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Stay in the Shade – Manatee and Sarasota's Top Beaches with Shade

Beach at Robinson Preserve
Beach at Robinson Preserve

This one’s for mom – who hated the sun but loved the beach.
To all the moms out there who are just OVER tanning.  We all regret those bad decisions we made in our early years – slathering ourselves with baby oil and basking in the sun until we were fried like bacon.  Now we are much more responsible – we cover ourselves in swim shirts and sun hats and make sure our little ones have on SPF 45 from head to toe.
We still love beaching it, but sitting in intense sunlight is not appealing to locals.  We love that we are not covered in snow, but –news flash– the sun is hot! And sweating is not so pleasant (nor is a sunburn).  So, the best thing for a comfortable and enjoyable day at the beach is (drumroll, please!) SHADE!  Natural shade is also key (umbrellas and canopies are a pain to lug out to the beach and most of the time, they end of blowing over and flying 50 feet down the beach).  Here is our list of our favorite top 3 shadiest beaches in and around Bradenton and Sarasota. Enjoy without sweating!

Bayfront Park, Anna Maria

On the north end of Anna Maria, the Bayfront Park provides some beautiful shade with glorious Australian Pine trees. Australian Pines have a controversial reputation on Anna Maria – many locals don’t like them because they are not native and they are “messy” because they shed numerous pine needles and mini pine cones (wah, wah!).  To me, they are glorious – not only do they provide the more shade than any of our native trees, they also provide a soothing whisper as the wind blows through them.  Enjoy the picnic tables and pavilions, where grills are also supplied – so pack some hot dogs and enjoy the shade!

Robinson Preserve, Northwest Bradenton

At the back side of Robinson Preserve’s 3-mile loop, there is an “off road” path that leads to a long stretch of unspoiled waterfront. Now, this is not a typical “beach” – it’s not on the Gulf, (it’s on Tampa Bay), but it will provide you with private, gorgeous waterfront that is shaded by mangroves and plenty of sand to lay out or pop open your beach chair. Once you reach this private tropical paradise, you will probably not see another human being, but look out for the “Mugwomp.” According to Preserve volunteer George, a Mugwomp is a local animal that hides out in the muck around the mangroves.  He says that few people have actually seen it, but it looks like a tree stump with arms. Watch out!

Ted Sperling Park at South Lido Beach

This park is a fabulous place to spend the day – excellent facilities including bathrooms, picnic tables, grills, playground and SHADE! The entire park is covered by the majestic Australian Pines, providing plenty of shade for your gathering. This park offers a variety of natural beauty with four bodies of water colliding – the Gulf of Mexico, Big Pass, Sarasota Bay and Brushy Bayou.  Because of the convergence, it’s a great area for families with children to explore shallow waters and look for marine life. Keep an eye out for large conchs with crab habitants!