Ted Sperling Park at South Lido Beach
Lido Key, FL 34236
Sarasota County Call Center
5 AM – 11 PM; open 365 days a year
Southern End: Beach, nature trails, observation tower, boardwalks, designated swimming areas, lifeguards on duty during weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day, picnic area, picnic tables, park benches, grills, playground, volleyball court, horseshoe court, parking, restrooms. Southern Entrance: 2201 Benjamin Franklin Dr., Lido Key, FL 34236
Northern End: canoe/kayak launch, canoe/kayak trails, picnic tables, parking, restrooms Northern Entrance: 190 Taft Dr., Lido Key, FL 34236
This park is a gateway to four significant bodies of water – the Gulf of Mexico, Big Pass, Sarasota Bay and Brushy Bayou – where you will find beautiful beaches, birding opportunities, and a paddling trail through a rich and diverse ecosystem well-known for scenic landscapes and wildlife viewing.
From the southern beach section of the park, enjoy the white sands of the Gulf of Mexico and New Pass, and expansive views of Sarasota Bay, including Sarasota’s downtown skyline in the distance. Nature trails leading to Brushy Bayou or walking the beach along New Pass provide opportunities to see plentiful wildlife from shore – bottle-nose dolphins, manatees, game fish, wading birds and birds of prey. Swim in designated areas only due to swift currents; lifeguards are on duty during weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
A separate facility at the north end of the park includes a canoe/kayak launch and is the gateway for Otter Key and Lido Key’s spectacular mangrove tunnels. The one mile paddling trail offers an up-close look at these amazing ecosystems and seagrass beds in the lagoon. The seagrass provides food and protection for channeled whelk, hermit crab, and mullet among other marine animals. The trail includes tunnels through the mangroves, affording the paddler a view of the complex root system of the red mangrove and the dynamics of mangrove ecosystems. It also includes paddling by mangrove islands that provide habitat for large nesting water birds such as brown pelicans, great blue herons and great egrets.
During the nineteenth century, what is now Lido Key consisted of a series of islands separated by shifting channels. An early immigrant pioneer, Otto Schmidt Zoldan, settled on the islands around the turn of the century, acquiring them in 1910 under the terms of the Homestead Act.
The properties were later purchased by John Ringling during the early 1920's. Ringling planned an ambitious development of his island properties, greatly manipulating the shapes of the islands through moving millions of cubic feet of sand. Because of his interest in Italian culture, Ringling named one of the newly created islands “Lido,” which means “beach” in Italian. The great Florida Land bust of 1926, however, led to the collapse of the Ringling Isles project and the temporary abandonment of development plans for the southern part of Lido Key.
In the late 1960s, developers and environmentalists clashed over how best to use this 100 acre parcel. Ted Sperling, for whom the Park was renamed in 2009, was a city commissioner and one of the leaders of the Save Our Bays movement. The movement opposed dredge and fill as a way to create waterfront development because of the damage it causes to the marine ecosystem. Shortly after, Florida outlawed dredge and fill. In 1974 the public approved a referendum by a nine to one margin authorizing the County Government's purchase of the 100 acre parcel for use as a recreational area and public open space.
Mangrove forests, pine flatwoods, coastal hammocks
100 acres (with 640 linear feet of gulf beach frontage and 3,500 linear feet of Big Pass frontage)
Who Owns and Maintains
Owned and maintained by Sarasota County
SCAT Bus stop and route
Route 4; stop at south end of Benjamin Franklin Drive