Whether you’re a history buff, outdoorsy type or just love to unplug with a cocktail in hand, Sarasota holidays have you covered. Just an hour south of Tampa Bay in Florida, this Gulf Coast city is home to all kinds of wonderful attractions. From miles of white sand to natural parks filled with fun activities and an exciting collection of museums. And you can always count on that tropical sunshine when it’s time to hit the beach with sunbathing weather lasting all year.
Sun, sea and state parks
Home to 35 miles of beaches, sleepy days on the sand is all part of the Sarasota lifestyle. And Siesta Key should be first on your list! Ranked among the best beaches in the US for its powdery pale sands, lifeguard presence and shaded playground, this eight-mile barrier island just so happens to sit right next to Sarasota. For a less crowded alternative, Lido Beach has become a family favourite for its calm, shallow waters, not to mention its snack bar serving the most delicious lobster rolls every Sunday.
Those wanting to hunt down some sea turtles during their time in Florida should also stop by Longboat Key, where these beautiful reptiles come to nest and lay their eggs (May to October). Known for its natural charm, Venice is perfect if you want to pair sunbathing stints with adventure thanks to its nearby hiking trails and bird-watching boardwalks. Oh and did we mention shark teeth are often found in its waters? We also recommend staying until the evening so you can witness one of Sarasota’s most amazing sunsets from its Fishing Pier.
After all that oceanside fun, it’s time to explore the area’s two state parks: Myakka River and Oscar Scherer. As one of the best places to spot scrub jays, Oscar Scherer is a bird watcher’s paradise. But you won’t need your binoculars at Myakka River thanks to its 85-foot-long boardwalk. Elevated 25 feet above the ground, it’s one of the few places in the world that allows you to walk through the treetops.
The city’s museums are a great place to start if you’re looking for things to do in Sarasota. Learn all about Sarasota’s circus history at Ringling Museum, or head for the Classic Car Museum, where you can see antique vehicles by models like Jaguar, Ferrari, Ford and more.
Bringing the kids along? You should also stop by Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium to observe Florida’s diverse range of sea species. Speaking of wildlife encounters, your little ones will love Marie Selby Botanical Garden with its butterfly and rainforest gardens, or Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary if they’re wanting to hunt down Florida’s biggest and wildest residents. Spot everything from goats and donkeys at its petting zoo to more exotic species such as lions and apes.
If it’s adult fun you’re after, St. Armands Circle has you covered. Located on a small island just across from Sarasota, this retail hotspot will excite any shopaholic with its 100-plus luxury stores. And once you’re done browsing, the dining options are just as extensive - your chance to delve into Florida’s hybrid food scene with influences from Cuba, Spain and the Caribbean.
Amazing outdoor activities
There’s so many ways to make the most of the warm Florida sunshine, and the Legacy Trail is a great starting point. Hikers and bikers alike can enjoy all 12.5 miles of this paved route to Venice. But don’t worry if you start to feel tired, with 15 rest areas along the way there’s plenty of opportunity to stop for a breather.
As for more serious hikers, Oscar Scherer State Park has over 15 miles of trails to cover. While those visiting during the humid months may prefer to swim, canoe or kayak its cool waters. But nothing beats a guided kayak tour through the area’s mangrove tunnels! Head to Ted Sperling Park at South Lido Key and get lost in its beautiful landscape. If you're lucky you may even come face-to-face with a dolphin or manatee, who won’t be afraid to swim close to your kayak.
Sarasota is also known to attract keen golfers. Tee off Florida style at some of the state’s best public courses, like Waterford, which is home to 27 holes. Or Calusa Lakes, where you can practice your putting skills beside beautiful oak trees.
Entertainment Sarasota style
A beach town with a big personality, Sarasota nightlife is laid-back but fun. And there's plenty to keep you entertained long into the evening. Whether it’s live music venues, tiki bars or craft breweries, you’ll find streets full of atmospheric drinking spots. Fancying dancing on the waterfront? Then, its beach clubs are a great place to let your hair down with DJ sets spilling out onto the sand.
Beer fans won’t have to go far for a great tasting ale either. Make your way around the city’s six craft breweries, some with over 20 options on tap, and others offering beers that are unique to Florida. For a night under the stars, head up to Perspective Rooftop Pool Bar at the Art Ovation in Downtown Sarasota. With artistically crafted cocktails and city panoramas, it's a must-visit at sunset. Looking for more late night action? Don’t forget to hit Siesta Key and St. Armands Circle too.
If you’re looking for arts after dark, there’s plenty of places where you can catch a show, from some stand-up comedy at McCurdy's Comedy Theatre to the daring performers of Circus Sarasota and Asolo Repertory Theatre with its classical plays.
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