Nathan Benderson Park
Updated: Jan 6
Nathan Benderson Park (NBP) is a premier outdoor health and wellness destination located in the beautiful gulf coast city of Sarasota. NBP boasts a 600 acre community greenspace with a 400 acre manmade lake and walking and biking trails.
Two multi-use trails circle the lake and the loop is 3.5 miles. The ‘outer’ track is paved while the ‘inner’ track has some parts that are packed dirt. The loop is great for walking, running, biking, and roller blading. The park is dog friendly and your four-legged walking buddy will love this trail too. The Benderson Family Finish Tower, pictured above, is a perfect place to do a stair workout. The staircases are open to the public and can be used anytime the park is open. There are a handful of parking spaces at the base of the tower or your can walk there from the other parking lots. There are restrooms on the main level of the tower.
Since I have a mermaid soul, I have a natural affinity for water so I immensely enjoy walking around the picturesque lake. There usually is a nice breeze. However, it can get hot especially on a sunny day since there isn’t any shade along the loop. I recommend a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Bring a bottle of water too. Recently new trees have been planted along the eastern side (the side running along I-75) and they will provide some much needed shade when they grow up. There are a variety of birds like limpkins, ibis, common moorhens, black belly whistling ducks that make the lake their home. You will often see cormorants and anhingas with their wings spread wide to dry them.
"Nathan Benderson Park is a unique outdoor community recreational venue."
The lake features a permanent FISA Class A 2,000 meter rowing course, which is the only one of its kind in North America. Many race events are hosted here including numerous rowing championships such as the World Rowing Championships and international regattas. I like to attend the Dragon Boat races to view the fanciful, decorative boats.
Due to the length of the loop, it’s a perfect length for 5K/10K runs including the annual Florida Turkey Trot. Triathlons, kayak races, and charity events like Row for the Cure regatta to kick off Breast Cancer Awareness Month are held at this community park. Many other events are held at this park which include Sarasota Water Lantern Festival, NBP Fireworks On The Lake, Nik Wallenda’s Daredevil Rally, and the De Soto Food & Music Festival.
The lake has a paved boat launch but only non-motorized boating is permitted. The ramp is located at the southern entrance off of N. Cattlemen Road. You can get out on the water even if you don’t own your own equipment because the park has a rental center. You can rent a pontoon pedal boat, stand-up paddleboards, and kayaks. The rental facility is open 10 am to 4 pm daily. During the week, the rentals are available at the operations building by the launch and recovery docks and on the weekends go to the NBP Outpost trailer adjacent to the playground.
This Sarasota County owned park, which is managed by the Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Association, Inc. (SANCA), offers a wide variety of programs for all ages. There are half-day and full-day summer camps for kids including their popular Water Adventure Camp. You can take a class to learn to paddle a dragon boat and the basics of sculling.
There is a fenced & shaded playground with a rubber mat ground cover which is very popular with parents in near-by neighborhoods, those trying to wear their kids out before shopping at the mall, and a convenient stop for families on a road trip on I-75. The playground is conveniently located at the north entrance next to the restrooms. At this location, you will find a parking lot, a water fountain, picnic tables, benches, bike rack, and a bike maintenance stand.
Nathan Benderson Park is easily accessible from I-75. Exit University Parkway/UTC Mall and turn left on North Cattlemen Road or Fruitville Road (780) and turn right on Cattlemen Road. There are 3 entrances to the park:
West: Athletes Drive off of Honore Ave.
North: Located at 751 N. Cattlemen Rd. (At the World Champion Drive and North Cattlemen Road intersection close to University Pkwy / UTC Mall)
South: Located at 2101 N. Cattlemen Rd. (At the World Champion Drive and North Cattlemen Road intersection close to Fruitville Rd.)
Parking lots are located at each entrance to the park. Also there are a few small lots along World Championship Drive. During events, the grass field on Regatta Island is used for parking. The parking is free except for some of the special events.
Public restrooms are available at three locations:
At the north entrance next to the playground.
On World Champion Drive between Athletes Drive and North Cattlemen Road, which is one mile from the playground when walking counterclockwise around the loop.
At the Benderson Family Finish Tower (the tall structure).
Address: 5851 Nathan Benderson Circle, Sarasota, FL 34235
Open: 6AM – 8PM daily
Web Site: www.nathanbendersonpark.org
Rentals: For more information, visit www.nathanbendersonpark.org/programming/rentals
(941-358-7275 ext. 5812 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Lake (non-motorized boating & activities)
Picnic Tables (next to playground & Benderson Family Finish Tower)
Watersport rental equipment