The Crowley Museum and Nature Center isn’t hidden, exactly, but it is tucked away in the northeast corner of Sarasota County.
From Sarasota, you take Fruitville Road east and keep going until you reach what’s called Old Miakka. Near the Crowley entrance is the Old Miakka Farmers Market, which makes Saturday mornings the best time for a visit.
My wife and I stopped by the market with a friend and her year-old daughter.
We tasted wild honey. We admired the goats and chickens. We bought homemade ginger snaps to enjoy along the Crowley boardwalk that winds through oak hammocks, pine flatwoods and sawgrass marsh.
If this isn’t the best short walk in the county, then I’d like to know what is.
The beauty of the half-mile boardwalk is that it’s easy enough for children, the elderly and people with disabilities.
The beasts of the boardwalk are the huge spiders that spin vast webs above the path. They are either marvelous or icky, depending on your level of arachnophobia.
A two-story observation tower stands at the end of the boardwalk. The view isn’t that great, but it’s a fine place to catch your breath, savor the breeze and share a few ginger snaps.
Myakka River, too
Crowley has a museum, along with a cracker homestead and other exhibits, but the boardwalk is the main attraction.
It winds through the woods and over the swamp. Trees and ferns are reflected in the water. There are plenty of benches where you can sit and take it all in.
Many of the boardwalk planks are worn and covered with leaves or moss. A sign says “Slippery When Wet.” I don’t know why, but this always makes me laugh.
Most of the boardwalk is shaded, which is pleasant on a hot day. Most of the time it’s quiet, which is blissful on just about any day.
On our Saturday visit, the Miakka market and Crowley boardwalk were just enough exercise for our 1-year-old guest. She fell asleep as soon as we got back in the car.
If you have more time and energy, Crowley is just a short drive from the north entrance of Myakka River State Park, which is only open on weekends. This is different way to reach parts of the park that lots of people never see.
It’s not hidden, exactly, but it is tucked away near the northeast corner of Sarasota County.
The Crowley Museum and Nature Center, 16405 Myakka Road. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday through Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults, $3 for kids.
For more information, visit Crowley or call 322-1000.