Sponsored Advertising: Unplug, Unwind and Connect: 5 Natural Retreats

A SUNRISE HIKE AT OSCAR SCHERER STATE PARK: Birds are abundant in Oscar Scherer State Park, and the landscape comes alive early in the morning and late in the day. The park's 15 miles of trails provide beauty and solitude for hiking, and the 1,381 acres feature large areas of scrubby flatwoods, making it one of the best places in southwest Florida for spotting Florida scrub-jays. If you stay at one of the full-facility campsites, wake up early to enjoy a beautiful dawn chorus as the sun rises.


SPOTTING DOLPHINS AT SARASOTA BAY: Sarasota Bay is home to a wide range of wildlife, including endangered species. Snowy plovers, least terns, black skimmers and sea turtles nest on the beaches, and the protected waters are home to manatees and more than 100 Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. Guided kayak tours, cruises and nature safaris make it possible to get up close with majestic marine life for an interactive and educational experience the whole family is sure to love.


BIRDWATCHING AT MYAKKA STATE FOREST: Myakka State Forest is a prime location for birdwathcers and animal lovers due to the presence of rare Florida birds. Myakka State Forest comprises mesic flatwoods and pine, with depression marshes providing good opportunities for viewing wading birds such as the roseate spoonbill. Additional activities including fishing, small game hunting, hiking, cycling and paddling.


CAMPING AT MYAKKA RIVER STATE PARK: For a wild adventure, head to Myakka River State Park and rent one of the historic palm log cabins that date back to the 1930s. The cabins include modern facilities such as showers and kitchens, but the absence of televisions and phones lets you disconnect from the world and enjoy the solitude of nature. Alternatively, pitch a tent at one of the primitive camping grounds for a real taste of outdoor living. The various campsites make useful bases of operation for tackling the Myakka Trail, which includes almost 39 miles of loop trails that take you far from the worries of modern life..


FEED FLAMINGOS at SARASOTA JUNGLE GARDENS: Sarasota Jungle Gardens provides a unique opportunity for families to get closer to nature. The 10-acre property is home to more than 150 exotic creatures, including parrots, monkeys, lemurs and alligators. The daily bird and reptile shows provide opportunities to hand-feed flamingos that will leave the kids tickled pink..


Everybody needs a break from technology and the grind of daily life once in a while. Sarasota offers countless ways to shuck the modern world and get back to nature.


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