Beneath a canopy of towering palms, visitors to Sarasota Children’s Garden trace a winding pathway around a koi pond and animal topiaries. The idyllic environs stem from owner Joan Condon’s vision to provide a playspace immersed in Sarasota’s natural beauty. Garden curators hone in on nature’s whimsical side, dotting the premises with fairy gardens and sculptures of mythical creatures. Beyond providing ample space for frolicking and befriending retired tooth fairies, the garden also strives to introduce stewardship to young minds with classes and events.
It?s not uncommon to stumble upon fake alligators as you make your way around a mini-golf course. But at Smuggler's Cove's locations, live American alligators snap their jaws in exhibits nestled amid the miniature fairways. With an old-fashioned bamboo pole players can dangle a treat above 20?50 of the predatory alligators, which leap from the water to snatch their treat. Between feeding frenzies, games take place on Smugglers Cove?s 18-hole outdoor courses, where balls roll past rushing waterfalls, into caves, over mountainous terrain, and into a hole in a pirate ship.
With more than half a century of history behind its name, Sarasota Lanes has seen generations of locals bowl its alleys, with progeny making sly, crouching approaches to the same lanes their parents did years ago. The tradition continues at the alley?s 36 lanes with automatic scoring, far superior to counting on the fingers and toes of fellow players. The alley's snack bar refuels bowlers with succulent chicken wings, burgers, pizzas, and drinks. At the pro shop, bowlers can gear up for future lane domination with balls, bags, and accessories.
Skaters blaze across Stardust Skate Center’s retro-themed, 14,000-square-foot rink amid a flurry of spotlights, lasers, and scanning beams. After retrieving their eight-wheeled rentals, friends and families strap in and set out on a circular trip down memory cul-de-sac. A giant disco ball fills the room with refracted light as foursomes choreograph roller dances to DJ-spun tunes that pump from a surround sound system synced up with the kaleidoscope of lights. After an hour or two of hairpin turns and confused wrestling maneuvers, skaters can enjoy well-earned refreshments in the complex's remaining 10,000 square feet of entertainment space. Stardust Skate Center is open for public skating on Fridays and Saturdays, and on Sundays starting October 2. Check the schedule for times.
LTM Party packs a kaleidoscopic selection of costumes, party favors, tableware, and gifts into more than 50,000 square feet of retail space. This Halloween, disguise an infant as a walking, talking peanut ($14.99) to help him or her infiltrate a nefarious legume-smuggling ring, or turn back the clock with a caveman wig and beard ($15.99 each). Customized, full-color banners ($19.99–$33.99), which buyers can design online, can advertise a bake sale, high-school graduation, or alien-abduction anniversary, and color-coordinated tableware ($1.99−$12.95) helps ensure that knives and forks tastefully match collars at a dog’s wedding ceremony. In-store experts can offer advice or help customers navigate the abundance of additional merchandise such as classroom supplies, balloons, and rental tuxedos.