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Sarasota + Bradenton See And Do

John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
5401 Bay Shore Road
Sarasota , Florida
Tel: 941 351 1660
www.ringling.org

Located on the 66-acre Sarasota estate that once belonged to circus tycoon John Ringling and his wife, Mable, this art museum showcases the work of Baroque masters such as Rubens, Van Dyck, and Poussin. The collection encompasses 10,000 objects—paintings, prints, photographs, sculptures, and drawings—from ancient through contemporary times. While you're there, visit the Ringling's 32-room mansion, Cà d'Zan, and check out the posters, props, wardrobes, and parade wagons on display in the Circus Museum.

Maria Selby Botanical Gardens
811 S. Palm Avenue
Sarasota , Florida
Tel: 941 366 5731
www.selby.org

A visit to these botanical gardens in Sarasota is especially appealing in the fall, when the weather is cooler and the plants are still in full bloom. Grab a map and embark on a self-guided tour of the orchid-filled greenhouse, bamboo garden, butterfly garden, banyan grove, and fragrance garden. Kids underwhelmed by the vegetation will get a kick out of vividly colored poison-dart frogs frolicking in multilevel tanks filled with mosses and tropical plants. Lunch at the outdoor café, then browse the plant store inside the historic Selby mansion.

Mote Aquarium
1600 Ken Thompson Parkway
Lido Key
Sarasota , Florida
Tel: 941 388 4441 or 800 691 6683
www.mote.org

At this Lido Key aquarium, kids of all ages gawk at color-changing cuttlefish, a 135,000-gallon shark tank, and Molly the Mollusk, a 27-foot-long preserved giant squid discovered in New Zealand. At Contact Cove, Mote's aquatic petting zoo, visitors can touch sea stars, horseshoe crabs, and sea urchins. Just next door, in the Goldstein Marine Mammal Center, wildlife specialists work to rehabilitate injured sea turtles, dolphins, and whales so that they can be returned to their natural habitats.

Water Sports in the Gulf Islands

For active travelers, there's no shortage of water sports on the Gulf Islands. Cortez Watercraft rents Jet Skis, pontoon boats, and fishing boats for cruising the bay and reaching isolated beaches (4328 127th St. W., Cortez; 941-798-3721). Or get a bird's-eye view of the islands with Fun & Sun Parasail (135 Bridge St., Bradenton Beach; 941-795-1000; www.annamariaparasail.com).

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.