Sarasota holidays

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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. 

Must-see attractions 

The city’s museums are a great place to start if you’re looking for things to do in Sarasota. Observe Florida’s sea life at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, 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 The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature so they can say hello to Florida’s oldest manatee (AKA sea cow) Snooty.  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. Observe 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, Saint 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 

Sarasota nightlife may not be quite up there with Orlando and Miami, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be 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 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.

More travel guides

Take a look at our other travel guides for this part of the USA, including California | Chicago | Crystal River | FloridaFlorida Keys and Key West | Fort Lauderdale | Fort Myers and SanibelHawaii | KissimmeeLas Vegas | Los Angeles | Miami | New England | New York City | New York State | North East Corridor | Oregon State | OrlandoSan Francisco | St Pete & ClearwaterTampa BayTexas | The Deep South | Utah State | Washingston State

 

Map of Sarasota

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13 - 33°C

Summers in Sarasota are hot and humid, while winters are mild with very little rainfall.

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9 - 10 hours

The nearest airport is Sarasota/Bradenton (SRQ), or you can fly into Tampa (TPA), which is just over an hour’s drive from the city.

Sarasota is best for…

Nature enthusiasts: No matter when you visit, Sarasota has an outdoor adventure for everyone. Take in the area’s springtime splendor exploring the blooming flowers at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. The blaze of summer days means sun-soaked beach adventures and watersports fun, while the cooler weather is perfect for cruising along the scenic Legacy Trail on a bike. Take a trail ride at Deer Prairie Creek Preserve in Venice, or relish a refreshing dip at Warm Mineral Springs Park in North Port.
 
Beach lovers: On the southernmost end of Sarasota, Caspersen Beach is proudly known as the ‘Shark Tooth Capital of the World’. With a sifter or flea rake in hand, get ready to scour the area unearthing endless shark tooth fossils in the sand that have washed ashore from under the sea. Further north, on Siesta Key, Lido Beach, Longboat Key and their many barrier islands, you’ll see countless people strolling along the tide’s shoreline for colourful seashells and sand dollars.
 
Families: Enjoy a wide range of exciting activities and attractions with children of all ages. From animal excursions at Sarasota Jungle Gardens, Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary. Or there’s Ranch’s Jumpin Fun Inflata Park, an indoor inflatable theme park with a 250-foot AirRider Zip Rail Coaster. 

Fast facts for Sarasota

Language: The language in Sarasota is English.

Currency: The currency used is the US Dollar ($).

Local time: Sarasota is 5 hours behind GMT/UK time.

Fly to: The closest airport is Sarasota/Bradenton (SRQ), or if you’re planning on hiring a car Tampa International Airport is just over an hour’s drive from the city.

Flight time from the UK: The flight time to Sarasota is approximately 9 - 10 hours.

Tourist information: Find out more from Visit Sarasota 

Holiday destinations related to Florida:

 

 

Getting around Sarasota

By car: Rental cars are one of the city’s most flexible modes of transportation. Plus with rental spots throughout the city and at the airport, picking up your vehicle is easy.
 
By bus: Connecting Downtown, The Bay, and the Beach. The Bay runner is a complimentary service that invites you to take it easy, leaving the stress of ‘getting there’ behind as you smoothly move between Sarasota’s beach, shops, dining spots, cultural venues and vibrant nightlife scene, offering the ultimate outdoor Florida experience.
 
By foot or bike: There’s no shortage of beautiful scenery ideal for a bike ride in Sarasota. If you’re looking for a quiet route along the coast, try Lido Beach. You can ride through Siesta Key and stop at the stores in Siesta Village along the way. Bike paths on Longboat Key are breathtaking, with Gulf Views as well as gorgeous homes. Experience the most popular place to ride in Sarasota; The Legacy Trail extending over 12 miles from the south of Sarasota down to Venice.

Events in Sarasota

Pride in the Park: Local LGBTQ organisations and allies come together to celebrate and promote inclusivity in all stripes and colours. 
 
Sarasota Highland Games & Celtic Festival: A cultural experience exploring Sarasota’s Scottish roots with cuisine, history and, of course, bagpipes. 
 
Savour Sarasota: Summer never tasted so good! In June you can enjoy award-winning restaurants, from outdoor dining and fresh, local seafood to authentic Amish cuisine and new restaurants popping up monthly. Sarasota is brimming with culinary experiences.  

Spring Training: Sarasota brings two MLB teams to the coast for a line-up of ball games. The Atlanta Braves play off-season is at Cool Today Park, while the Baltimore Orioles temporarily call Ed Smith Stadium home.
 
Sarasota Jazz Festival: The Jazz Club of Sarasota hosts a week-long series of free and ticketed events that draws some of the biggest names in jazz.
 
Sarasota Film Festival: Choose from more than 200 unique screenings at this growing favourite on the Southeast US film circuit. 
 
Sarasota Music Festival: For more than 50 years, the Sarasota Orchestra has hosted this series of concerts featuring top classical talent.
 

 

Safety and security in Sarasota

For up-to-date advice on travelling to Sarasota, please visit the FCDO website.

Sarasota weather

Temperatures: The average temperatures ranges from 16 °C to 28 °C

Saraosta sits on Florida’s southwest coast, which means the weather is beautifully mild all year. For the best prices, fewer crowds and plenty of sunshine, head here from March to May or between September and November. 

The peak summer months (July & August) have the highest humidity levels so if you don’t like it too hot it may be best to avoid. These months also fall in the middle of hurricane season (June to November) so please bear this in mind if you don't want to get caught in tropical storms. Winter (December to Feb) tends to be the busiest season with people coming from all over to make the most of Florida’s ever-lasting heat.

 

 

Best hotels in Sarasota