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50 Things To Do In Sarasota in 2022

Are you curious about spending some time exploring Sarasota? Not sure what to experience? No more wondering! Read on, and we’ll guide you through the best 50 things to do in Sarasota.

Located an hour south of Tampa, the 62.44 km2 Sarasota in Florida’s west coast is a twin to the Ringling Brothers Circus. But there’s more to this lively city than crocs performances, crossing slacklines and flying trapeze (though that alone is beyond amazing!).

Sarasota is a cradle to rich culture, flourishing nature, yummy foods, and vibrant nightlife. It is the reason why more than a couple million tourists per year flood to the city. There are plenty of fun things to see and experience to keep you busy throughout your entire holiday!

Ready to take down notes? Here are the best 50 things to do in Sarasota, Florida:

Things to do in Sarasota, Florida

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Unwind at Myakka River State Park

What’s special about this place?

One of the state’s oldest and largest parks, the 37,000-acre Myakka River State Park is a massive nature cradle, with the Myakka River flowing through different terrains across 58 mi.2 of the area. It’s sitting on both the grounds of Sarasota and Manatee County, two lakes irrigating wetlands, pinelands, prairies, and many more. It’s a scenic view of luscious paradise from their walkway on top of trees with canopies.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

If you just arrived in Sarasota and in need to unwind and relax, the Myakka River State Park is the place to keep you mellow. It is also an ideal getaway for your family where everyone can enjoy activities amidst nature. Myakka River State Park is a treasure every nature lover will gravitate to

What to do here?

Trace the treetop pathway and see the state park from a different perspective. Conquer the hiking trails where you’ll bump into wildlife, paddle a canoe or kayak, or go fishing. Read a book under a tree with a picnic or join an airboat tour cruising along the river.

Best Time to Visit

Myakka River State Park is open daily from 8 AM until 8:30 PM. It’s relatively crowd-free all day during weekdays, but that flips on weekends. You can stay from sundown until they close for some stargazing, with fewer people around any day of the week.

Learn more about Myakka River State Park here!

Tour John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

What’s special about this place?

The 66-acre John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is a culture hub established in 1927 with 21 different galleries showcasing pictures, sculptures, and antiques, from eras like Renaissance, Roman, Cyprian, and Greek. The museum started when John and Mable Ringling donated art pieces here, with the Florida State University currently operating the place. With over 10,000 pieces of artwork on its premises, you’ll travel back in time to great art, circus acts, and colorful culture.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is a must-visit for first-timers and if you’re a fan of circus acts. Even if you’re not, the architecture of the museum and the diverse collection gathered here is a treat to any artisans and history geeks.

What to do here?

Contemporary art pieces are also housed at John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, counting more than 10,000 works overall. You’ll come across artworks from Duchamp, Velasquez, Boudin, and Gainsborough. At the Tibbals Learning Center, there’s a mini circus, and at Kotler-Coville Glass Pavilion, glass art is on display.

Best Time to Visit

Save a bit of cash when you visit for free during Mondays and expect it to be flocked. For the rest of the week, you can tour the John and Mable Ringling Museum without hassles from 10 AM until 5 PM.

Learn more about Mable Ringling Museum of Art here!

Unleash the kids at Jumpin Fun Inflanta Park

What’s special about this place?

For 2.5 hours, jump, climb and run at Jumpin Fun Inflanta Park’s 15,000 ft.2 inflatable courses and glide for about 21 seconds through the Air Rider Zip-Rail running 250 feet long. It’s also America’s biggest inflatable park with over 20 fun zones like Air Wall Climb, Bish-Bash Tubes, Moon bounce, and Battle Beam. Since opening in 2019, Jumpin Fun Inflanta Park gives its guests new ways to stay and feel happy.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

If you’re in Sarasota with your little ones, not bringing them here will be a sin. Jumpin Fun Inflanta Park is a safe space where everyone can feel young and active. If you’re into parkour or freerunning, it’s a great spot to perfect those triple backflips.

What to do here?

Ride down their 26-foot high slide, conquer the 100-foot long obstacle course, and climb up the ninja walls towering at 10 feet. There’s also a birthday throne, dodgeball arenas, wrecking ball, and Adrenalator where you race with a friend on a short inclined ramp moving against your step!

Best Time to Visit

Bring your kids in on Tuesdays or Thursdays, from 9 AM-11 AM and 3:30 PM-8 PM. Since there are very few people playing at Jumpin Fun Inflanta Park, there’s more room to bounce around and have fun.

Learn more about Jumpin Fun Inflanta Park here!

Take a stroll around Village of the Arts

What’s special about this place?

This 40-acre neighborhood in Bradenton will give you Bohemian vibes disconnected from the typical Sarasota feels. With more than 200 homes, witness a colorful collection of structures, most of which are still standing after over a hundred years. There are also cafes, galleries, and shops where you can enjoy unique flairs of arts, foods, and souvenirs.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

If you love diving deep into the rawness of the places you travel, you’ll like what you’ll see at Village of the Arts. Artisans, bohemians, and nomads will love all the creativity overflowing in this neighborhood. It’s also easily one of the best spots in Sarasota for anyone visiting the city.

What to do here?

You’ll see many colorful dog sculptures everywhere, get an amber ring from The Village Mystic and join the art walks. Check out the collection at Witchgrass Studio or join the VOTA Parade with creative themes (wear appropriate costumes!). If you want to stretch your budget, wandering around Village of the Arts is a fun experience that won’t dig holes in your pockets.

Best Time to Visit

The establishments at Village of the Arts are usually open from 11 AM until 3 PM. Art walks happen on weekends, so remember to drop by their website for exact hours. There are also live performances at VOTA once night falls, and the village is closed on Sundays.

Learn more about Village of the Arts here!

Get your tan at Lido Key Beach

What’s special about this place?

With only a couple miles of beaches throughout the entire state accepting African-Americans, the 15-acre Lido Key Beach was one of them. But between the 1950s and the 60s, people of the Newton neighborhood showed their resistance against the segregation injustice by opening up sit-in eateries. Now, Lido Key Beach is open to everyone to enjoy, with numerous watersports activities and gorgeous shores to keep you busy the entire day.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Lido Key Beach is a lovely site for a family picnic by the beach where your kids have fun under the sun. Beach bums, get your tan on the shores of this historic beach. It is also a romantic spot for sunset watching for you and your partner.

What to do here?

Build sandcastles with your children, stay out for some tan, or just chill enjoying the scenic horizon while sipping a cold beer. Go sailing or fishing, see the dolphins, and thread the waters as much as you please. It is also a beautiful space for some yoga to release some tension from traveling.

Best Time to Visit

Lido Key Beach is open as early as 5 AM, and you can stay under the stars as late as 11 PM. Heated swimming pools are available from 10 AM and 4:45 PM, Tuesday until Sunday.

No yoga mat? See our in-depth review of the best yoga mats and see which suits your needs and budget.

Learn more about Lido Key Beach here!

Dinner at Sage

What’s special about this place?

Sitting at the rooftop of the epic building of Sarasota Times in downtown, a landmark listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Sage opened its doors for customers after renovation in 2014, with a fine-dining room and a classic cocktail bar. You can enjoy the world-class services, delicious food, and exotic cocktail mixes while soaking up the 3600 views at Sage.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The Sage does not have a separate menu for children, but you and your little one can still enjoy their menu by the patio. It’s also one of the most romantic dinner spots in Sarasota. For anyone craving an upscale dining experience, Sage is the restaurant for you.

What to do here?

Try Adobo Roasted Garlic Caesar with Baked Chapulines Tuile, or their Chicken Karma dazzled with zucchini and cilantro rice. Treat yourself to some sweets like watermelon sherbet macaron, and Coconut Panna Cotta. Have a glass of Tropical Whiskey Sour with hints of guava, kumquat, and passionfruit.

Best Time to Visit

Sage highly recommends that you book your reservation ahead of time. Secure your table since they have to accommodate a heavy flow of customers all the time. Opt for some sunset dining by the rooftop if you’re with your partner.

Learn more about Sage here!

Visit Historic Spanish Point

What’s special about this place?

Owned by the Webb’s in 1867 when they moved from New York to Sarasota, the name of the 30-acre Historic Spanish Point was after the Spanish trader who gave the Webb family about the place. Formerly the Webb’s Winter Resort, it is now on the US National Register of Historic Places, with plenty of archeological digs, flourishing greens, and structures oozing with history.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Maybe you’re a history nerd, a fan of archeology, or you love experiencing new places, the Historic Spanish Point will be a delight to visit for you. If you want to escape to nature, the greenery here will shelter you. For those searching for a unique Sarasota spot, Historic Spanish Point is one you can’t miss.

What to do here?

Explore the area where you’ll see remnants of its previous owners, such as photos, personal effects, and furniture. At the Burial Mound, there are Native American remains and other items used in their rituals, spot the fruitful Lychee Field and take the Jungle Walk and Aqueduct with tropical vegetation, as well as a cascading waterfall.

Best Time to Visit

Enjoy the numerous sites and activities at Historic Spanish Point from Monday until Sunday, opening at 10 AM and closing at 5 PM. There’s rarely any flock of visitors gathering in this landmark, especially from 1 PM onwards.

Learn more about Historic Spanish Point here!

Watch Drum Circle

What’s special about this place?

There’s no denying that staying by the beach for the sunset is one of the most relaxing things to do in Sarasota. It’s even better when you sit by the shores of Siesta Key, in the open space between 3 and 4 lifeguard houses where free entertainment from Drum Circle is running for the public. Since 1996, Drum Circle has been a part of keeping sunsets at Siesta Key alive.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Whether you’re with family, out as a couple, or traveling solo, you’re sure to enjoy the Drum Circle performance at no cost at all. It’s a treat for anyone searching for something practical yet fun to do without breaking the bank.

What to do here?

Listen to how local musicians and performers form rhythms using hand drums and other percussion instruments. It’s a lively festive celebration where you can hop in to dance or watch, enjoying the moment along with others. It’s also a fun way of making new friends and immersing yourself in the island tropical vibes while in Siesta Key.

Best Time to Visit

You can participate in this free event every Sunday, from 5 PM onwards. Bring your coolers if you want to stay with the great music while gulping in cold drinks. It’s a relaxing way to close your day with good energy.

Learn more about Drum Circle  here!

See the collection at Sarasota Classic Car Museum

What’s special about this place?

With more than 60,000 ft.2 of area, the Sarasota Classic Car Museum is one of the oldest and 2nd largest car collections in the country, housing over a hundred cars. Still operational since 1953, there are vintage cars, exotic automobiles, and vehicles owned by famous people. The Italian Car Collection features world-famous brands such as Rivolta, Alfa Romeo, and Ferrari.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

If you’re a car fanatic, the different car models and brands you’ll come across here will keep you in awe. Even if you’re not into automobiles, the Sarasota Classic Car Museum is worth the tour if you’re looking for something to do if the sun becomes too unbearable.

What to do here?

The Sarasota Classic Car Museum has a consistent rotation of cars on display. Some of the vehicles you’ll see here are from iconic people such as John Lennon and his 1965 Mercedes Benz, the local legends Mable and John Ringling, and their collection of Rolls Royce cars. There are also miniatures available by the gift shop for your little kids’ memorabilia.

Best Time to Visit

Avoid Saturdays if you can, when many people are checking out the vintage cars. For the rest of the week, you can scrutinize the collections as long as you want, between 9 AM until 6 PM.

Learn more about Sarasota Classic Car Museum here!

Take a snap with the Unconditional Surrender sculpture

What’s special about this place?

A 25-foot computer-generated plastic sculpture of a photograph taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt in 1945 called V – J Day in Times Square was installed in Sarasota in 2005, named Unconditional Surrender. Though it was around to other states, it was later decided to keep it in the city and currently in Bayfront Park. Now, with numerous replicas across the country from Sculpture Foundation, the Unconditional Surrender sculpture is a giant monument to world peace.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Seeing the Unconditional Surrender sculpture is one of the must-dos for anyone traveling to Sarasota. It’s a sight to appreciate knowing the two are both strangers to each other, just celebrating with pure joy. If you’re looking for another unique entry to your travel plan, Unconditional Surrender will be a great addition.

What to do here?

Take as many snaps from different angles as you wish. Observe the details, and you might find new inspiration for your next artwork. Contemplate the fact that Unconditional Surrender was based on actual events captured in a photograph, where two people, though unknown to each other, are overjoyed by the end of the war that killed millions.

Best Time to Visit

It’s a worthwhile stop if you’re taking an early morning walk between 6 AM until 9 AM. Even though it’s open to the public 24/7, it can be a little crowded in the area, especially during sunsets and weekends.

Learn more about Unconditional Surrender sculpture here!

Taste free samples from Drum Circle Distilling

What’s special about this place?

Brought to life in 2007 out of the customary practice of beachgoers, sipping rum while watching the sunset at the Gulf of Mexico, Drum Circle Distilling is a small company creating world-class smooth rums with four 2,600-liter tanks and copper-made customized still. All-natural, made from locally sourced sugar canes, quench your thirst with a lovely tang of rum from Drum Circle Distilling.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

You can enjoy free tastings and purchase their products as long as you’re of legal age. Checking out the brews at Drum Circle Distilling is a rewarding experience if you love drinking. Make your sunset watching more relaxing and romantic while sipping rum by the beach with your loved one.

What to do here?

Tour around Drum Circle Distilling’s tasting room and take advantage of the free samples. Don’t be afraid to chat up with the creators of the brews; they’ll happily share the processing and techniques they use. You can purchase a bottle to take back home for a unique Sarasota souvenir.

Best Time to Visit

Drum Circle Distilling is open daily. Get your free tour and samples during Saturdays, from 10 AM until 5 PM, and Sundays, from noon until 5 PM. It’s a relaxing detour on a hot afternoon with no cost at all!

Learn more about Drum Circle Distilling here!

Stop at Ca’ d’Zan Mansion

What’s special about this place?

Ca’ d’Zan is translated as House of John. Spanning around 36,000 ft.2, Ca’ d’Zan Mansion is the Ringling couple’s winter home in Sarasota since its completion in 1926. It’s a 5-story Mediterranean-Revival-inspired mansion overlooking the waters like Venice homes, a place close to their hearts. It also used to be the party venue for gatherings hosted by John and Mable Ringling.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

If you’re an architecture buff or a history nerd, the sights at Ca d‘Zan Mansion will please your eyes. Are you searching for a unique spot to explore in Sarasota? It’s one of the local pride you wouldn’t want to skip.

What to do here?

Savor the view of Sarasota Bay, check out the game room, and witness the beauty of the tower dome high at 82 feet. There’s also an elegant crystal chandelier and a classic antique Aeolian organ. Expect to see 16th century furniture, photos, and personal items owned by the Ringlings.

Best Time to Visit

Drop by at Ca’ d’Zan around 10 AM when fewer tourists are roaming inside the mansion. Even if you visit any time before 5 PM, you’re protected from the scorching heat, free from any troubles.

Learn more about Ca’ d’Zan Mansion here!

Fossil hunting at Venice Beach

What’s special about this place?

Hailed as the world’s shark tooth capital is the 14-mile white-sanded Venice Beach located south of Sarasota. Some of the fossils you’ll dig here are teeth from extinct species like carcharocles megalodon, hemipristis serra, and cosmopolitodus hastalis. Teeth from the reef, silky, bull, lemon, and tiger sharks, are commonly found here.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Venice Beach is a collector’s dream paradise. If you’re looking for a rare souvenir, look for a shark’s tooth by the shores. You don’t have to be a professional to search and take home a fossil when you’re patient enough!

What to do here?

If you want to make your fossil hunting easier, you can run to the nearby bait shops and rent out a sand sifter. It’s also a nice sunbathing, swimming and fishing spot. Savor the panoramic view from the Venice Public Fishing Pier and spot shorebirds and dolphins.

Best Time to Visit

The perfect time to go sifting through the shores is the morning right after a storm, especially if it’s low tide. The pier is accessible 24 hours daily unless there’s a weather disturbance. Get there early if you need parking since it’s fully occupied in no time.

Learn more about Venice Beach here!

Hiking at Oscar Scherer State Park

What’s special about this place?

The 1,400-acre Oscar Scherer State Park established in 1956 is one of Florida’s remaining scrubs, a massive habitat hosting various wildlife animals like scrub jay and bald eagles. It’s a natural gem with 15 miles of hiking trails under shades of thick trees. Prepare for nature-bathing amidst the heart of nature at Oscar Scherer State Park.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

If you’re drained from socializing while traveling, spending some time to recharge here will please you. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a newbie, there’s a trail at Oscar Scherer State Park suitable for your skill and fitness level. Nature lovers, complete your Sarasota trip when you explore the luscious grounds of this beautiful park.

What to do here?

After hiking, you can wind down while bird watching, paddle a kayak, or simply enjoy listening to the natural sounds while you’re in the campgrounds. Oscar Scherer State Park also has organized events scheduled such as talks and workshops where you can participate.

Best Time to Visit

You can start your trip from 8 AM until sunset. Get there early to make the most out of your visit. Ranger Tony is also leading hiking tours and educating people about nature conservation every Sunday morning.

Learn more about Oscar Scherer State Park here!

Try exotic fruit from Mixon Fruit Farms

What’s special about this place?

There’s no better place in Sarasota to get exotic fruits than the 450-acre Mixon Fruit Farms. Since 1941, this family-owned and operated farm has been serving its guests not only orchards of fresh harvests but fruits you’ll only find in tropical islands. They also have a tour where you’ll wander to their rehabilitation area, where they cater to wildlife in need like parrots, raccoons, pythons, and alligators.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Mixon Fruit Farms is a family-oriented place, so taking your children to explore and taste not only delicious but also healthy treats is fun-filled. If you’re craving topical flavors, there are plenty of options here waiting to soothe you.

What to do here?

If you’ve never tasted star fruit before, Mixon Fruit Farms will give you the freshest picks. Grapefruits, mangoes, and oranges are all available, along with other staple fruits. You can get locally produced wines, candies, fruit juices, and ice creams, all flavors inspired by their yields.

Best Time to Visit

Mixon Fruit Farms is only open from 10 AM until 3 PM and is closed on Sundays and Mondays. Even if the sun sets high, you can grab fruity refreshments to keep you cool throughout your visit.

Learn more about Mixon Fruit Farms here!

Get smiles at Marietta Museum of Art and Whimsy

What’s special about this place?

Since opening in 2006, the Marietta Museum of Art and Whimsy has been giving smiles to its guests with a quirky, eclectic, and creative collection of mixed media on display. Compiled by artist Marietta Lee, its entire area has the halls, gardens, and even the bathroom, packed with reminders to smile and ease off a bit. The massive flamingo painted with neon orange outside the museum is eye-catching, enticing curious minds to get in.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

If you’re seeing a blooming interest for arts in your children, give them more inspiration when you take them to the Marietta Museum of Art and Whimsy. Maybe you’re an artist yourself; you can opt to put forth your work since Marietta is open to adding complementary pieces to the collection. If you haven’t smiled in a while, you’re sure to exit the doors in a good mood.

What to do here?

Outside, you’ll notice a ballerina with pink shoes, a masterpiece by Joe DiMarco named Lace Slipper, as well as the Pigs creation by Fred Prescott. Once you’re inside, the Lee Family Arch will welcome you, a masterpiece by Marietta’s family with precious items dear to them,

Best Time to Visit

Marietta Museum of Art and Whimsy is open from November until May, with open doors between 1 PM until 4 PM. There’s no admission fee, but a small donation will be deeply appreciated to keep the museum running.

Learn more about Marietta Museum of Art and Whimsy here!

Bring the kids to Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium

What’s special about this place?

You’ll find the 10-acre Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium sitting at Ken Thompson Parkway. Originally the 1995 Cape Haze Marine Laboratory, which retained its name until 1967, it was renamed to commemorate William R. Mote and his dear sister Betty Mote Rose. Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium is currently a cradle to over a hundred marine life, an estuary, and a 135,000-gallon shark tank.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

If you’re traveling around Sarasota with your kiddos, taking them to Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium will put a smile on their faces. Maybe you’re an underwater fanatic; you’ll enjoy taking a tour inside this local favorite. If you’re an animal lover, there’s so much to appreciate at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium.

What to do here?

Some of the marine residents you’ll see are rays, jellyfish, and sea turtles. The keepers will also show how to feed the sharks while giving the audience educational information about the big critters. Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium also offers workshops for children, and they host annual reptile exhibits too.

Best Time to Visit

Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium is a megahit for families, so there’s heavy traffic every day from 9:30 AM until 5 PM. But there are fewer guests when you visit as soon as they open. You can catch the trainers feeding sharks on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays around 11 PM.

Learn more about Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium here!

Jogging along the Bradenton Riverwalk

What’s special about this place?

Running on the riverbanks of Manatee River, the 1.5-mile long Bradenton Riverwalk is one of the best places to visit in Sarasota for some fitness time. Tracing along the riverwalk, you’ll come across numerous sights to see, shops, volleyball courts, skate parks, and plenty of open spaces for you to occupy. There’s also a fishing pier where you can try your luck reeling in a catch.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The great thing about Bradenton Riverwalk is that it’s wheelchair-friendly, meaning everyone can enjoy the laidback stroll along the path. There are also stops where your children can enjoy activities. It is Sarasota’s go-to if you’re looking forward to burning some calories.

What to do here?

Go for a morning jog, play volleyball with the locals or try out skateboarding. Make stops by the shops where you’ll learn about science, floras, tribal knowledge, and tides. You can catch a show by the 400-seater amphitheater, and let the kids loose at the playground or by the splash pad.

Best Time to Visit

Bradenton Riverwalk is accessible 24/7 all year long. Take note that the splash pad is only active from 9 AM until 7 PM. There’s so much to do here you won’t even notice how time quickly flies.

Learn more about Bradenton Riverwalk here!

Meet the furry residents of Southeastern Guide Dogs

What’s special about this place?

A dedicated school for guide dogs is the 23-acre Southeastern Guide Dogs nearby Palmetto. Assisting visually impaired individuals since 1982, they teach little dogs the skills needed to help their humans through training and socialization. Their Hug a Puppy program allows children to get along, play and groom these cute furry students.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Are you a dog lover or a dog parent yourself? You’ll enjoy playing and staying in the company of the furry trainees at Southeastern Guide Dogs. It will be a worthwhile tour if you’re with your little ones and want to cultivate awareness in them.

What to do here?

See what happens behind the doors of their campus, how the dogs train in Southeastern Guide Dogs’ state-of-the-art facilities. From the genetics of each breed, reproduction, and how the dogs spend their days. The tour will also walk you through the living quarters of new human buddies of the dogs, who are still learning how to maneuver with their new furry friends.

Best Time to Visit

You need to make reservations online, and their gates open around 8 AM until 4:30 PM. No personal pets are allowed for the safety of the trainee puppies, and your children must be at least six years old to enter Southeastern Guide Dogs.

Learn more about Southeastern Guide Dogs here!

Spend a day at Siesta Key

What’s special about this place?

Siesta Key is a 9-km.2 barrier-island sitting along the Gulf of Mexico, and its sugary fine white sand and blue waters are some of the best in the world. There’s also a vibrant village near the beach with spas, restaurants, and shops offering quirky items and foods. Along the shores, watersports activities are available for anyone looking for an adrenaline rush like kayaking and Jet Ski.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

If you only have a weekend to experience Sarasota, Siesta Key is the perfect place. It’s also a good family getaway spot where every member will find something interesting to try. It’s also hailed to be one of the most romantic places in the county for couples.

What to do here?

Spend the entire day swimming by the beach or chilling by the tide pools. Grab sandcastle essentials and accessories from the pavilion, or get your perfect tan by the shores. Try barhopping once the night hits, or join the Siesta Fiesta for a lively island festival with the locals.

Best Time to Visit

If you wish to soothe your summer beach craving, you can easily find lodgings in Siesta Key, where you’ll have free access to the beach anytime. There are ice cream parlors you can run to for cold-creamy treats in case the heat beats you. But if you want to avoid herds of tourists, schedule your trip around June or July with the summer crowd packing back home.

Learn more about Siesta Key here!

Shop at St. Armands Circle

What’s special about this place?

First opened in the 1800s by Charles St. Armands, then purchased by John Ringling in 1917 and converted 131.89-acres of land into a shopping and dining center. St. Armands Circle is sitting at St. Armands Key and is only accessible by passing through a bridge. Experience local vibes scouting more than 130 novelty shops, restaurants, cafes, and clothing stores dropping by at St. Armands Circle.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

If you’re on vacation with your entire family, taking some time away from the outdoor adventures, enjoying the comforts of city life will recharge everyone. For those looking for souvenirs, gear, or local clothing and flavors, there are plenty of options to choose from at St. Armands Circle.

What to do here?

Savor conch fritters with chili mango sauce from Old Salty Dog or sit for a Mediterranean-inspired cuisine with a glass of Spanish wine at Columbia. Get trendy jewelry from Apricot Lane, have your nails done at Aquasandz, and get a delicious cone from Ben and Jerry’s.

Best Time to Visit

St. Armands Circle is operational between 10 AM and 9 PM. It’s moderately trafficked from Monday to Friday, and it’s heavily flocked on weekends. There’s so much to try at St. Armands Circle that even the crowd can’t bother you.

Learn more about St. Armands Circle here!

Feed the lions at Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary

What’s special about this place?

First established in 1989 and converted to a not-for-profit organization in 2005, Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary is primarily a rehabilitation center for big exotic animals like tigers and lions. There are three sections in its compound serving home to more than 150 animals, constructed to make it as natural as possible. There’s also other wildlife here, such as bears, birds and monkeys, and llamas and goats by the petting zoo.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Let your children participate in the feeding experience by the petting zoo. If you’ve never fed a tiger or lion before, you have your chance at Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary. It’s a real treat for animal and nature lovers!

What to do here?

Check out all the wildlife residents in this preserve and listen to the awareness demos by the keepers that typically involve the participation of the big cats. Watch how the animals go around their typical days. Take your kids for a mini adventure feeding llamas, or test your courage feeding the big cats or bears.

Best Time to Visit

From Wednesdays until Sundays, you can visit Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary between 12 PM and 4 PM. They also have Wild Yoga Programs if you’re interested in practicing with big cats. Drop by their website to see the schedule.

Learn more Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary here!

Get fresh supply from Central Sarasota Farmers Market

What’s special about this place?

The first Central Sarasota Farmers Market opened in 1979 as the region’s source for fresh local produce. Vegetables and fruits, you can also purchase other delicious treats such as baked goodies, salsas, honey, and other ingredients. Local crafts are also available made by people of all sorts of expertise.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

If you’re craving home-cooked meals for your family or you’re a health-conscious person, the Central Sarasota Farmers Market is full of fresh ingredients for your basket. Are you searching for a unique find to take home? There’s a wide variety of items you can choose from when you take time to check out this farmers market.

What to do here?

If you have just woken up, grab yourself some coffee and pair it with delectable cheesecake. Get natural and innovative soaps from Ashjoi Soaps, handmade baskets from Big Top Baskets, and organic types of bread from Camelot Breads. Remember to get your supply of fresh fruits and vegetables!

Best Time to Visit

You can get local and fresh harvests at Central Sarasota Farmers Market every Saturday. They start selling as early as 7 AM and close around 1 PM. Take advantage of the free yoga sessions on Sundays!

Learn more about Central Sarasota Farmers Market here!

Watch a regatta at Nathan Benderson Park

What’s special about this place?

The 600-acre Nathan Benderson Park with its 400-acre artificial lake is the country’s only park with a complete rowing facility and a 3.4-mile trail. At first, it was just another typical park where you can stroll, jog or enjoy a picnic, but that changed with the discovery of its rowing potential. Now there’s a boathouse, maintenance center, racing, and coach lanes, starting and finish line towers, and grandstands where the audience can cheer and feel the thrill of the races.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Maybe you aspire to get into rowing, or you love watching the competitions, then you’ll like the happenings at Nathan Benderson Park. Now is your chance to see a regatta in real life if you’ve never seen one before. The park is a pleasant space where people of all ages and preferences can find something interesting to do.

What to do here?

Go kayaking, rent a canoe or paddle a SUP. You can also opt for roller skating, running, and cycling along the trail. There’s also the option to sign up for a rowing lesson and watch local teams train by the lake.

Best Time to Visit

You can breathe in the fresh air with big rooms to move around since Nathan Benderson Park is not too crowded throughout weekdays, from 6 AM until 8 PM. Yoga classes are also available every first Sunday of the Month. You can also check their website for the scheduled fireworks displays.

Are you searching for a standup paddleboard of your own? Check out these best standup paddleboards for in-depth review and get which one favors your taste.

Learn more about Nathan Benderson Park here!

Sit on an alligator at Sarasota Jungle Gardens

What’s special about this place?

The 1939 Sarasota Jungle Gardens is one of the oldest landmarks in Florida and hosts 10 acres of floras and more than 200 faunas, both local and from other parts of the globe. With colorful flowers, thick trees, and wildlife, their Exotic Bird Show kicked off in the 1970s, featuring cockatoos and macaws and continuously innovating animal shows for their guests ever since, including sitting on an alligator and holding a reptile experience.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

If you have a soft spot for animals and nature, you’ll enjoy spending some time at Sarasota Jungle Gardens. Maybe you’re with family or want to try sitting on an alligator; this nature haven is the place to go.

What to do here?

You’ll find even small lizards, chatty parrots, and iguanas housed inside Sarasota Jungle Gardens. Take snaps and feed Instagrammable flamingos or check out the cold-blooded reptiles and the primates. If you’re courageous enough, sit on top of an alligator for an experience you won’t forget!

Best Time to Visit

Be there around 3 PM to steer clear of the herds of visitors who also want to meet the animals at Sarasota Jungle Gardens. You can also time your tour on a Tuesday when there’s a thinner crowd all day from 10 AM until 4 PM.

Learn more about Sarasota Jungle Gardens here!

Meet local artists at UpTown Art Gallery

What’s special about this place?

UpTown Gallery is the oldest fine arts hub in the state, located downtown and opened in 1980. The primary mission of UpTown Gallery is to allow artists to showcase their masterpieces and currently have works from 29 local artisans. These artworks range from ceramics and woodworks to mixed media arts.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Do you love supporting rising names in the art scene, or you’re passionate about self-expression? You’ll appreciate the treasures displayed at UpTown Gallery. Checking out the exhibits and meet-and-greet at UpTown Gallery is a must-visit for any creative buff traveling around Sarasota.

What to do here?

See paintings made by Jacqueline Clark, Hunter Jay, and Judy Gilmer. Mini sculptures are also on display from James Gabbert, Melanie Carlstein, and Dana Clark. Pottery and ceramic pieces by Joan Libby Hawk, creative glass bowls made by Esther Jensen, and digital photographs on canvas by Frank Bibbins.

Best Time to Visit

You can meet local artisans on Fridays, from 6 PM until 9 PM, and on Saturdays between 11 AM until 5 PM. Check out the pieces at UptTown Gallery From Tuesday until Friday between 11 AM and 5 PM, while on Saturdays, they’re open from 10 AM until 3 PM.

Learn more about UpTown Art Gallery here!

Biking along Legacy Trail

What’s special about this place?

Running 12.5 miles since 2008 from Palmer Ranch to Scherer State Park, down to Nokomis, continuing to Dona Bay, and ending in Venetian Waterway Park, the Legacy Trail is one of the state’s most amazing biking trails. There’s a historical rail next to the Legacy Trail, and remnants of its past are visible. It’s a long trail to pedal, but 15 stops along the way are enough to keep you going.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Biking along Legacy Trail is a must-do for any seasoned cyclist, and it’s a test of your skill if you’re still a novice. If you want to stay active while on vacation, pedaling through the Legacy Trail will burn enough calories to help you stay fit.

What to do here?

You’ll see some mile markers along with the rail system next to the bike trail, and you might spot some massive eagle nests. Enjoy the diversity of landscapes and terrains you’ll bump into, rich greeneries, the horizon by Dona Bay, and relax after reaching the final stop at Venetian Waterway Park while refueling with cold beverages.

Best Time to Visit

A roundtrip biking along Legacy Trail will take roughly 2-3 hours, and you can enjoy the best weather when you pedal from the middle of April until the middle of October. But anytime you visit, you can trace the trail however you want between 7 AM and 6 PM.

Staying hydrated is a must during outdoor adventures. Check out the best water bottles you can carry during your physically demanding travels.

Learn more about Legacy Trail here!

Watch the Baltimore Orioles train at Ed Smith Stadium

What’s special about this place?

Constructed as a Minor League Baseball field in 1989, Ed Smith Stadium has had a seating capacity of 8,500 after renovation in 2011. It’s currently a training site for the Baltimore Orioles, and before that, the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Socks used to train at the stadium. Catch the Baltimore Orioles’ strike home runs during their Spring Training at Ed Smith Stadium!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

If you’re a big baseball fan, don’t miss the opportunity to witness all the athleticism put into the field. Maybe you’re generally a sports enthusiast; the competition at Ed Smith Stadium will keep you living in the moment. Give your kids more fire for baseball when you take them here for some inspiration.

What to do here?

Grab your drink and snacks by the concession stands and café. Cheer along with the locals and feel the infectious energy roar inside the stadium while the players hit the bat with a ball, count the strikes, and most-anticipated home runs. There’s also a gift shop if you wish to bring home some memorabilia from the baseball game.

Best Time to Visit

Stay up-to-date with the season schedule and secure your seat at least a couple of days in advance. Be there earlier than the game to avoid the trouble of looking for your seatings. Remember, alcoholic beverages are prohibited (as tempting as it might be!)

Learn more about Ed Smith Stadium here!

Bird watching at the Celery Fields

What’s special about this place?

Covering over 360 acres, Celery Fields is a wetland where Sarasota’s storm waters are collected. More than 200,000 plants and trees are kept in this massive site, with 217 bird species spotted. You can take a stroll in the two wooden boardwalks while traveling throughout the Celery Fields to experience a hundred acres of wetlands at its most raw.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Celery Fields is a sure treat for nature lovers and those who want to run away from the chaos of downtown. Bird watching enthusiasts, this is the best spot in the city so remember to set some time aside to visit here.

What to do here?

You can go for some jogging, fishing, biking and enjoy a picnic by the grass. Enjoy the view of the open sky while bird watching. Go camping while appreciating life under the stars and welcome another morning with the panoramic view at Celery Fields.

Best Time to Visit

Celery Fields is open day in and out, all year long. Enjoy more serenity when you visit from 2 PM onwards, especially once nighttime falls. It also offers a dreamy view of sundown for couples traveling in Sarasota.

Learn more about Celery Fields here!

Dine at Snook Haven

What’s special about this place?

Since opening in 1948, Snook Haven Restaurant and Fish Camp has been the go-to for delicious food at the heart of nature. Surrounded by thick trees and volumes of moss, hit the dirt road to Snook Haven and have a taste of their signature gator sliders and kielbasa, and rent a cruise along Myakka River afterward!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

It is the perfect daytime date spot if you and your partner are nature lovers (awesome!). It will haunt you for life if you skip the raw dining experience at Snook Haven. If you want to hit two birds at once, you get full up with yummy food, and you explore rugged nature, all at Snook Haven Restaurant and Fish Camp.

What to do here?

Have a taste of their fried gator bites, Big Snook Greek Salad, and pulled pork sandwich with Snook Chips, cheeses, and onions. Opt for the Catfish Dinner or a Seafood Combo Platter with fried shrimp and fish, two sides, and garlic toasts. Rent out a kayak, canoe, or powerboat and trace the waters of Myakka River or follow along a tour where you’ll spot local wildlife like otters, bobcats, and alligators.

Best Time to Visit

Snook Haven is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. You can enjoy the amenities, food, and nature with more peace when you choose to drop by from Wednesday until Friday. If you wish to make it a little more romantic, be there before sunset so you can dine while the darkness slowly falls.

Learn more about Snook Haven here!

Wander around The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature

What’s special about this place?

Originally known as the South Florida Museum until 2019, The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature is the former home for the oldest manatee on the planet, Snooty (until he ceased in 2017), in their Parker Manatee Aquarium, with other attractions named the Art Museum and The Bishop Planetarium. See artifacts and contemporary art, marine wildlife, and explore outer space when you take time touring around this massive Sarasota museum established in 1947.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Want a practical way to make your budget last? The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature is a triple strike you need to grab. It is a family-oriented attraction where people of all ages and interests can have fun observing everything there is to see.

What to do here?

Walk by the Art Museum, where exhibits range from centuries-old items to modern contemporary artworks. Listen to the keepers’ educational talks aimed to increase awareness about the endangered manatees. Observe heavenly bodies like stars, constellations, and planets without leaving Earth at The Bishop Planetarium.

Best Time to Visit

It’s best to visit on Tuesdays, anytime between 10 AM until 5 PM, when there are no herds of tourists wandering inside The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature. If that’s not possible, 4 PM is the best time throughout the week except on Mondays when they are closed.

Learn more about The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature here!

Take a seat at Sarasota Opera House

What’s special about this place?

Sitting at North Pineapple Avenue is the 3-stories high,1100-seater Sarasota Opera House, established primarily as Asolo Opera Guild in 1926 at Edwards Theater. But since its renovation in 2009, it has claimed fame as Sarasota Opera with regular seasons showcasing Verdi Cycle, the live plays of Giuseppe Verdi’s orchestras, plays, Requiem, and chamber works. Take a seat at the Sarasota Opera House for some exciting theater plays and musicals!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Are you looking for a great date night activity? Watching a show at Sarasota Opera House is one of the most romantic things to do in Sarasota. For classical fanatics out there, get your fix with the diverse lineup of performances in this theater.

What to do here?

Laugh out loud when you watch The Silken Ladder or The Daughter of the Regiment. There are also classic movie screenings like The Philadelphia Story and La Traviata. Ballet performances are also waiting in line, with choreographies from Aladdin, a treat for the entire family!

Best Time to Visit

See the performance lineup and purchase your tickets in advance from their website. From February until March, Sarasota Opera House has its Winter Opera Festival running four operas if you want to skewer multiple shows during your visit.

Learn more about Sarasota Opera House here!

Check out the bromeliads collection at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

What’s special about this place?

With a total area of 45 acres, the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens downtown is the haven for the world’s largest and most diverse bromeliad collection, with 20,000 plants from 6,000 bromeliad species spread across different 20 ecosystems. They also have the Rainforest Children’s Garden on higher grounds covering an acre of exotic plant life you’ll only see from Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

If you’re a green thumb, you’ll forever regret missing out on the surprises living in Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. This Sarasota pride is also a treasure box for nature lovers waiting to discover. If you want to escape the brutal heat, you’ll find a cooling refuge here.

What to do here?

Wander around the ecosystems such as bamboo lands, live oaks, and succulents, where you’ll see intriguing plant forms. You can also sit by the research library and learn about the residents in the herbarium and greenhouses. Take a detour to the Butterfly Garden to see its colorful inhabitants fly around, beautifying nature even more.

Best Time to Visit

Spend a relaxed late afternoon tour when you come to Marie Selby Botanical Gardens around 4 PM. If your only free time is in the morning, you can drop by around 10 AM, but bring a bit of patience to the slightly trafficked landmark.

Learn more about Marie Selby Botanical Gardens here!

Catch a live show at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

What’s special about this place?

Finished construction in 1969, the 80,000 ft.2 Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall has a seating capacity of 1,741, with 350 people in its Grand Foyer spanning 6,000 ft.2, and the rest sitting on the Bayfront and Terrance. Owned by Eugenia and Lewis Van Wezel, this gigantic purple seashell landmark was renovated in 2000 and is now a host to various live performances ranging from comedy to drama, ballet concerto to pop music events.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

If you’re out in Sarasota with your loved one, this is a lovely place for a date night. There are also live shows lined up to entertain the entire family. If you’re a performing arts devotee, you’ll love taking some time to watch the shows at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.

What to do here?

Before you even get inside the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, you’ll be impressed by its sophisticated architecture. Yoga sessions by the lawn, musical tributes to Led Zeppelin, and the classic Escape to Margaritaville also run here. Disney shows and circus performances also take place at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.

Best Time to Visit

Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall is operational every day, starting at 10 AM until 5 PM. Check out their website for the lineup of performances. You can also dine at the on-site restaurant before the show begins.

Learn more about Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall here!

Camping at Lake Manatee State Park

What’s special about this place?

The 556-acre Lake Manatee State Park was established around the 1960s when the conversion of the Manatee River into a dam took place. The freshwaters in this park are ideal for watersports, swimming, and fishing. You can camp out by the beach for an immersive experience with Sarasota’s nature.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

If you’re an outdoor and watersports enthusiast, numerous fun activities are waiting for you at Lake Manatee State Park. Are you on a Sarasota holiday with your family? It’s a great spot where everyone can relax and have fun.

What to do here?

Spend the day plunging into freshwater, try reeling in some fish and watch the boaters do their thing. Remember that a freshwater fishing license is a must at Lake Manatee State Park. Set up a tent for the night, watch the stars above while listening to the sounds of wildlife around.

Best Time to Visit

Lake Manatee State Park is open from 8 AM until sunset all year long. You’re required to make a reservation if you want to camp overnight at an additional low cost. There’s water and electricity available by the campgrounds.

No tent? No Problem! Check out the best teepee tents in the market and get one you find interesting.

Learn more about Lake Manatee State Park here!

Collect shells at Manasota Key

What’s special about this place?

Situated south of Sarasota, Manasota Key is an 11-mile peninsula with beaches filled with colorful and beautiful shells. It’s famous as one of the secret eco-gems in Sarasota, away from the beaten-off path. Even with the serenity of its blue waters and white sand shore, there are still modern amenities within reach.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

For any parent in Sarasota with their little girls, this activity will keep them engaged with creativity while smiling. Even if you’re a child-at-heart or you’re looking for a not-so-common souvenir from your visit, the gorgeous shells at Manasota Key are one of the best.

What to do here?

Aside from the seashell collection, there are also picnic shelters available for some shade. Paved trails that people of any fitness level can enjoy. You can also opt for standup paddleboarding, yoga by the beach, snorkeling, or fly-high parasailing.

Best Time to Visit

Manasota Beach is open from 6 AM until midnight. It’s also best if you go shell collecting after a storm, an hour before the tide pulls back. You can escape flocks of tourists when you opt for the Blind Pass Beach, meaning more shells to choose from and collect.

Since there are lines of shells everywhere, wearing footwear will help you walk around with ease. Check out these best water shoes. They’ll come in handy during your holidays.

Learn more about Manasota Key here!

Go to Florida Maritime Museum

What’s special about this place?

Situated in a 1912 school in Cortez, one of Florida’s most historic settlements. Since opening in 2007, the 4-acre Florida Maritime Museum has witnessed Sarasota’s colorful maritime history. Photos, artifacts, and one of the world’s most diverse and gigantic maritime libraries, there’s no shortage of information to absorb when you visit the Florida Maritime Museum.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

If you’re into anything and everything maritime-related, this historic Sarasota landmark deserves a spot on your itinerary. For anyone seeking something worthwhile to do in the city, Florida Maritime Museum is a local pride that won’t disappoint you.

What to do here?

Examine the marine equipment in the facility, read the official logs with names of ships and learn about commercial fishing. Find out about maritime transportation and see pictures of past accounts in Sarasota. Sit by the library and unearth more knowledge about the industry with relaxing silence.

Best Time to Visit

Drop by around 3 PM for a more peaceful tour inside the Florida Maritime Museum. But if you already have a scheduled activity, visiting between 9 AM until noon, then 1 PM until 4 PM, from Tuesday through Saturday is better than missing it at all!

Learn more about Florida Maritime Museum here!

Rent a kayak from Sarasota Paddleboard Company

What’s special about this place?

Though it’s enticing to do nothing but stay under the sun while sipping ice-cold beer, there’s so much to explore in Sarasota that missing them will be one of the greatest regrets of your life. Why not wander around with a kayak from Sarasota Paddleboard Company. It’s one of the best rental companies in the city since it opened in 2008 at Longboat Key, willing to deliver at your doorstep!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

For kayakers and canoe enthusiasts who left their equipment at home, rent yours from Sarasota Paddleboard Company. If you’re a novice, they will also provide you with an instructor. If you’re an adventure seeker, see the city’s natural beauty at your own pace when you go paddleboarding.

What to do here?

Scout under mangrove tunnels at Lido Key and see the dolphins and manatees that might come your way. You can also simply paddle by the beach and through the river channels where no motorized boats are allowed. If you want to journey through the hidden treasures of Sarasota, get a guide to show you around.

Best Time to Visit

You can call them up for rentals any day, 365 days, starting 7:30 AM until 7 PM. They also have Illuminated Night Tours if you want an extra challenge and see the surroundings from another point of view.

Are you hunting for a kayak that suits not only your budget but also your skills and preferences? Read our in-depth review of the best sit-on-top kayaks in the market. You might find one (or more!) grabbing your interest.

Learn more about Sarasota Paddleboard Company here!

Watch the Sarasota Orchestra

What’s special about this place?

Originally known as the Florida West Coast Symphony in 1949, the Sarasota Orchestra has 80 members in its ensemble, and they all put on more than 125 live shows per year. The troupe was renamed Sarasota Orchestra in 2008, hosting the world-class Sarasota Music Festival with passionate classical musicians on stage.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Are you a fan of classical concertos? The performances by the Sarasota Orchestra will soothe you so well it’s almost spine-chilling and hair-raising. Sitting here for a date with your lover is a romantic thing to tick off your list.

What to do here?

The innovative blend of pop and classical music, amplified by powerful vocals, will give you earworm long after the concert has ended. Sarasota Orchestra’s performances of masterpieces by Mozart justify their priceless value. Their Chamber Soirees played by a small ensemble are based on poems, a balm to your ears and soul!

Best Time to Visit

Contact Sarasota Orchestra for available tickets and scheduled performances during weekdays, from 10 AM until 4 PM. But for couples, book your seats after daytime for a romantic date while in Sarasota.

Learn more about Sarasota Orchestra here!

Have a tour at Save Our Seabirds

What’s special about this place?

With more than 150 birds in its care, the 3-acre outdoor museum of Save Our Seabirds near Mote Marine Aquarium at Ken Thompson Parkway is a rehabilitation center for wild birds. Helping them not to keep them, but so that they can return into the wilderness once they’ve fully recovered and those that can’t take care of themselves reside at their Wild Bird Learning Center as part of their family.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Maybe you’re an eco-warrior, or you have a heart for birds, then you’ll appreciate the mission of Save Our Seabirds when you spend some time there. If you have children, help them cultivate awareness while enjoying the beauty of the feathery residents here.

What to do here?

On their Birdwalk, discover why and how mutation has affected various bird species and how you can help save the environment in your ways. Strolling through Native Plants, you’ll see local flora and their importance in keeping safety and balance. Meet the permanent birds unreleasable due to their condition at the Wild Bird Learning Center.

Best Time to Visit

Save Our Seabirds is open to the public every day, starting at 10 AM and closes at 5 PM. It’s an easy detour whether you’re going to or just got out of the Mote Marine Aquarium. If you’re planning to come when the sun is peeking, remember to bring your hat and sunglasses.

Learn more about Save Our Seabirds here!

Experience the Sarasota Chalk Festival

What’s special about this place?

Witness artists from around the globe display overflowing creativity, converting ordinary sidewalks into priceless works of art when you go to the Sarasota Chalk Festival. It started in 2007 as a drive to show that art doesn’t have to be expensive, and the competition also has a complimentary Pavement Music Festival, adding up hype to the event.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Are you an artist to the core and love to practice self-expression? Do you like seeing how something so mundane can change into a beautiful creation? Then witnessing this international event in Sarasota is an experience you’ll be glad to have attended.

What to do here?

Sarasota Chalk Festival is open to everyone, beginners and pro artists go side-to-side, making unmatched pavement arts. Even just being a speculator of the happenings is a satisfying experience. Stay for the live music and chat up with the artists for some insights and inspiration.

Best Time to Visit

The Sarasota Chalk Festival happens twice yearly, in Sarasota in April and in Venice during November. But recheck with their website for more information and updates. You can also get your application online if you wish to participate.

Learn more about Sarasota Chalk Festival here!

Join Longboat Key Turtle Watch

What’s special about this place?

Since 1969, the non-profit organization Longboat Key Turtle Watch has been leading morning walks through the beaches, looking for turtle nests and the eggs they’ve buried under the sands. These walks are not just any stroll by the beach, but perhaps almost a study where your attention is highly needed to spot the nests.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Do you love turtles, or do you own one back home? Joining Longboat Key Turtle Watch will be a rewarding tour for you. This activity is also a great morning pursuit for animal lovers, beach bums, and if you want to begin your day actively.

What to do here?

You’ll never know when you’re already near a nest so keep your eyes open. There are thousands of nests found every year, meaning you need to be extra careful. You’ll also be taught about sea turtle conservation when you join the Longboat Key Turtle Watch.

Best Time to Visit

Turtles in the state come ashore during nighttime from May until October to bury their eggs. Longboat Key Turtle Watch happens every Saturday morning of July. Since the walk is in the mornings, you’ll have plenty of time left for the rest of the day to go to other Sarasota attractions.

Learn more about Longboat Key Turtle Watch here!

Laugh with the Florida Studio Theater Improv

What’s special about this place?

A not-for-profit theater established in 1973, the Florida Studio Theater offers contemporary performances in various places, from the casual Green Room Café and Bar to the sophisticated and historical Keating Theater. Their plethora of genres, such as comedy, pop, drama, and musicals, are hands-down of world-class quality. Their comedy group Florida Studio Theater Improv will keep you laughing till your cheeks hurt whenever they perform at Bowne Lab Theater.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The variety of shows by Florida Studio Theater is a mix that even children can enjoy. If you love watching live shows or theater acts in particular, you’ll love seeing their performance while you’re in Sarasota. For couples looking for what to do on a date, laughing out loud is not a bad idea.

What to do here?

Laugh and smile throughout the entire show when you opt for Comedy Lottery by FST Improv, walkthrough with the struggles of iconic figures like Albert Einstein in My Lord What a Night, and enjoy the family-oriented story of Rounding Third. They also have a Play Reading Festival written by top-notch playwrights like Jason Odell Williams.

Best Time to Visit

FST Improve performs on Saturdays at 7:30 PM. For other shows, Mondays are the least busy, starting at 9 AM until 5 PM. But for the rest of the week, you can enjoy a show with fewer people when you choose a 9 AM performance.

Learn more about Florida Studio Theater Improv here!

Swing the club at Smugglers Cove Adventure Golf

What’s special about this place?

The 1987 pirate-themed Smugglers Cove Adventure Golf at Tamiami Trail is no ordinary mini-golf paradise. There are the typical challenges, but it’s a rare thing to encounter more than 20 live alligators on the course, adding up hazards to your game! Just another compelling reason to sharpen up and level up your A-game in this 18-hole golf course.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Whether you’re a professional or a novice golfer, there’s a course to suit your skills at Smugglers Cove Adventure Golf. The overall theme of the place is also child-friendly, meaning you can bring your kids, and they’ll still have fun.

What to do here?

Play putt-putt and get hole-in-ones for additional free plays. You can also feed the gators for an additional fee, a fun experience if you’re visiting with children. Play friendly competition with your friends or family while gulping in cold beer and sharing good vibe talks.

Best Time to Visit

Fewer people are playing at Smuggler Cove Adventure Golf from Mondays until Friday, between 9 AM and 5 PM. Later hours until 11 PM can be a little heavily trafficked, and there are mobs of golfers all day on Saturdays. It can be irritatingly hot, so make sure you bring your hat and stay hydrated with treats from Snack Bar.

Learn more about Smugglers Cove Adventure Golf here!

Fly on a trapeze at Sailor Circus Arena

What’s special about this place?

Though Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is not business anymore, you can still try your skills on circus acts at the 28,050 ft.2 Sailor Circus Arena. Famous as the country’s oldest circus with youngsters in its arenas since opening in 1949. With 2,287-seating capacity, either watch as an audience or learn the craft yourself!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Maybe you enjoy playing with movement and learning new skills, hopping out into a circus arts workshop at Sailor Circus Arena will be a rewarding experience for you. Parkour or freerunning athletes, raise personal ninja bars when you sign up for a class. Anyone older than 6 years old can jump in!

What to do here?

Keep your grip tight and feel the rush on your flight while holding onto a trapeze. There are also aerial and straps workshops if you want to feel like flying while still feeling grounded. Sailor Circus also has show lineups with diverse themes ranging from historical to contemporary.

Best Time to Visit

This flying trapeze training happens every Wednesday, starting at 6 PM. If you’re an advanced fitness athlete of some sort you need to contact them first for requirements for a custom experience.

Learn more about Sailor Circus Arena here!

Walk along the Ringling Bridge

What’s special about this place?

Running 2.6-mile long, the Ringling Bridge was originally built in 1925, named after, still, the infamous Ringling family of Sarasota. It’s a popular pathway, both for locals and tourists, who want to go for some jogging, biking, or to walk with their dogs. It would take around an hour to trace, roundtrip from Marina Plaza to St. Armands Circle, and you’ll also see the beautiful city skyline from the 1925 Ringling Bridge.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

If you wish to stay active while on holiday, the Ringling Bridge is the go-to if you can’t be bothered traveling far from downtown. It’s also one of those iconic Sarasota spots you and your family can visit without spending a single dime.

What to do here?

Go for some morning run, biking, or roller skating along the Ringling Bridge. You can take your kids to the 12-acre park situated under the bridge for some fun or by the fishing pier and try to throw bait in for some catch. It’s also a nice picnic spot for some snacks and drinks by the grass.

Best Time to Visit

The Ringling Bridge is open day in and out, but the park is only operational from 5 AM until 11 PM. Whether you opt to trace the bridge or stay by the park, be there around 6 AM when there’s a thinner crowd and lesser heat. Drop by just before sunset for a romantic sunset view with your special someone.

Learn more about Ringling Bridge here!

Follow history at Newton African American Heritage Trail

What’s special about this place?

Listed under the U. S. Civil Rights Trail is the 1.6-mile Newton African American Heritage Trail at Newton with 15 historical stops. These follow the same route that the local African-Americans of the Segregation era took during 1951 to protest for equality. For a couple of hours, explore Newton African American Heritage Trail on a trolley tour with Newton Alive, where you’ll encounter some of the original participants of the civil rights protests.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

If you’re a history buff, one of the best ways to reveal a place’s history is through who lived the events, and Newton American African Heritage Trail is rich in people who will tell you historical facts. Are you a civil rights advocate? Hear inspiring stories when you join a tour from Newton Alive.

What to do here?

Some of the markings you’ll visit are the Overtown Early Settlement, the Wright Bush House, The Bustling Business District 1& 2, and the historical architecture at Truevine Missionary Baptist Church. There’s also a stop at the Booker School, the primary learning center for the educationally deprived African Americans of Newton, organizations, and churches that kept the community together.

Best Time to Visit

Tour usually begins around 10 AM. Advance online booking is a must for this activity. You can opt for a tour that ends in Station 400, so you can dig in on some carbs afterward, and it’s also close to the Fogartyville Media Center parking.

Learn more about Newton African American Heritage Trail here!

Visit for the Crystal Classic Sand Sculpting Competition

What’s special about this place?

Witness professional sand sculptors, both locally and from overseas, mold out-of-this-world sand artworks at the shores of Siesta Key. To increase the city’s tourism economy, the local government started the internationally acclaimed Crystal Classic Sand Sculpting Competition in 2010 and has been doing it annually. Contending for over $15,000 of a cash prize, you’ll be in awe of the craftsmanship showcased in this competition, with over 40,000 spectators waiting for the finished pieces.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Do you have children who love to make sandcastles every time you visit the beach? Add more fuel to their creativity when you bring them along to see the Crystal Classic Sand Sculpting Competition. If you love arts, the discipline by the participants to finish their sand sculpture is something you’ll appreciate.

What to do here?

Crystal Classic Sand Sculpting Competition is an all-day event where you can also enjoy offers from 50 vendors, live music performances, or join an amateur sand sculpting contest. Some of the sculptures depict landscapes in Sarasota, people, and international landmarks like the infamous Big Ben in London.

Best Time to Visit

Check out their website for an up-to-date schedule of the Crystal Classic Sand Sculpting Competition. Heavy flocks of tourists during the event, so it’s better for you to reserve your tickets ahead of time.

Learn more about Crystal Classic Sand Sculpting Competition here!

Enjoy the peace at Garden of the Five Senses

What’s special about this place?

Spanning 16 acres of a natural haven, the Garden of the Five Senses at North Port will detoxify you from your traveling stresses, filled with overflowing various local and adapted plant forms. It’s a serene site where you can tune in for some introspection and recalibrate your priorities. Fully conceptualized in 2003 and opened in 2007, it’s also the home to Boundless Adventures Playground, where kids, even with disabilities, can safely play and have fun.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Nature lovers, Garden of the Five Senses is a gem where you can bask amidst the stillness of scenery. If you’re feeling burned out, cleanse and recharge when you spend some time soaking in the quietness of this place.

What to do here?

You’ll be greeted by the Park: Boy in Garden, a sundial where your shadow is all you need to identify time. Bring a book or play some calming music on your headphones, or best, simply listen to the surroundings. Take a stroll along the paved trails and look out for the waterfall by the main garden area.

Best Time to Visit

Start your day with some refreshing nature trip when you drop by as soon as they open at 7 AM. It’s also a great escape to end your day mellow from 7 PM until they close an hour after.

Learn more about Garden of the Five Senses here!

Go for an Architecture Tour

What’s special about this place?

Sarasota is rich in architectural buildings built in different eras and designs. You can get a free brochure from Architecture Sarasota that can guide you through the city’s historic buildings. It’s a non-profit organization formed by the Sarasota Architectural Foundation and Center for Architecture Sarasota in 2021, aiming to preserve and increase cultural awareness about the historic premises across the city.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Whether you’re an architect yourself, a history geek, or simply enjoy beautiful things, taking this tour will be a worthwhile activity for you. Signing up for a walking tour is also an enjoyable way for anyone to stay active while traveling.

What to do here?

You’ll be led by Historic Spanish Point’s executive director John McCarthy, a former historian himself and served as Historical Society of Sarasota’s president for a couple of years. Visit the Umbrella House, owned by world-renowned Architect Paul Rudolph, and a tour to the Cocoon House.

Best Time to Visit

You need to reserve in advance since there are limited spots. It departs from the center as scheduled, don’t be late since a no-show is non-refundable. Walking tours can be a bit challenging with the brutal sun, so wearing a hat and sunglasses is for your comfort.

Learn more about Architecture Tour here!

That wraps up our Sarasota itinerary! It’s one of those cities in Florida sure to keep you occupied with plenty of attractions to chase. Whatever preference you have, you’ll find something entertaining to keep you coming back for more!

Have you filtered out your list of best things to do in Sarasota?

We hope that this guide helped you with your travel plans. Pick up your bags and tie your shoes. Hit the road and make your Sarasota trip a vacation you’ll never forget!

FAQ

FAQ – Frequently asked questions about Sarasota:

I want to move to Sarasota. How much is the cost of living in Sarasota?

The overall living cost in Sarasota is around 9% above America’s average.

There are factors that you need to consider if you’re planning to move to Sarasota for good. Some of the facts are that the housing cost is 2% higher, utility costs are 6% higher, and groceries are 20% higher than the national average.

The annual average salary in the city is around $60,270 per annum. If you’re solo, you’ll need about $1900 monthly to live comfortably. Living with two kids, a monthly budget of $4200 will get you through with ease.

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