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  • Writer's pictureJoAnn Gustave

Why you should go to Sarasota Jungle Gardens.

Sarasota Jungle Gardens is a must do if you are visiting the area with kids. It's a fun way to see a number of exotic animals and interact with them in their "natural environment". My parents brought me there when I was a toddler, over 30 years ago and my mom still remembers how much fun we had so it was only right that I bring my son and create new memories with him .

Jonathan has been learning a lot about the environment and animals lately from the PBS TV show "Wild Kratts" which is very exciting to me so I try to encourage his curiosity by finding activities where he can explore more and see some of the things he learned. Sarasota Jungle Gardens' 10 acres of lush tropical landscaping and variety of animals offers plenty of opportunities to do just that.

I was surprised to find out not only how long the gardens have been established (they've been around since 1939) but also the fact that it is family run and operated. I love how intimate the space feels, almost as if you were visiting a friend's backyard rather than a regular zoo with long lines and huge crowds. Jonathan and I both enjoy being outside and even when the heat was intense the day we were there, there are a number of spots where you can sit down and enjoy a cool breeze under a tree. We purchased our tickets at the door but you can buy them ahead on the Sarasota Jungle Gardens website for a $2 discount.

We spent just under 3 hours on the grounds and did so much in that short amount of time. Jonathan got a chance to feed flamingos, hold a baby alligator, watch a bird show and chase butterflies; we also saw a number of cool reptiles, lemurs and even a giant tortoise. You can check how our day went on our Instagram reel and get a feel of what you should expect.

Here are a few tips to help you plan your own visit:

•Buy your tickets online for a $2 discount. (Trust me it adds up!)

•Bring plenty of water bottles with you to beat the heat. You can also bring a picnic basket.

•Check showtimes as soon as you get in.

•Buy a bag of food to feed the flamingos. It took a lot of courage but I did it and it was so worth it!

•Buy encounter tickets at the entrance to hold alligator and take pictures with the parrots.

•Get a map so you don’t get lost in the garden and you don’t miss anything there is to see.

Visiting the Sarasota Jungle Gardens was truly an amazing experience to relive with my son.

I find that Jonathan and I both do much better in less crowded spaces where we get to go over things that spark his curiosity. There is no rush to do everything at once, we truly get to savor each and every minute of the time we spend together rather than being pulled in a million directions. I am so glad I had the chance to share this memory with him and hopefully one day he will share it with a child of his own.

"The best thing about memories is making them."


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