Okay… the family trip is planned! You are headed to Siesta Key, Sarasota, Florida! The kids are excited and you have extra sunscreen packed already! You know the kids are going to want to to swim and play at the beach as much as possible…
But are we going to do to entertain them when they have had enough surf and sand?
Fortunately, Sarasota has more than our beautiful beaches to entertain the kids!
Planning a vacation on sunny Siesta Key and wondering…. is there something else to do if my little ones get bored with splashing in the gentle waves and building sandcastles in the sugar white sand? Not likely to happen… but the answer is an emphatic YES! When you take a short ride off Siesta Key just over the the bridge you will find that Sarasota offers lots of one-of-a-kind kid fun! Sure we have malls and movies and all the stuff you would find back home – but my suggestion is to take your kids to at least one of the unique fun spots that those of us from Sarasota grew up loving!
Mote Marine Aquarium
Mote Marine Aquarium is a world-renowned show case of research and over 100 marine species including manatees, dolphins, sharks and sea turtles. This is a great hands on learning environment for the whole family while visiting Sarasota! There are touch pools, interactive exhibits and working labs. They also have some new exhibits such as a narrated training session with sharks, a marine paleontologist attraction where kids can dig for fossils, and the seahorse conservation laboratory.
Hours: 10 AM to 5 PM, seven days a week, 365 days a year, including all holidays
Tickets: Adults (13 & older): $19.75
Seniors (65 & older): $18.75
Youth (age 4-12): $14.75
Children (age 0-3): Free
Sarasota Jungle Gardens
This is one of Florida’s first attractions and is still a huge hit today. Jungle Gardens is full of beautiful flora, fauna and over 150 native and exotic animals! During your visit you can see birds, primates, small animals, alligators, snakes and Florida’s notorious pink flamingo. This fun spot reels in visitors of all ages.
Hours: Mon-Sun 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
3701 Bay Shore Road
Sarasota, FL 34234
Big Cat Habitat
Lions, tigers, bears oh my! Come see a plethora of exotic animals at a somewhat hidden gem of Sarasota. You and the kids can watch thrilling educational demonstrations and maybe even watch the trainers head inside of a lion’s mouth! And the little ones will love the petting zoo.
Hours: Wed-Sun 12:30 PM to 4 PM
Sarasota’s Bay front Park
This island park is right on the beautiful waters of Sarasota Bay. Sidewalks wrap all around the waterfront with benches and swings and picturesque scenery. You can roller blade, picnic or dine at one of the two restaurants on property. The best part is the water fountain area for kids to play which was my personal favorite place to go growing up, not to mention its free!
Water Fountain Hours: Summer hours (Memorial Day to Labor Day) 10 AM to 7 PM
Winter Hours: (Labor Day to Oct 31 and April 1 to Memorial Day) 10 AM to 5 PM
For more information about family friends resorts on Siesta Key contact:Tropical Beach Resorts 6717 Sara Sea Circle SiestaKey, Sarasota FL 34242 Reservations 800-235-3493 www.tropicalbeachresorts.com
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Now we know that one blistering burn during childhood can increase a child’s risk of developing melanoma. So I diligently spread a thick layer of sunscreen on my own sons, who are six and two.
My motivation to protect my children is strong, but getting it done is a bit more of a challenge. Just because the label says, “for children,” that doesn’t mean a sunscreen truly meets the high standards every parent wants for their children’s products.
That’s where EWG comes in. This year, my fellow analysts and I have evaluated nearly 180 baby and kids’ sunscreens, the most we’ve ever assessed for EWG’s Sunscreen Safety Guide.
Some kids’ brands are better
Here’s the good news. Many brands formulate children’s sunscreens with safer, more effective ingredients than those in other products. About 63 percent of kids’ sunscreens contain effective mineral ingredients that provide good protection from ultraviolet-A rays, compared to 40 percent of other sunscreens.
Products with the words “baby,” “children” or “kids” in the product name are also less likely to contain:
â€¢ Fragrances. Some of these chemical mixtures may cause allergies and other serious health problems. Nearly three-fourths of kids’ sunscreens are fragrance-free, versus 54 percent of other sunscreens.
â€¢ Oxybenzone, a hormone-disrupting chemical, is in 37 percent of kids’ sunscreens versus 56 percent of other sunscreens.
But sometimes the words “children” or “kids” are just marketing gimmicks. Sixteen brands included in the Sunscreen Safety Guide list exactly the same ingredients in their children’s products as in their products for general use – down to the exact percentages of active ingredients.
Mineral vs. non-mineral sunscreens
As every parent knows, it’s a challenge to get kids to sit still and let you apply sunscreen. My six-year-old recently announced he would no longer use mineral sunscreens. Rebellion has struck earlier than I expected, but instead of sneaking cookies my son has decided that he wants to use “sunscreens that rub in all the way.” This leaves me in a bit of a quandary because all of EWG’s top-rated sunscreens are mineral-based, containing zinc or titanium. They can leave your kid pasty white.
Here’s the problem: the non-mineral options are more likely to contain potential hormone disruptors and less likely to protect him sufficiently against harmful UVA rays.
My solution? I look for a product that contains three percent avobenzone, the maximum allowable level. Avobenzone is effective and presents relatively low risk of toxicity.
Stay away from products that contain oxybenzone or 4-MBC. These chemicals are potential hormone disruptors.
If you are willing to pay a little more for your kid’s sun protection, try the products that contain Mexoryl SX, the newer generation UVA filter. While the few products with it are pricier than many other sunscreen offerings, the protection is definitely worth it
Thanks to Sonya Lunder for these amazingly helpful tips!
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