Ever since Sarasota was established in 1902, the city has been known for its tourism, leisure and most of all, beaches. The most popular, Siesta Key Beach, is a tourist destination across the globe, attracting people from many different walks of life to one of the top-rated beaches in the United States. This beach is heralded for being very bright and cool on one’s feet because the sand is made of quartz, making it a great destination on a hot day. From New College, however, this destination is usually reached by car. Here are some options to experience excellent beach destinations and parks closer to New College.
Please note: public park hours in Sarasota are 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The Caples waterfront is the most easily accessible beach in the area, as it is part of the New College campus. It features a boathouse, where New College community members can rent equipment and engage in aquatic extracurricular activities. This is a great spot to enjoy some coffee, climb a banyan tree, see the sunset and maybe even hang around at night to see the moon and the stars. The Ralph and Ellen Caples Estate is an historic site, designed by Alfred Clas, the same architect who designed the Charles Ringling Mansion. There is also a garden run by students, including the illustrious Food Forest. Students, faculty, staff and residents of the area frequent the waterfront, and it is a beloved part of campus.
Originally, the Sapphire Shores community was built around John Ringling’s private boat basin, but now this once private turn-around for Ringling boasts one of the greatest sunset spots in the area. At a distance of only one mile from New College, Sapphire Shores Park is a short walk from the Caples campus and features a playground, many benches and a large inlet to the Sarasota Bay where one can see amazing sunsets, comparable to the view from the New College bayfront.
Another spot worth mentioning is Indian Beach, one of the most historic parts of the North Sarasota area. Native Americans came to the shore to fish and hunt more than 5,000 years ago. It is named Indian Beach to commemorate the memory of the indigenous people that once utilized the space. From New College, Indian Beach is very accessible by bike, a mile down Bayshore Road. This is a place to catch one’s breath, sit on a bench and just watch the waves.
Another nearby destination is the Whitaker Gateway Park. This park is three miles from campus, so also accessible by bike.Whitaker features a playground, an extensive paved walking trail and an ocean viewing area where visitors can sit in the shade or sunbathe. It also features boardwalk trails through mangrove tunnels. This location is nice because of its proximity to Publix, and a good local food spot called The Reserve.
The last destination on the list is a little further away, but still easily bikeable. Bird Key Park is just off of the Ringling Bridge heading towards St. Armand’s Circle and Lido Beach, about six miles from the school. This park is quite large, and is a perfect distance from New College to get some real biking in. It’s great for exercise, fishing, swimming and meeting up with friends. Bird Key’s location is nice because it is close to downtown Sarasota, where most of the city’s action is. It features a unique view of the Ringling Bridge with a walkway that runs parallel, underneath the bridge. This walkway is illuminated, making it easily accessible and safe to walk.
These are some of the best destinations by bike, longboard, roller skates or just running or walking. As the weather gets better with the fall and winter seasons, be sure to have them on your radar.