I’ve lived in downtown Sarasota for nearly three years and thought I’d seen everything the city center had to offer until the other day, when I took a walk along the bay. Just two blocks from the heart of downtown I discovered an arched entryway leading to Bayfront Park in Sarasota, a half-mile long peninsula jutting into the bay. Intrigued, I stepped through the archway and into an alternate reality of grass-roofed shacks, brightly colored water sport equipment, tiki bars, multi-million dollar yachts at anchor, outdoor sculpture, elaborate playground equipment, and a circular recessed fountain where children romped in columns of water burbling from the ground.


Gateway to Sarasota’s Bayfront Park


Rent paddle boats, kayaks, and jet skis at the little grass shack


Live music and tropical drinks are the order of the day at O’Leary’s Tiki Bar and Grill


Marina Jack’s Restaurant and Sarasota’s yacht harbor are framed by an outdoor sculpture


Children scamper through pillars of water in this recessed waterfront fountain


Dolphins adorn a fountain at the tip of the half-mile peninsula that forms Bayfront Park

If I didn’t know better, I would have sworn I was somewhere in the Caribbean. I am astonished that Bayfront Park has escaped my notice all this time. It just goes to show that no matter how long you live in a place, there’s always something more to be discovered.