Biking & In-Line Skating -- The flat terrain in this area makes for good in-line skating and for fine, though not challenging, bike riding. You can bike and skate from downtown Sarasota to Lido and Longboat keys, because paved walkways/bike paths run alongside the John Ringling Causeway and then up Longboat Key. Siesta Sports Rentals, 6551 Midnight Pass Rd., in the Southbridge Mall, just south of Stickney Point Bridge on Siesta Key (tel. 941/346-1797; www.siestasportsrentals.com), rents bikes of various sizes (including trail attachments for kids), plus motor scooters, kayaks, and beach chairs and umbrellas. They can even arrange kayak tours, if you wish. Bike rentals range from about $15 a day to $45 a week; scooters go for $45 for a half-day or $65 for a full day. They also rent three-wheeled scooter cars. The shop is open daily from 9am to 5pm.
Boat Rentals -- Siesta Key Water Sports, 1536 Stickney Point Rd. (tel. 941/921-3030; www.siestakeywatersports.com), rents jet skis and kayaks and offers parasailing. At the island end of the bridge, C. B.'s Saltwater Outfitters, 1249 Stickney Point Rd. (tel. 941/349-4400; www.cbsoutfitters.com), and Siesta Key Marina, 1265 Old Stickney Point Rd. (tel. 941/349-8880; www.siestakeymarina.com), both rent runabouts, pontoon boats, and other craft. Bait and tackle are available at the marinas.
Cruises -- The area's best nature cruises depart from Mote Aquarium.
Fishing -- Charter fishing boats dock at most marinas here; check out www.4sarasota.com/Sarasota/Recreation/fish_charters.html for a list. In downtown Sarasota, the Flying Fish Fleet, at Marina Jack's Marina, U.S. 41 at Island Park Circle (tel. 941/366-3373; www.flyingfishfleet.com), offers party-boat charter-fishing excursions, with bait and tackle furnished. Prices for half-day trips are $55 for adults, $50 for seniors, and $45 for kids 4 to 12. All-day voyages cost $86, $80, and $76, respectively. Call for the schedule. Other charter boats also line up along the dock here.
Golf -- The Bobby Jones Golf Complex ★, 1000 Circus Blvd. (tel. 941/365-4653; www.bobbyjonesgolfclub.com), is Sarasota's only municipal facility. It has two 18-hole championship layouts -- the American (par 71) and British (par 72) courses -- and the 9-hole Gillespie executive course (par 30). Tee times are assigned 3 days in advance. Greens fees range from $18 to $50 including cart rental.
The semiprivate Rolling Green Golf Club, 4501 Tuttle Ave. (tel. 941/355-6620; www.rollinggreengc.com), is an 18-hole, par-72 course. Facilities include a driving range, rental clubs, and lessons. Tee times are assigned 2 days in advance. Prices, including cart, are about $20 to $55. Also semiprivate, the Sarasota Golf Club, 7820 N. Leewynn Dr. (tel. 941/371-2431; www.sarasotagc.com), is an 18-hole, par-72 course. Facilities include a driving range, lessons, club rentals, a restaurant, a lounge, and a golf shop. Fees, including cart, are $16 to $35.
If you have reciprocal privileges, University Park Country Club, west of I-75 on University Parkway (tel. 941/359-9999; www.universitypark- fl.com), is Sarasota's only nationally ranked course. Fees, including cart, are about $40 to $70.
Bradenton is home to the David Leadbetter Golf Academy, 1414 69th Ave., at U.S. 41 (tel. 800/872-6425 or 941/755-1000; www.leadbetter.com), a part of the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy. Presided over by one of golf's leading instructors, this facility offers practice tee instruction, video analysis, scoring strategy, and more.
For course information, go to www.golf.com or www.floridagolfing.com; or call the Florida Sports Foundation (tel. 850/488-8347) or Florida Golfing (tel. 866/833-2663).
Horseback Riding -- For a unique equestrian experience, Great World Nature Tours (tel. 941/907-7272; www.beachhorses.com) offers horseback riding in the sand and the water at Bradenton's Palma Sola Bay, 8400 Manatee Ave. W. Rides are scheduled at low tide and take about an hour. Private rides for up to 4 riders are available at a steep price -- around $358 for a half-day and $700 for a full day. Group tours are much more affordable at $60 to $100, depending on the time and date you book. Children as young as 3 are able to ride and no experience is necessary.
Kayaking -- Based at Mote Aquarium, Sarasota Bay Explorers ★★ (tel. 941/388-4200; www.sarasotabayexplorers.com) uses a 38-foot pontoon boat to ferry novice and experienced kayakers and their craft to a marine sanctuary, where everyone paddles through tunnels formed by mangroves. The paddling is easy and the waters are shallow. Experienced naturalists serve as guides. Wear a swimsuit and tennis shoes or rubber-soled booties, and bring a towel and lunch. The 3-hour trip is $55 for adults, $45 for children 5 to 17, and free for kids 4 and under (seats are provided for the youngsters). Reservations are required.
Sailing -- Take a cruise on the waters of Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico aboard the 41-foot, 12-passenger Enterprise, docked at Marina Jack's Marina, U.S. 41 at Island Park Circle (tel. 888/232-7768 or 941/951-1833; www.sarasotasailing.com). Cruises range from 2 hours for $40 per person to 4 hours for $70 a head, while 2-hour sunset excursions cost $45 per person. Departure times vary, and reservations are required. Siesta Key Sailing, 1219 Southport Dr. (tel. 941/346-7245; www.siestakeysailing.com), charges about the same for cruises in a 42-foot Morgan Outlander sloop. Call for rates and reservations. Key Sailing, 2 Marina Plaza (tel. 941/346-SAIL ; www.siestakeysailing.com), offers various sailing experiences on the historic 41-foot Morgan Classic II sailing yacht, the Key Breeze, including "Fresh Air, Fine Chocolates and a Few Hours of Peace on Earth." Rates range from $48 to $80 per person.
You can also get to Egmont Key, 3 miles off the northern end of Anna Maria Island at the mouth of Tampa Bay, on a 30-foot sloop-rigged sailboat with Spice Sailing Charters (tel. 941/778-3240; http://charters2.tripod.com), based at the Galati Yacht Basin on Bay Boulevard on northern Anna Maria Island. Rates start at $35 per person for a 2 1/2-hour sail to $50 per person for a 4-hour sail. The company has sunset cruises as well. Call for the schedule and reservations.
Tennis -- The Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, 5500 34th St. W., Bradenton (tel. 800/872-6425 or 941/755-1000; www.imgacademies.com), is one of the world's largest tennis training facilities, with over 70 grass, clay, and hard courts, and a pro shop. It's open year-round; reservations are required for all activities.
Watersports -- You'll find watersports activities in front of the major hotels on the Keys. Siesta Sports Rentals, 6551 Midnight Pass Rd., on Siesta Key (tel. 813/346-1797; www.siestasportsrentals.com), rents kayaks and sailboats, plus beach chairs and umbrellas.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.