Since moving down to Sarasota from Chicago, we are always amazed at how many great things there are to do in this small city. Besides the beautiful beaches, there are also plenty of great bars and restaurants and a thriving arts scene. If you are considering a trip to Florida, make sure you stop in Sarasota!
Here are 10 things to do in Sarasota, FL:
- Siesta Key Beach: One of the top rated beaches in the world, Siesta Key is a gorgeous, quiet beach with the nicest sand we’ve ever felt. No matter how hot out it gets, the sand stays nice and cool on your feet. Spend a day at the beach and then check out Siesta Key Village with great shops, restaurants, and bars.
- Myakka State Park: The Myakka River flows through 58 square miles of a diverse landscape. Myakka State Park is a great spot to hike, camp, boat, and more. There is plenty of wildlife viewing and a great canopy walkway. Tours are available at select times throughout the year.
- St. Armands Circle: Located a quick drive from downtown Sarasota on the other side of the Ringling Causeway, St. Armands has plenty of dining and shopping options. It is also a quick walk from Lido Beach. There are great events here throughout the year, so be sure to check out their calendar. Our favorite restaurants on the Circle are Shore, Surf Shack, and Daiquiri Deck.
- Marie Selby Botanical Garden: This “living museum” is home to 15 acres of a variety of plants. It is also located right on Sarasota Bay, making for some incredible views.
- Downtown Sarasota: The downtown area features plenty of shopping, dining, bars, hotels, and beautiful waterfront views. We now have two rooftop bars located at the Westin Sarasota and Art Ovation Hotel. They offer spectacular views of the city and sunset. Downtown also has many live theater options, like the Sarasota Opera, Florida Studio Theatre, and more. Also check out Marina Jacks and O’Leary’s Tiki Bar located right on the water.
- University Town Center: If you’re really looking to shop or need somewhere to go on a rainy day, the University Town Center mall is a great shopping area that also has some really nice restaurants.
- Sarasota Jungle Gardens: This is a great place to go with kids or kids at heart. There are 200 animals located on 10 acres of tropical landscape. The highlight is definitely seeing the free roaming flamingos.
- Mariette Museum of Art & Whimsy: This museum is definitely whimsical! It is a colorful, creative, and just a fun place to walk around. Admission is free, although they do ask for donations.
- Circus Sarasota: We had no idea how strong the circus heritage was in Sarasota, but we quickly learned about it! The Circus Arts Conservatory puts on world class performances, as well as offers outreach programs and classes for kids. Sailor Circus is the kids circus show, but don’t be fooled. These kids put on professional level performances. There are also camps and other events throughout the year.
- Mote Marine Aquarium: Mote Marine is an aquarium but also a laboratory where they do important research and conservation efforts. The aquarium has over 100 different species and interactive exhibits.
Sarasota is definitely a great spot to spend a long weekend or even a whole week. You are within driving distance of other great areas like Tampa, St. Pete/Clearwater, Bradenton, and Venice.
[Read next: Top 3 Must-Dos in Sarasota, More Things to do in Sarasota]
Have you been to Sarasota before? Where are your favorite things to do in Sarasota? Comment below!
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