For those who enjoy a little more than beach combing during their vacation time, itís nice to know that there are many fun things to do in Sarasota, Florida. From circus heritage to shopping and seafood to botanical gardens, the city of Sarasota has much to offer. Hereís a roundup of some of the more popular activities and attractions in Sarasota proper.
A visit to Sarasota wouldnít be complete without a hop, skip and a jump to some of the nearby islands. Whether you make an overnight visit to Longboat Key for dark Florida sky observing or head over to Anna Maria Island for breakfast at Rotten Ralphís or Dinner at the Beach House, the relaxed island atmosphere is a part of greater Sarasota that you definitely wonít want to miss. Also, donít assume that the posh property value puts these islands out of reach for vacationers. Itís possible to enjoy places like Longboat Key on a budget, particularly if nature exploration appeals to your sense of fun.
There are few places with as much circus history as Sarasota. Second-generation clown families, museum exhibits at the Ringling Museum and high wire aerial performances by Circus Sarasota are just some of the experiences available to Sarasota vacationers. So be sure to keep an eye out. You never know when you may run across a clown while exploring this lively seaside town.
For out of town visitors interested in Sarasotaís shopping options, itís all about St. Armandís Circle. Full of high-end luxury shopping options and numerous restaurants of note, travelers who find their money burning a hole in their pocket will have lots to spend it on in Sarasota. Bonus? Tacky souvenirs definitely do NOT have to be part of the package.
Go on a Food Frenzy:
There are far too many excellent restaurants in the Sarasota area to mention in a single post. So Iíll simply stick to the highlights. First, if you decided to take advantage of the St. Armandís Circle shopping experience recommended above, then you absolutely must include lunch at the Columbia. This is the restaurant rated for serving the best Cubano sandwich in the country for more years than I can count. They also serve a slamming sangria and a tasty salad called The 1905. The atmosphere is to die for, and the restaurantís Sarasota location, they have one of the largest collections of Spanish wine Iíve ever seen. In fact, the wine list was an entire book. What does that tell you?
If youíd like to go a little more rustic, there are two Amish restaurants in Sarasota that are all about homemade food. Thatís right. Sarasota also has a thriving Amish community. For a full buffet of hearty homespun goodness, youíll want to head to the Dutch Heritage House. They have a daily buffet of Amish favorites, which is a great way to get your feet with this particular type of food. Afterwards, mosey on over to Yoderís for a slice of mile-high Amish Pie and a chance to shop at their on-site local produce market.
When it comes to fun things to do in Sarasota, eco adventures deserve to be considered. There are several to be had, for sure. One in particular is Myakka River State Park, which offers camping, nature spotting, a canopy walk and airboat rides. Itís one of the largest and oldest state parks in Florida, and worth working into your itinerary if you only have time for one. If youíre looking for a slightly more groomed naturalist excursion, the famous Marie Selby Botanical Gardens are sure to impress. With a butterfly garden, epiphyte collection, conservatory and koi pond, thereís lots to experience.
Other nature experiences in Sarasota include visiting the thermal hot springs, going scuba diving, shark tooth hunting and enjoying South Lido Park or the popular Legacy Trail, which offers more than 10 miles of paved trail and seven trail heads with free parking.
Vacationers with discriminating tastes will certainly appreciate all Sarasotaís cultural scene.† From the Sarasota Orchestra to the Asolo Repertory Theater and the famous Sarasota Ballet, live performances abound. You can also pay a visit to the Towles Court Artist Colony, which is full of live-in galleries and studios for creative types who are exceptionally devoted to their respective crafts.
Families with active youngsters will find many attractions that appeal to the primary crowd. From the Mote Marine Laboratory and the local science museum, to the Sarasota Childrenís Garden complete with pirate ship and fairy garden, young travelers will easily be able to have a ball during their visit to Sarasota. Also of note are the Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary, and historic Spanish Point.
There are so many fun things to do in Sarasota, it would be difficult to categorize them all. Other popular activities for Sarasota vacationers include weddings, golf tournaments, corporate retreats and casual business meetings. There are many luxury hotels and event venues available to suit even the most discriminating event planner.
No matter what your agenda or needs, Sarasota is up for the travel challenge. So head on down for shopping, circus fun, shark tooth hunting and more. The oceanís waiting.
Photo Credits: All Photos in this article were shot by the folks here at Trek Hound. However, these images and other pictures of Sarasota and Longboat Key will be available soon through a creative commons agreement on our sister site, PicturesOfTravelPlaces.com.