Fine living for the active individual or family has always been the goal of Lakewood Ranch. Summerfield Community Park and The Country Club Community Park have volleyball, basketball and tennis courts, ball fields, and playgrounds. Heron's Nest Nature Park, set on 110 acres, has two lakes (Heron and Summerfield) for fishing and boating, and an extensive nature trail system. Braden River Nature Trail runs beside Trophy Lake and Otter Lake. Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club has a 45,000-square-foot clubhouse and a friendly atmosphere. Legacy Golf Course is a daily fee course with pines, oaks, grasses and wetlands. Arnold Palmer designed both 18-hole golf courses.
The Fitness Center is more than a place to work out. In addition to what one would expect to find at a gym, the center houses a grill and lounge, nicely appointed locker rooms, and an ice cream parlor. The two pools serve the needs of everyone from the serious lap swimmer to babies learning to float. There are nearly 100 miles of sidewalks, trails and paths for walking, strolling, biking, and jogging.
If one needs or wishes to venture outside Lakewood Ranch, Sarasota and Bradenton are nearby. Things to see and do in Bradenton include the de Soto National Memorial, which commemorates Hernando de Soto's expedition into what is now the southeastern part of the U.S. A visitor's center contains artifacts and exhibits. Interested in the Paleoindian period? The South Florida Museum has displays and exhibits from the prehistoric past to the present. The petting zoo at Hunsader Farms gives kids of all ages an opportunity to interact with farm animals. Hunsader Farms features machinery and equipment to teach children all about life on a farm.
In Sarasota, the extensive art collection amassed by John and Mabel Ringling is housed in an Italian Renaissance style mansion. Paintings, sculptures, and statues from the 14th to 20th century, from all over the world, are on display in the John and Mabel Ringling Museum. The grounds of this museum are covered with gardens and a sitting area offers views of Sarasota Bay.
Also in Sarasota, the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens feature air plants, orchids, bromeliads, lilies, bamboo, and Banyan trees. Walking trails take visitors through a mangrove swamp and a butterfly garden. The Sarasota Jungle Gardens showcases flamingos, swans and other waterfowl in natural habitats. Trails wind past leopards, alligators, monkeys, parrots and other animals. The Mote Aquarium houses manatees, sharks, sea turtles, eels, and a variety of the area's fish and aquatic plants. Classic car buffs can see nearly 100 vintage and classic cars at the Sarasota Classic Car Museum.
The Gulf of Mexico is a short 30-minute drive from Lakewood Ranch. The offshore islands of Casey Key, Lido Key, Longboat Key, St Armand Key and Siesta Key, and the shoreline around Sarasota Bay provide 35 miles of beautiful beaches. Beachcombers will find an unparalleled selection of unusual and stunning shells. The area is an artist community with galleries and shops offering one-of-a-kind items. People watching, sun bathing and swimming are popular activities and a variety of restaurants satisfy all tastes.
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