Paddle through the wetlands at a state park, take guided walks at a nature center, interact with animals at a petting zoo, and score cool cups of freshly-squeezed lemonade at a farmers’ market—all before the start of the school year. Slather on some sunscreen and explore.

Myakka River State Park

Not afraid of gators? Get your oars wet and paddle the 66-mile Myakka River, which flows through wetlands, prairies, hammocks and pinelands. The experience starts in Northeast Manatee County and ends in Charlotte Harbor, and you’re bound to see a bevy of turtles, birds and other swampy creatures along the paddling path. The Myakka River State Park is open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset, and admission is $6 per vehicle (two to eight people).

Rates for activities vary. 13208 State Road 72, Sarasota, 941-361-6511.

Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary

Score a face-to-face encounter with a two-toed sloth, silver fox, ruffed lemur or agile wallaby at Big Cat Habitat. These interactive experiences are by-reservation only, Wednesdays through Sundays (there are also virtual options!). Check out the onsite petting zoo, as well as the sanctuary full of lions, tigers, ligers, bears, camels and monkeys. There are even live animal demonstrations and bird shows.

The park is open from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday; $25 for adults and $10 for children (rates for reserved experiences vary). 7101 Palmer Blvd., Sarasota, 941-371-6377.

Emerson Point Preserve

A little-known oasis on the west end of Snead Island, Emerson Point Preserve is rife with hiking and kayaking trails. But that’s just part of the fun! Check out activities like the “Escape Room: Sinking Ship,” which invites participants to step into the shoes of Florida’s first commercial fishermen and “escape an arduous journey at sea.” Or go on an estuary expedition with the “Green Explorers” program, and experience the wild habitat through hands-on learning.

The preserve is free and open to the public daily, year-round, with special rates for activities. 5801 17th St. W., Palmetto,

Cortez Deep Sea Fishing

Anglers of all ages are welcome to “get hooked” on Cortez Deep Sea Fishing charters, which has been leading families around the shores of Anna Maria Island for more than 35 years. Charters run 360 days a year, weather permitting, and participants often catch grouper, snapper, flounder, sea bass and trigger fish (depending on the season). Guides provide the fishing license, rods, bait and tackle, and they even clean and fi let the catches.

Rates vary by hours, as well as boat and group sizes. 4110 127th St. W., Cortez, 941-795-6969.