A recent study from the American Psychological Association found that most adults feel more stressed than usual. That’s why it is no surprise that travelers are seeking ways to destress and replenish through meaningful experiences and find solace in nature and wellness.

According to the latest data from The Global Wellness Institute, the global wellness economy is increasing at an annual rate of 8.6%. Wellness tourism accounts for some of the most significant growth rates in the wellness market, with people looking for experiences incorporating spas, physical activity, and mental wellness. 

While wellness can be found by anyone who seeks it, there are some destinations where wellness activities are easy to find because the community incorporates them into their day-to-day lives. Sarasota, Florida is a hidden gem destination where relaxing in nature and indulging in wellness is as easy as breathing.

Located 60 miles south of Tampa, Sarasota County has 35 miles of beautiful coastline along the Gulf of Mexico and six barrier islands. It is known as a playground for nature lovers. Sarasota County boasts 14 public beaches, many with beautiful pristine white sand, more than 140 parks, and a lively arts scene.

What’s also great about Sarasota is there’s no best or worst time to visit because there’s perfect weather year-round. Here’s how to find Zen in Sarasota, Florida.

Explore Wellness At The Beaches

Some of America’s top beaches are located in Sarasota County.  Siesta Key Beach consistently ranks as one of the top beaches in the U.S. to visit, thanks to its quartz-crystal sand that feels like powder between your toes. It’s a great place to spend your day because you can relax on the beach, dine, shop, and stay through the evening to enjoy a nightcap.

About 30 minutes south of Sarasota is Venice Beach – another public beach that’s excellent for relaxing. The Venice area beaches are also great for exploring and relaxing. Venice Beach is a Blue Wave-certified beach, a process designed to help maintain robust, healthy, and vibrant beaches. Venice Beach is a favorite among tourists and locals alike for reef diving since the reef lies just a quarter mile offshore.

Sarasota, Florida
Photo credit: Parker Diakite

Caspersen Beach is an excellent beach for walking through the nature trails, which take people through freshwater and saltwater marshes, mangroves, and tidal flights. It’s also a great place for kayaks and canoes.

Located just four miles from downtown Sarasota, Lido Key is a barrier island west of Sarasota. Lido Key has three beautiful beaches: North Lido Beach Park, Lido Beach, and South Lido Beach. 

North Lido Beach Park is perfect for canoe and kayak launching, hiking, and walking the trails. The park has nearly 50 acres of Australian pine woods and more than 22 acres of beach and mangroves. Lido Beach is well known for its beautiful sunsets and dolphin watching. South Lido Beach has a place for volleyball, canoe and nature trails, and an observation tower.

Guests can also partake in fitness classes at the beach, such as morning yoga. Siesta Key Beach, for example, has classes three to four times a week, so be sure to check the county or beach website for class information.

Find Solace At The Parks

Sarasota, Florida
Photo credit: Parker Diakite

With more than 140 natural parks in Sarasota County, there are many to choose from. Many of the trails allow visitors to hike, bike, trail, go on a nature walk, and even go kayaking through mangroves.

Celery Fields is a 300-acre park home to a microforest with six native plant species. Bay Park is an ADA-accessible nature trail that spans nearly 1.5 miles of land. There are many free outdoor fitness classes, such as boot camp, Zumba, and yoga at Bay Park. Myakka River State Park is Florida’s oldest and largest state park. Popular activities at Myakka include kayaking, boating, canoeing, hiking, and biking.

Biking Through Sarasota County, Florida

In a place surrounded by natural beauty, there’s no better way to explore the county’s beautiful scenery than through a bike ride. The beaches offer great paths to ride on, and there are also some excellent trails.

The Venetian Waterway Trail is over 10 miles long, and the Legacy Trail extends over 12 miles. There are more than 15 rest stops along Legacy Trail, including trailheads with bike access points.  

Take A Stroll Through Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Photo credit: Parker Diakite

The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is a wonder of its own. Home to more than 20,000 living plants, the downtown campus on Sarasota Bay is the only botanical garden in the world dedicated to the display and study of epiphytic orchids, bromeliads, gesneriads and ferns, and other tropical plants. 

The gardens are also one of the largest preserves highlighting native Florida plants. It also celebrates and highlights an archaeological record of at least 5,000 years of Florida history.

For visitors traveling during the winter holiday season, be sure to snag tickets for the iconic Lights in Bloom show. The event attracts people worldwide because it features more than two million lights illuminating the gardens and walkways of the downtown campus.

Other Outdoor Activities To Explore

Jungle Gardens in Sarasota, Florida
Photo credit: Parker Diakite

Ride & Paddle offers free kayaking tours along The Bay’s restored mangrove bayou and the Sarasota Bay Shoreline. The free tours are on Friday and Saturday mornings.

The family-owned and operated attraction, Jungle Gardens, is a local gem home to 200 native and exotic animals. Guests can pay for up-close animal encounters such as feeding flamingos, taking pictures with bird species, going behind the scenes to interact with lemurs, and more.

Inside the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, visitors can get close to the animals and marine science exhibits to learn more about sea turtles, stingrays, otters, manatees, and more.