Myakka River State Park

14 miles inland from Sarasota on Route 72 you will find the Myakka River State Park.    This is rural Florida with marshes, pinewoods and prairies.  It costs $2 for pedestrians and cyclists and $6 for a vehicle of up to 8 passengers.

We would recommend calling into the Interpretive centre on arrival of an insight into what you can expect to see.  There is loads to do, lots to see and plenty of place to stop to have a nice BBQ or picnic.

The park has bicycle and canoe/kayak rentals and also offers scenic lake tours – in the world’s two largest airboats.

My husband loves to fish and the park´s river and two lakes mean plenty of opportunity for fishing – apparently there are a lot of Bass.  I’m told that there are also safari tram tours of the park´s backcountry from mid-December through May although we have never done this.

There are always lots of bird and in our experience loads of BIG alligators – if you want to see a gator in the wild and you are in the Sarasota area I would recommend a trip to Myakka.  The largest alligators are thought to be about 14ft – unsurprisingly there is no swimming!   The best place to go to ensure you see them is called Deep Hole which is in the Lower Myakka Lake, Wilderness Area.

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Finally I can’t blog about Myakka without mentioning the canopy walk – it is very popular and cool, however, quite short.  The other thing I would say – watch out of the spiders!!

 

ESPN Wide World of Sports

In February we were lucky enough to time our visit at the same time as some pre MSL matches held at ESPN Wide World of Sports.  The football (soccer) took place on the Hess Sports Field.  We caught New York v Montreal and Orlando City v Toronto.

The weather was not with us – it was torrential rain at the start and we had to collect our tickets from Will Call which was actually a temporary tent nearer to the car park rather than the regular ticket sale windows.  We ran to the arena and after the usual bag check/security found that we were free to sit wherever we chose – so not the usual Disney organising!  We chose a spot on the bleachers as close to the half way line as possible.  As with other sporting events that we have seen in the States we found the atmosphere to be very family friendly and sociable.  There were lots of concessions and the beer was pricey enough that there were no drunks hanging around.

The experience was good and the price was reasonable.  An added bonus for me was that Thierry Henry was playing for New York – I just wish I had taken my binoculars!!

We visited the Wide World of Sports again to register for my Disney Princess Enchanted 10k – this is always a fantastically well organised process with a huge room of vendors, information and other runners to chat with.

If you want a break from the Parks and enjoy sport – see what is on while you are there, I can almost 100% guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Disney Princess Expo

Some dining recommendations from our guests

Longhorn SteakhouseRecommendations by our guests:

Longhorn Steakhouse (US192 Rolling Oaks) www.longhornsteakhouse.com.  Texas steakhouse featuring fresh grilled steaks, chops and ribs, plus chicken and seafood – hard to beat at the price.  Hours: 11am – 10pm and 11pm Fri/Sat

 

Bahama Breeze (US192 Rolling Oaks) www.bahamabreeze.com. Lovely Caribbean food and surroundings, good value for money. On the menu, try the West Indies Patties, calypso shrimp linguine or jerk chicken pasta.  Hours: 4pm – 2am Mon-Sat, 4pm – midnight Sun

Cracker Barrel (US27 & US192) www.crackerbarrel.com.  Delightful old country store style, with mountainous breakfasts, well-balanced lunch and dinner menus.  Hours 6am – 10pm Sun-Thurs, 6am – 11pm Fri/Sat

Café Tu Tu Tango (International Drive) www.cafetututango.com.  Original local restaurant, high on style and quality. Spanish style with original tapas style menu, live music and artwork on the walls that changes daily. Vegetarians are catered for – pizzas, seafood, salads and soups plus imaginative Mexican dishes.  Hours: 11.30am – 11pm, midnight on Fri/Sat

Cheesecake Factory (I4 Mall o Millenia) www.thecheesecakefactory.com.  Prime feature is desserts – 30 cheesecakes on offer, the rest of the menu is also pretty impressive and eclectic. Mexican dishes jostle with pizza, pasta, seafood, burgers, steaks and salads plus it offers a great brunch. Portions are LARGE.  Hours: 11am – 11pm