Sometimes little gems are easily missed, which is why in our travels we just had to turn around and explore. Owned by the Town of Longboat Key (west of Sarasota), Durante Park has a little bit of everything for nature lovers. Near the entrance is a botanical garden featuring many popular Floridian flowering plants. You can find hibiscus, bougainvillea, jacaranda, and wild coffee to name a few. Beyond the garden is parking, restrooms, a playground, a pond with a fountain, a pavilion, and an open grassy area. Trails begin here, winding through several ecological systems by means of shell paths and board walks.
As part of coastal restoration, a wetlands system was created in the park. This provides food to many species as well as being a pollutant filter for Sarasota Bay. The upland coastal forest is also being restored. Mangrove forests and salt marshes are other ecosystems found in this park. The many trails are popular for joggers and dog walkers as well as naturalists.
We saw egrets, a cardinal, a yellow warbler, mangrove crabs, and possibly an ovenbird during the short time we spent there having a picnic supper. If you are in the area, Durante Park is worth visiting.
5550 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, Florida
Written By Lucy Noe