With Suncoast temperatures now reaching into the 90s, you may be looking for ways to satisfy a craving for wet and wild summer adventures. Our many beautiful beaches can most assuredly accommodate as well as any one of the large water parks to the north, but why not consider adding some outside the box options to your itinerary? They are affordable and practically right in our backyard.
The Sarasota Family YMCA Water Park and Alpine Tower knocks out the hassle of a long drive, hefty price tag and long waiting lines. Equipped with several pools, two large waterslides, splash fountains, and a 50-foot tower that leads to 60 climbing paths, the park is a great deal; admission is only $12 per person, free to Y members and children 3 and under. Open Monday through Sat 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday 1-4 p.m., June-August. Visit their website for more details. Evalyn Sadlier Jones Branch YMCA Selby Aquatic Center, 8301 Potter Park Drive, Sarasota FL 34238, 941-922-9622.
What’s that, you’d like a little more “horsing around” with your water fun? Well, then you will definitely want to try your hand at HorseSurfing™ and HorseSkiing™. Great World Adventures offers horseback riding along the beach with the chance to ride your horse right into Palma Sola Bay. Thrill seekers and those more balance-proficient can then choose to stand up on their swimming horse and “surf” in the bay. Expect to ride and/or surf for about an hour, but be sure to call ahead for reservations as they only offer two rides at the beach each day during low tide for up to 10 riders. Owner/operator Tim Mattox says visitors may also have the added benefit of seeing wild dolphins that frequent the area. Tickets are $124.99 per person (plus tax; includes guide and equipment). Open to ages 3 and up, Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 8400 Manatee Ave. W, Bradenton, FL 34209, 941-907-7272.
Continue to quench your thirst for water thrills with Parasailing at Siesta Key Watersports. You’ll scarcely notice you’ve left the boat deck when you slowly ascend into the air above the water. You will get a bird’s eye perspective peering down at the sites of Siesta Key, Sarasota, Lido Key and Longboat Key. Kick it up a notch with a “free fall” where the captain slows the boat and lets you float down with the parachute until you almost touch the water, then he hits the throttle and up you go again. Add a little splash for good measure, at your request of course. A slow reel-in safely returns you back to the boat. The 2 hour boat ride and 10 or 15 minute arial adventure goes for $80 and $95 (ask about the free T-shirt). Open 7 days/week, weather permitting. See their website for complete details. Siesta Key Water Sports, 1536 Stickney Point Road, Sarasota, 941.921.3030.
I have only just begun to share local, affordable family fun activities with you, but I’d love to hear how you plan to spend your Suncoast summer. Share your adventures via email at email@example.com (include the subject line “Summer Adventures”) and your photos at pix.mysuncoast.com.