Things to Do in Sarasota

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Sarasota, Florida, is a vibrant destination bursting with an array of activities and attractions to suit every traveler’s taste. From its stunning beaches to its rich cultural experiences, Sarasota offers a diverse range of indoor and outdoor activities that are sure to captivate visitors of all ages.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the top attractions, outdoor adventures, and indoor pursuits that make Sarasota a must-visit destination. Whether you’re seeking a relaxing day on the beach, an adrenaline-pumping outdoor excursion, or a cultural exploration, Sarasota has something for everyone. So, let’s explore the best things to do in Sarasota and uncover the myriad of experiences that await.

Key Takeaways:

  • Visit the beautiful Siesta Key Beach for its crystal clear waters and white sands.
  • Experience the vibrant cultural scene at St. Armands Circle with its upscale shops and restaurants.
  • Explore the stunning botanical gardens at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, home to a diverse collection of plants and flowers.
  • Top Attractions in Sarasota

    Top Attractions in Sarasota - Things to Do in Sarasota

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    Sarasota, located on the Gulf Coast of Florida, is a vibrant city known for its stunning beaches, lush mangroves, and a plethora of attractions. From the pristine shores of Lido Key and the world-renowned Siesta Key Beach to the captivating Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium and the art-filled halls of the Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota offers a diverse range of top attractions to explore.

    Aside from its beaches, Sarasota boasts a rich cultural scene, with the iconic Ca’ d’Zan serving as a testament to the city’s architectural splendor and history. Nature enthusiasts can revel in the beauty of the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, while history buffs can explore the historic Spanish Point. The city provides numerous opportunities for outdoor recreation with its expansive parks, golf courses, and water activities, catering to the interests of all visitors.

    Siesta Key Beach

    Siesta Key Beach stands out as one of Sarasota’s most iconic and beloved coastal destinations, renowned for its powdery white sands, azure waters, and vibrant beachfront atmosphere.

    Visitors are captivated by the unique feature of the beach, its sand that stays cool to the touch even under the scorching sunrays, creating a comfortable barefoot experience. The beach offers a plethora of recreational activities such as volleyball, paddleboarding, and sunset yoga, ensuring that there’s something for everyone to enjoy. The laid-back yet lively ambiance further enhances the overall visitor experience, with beachside cafes serving delectable treats and hosting live music events. With its breathtaking sunsets and clear waters, Siesta Key Beach is a paradise for beach enthusiasts and relaxation seekers alike.

    St. Armands Circle

    St. Armands Circle embodies the essence of Sarasota’s cosmopolitan charm, offering a delightful fusion of upscale shopping boutiques, eclectic dining establishments, and engaging entertainment venues within a picturesque island setting.

    Visitors are drawn to the charming ambiance created by the European-inspired architecture and lush greenery that lines the streets. The circle’s array of luxurious stores satisfies every shopper’s desires, from high-end fashion and jewelry to unique artisanal gifts. Alongside the retail splendor, an enticing array of cafes, restaurants, and ice cream parlors entice patrons with culinary delights from around the world. St. Armands Circle hosts festivals, art exhibitions, and live music, adding a captivating vibrancy to the overall experience.

    Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

    The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens captivate visitors with their lush botanical displays, serene waterfront location, and diverse collection of tropical flora, creating a tranquil oasis amidst the urban landscape of Sarasota.

    Visitors to the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens are greeted with a mesmerizing array of over 20,000 living plants, which represent thousands of species from around the globe. From the enchanting living plant displays to the Orchid Show, the Gardens offer an educational and visually stunning experience. The Garden’s serene waterfront location overlooking the Sarasota Bay further enhances the tranquil ambiance, making it a perfect retreat for nature enthusiasts, photographers, and botanical aficionados alike.

    Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

    The Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium offers an immersive marine experience, showcasing captivating exhibits, interactive educational programs, and conservation efforts that highlight the Gulf Coast’s diverse aquatic ecosystem.

    Visitors can explore a range of marine habitats, including the mesmerizing Coral Reef exhibit that epitomizes the vibrant underwater world. The interactive touch pools provide an engaging encounter with various marine creatures, fostering a deeper understanding of their role in the ecosystem.

    The Aquarium’s educational initiatives extend beyond on-site programs, with outreach efforts reaching schools and community groups. Mote Marine Laboratory’s groundbreaking research in areas such as marine aquaculture and sea turtle conservation further enhances its reputation as a leading institution in marine science.

    The Ringling Museum

    The Ringling Museum captivates visitors with its unparalleled art collection, historic architecture, and sprawling estate, offering a glimpse into the legacy of the Ringling family and the cultural heritage of Sarasota.

    Art enthusiasts are drawn to the museum’s extraordinary works, housing masterpieces from renowned artists such as Rubens, Velázquez, and Gainsborough. The grandeur of the Ringling’s winter estate, Ca’ d’Zan, with its Venetian Gothic architecture, provides a captivating backdrop for the museum’s opulent displays. The museum’s rotating exhibitions and the beautiful Bayfront Gardens offer visitors an immersive experience, while its engaging programs and events provide insights into Sarasota’s rich cultural tapestry.

    Myakka River State Park

    Myakka River State Park beckons nature enthusiasts with its untamed wilderness, diverse wildlife, and extensive recreational opportunities, providing an immersive outdoor escape amid Sarasota’s natural splendor.

    The park’s expansive landscape includes a remarkable array of habitats, from wetlands and prairies to pinelands and hammocks, each offering unique glimpses into the region’s rich ecological tapestry. Visitors can explore the pristine beauty of the park through activities such as hiking, birdwatching, boating, and camping, immersing themselves in the natural wonders that define this sanctuary. The sight of Myakka River snaking through the landscape adds a serene charm, making it a captivating haven for both adventure seekers and those seeking tranquility.

    Outdoor Activities in Sarasota

    Sarasota offers a myriad of outdoor activities, including kayaking and paddleboarding along its scenic waterways, fishing and boating excursions in the Gulf Coast, golfing at pristine courses, and exploring the city’s picturesque landscapes through hiking and biking trails.

    For water enthusiasts, Sarasota presents an array of options, from serene mangrove tunnels that are perfect for kayaking to paddleboarding escapades along Lido Key. The crystal-clear waters offer abundant marine life, making it an ideal destination for fishing and boating adventures.

    Golfers can revel in the challenge of world-class courses nestled amid stunning natural surroundings. Nature lovers can immerse themselves in the city’s beauty by embarking on scenic hiking trails that showcase diverse ecosystems and biking routes that wind through lush greenery.

    Kayaking and Paddleboarding

    Sarasota’s waterways offer ideal settings for kayaking and paddleboarding adventures, allowing enthusiasts to glide through mangroves, explore coastal habitats, and revel in the region’s natural beauty from a unique perspective.

    The serene waters of Sarasota provide numerous opportunities for kayaking and paddleboarding enthusiasts, with routes that lead through stunning mangrove tunnels, leading to hidden coves and secret beaches. As adventurers navigate these picturesque waterways, they may encounter an array of marine life, such as playful dolphins, graceful manatees, and vibrant bird species that call the coastal habitats home. This immersive interaction with the ecosystem allows an intimate understanding of the delicate balance of the region’s marine life. The exploratory aspect of these water-based excursions is enhanced by the wonders of the diverse aquatic landscapes, where enthusiasts can witness the interplay of the water, land, and sky in this coastal paradise.

    Fishing and Boating

    Sarasota’s Gulf Coast beckons fishing and boating enthusiasts with its abundant marine resources, offering opportunities for deep-sea fishing, leisurely boating excursions, and coastal adventures amidst the region’s aquatic splendor.

    The crystal-clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico provide an ideal setting for a diverse range of angling experiences, from targeting prized gamefish to enjoying the tranquility of inshore fishing. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a novice, Sarasota’s waters teem with opportunities to reel in a catch to remember.

    Exploring the region’s waterways by boat offers a chance to witness the vibrant marine life and stunning coastal landscapes. From peaceful cruises along the Intracoastal Waterway to exhilarating offshore adventures, boating enthusiasts are spoiled for choice.


    Sarasota boasts an array of exquisite golf courses, catering to both novice players and seasoned enthusiasts, offering picturesque fairways, challenging landscapes, and exceptional golfing experiences amidst the city’s scenic beauty.

    With its lush greenery and stunning coastal vistas, Sarasota’s golf courses are truly a golfer’s paradise. From the championship layouts designed by renowned architects to the meticulously manicured greens, each course presents a unique blend of challenges and rewards. Golfing amenities such as luxurious clubhouses, state-of-the-art practice facilities, and professional instruction enhance the overall golfing community experience in Sarasota.

    Hiking and Biking

    Sarasota’s picturesque landscapes are ideal for hiking and biking enthusiasts, offering a network of scenic trails, nature preserves, and outdoor recreational areas that invite exploration and adventure amidst the city’s natural allure.

    With an extensive array of trails ranging from easy strolls to challenging treks, Sarasota presents an adventurer’s paradise for hikers and bikers. Among these, the Legacy Trail stands out as a 12.5-mile paved pathway that winds its way through lush canopies, charming communities, and tranquil waterways.

    For those seeking a more rugged setting, Myakka River State Park provides an unparalleled experience, showcasing diverse ecosystems teeming with wildlife and offering an intricate network of trails for all levels of hikers.

    Further, the beauty of the Oscar Scherer State Park and its trails, amidst diverse habitats and serene vistas sets the perfect backdrop for outdoor escapades.

    Indoor Activities in Sarasota

    Sarasota offers an array of indoor activities, from indulging in retail therapy at the upscale UTC Mall to exploring vibrant art galleries, savoring local culinary delights at renowned restaurants, and rejuvenating at luxurious spas amidst the city’s urban elegance.

    Visitors can engage in a delightful shopping experience at the University Town Center Mall, featuring a blend of high-end stores and popular brands.

    Art enthusiasts can immerse themselves in the city’s creative scene by visiting the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, where an impressive collection of Baroque art awaits.

    Food connoisseurs can relish the diverse culinary offerings at establishments like O’Leary’s Tiki Bar & Grill and Indigenous, known for their delectable dishes prepared with local ingredients.

    For those seeking relaxation, the Ritz-Carlton Spa and Spa Hollywood offer unparalleled wellness experiences amidst Sarasota’s inviting ambiance.

    Shopping at UTC Mall

    The UTC Mall in Sarasota stands as a premier destination for discerning shoppers, featuring an array of luxury brands, specialty stores, and upscale boutiques, offering an unparalleled retail experience amidst the city’s sophisticated ambiance.

    Visitors to UTC Mall are greeted by an impressive selection of renowned retailers, including Apple, Louis Vuitton, and Tiffany & Co. The mall exudes a sense of exclusivity and refinement, with its meticulously curated mix of high-end fashion, jewelry, and lifestyle offerings. Its modern architecture and spacious walkways provide a seamless and enjoyable shopping experience, further complemented by a variety of dining options and leisure facilities. Whether seeking the latest designer trends or indulging in a relaxed afternoon of browsing, UTC Mall caters to every taste and preference, making it a must-visit for those with a penchant for luxury and style.

    Visiting Art Galleries

    Sarasota’s art galleries showcase a vibrant tapestry of artistic expressions, encompassing diverse genres, captivating exhibits, and engaging showcases that celebrate the city’s cultural richness and creative heritage.

    Visiting these galleries offers an immersive experience into the soul of Sarasota, where visitors can explore a fusion of contemporary works, avant-garde creations, and traditional masterpieces. Gallery exhibitions often feature renowned local and international artists, providing a platform for cultural exchange and artistic dialogue. The city’s art scene is a testament to its commitment to fostering creativity and embracing diverse art forms, making a visit to these galleries an enriching and visually stimulating experience.

    Trying Local Restaurants

    Sarasota’s culinary landscape dazzles with a myriad of local restaurants, offering a delectable array of cuisines, flavors, and dining experiences that reflect the city’s gastronomic diversity and epicurean allure.

    From charming waterfront eateries serving fresh seafood to chic downtown bistros celebrating innovative fusion dishes, Sarasota presents a tantalizing tapestry of culinary delights. Visitors can savor authentic Florida cuisine while enjoying breathtaking views, or immerse themselves in the vibrant food scene that showcases global flavors paired with local ingredients. Whether it’s the casual charm of family-owned cafes or the upscale elegance of award-winning restaurants, dining in Sarasota is a journey of savory discoveries, embracing tradition, creativity, and a deep-rooted love for exceptional food experiences.

    Relaxing at a Spa

    Sarasota’s luxurious spas beckon visitors with serene retreats, rejuvenating treatments, and tranquil atmospheres, offering a blissful haven for relaxation and indulgence amidst the city’s urban sophistication.

    Guests can immerse themselves in a world of wellness experiences, from personalized massages to invigorating facials, all designed to revitalize the body and soothe the mind. The spa amenities are carefully curated to enhance the overall experience, featuring steam rooms, sauna sessions, and refreshing pools, providing a complete oasis for rejuvenation. Each therapy and treatment is tailored to promote holistic well-being, creating a harmonious balance between relaxation and revitalization for a truly indulgent escape.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What are some popular outdoor activities in Sarasota?

    Some popular outdoor activities in Sarasota include visiting the nearby beaches, hiking in Myakka River State Park, and taking a scenic sunset cruise.

    Are there any cultural activities to do in Sarasota?

    Yes, there are many cultural activities to do in Sarasota, such as visiting the Ringling Museum, catching a show at the Sarasota Opera, or exploring the galleries in the historic Burns Court district.

    What are some family-friendly things to do in Sarasota?

    Sarasota has plenty of family-friendly options, including visiting the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, playing mini-golf at the Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary, or watching a baseball game at Ed Smith Stadium.

    What are some unique experiences to try in Sarasota?

    Sarasota offers unique experiences such as taking a hot air balloon ride over the city, learning how to make glass art at the Duncan McClellan Gallery, or going on a guided kayak tour through the mangroves.

    Are there any annual events or festivals in Sarasota?

    Yes, Sarasota hosts several annual events and festivals, including the Sarasota Film Festival, the Sarasota Chalk Festival, and the Siesta Key Crystal Classic Sand Sculpting Competition.

    What are some free things to do in Sarasota?

    If you’re looking for free activities, you can visit the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, check out the public art installations throughout the city, or go for a hike at the Celery Fields.