SRQ Magazine | April 2016
The arrival of the Children’s Rainforest Garden made Marie Selby Botanical Gardens the top vote-getter in the contest, with our readers saying the serene gardens make for a great attraction to take your parents as well. For a more raucous good time, check out The Children’s Garden, the runner-up this year. Jungle Gardens roared into second runner-up status, while Mote Marine coasted in as third runner-up. —JO
Jill Finnerty Ricardo (on Selby Gardens): I first brought my children to the Selby Botanical Garden several years ago when we were visiting Sarasota. We weren’t sure what to expect but were delighted to find it to be a magical place. The kids enjoyed exploring the grounds, playing tag and hide and seek, feeding the koi while all at the same time learning a lot. Not only do we see the beautiful foliage, we see a bit of wildlife, too. We have fantastic, funny memories of running into a huge corn snake on the boardwalk through the mangroves. Jacinta Kavanaugh (on Selby Gardens): I brought my neighbor’s children to Selby and at every twist and turn in the rainforest garden their expressions lit up with joy. The various hands on locations for creative play were a hit. Also, the rope bridge and lookouts. The attendants in the garden were very helpful and really seemed to enjoy playing with the kids. There is also the kids corner, an indoor play room, where the kids enjoyed crafts. It’s a good place for families because there is something for everyone. Konnie Kruczek (on Children’s Garden): The beauty of The Children’s Garden is its magical appeal to all ages. Younger kids enjoy the sandbox, tire climbing and dress-up rooms. Older kids will quickly migrate to the rope swing and create pirate teams and forest scavenger hunts. There is plenty of space for children to roam, and lots of shady benches for parents. Children will always ask to return to the pirate ship. Their Halloween trick or treat festival is a can’t-be-missed tradition. Leona Collesano (on Children’s Garden): I took my 2-year-old grandson there for the first time this past summer. The folks there let him put a dinosaur tail on. He was so excited.