Here's a question I hear a lot: "We've been thinking of moving to Southwest Florida, but it seems like the population is mostly tourists and retirees! What is there for my kids to do?"
If you're stuck thinking that Southwest Florida is just for seniors and vacations, you're in for a surprise!
Cities like North Port, which have a lower median age than all the other cities in Sarasota county is booming with fun activities! The best part is that more activities are coming on board all the time! Here's a rundown of just SOME of the fun activities your children can participate in:
North Port Tae Kwon Do - Located in the Cornerstone Plaza in North Port, Florida, North Port Tae Kwon Do won first place for "Best of North Port" in the North Port Sun's Reader's Choice Awards in 2007. They can be found at 14906 Tamiami Trail, Suite E in North Port Florida, or reached by phone at 941-426-7484. North Port Tae Kwon Do takes people from age 3 to adult, and has a variety of schedules and class times.
Bisque It - Bisque It is a "paint your own pottery" studio, which is open and available for birthday parties, scouts, girls nights out, fundraisers, homeschoolers, church functions, or just an average walk in! At Bisque It, children and adults alike will learn the benefits of patience; once you paint your piece of potter it has to go through a 3-day process so that it can be returned to you in a ready-to-use state. As you can see from the "calendar" section of their website, Bisque It holds plenty of camps, classes and "parent's nights out" to keep your children busy! Bisque It is located in the North Port Commons at 14812 Tamiami Trail in North Port, Florida and can be reached by phone at 941-423-5955.
North Port Music & Arts - At North Port Music & Arts, all ages and skill levels are welcome. North Port Music & Arts is a studio that houses music lessons, art classes, summer camps, drama coaching and Kindermusik. North Port Music & Arts is located in the Springs Plaza at 12763 Tamiami Trail in North Port, Florida. They can be reached by phone at 941-240-8880.
A Better Place Dance & Fitness - A Better Place Dance & Fitness Studio serves the North Port and Charlotte County areas by teaching Jazz, Ballet, Tap, Lyrical, Hip Hop, Break Dancing, Ballroom, Latin and Acrobatics to people ages 3 and up. They have their own competition team and have annual recitals! They also offer summer camp as well as fall classes for children of all ages. A Better Place Dance & Fitness Studio is located at 2530 Bobcat Village Center Road in North Port, Florida. They can be reached by phone at 941-429-6700.
Horseback Riding at TKM Stable - TKM Stable, which is located on Sumter Blvd., North of I-75 in North Port, Florida, doesn't just do horseback riding! They have a full range of fun activities to partake in like horse painting, pony parties, riding lessons and even day camps! TKM Stable is the perfect place to spend some time with nature on one of their trails, short or long! TKM Stable can be reached by phone at 941-626-6787.
Cagetime by Sports Fanatic - A brand new addition to North Port is Cagetime by Sports Fanatic, which is a batting cage that offers training, too! Located in the North Port Commerce Park at 1090 Innovation Avenue, Suite A-110 in North Port, Florida, Cagetime houses three cages, two for baseball and one softball cage. They also have a cage that designed specifically for pitching. Cagetime offers group rates and packages, and focuses on honing the skills of ball players from any league or town!
North Port Skate Park - If 15,000 square feet of concrete and metal sound like a good time to you, then you must be a sk8r! The North Port Skate Park features vert sections, a bowl with some hips and flyouts, a nice-sized street course and even a section for the younger kids. Skaters come from all over - Lakeland, Tampa, Naples - to grind in this park. The North Port Skate Park was designed by Team Pain, a world renowned skate park architect whose structures you can find in some of the greatest parks across the states from So Cal to NYC. You'll find the concrete jungle on North Port Blvd at the end of Greenwood.
Kidz Play Place - Located in the North Port commons at 14880 Tamiami Trail #107 in North Port, Florida, Kidz Play Place is is a great place to play for kids of all ages! Kidz Play Place was designed to fulfill the specific need in North Port for a safe and fun environment for young children and parents to play. The environments used at Kidz Play Place encourages the kids to learn, exercise and socialize! They do birthday parts, hold classes and even a daycare! Kidz Play Place encourages parent participation, so you're always welcome to come in and play with your children instead of just watching them play. Playing with mom & dad helps their social skills and strengthens their bond to you as parents. Kidz Play Place in North Port can be reached via phone at 941-423-7100.
Areas surrounding North Port have plenty to do too! Here are some of my personal favorites of activities within a 45 minute driving radius:
Kidstar Amusement Park - Kidstar Park has no lack of things to do! At Kidstar, there are 2 arcades with updated equipment, a go-kart track for racing past your pals, rides such as a HUGE slide and ferris wheel, and even a eatery with delicious gelato for dessert. Kidstar's affordable prices mean that you can come and play for a while without spending a fortune! You can shoot some laser tag with a group of your friends or see a show in on the big screen they have, which is similar to IMAX. Kidstar Amusement Park is located at the northeastern corner of Tamiami Trail and Murdock Circle, at 18505 Paulson Drive in Port Charlotte, Florida and can be reached by phone at 941-235-3131.
Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium - The aquarium at Mote Marine is a peaceful and beautiful place to learn about the world under the water. Housing special events and also available to be booked for group activities, the inside portion of the aquarium houses a variety of fish from the Disney-like clown fish to the rarely seen seahorses. My favorite part of the aquarium's interior is the jellyfish tanks - one which let you see jellyfish with tiny lights going around them like Christmas strobes, and another which looks like hundreds of the creatures in a clear washing machine! The exterior of the aquarium is where you'll find the larger creatures; Florida sea turtles, the laboratory's resident dolphins, manatees, sharks and another favorite of mine - the preserved giant squid! You can find the aquarium at 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway in Sarasota, Florida, just one mile north of St. Armands Circle. You can reach them via phone at 941-388-4441.
GWiz Hands-on Science Museum - GWiz, the Hands-on Science Museum makes learning fun and entertaining. It's possible that GWiz is one of the only places in the world where you can create a bolt of lightening, build a bridge out of magnets, make a beach ball float in mid-air, build your own robot, and build a paper airplane and actually be able to analyze it's flight pattern. These are just some of the fun and educational things that you can do at GWiz; for a complete list of exhibits, be sure to visit their website. They have something for everyone! GWiz can be found at 1001 Boulevard of the Arts in Sarasota, Florida. They can be reached by phone at 941-309-4949.
At this point, you should be convinced that there's plenty of things to be seen and done in this area. If not, here's a brief list of all the natural things that can occupy your time!
Kayaking & Canoeing - Rent one for a low cost at State Parks like Myakka River, Myakkahatchee, or Oscar Scheer.
Fishing - You can always charter a boat, use your own, or just go stand on a bank somewhere!
Shell Collecting - One of the best places to do this is at Stump Pass State Park, where shells and shark teeth are in abundance.
Sand Castle Building - Enjoy this activity wherever sand a little bit of water are found!
Hike Nature Trails - North Port has a few of its own, but they are in abundance at local state parks such as Myakka River and Oscar Scheer.
The list goes on......