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Top Things To Do In Sarasota

Known as the winter home of the Ringling Brothers Circus and its miles of picturesque shoreline, Sarasota makes for a unique Florida vacation destination. The city has a wide variety of things to do for every type of visitor. Some of the best activities include meeting more than 200 native and exotic animals at Sarasota Jungle Gardens. Or, relax on Siesta Beach with sand that feels cool to the touch. Use the following list of things to do to make the most of your vacation to Sarasota.

Sarasota is filled with fun things to do both indoors and out. For instance, the city museums to explore as well as as nature preserves to discover.


The best things to do near Sarasota include:

  • Siesta Beach: famous for its quartz-based sand that feels cool to the touch
  • The Ringling: state art museum of Florida founded by Mable and John Ringling
  • Lido Key: beautiful beaches, natural areas, and high-end shopping
  • Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium: educational and interactive exhibits with a wide variety of marine animals
  • Sarasota Jungle Gardens: opened in 1939 with more than 200 native and exotic animals

The city of Sarasota is filled with cheap and affordable things to do. Visitors have access to miles of trails to explore and many of the city’s museums have relatively inexpensive admission fees.

Cheap things to do near Sarasota include:

  • Legacy Trail: 12.5 miles of paved trail running from Sarasota to Venice
  • Ringling Circus Museum: dedicated to American circus history with props and costumes
  • Myakka Canopy Walkway: the most popular short trail in Myakka River State Park
  • Children’s Fountain in Bayfront Park: a perfect place for the kids to cool off
  • Legacy Trail: an 11-mile trail along the historic rail corridor

A beach city with a rich history, Sarasota has Instagram-worthy landmarks around almost every corner. Some of the best tourist attractions include Mable’s Rose Garden and the Ca d’Zan Mansion.

Popular attractions near Sarasota include:

  • Marie Selby Botanical Gardens: dedicated to displaying epiphytes like orchids and bromeliads
  • Ca d’Zan Mansion: the once winter home of John Ringling
  • Phillippi Estate Park: a historic mansion with nature trails, fishing, and kayaking
  • Mable’s Rose Garden: Florida’s oldest rose garden, in operation since 1913
  • Siesta Key Village: the place to go for high-class shopping in Sarasota

While vacationing in Sarasota, you’ll have a variety of fun things to do on a whim. The Marietta Museum of Art has contemporary paintings to admire while the Sarasota Classic Car Museum has over 100 classic cars to view.

Exciting activities near Sarasota include:

  • Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy: cheerful gallery featuring offbeat, contemporary paintings, sculptures, and other artwork
  • South Lido County Park: offers swimming, kayaking, and trails to explore
  • Sarasota Classic Car Museum: more than 100 classic cars to learn about
  • Drum Circle Distilling: take a tour of this award-winning distillery
  • Craft Food Tours: an aptly-named craft food and drink tour through Sarasota

Whether you’re new to the city or you’re a Florida native, you’ll discover that there are plenty things to do with a night in Sarasota. Some clubs offer DJs and cocktails while others offer live music and craft beer options.

Nighttime activities near Sarasota include:

  • Florida Studio Theater: offering all types of shows and live entertainment
  • The Gator Club: a trendy bar in a historic building with bands and DJs
  • Pangea Alchemy Lab
  • Five O’Clock Club: low-key establishment with nightly live music
  • McCurdy's Comedy Theatre: have a laugh with bar food and drinks

Weekends in Sarasota can be spent at the beach, bay, circus, and more. Visitors can spend the day shopping at St. Armand’s Key or swimming in the Sarasota Bay.

Weekend activities near Sarasota include:

  • Sailor Circus: America’s oldest youth circus
  • Sarasota Bay: swim, snorkel, and scuba dive in this lagoon
  • Sarasota Farmers Market: a large market with a wide selection of produce and products
  • South Florida Museum: a natural and cultural history museum specializing in the history of Florida's gulf coast
  • St. Armand’s Key: Sarasota’s hub of sophisticated shopping and dining

A vacation in Sarasota has a lot to offer for the whole family. The city has a wide variety of things to do with kids including a big cat sanctuary and an aquarium.

Family-Friendly things to do near Sarasota include:

  • Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary: offering encounters with big cats and other wild animals
  • Tibbals Learning Center: offering historical documents, costume drawings, and art related to the Ringling Brothers
  • Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium: educational and interactive exhibits with a wide variety of marine animals
  • Lido S Park: picturesque white-sand beaches, nature trails, and a playground
  • David Bolger Playspace: a beautiful outdoor play area at The Ringling

Couples vacationing in Sarasota have numerous options for memorable date ideas. Some of the most romantic things to do include tasting wine at Sarasota Wine Bar or catching a show at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.

Date night ideas near Sarasota include:

  • Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall: this 40-year old venue offers a wide variety of entertainment
  • CineBistro: luxury dinner-and-a-movie theatre with reserved seating and chef-prepared food
  • Sarasota Wine Bar and Bistro: fun atmosphere with an extensive wine selection, craft beers, and cheese
  • Indigenous: innovative and carefully sourced American Cuisine
  • Clasico: sophisticated hangout with elevated pub fare and specialty cocktails

With everything from adventure courses to private boat charters, Sarasota has plenty of fun group activities. There is surely something for everyone with so many options to choose from.

Things to do with your friends near Sarasota include:

  • TreeUmph! Adventure Course: five courses with swinging logs, tarzan ropes, zip lines, and more
  • Sarasota Wind and Water Adventures: explore the blue waters by kayak or canoe
  • Kokomo Charters: take you and your friends on a tour of the surrounding coastal waters
  • Escape Room Sarasota: test your group’s resourcefulness and problem solving skills
  • Mangrove Tunnel Kayak Ecotour: kayak tours through shallow water and exotic mangrove trees

Sarasota has plenty of indoor activities to help you get a break from the Florida humidity. From educational museums to award-winning distilleries, it’s all available in this coastal city.

Sarasota things to do indoors include:

  • Center for Architecture Sarasota: celebrating local architecture through classes, programs and events
  • FSU Center for the Performing Arts: showing a variety of plays on the Florida State campus
  • Art Center Sarasota: offering four rotating exhibition galleries and a sculpture garden
  • Sarasota Opera: showing a variety of operas in a repurposed historic theater
  • Drum Circle Distilling: take a tour of this award-winning distillery

As its miles of gorgeous shoreline and tropical climate should suggest, Sarasota is place to be if you like spending time outside. The city has wide selection of beaches, nature preserves, and parks to keep your days filled with sunshine and blue sky.

Active things to see in Sarasota include:

  • Lido Key Beach: a sandy beach with picnic tables and a swimming pool
  • Bayfront Park: Waterfront park with a promenade, playground, tiki bar, and dramatic views of the bay and city
  • Sarasota Beach: a gorgeous and peaceful beach with sugar-white sand
  • Ringling Bridge Causeway Park: 12 acres of sand and grass under the Ringling Bridge
  • Ted Sperling Nature Park: swimming, picnicking, a playground, and trails

The areas surround Sarasota are filled with hidden gems. Some of the best attractions to see near Sarasota are Fun Spot America and Stump Pass Beach State Park, to name a few.

Must-see places near Sarasota include:

  • Fun Spot America: filled with exciting rides and fun attractions
  • Historic Spanish Point: a 30 acre museum and environmental complex
  • Stump Pass Beach State Park: a protected park made up of three islands
  • Myakka State Forest: almost 8,600 acres of coastal forest to explore
  • Florida Aquarium: over 20,000 aquatic plants and animals