to kayak. In fact, TripAdvisor rates kayak tours in this park as the number one outdoor activity in Sarasota. First, there are the regular sightings of manatees, dolphin, tarpon and other unique sea creatures. Then, there are cormorant birds who use your kayak to dive and search for fish. This is the only known place where birds have learned to use boats to fish. Every now and then, a cormorant will jump on the front of your kayak to dry its wings. You can travel around Otter Key, which John Ringling built to store his circus elephants. Along the way are sights of the mansions lining the bay. And the highlight of the tour is the vast network of majestic mangrove tunnels that are only accessible by kayak, canoe or paddleboard. Entering the tunnels is like entering an exotic destination in the Amazon. This is why my clients come back year after year. It is an unforgettable experience for most.

Kayaking is a wonderful family activity and is suitable for all ages and a refreshing way to view nature by leaving little, or no, human trace. This small opening in the mangroves at Ted Sperling Nature Park offers an amazing paddling experience and the shallow protected waters provide a safe environment for paddling. The next time you are in the Sarasota area, I highly recommend that you consider taking a kayak tour to experience this majestic place.

Kelly Rhea is an adventure outdoor guide and offers kayak tours in Sarasota, Florida. He has been a guide and survival expert for more than 30 years. For more information or to book a tour, visit www.liquidblueoutfitters.com.

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