Above photo credit: @govictoria

Between all-you-can-eat Amish dinner buffets to a massive shark observation tank, Sarasota’s multi-generational attractions make it the ultimate location for your next family retreat.

Your entire clan has agreed to reunite on a special vacation to help reacquaint distant cousins, aunts, uncles, toddlers, and great-grandparents. So where to go? Of all the family reunion locations in Florida, there’s no better place to be able to relax and reconnect at the same time than Lido Beach Resort. Here, top-notch lodging leads to a wide variety of outdoor and culinary experiences that just may make this Florida family retreat into an annual event.

Where to Stay

Right on the ocean, with 222 accommodations and decor inspired by the Gulf of Mexico, Lido Beach Resort has two swimming pools, three Jacuzzis, a volleyball court, and a fitness center, along with multiple dining options. The vacation condo suites are especially suited to family reunions as they have private bedrooms and balconies for older members, his-and-her closets, and full kitchens for cooking for a group.

Sunset Toast at the Tiki Bar

Pop has ordered a piña colada while Mom is going for the mojito; the kids are sipping on “Cool Downs” made with muddled watermelon, organic agave nectar, fresh mint, and cold-pressed Persian lime juice. It’s happy hour for the whole family at Lido’s Tiki Bar, which faces the Gulf of Mexico and serves such seaside starters as calamari, crispy crab cakes, and their chilled smoked fish dip served with sesame crackers.

Biking Along the Beach

What better way to see the sights of Lido Key and Longboat Key with extended family members than rolling along two wheels? Bike rentals at Lido Beach are just $20 per day for a tour bike, helmet, and lock from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Head north to Longboat Key to check out Joan M. Durante Community Park and Quick Point Nature Preserve before returning south.

Picnicking at Ted Sperling Nature Park

Mangrove forests, pine flatwoods, and coastal hammocks make this 100-acre park in South Lido an ideal spot to bring a basket packed with sandwiches and stretch out for some family catch-up time. Lay out on the 640 feet of gulf-front beach, or kayak the maze of mangrove tunnels, looking out for cormorant as well as West Indian manatee that can grow up to 13 feet long.

Channeling Tarzan and Jane

Imagine the family stories that will emerge from an afternoon at the TreeUmph! Adventure Course, a treetop series of obstacles that spans more than 10 football fields in size. Almost any age of adventurer, from 7 up, can experience the thrills of five progressive courses with zip lines, foot bridges, Tarzan ropes, hanging nets, wobbly bridges, and swinging logs. Even better, there are group rates for team-building.

Dining at Der Dutchman

Ideal for groups with families the size of a small nation, this Amish-inspired restaurant can accommodate everyone in its spacious banquet facility (up to 300 people!). The all-you-can-eat “barn-raising” dinner buffet includes options like roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, and a salad bar bountiful with local Florida produce. Save room for a slice of Dutch apple pie.

Fishing on Sarasota Bay

Sarasota is one of the hottest fishing destinations in the country. Redfish, mangrove snapper, snook, and sheepshead make their habitats in the roots of the mangroves and feeding grounds at the oyster bars while spotted seatrout, redfish, tarpon, and flounder hang out in the shallow seagrass flats. An artificial reef system further enhances the productive fishing areas. Book a charter with Captain Tony Blizzard at Sarasota Bay Fishing Charters for a family-friendly excursion.

Exploring Mote Marine Aquarium and Save Our Seabirds

From “Creatures from the Coastal Oceans” and the 135,000-gallon Shark Zone exhibit, the Mote Marine Aquarium will captivate every member of the family. Open since 1955, the facility also offers a wide variety of educational experiences for kids and adults. Afterward, swing by the nearby Save Our Seabirds to learn about what the organization is doing to protect some of Florida’s most endangered winged species.

Drift down Florida’s Wetlands

Grab a paddle, secure some bug spray, and float down Florida’s restored coastal wetlands while a local guide leads you through the Sunshine State’s “salty paradise”. Glide through 700 expansive acres of wetlands, mangrove forests, and salt marsh habitats. Robinson Preserve is home to some of Florida’s finest including: Osprey, eagles, white pelicans, dolphins, and manatees to name a few. First time paddlers are always welcome!

Where to Stay: Lido Beach Resort