Whether you live in Sarasota or are planning to visit, there’s a special place you should to stop by if you have little ones in tow: the The Sarasota Children's Garden, where art, nature, and imagination combine to create a destination of magical whimsy. With plenty of charming homemade touches, the garden is a throwback to an older Florida that’s far away from huge, commercial theme parks.

With a pirate ship, hobbit house, and fairy gardens, the Sarasota Children's Garden is a treat for children for who the make-believe is as much their reality as their homes and families. They can swing from a rope, dress in costume, daydream in a treehouse, play with an octopus in a sand garden, wander through a maze and tunnel, and pretend to be explorers in a rain forest. Old-fashioned touches like rope swings make this place a throwback to a simpler time in an enchanting setting. Founded by a local matriarch, Joan Marie Condon, the garden features a mascot of sorts, Snuffy the Dragon, the central character of book authored by Condon herself.

The Sarasota Children's Garden also offers a schedule of art classes kids can take. Tuesdays are “Art Rocks” days when kids can make a fun art project inspired by nature from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.. On Wednesdays, the garden has a new program called ‘Mama Mia, Make Your Own Pizza” starting at 11 a.m. where kids can plant a new vegetable or herb seed to take home and grow to garnish their next homemade pizza. On Thrifty Thursdays, enjoy discounted entrance fees, and on Fridays, nature explorers will set out to gather nature’s bounty in baskets and create a craft with a different theme each month. Saturday’s classes are by reservation and prepayment, so RSVP through the website or by calling the Sarasota Children's Garden.

On Sundays, the Sarasota Children's Garden offers “Art From the Heart,” a kindness project that encourages children and adults to decorate a heart with a message to bring a smile to others. The garden’s staff will deliver the hearts to local nursing homes, Make-a-Wish Foundation participants, and veterans’ organizations. Materials for “Art From the Heart” are available every Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

While it’s a perfect venue for a lazy afternoon or relaxed art class, the Sarasota Children's Garden is also a great option for birthday parties, field trips, band performances, photo shoots, and even rehearsal dinners and weddings. The park has also hosted events such as fundraisers and other special events, particularly those which include children.

Admission is free for infants up to two years old; for children, it's $5 for those ages three through twelve, $10 for ages 12 and up, and $9 for seniors. The Sarasota Children's Garden is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m Tuesday through Sunday.

Find more fun things to do with your family in Sarasota and register on 941area, your free guide to the Sarasota and Bradenton area.


Cover photo courtesy of Pixabay