Sarasota Travel Guide

Florida Travel | Travel
May 1, 2024

Everything you want to do and see during your trip to Sarasota, Florida!

Sarasota sits on the gulf coast of Florida just about an hour south of Tampa. It’s one of my favorite places to visit and I always recommend it to out-of-towners! Sarasota has some of the best beaches and unique things to do in this area. Sarasota has the best of everything from luxury resorts to small beach town feels, and the crowds are typically smaller than our other popular beaches in Florida.

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

1. The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art (“The Ringling”) is a Sarasota staple and just opened its newest exhibit, The Greatest Show On Earth Gallery, which is a celebration of the circus for all generations. Families get to escape into immersive technology (where they can be transformed into a Ringling circus crew member), experiential entertainment (feeling the energy of the show itself), and nostalgic memorabilia. This new exhibition is complemented by the museum’s stunning complex, including John and wife Mable Ringling’s mansion, the Ca D’Zan Mansion. This was the winter home of the Ringling Brothers Circus co-founder John Ringling. The Ringing is also home to an outdoor playground, the Italian-inspired Ringling Courtyard that looks like Vatican City, The Ringling Art Museum with pieces from local and global artists, Mable’s lush rose garden, and the Bayfront Gardens that reach out to views along Sarasota Bay where dolphins swim by.
Prices: Adult $35 | | Child (6-17) $15 | Child Under 6 $10 | Members are Free

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

2. Myakka River State Park

Myakka River State Park is one of Florida’s oldest and largest state parks at 58 square miles. In addition to boating, hiking, fishing, and canoeing, guests can walk the Birdwalk and Myakka Canopy Walkway. A wildlife river boat tour is offered starting at $22 per adult, and lasts about an hour.

3. St. Armands Circle

St. Armands Circle is a great spot for nighttime activities, shopping, dining, and ending your beach days with ice cream. For dinner, I recommend Venezia, Shore, and The Columbia. I do suggest making a dinner reservation if you’re visiting during summer months. John Ringling purchased the area in 1917 and converted it into the luxury development it still is today.

Myakka River State Park

4. Lido Key Beach

Lido Key Beach is one of my favorite beaches to go to for sunset after a dinner date in St. Armands circle. Most recently, we grabbed a to-go daiquiri from Daiquiri Deck before catching sunset on a warm evening. Days like that are a top reason why I love living in Florida! Lido Key doesn’t have many hotels on it, which keeps the crowds at ease.

5. Siesta Key Beach

Siesta Key Beach has been ranked a top beach for many years for its soft sand and clear blue waters. Siesta Key is renowned for its fine, powdery white sand, which is composed of 99% quartz, giving it a soft and cool feel even on the hottest days. Siesta Key Village has some of the cutest beachy spots including Siesta Key Oyster Bar (SKOB). You’ll find a laid-back atmosphere with live music, and delicious seafood dishes.

6. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is a stunning botanical garden dedicated to the study and conservation of epiphytes, particularly orchids and bromeliads. Spanning over 45 acres of Sarasota bayfront sanctuaries, the paths of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens will lead you on a self-guided walking tour through the grounds. Throughout the year, Selby Gardens hosts special events, exhibitions, and plant sales.

Things to do in Sarasota Florida
Things to do in Sarasota Florida
Things to do in Sarasota Florida

7. The Jungle Gardens

The Jungle Gardens is a combination of animal and bird sanctuary/botanical gardens with tons of things to do for the family! Take a nature walk and get up-close experiences with all sorts of wildlife like flamingos, alligators, snakes, prairie dogs, a variety of birds, and small deer.

8. Sarasota Farmers Market

Sarasota Farmers Market is every Saturday from 7am-1pm. Sarasota is home to some of the best small shops and you’ll find local produce, delicious baked goods, and products you won’t find anywhere else.

Things to do in Sarasota Florida

9. Yoder’s and Der Dutchman

Amish’s communities are a unique part of Sarasota. Yoder’s and Der Dutchman are both amazing restaurants and shops where you can stop for a comforting, homemade meal. Der Dutchman has an on-site bakery with a tempting array of pies, cakes, and pastries.

Ritz Carlton St. Thomas

10. Big Cat Habitat & Gulf Coast Sanctuary

Big Cat Habitat & Gulf Coast Sanctuary, is a nonprofit sanctuary dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of big cats and other exotic animals. Here you’ll have the opportunity to see a variety of exotic animals, including big cats such as lions, tigers, and ligers, as well as bears, primates, and birds.The Big Cat Habitat offers educational programs and presentations that focus on wildlife conservation, animal welfare, and the importance of protecting endangered species.

Things to do in Sarasota Florida

11. Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium features a variety of exhibits showcasing marine life from the Gulf of Mexico and beyond. Visitors can explore exhibits such as “Shark Zone,” “Otters & Their Waters,” “Sea Turtles,” “Coral Reefs,” and experience interactive touch tanks with stingrays, horseshoe crabs, and sea stars.

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