10 Fun Things to do in Sarasota, Florida – The Sunshine State

Updated On: March 16, 2023

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Sarasota is a city on the west coast of Florida. It is located right on the Gulf of Mexico and is a great tourist destination. From calm beaches to some of the country’s most interesting museums, there are many great things to do in Sarasota.

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The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art opened in 1927.

A trip to Sarasota will prove that there is more to do in Florida than visiting Walt Disney World in Orlando. The small, lesser-known city is full of attractions that everyone will enjoy. To help you create an amazing itinerary, we’ve listed 10 of the best things to do in Sarasota.

10 Amazing Things to do in Sarasota

1: John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

Since opening in 1927, the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art has welcomed visitors from around the world. The museum was established to celebrate the legacy of Mable and John Ringling, who are famous globally for creating and performing in the Ringling Brothers Circus.

The museum has over 10,000 pieces in its collection, including paintings, photographs, and sculptures. In addition to the art museum, the estate also features John Ringling’s mansion, a theatre, the Ringling Circus Museum, and multiple gardens. 

2: Siesta Beach

Relaxing on the beach is one of the best things to do in Sarasota. Siesta Beach is unique from other beaches in Florida due to its sand. Sand on other beaches is made of coral, but the sand on Siesta Beach is made of quartz. The reflectiveness of the quartz makes the sand remain cool even on hot summer days. 

On Siesta Beach, guests can swim, lounge, and enjoy the scenic views. Pick-up games of volleyball and pickleball are common activities for beachgoers, and many visitors bring food for picnics or grilling.

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Siesta beach is one of the largest beaches in Florida.

3: St. Armands Circle

St. Armands Circle is a commercial area in Sarasota. The area was purchased by John Ringling in 1917, and it opened to the public in 1926. The Circle features a traffic circle with a park in the centre and many amenities.

There are over 130 shops and restaurants at St. Armands Circle. In addition to the retail outlets and restaurants, there are also statues across The Circle to admire. Walking around the area is one of the most interesting things to do in Sarasota, as the Gulf of Mexico fully surrounds The Circle.

4: Sarasota Jungle Gardens

In the 1930s, an “impenetrable swamp” was purchased in Sarasota with the goal of turning it into a botanical garden. Since then, the Sarasota Jungle Gardens have grown to over 10 acres of native plants and animals.

The most popular attraction at the park is the flamingos that roam freely through the gardens. They often walk along paths with guests and will even steal a snack or two! The unique experiences with wildlife in the Jungle Gardens make it one of the most exciting things to do in Sarasota.

5: Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

With the mission to promote conservation and educate the public, the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium opened its doors in 1955. The aquarium was not part of the original building and opened later in 1980.

There are over 100 different marine species on display at the aquarium, including sharks, turtles, and manatees. In addition to the exhibits, the Mote also hosts events and experiences. 

Guests can arrive early for breakfast with the sharks, get up close with the animals, or even take a kayak tour. For anyone interested in our oceans, visiting the Mote is one of the most fascinating things to do in Sarasota.

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Lido Key Beach has many amenities nearby.

6: Lido Key Beach

Although it is smaller than Siesta Beach, Lido Key Beach is a perfect destination. The nearby hotels, condos, and restaurants make it a convenient place to catch some sun. Whether you want to swim in the Gulf or just listen to the waves, hanging out at Lido Key Beach is one of the best things to do in Sarasota.

In addition to swimming, grilling, and playing pick-up sports, Lido Key Beach can also be rented out for events. Many people choose to have their weddings here due to the beautiful view past the beach.

7: Sarasota Farmers Market

Wandering around the Sarasota Farmers Market is one of the most laid-back things to do in Sarasota. The market was founded in 1979 to bring more people to the area. It is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about community programs and supporting local businesses.

The Sarasota Farmers Market is open every Saturday from 7 am to 1 pm, regardless of the weather. Although some vendors at the market are seasonal, others sell all year round. Some items sold at the market include local honey, art, and clothing.

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The Big Cat Habitat Gulf Coast Sanctuary is home to over 150 animals.

8: Big Cat Habitat Gulf Coast Sanctuary

The Big Cat Habitat Gulf Coast Sanctuary is a non-profit large-animal rescue. It opened in 1987 and is home to over 150 rescued animals. The sanctuary’s mission is to educate the public about protecting wildlife and advocating for conservation, and is open Wednesday through Sunday from 12 to 4 pm. 

Although the rescue originally only housed big cats, they have expanded to other large animals as well. At the sanctuary are lions, bears, primates, birds, and more. For any animal lover, visiting the Big Cat Habitat Gulf Coast Sanctuary is one of the best things to do in Sarasota.

9: Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

One of the most scenic things to do in Sarasota is to visit the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. The gardens cover 15 acres and have over 20,000 living plants, including more than 5,000 orchids.

In addition to flowers, palm trees, evergreen oaks, and mangroves also grow in the gardens. Other attractions include an edible garden, koi pond, and butterfly garden. Family events and day camps are also held at the gardens throughout the year.

10: Sarasota Classic Car Museum

The Sarasota Classic Car Museum is the second-oldest vintage car museum in the USA. The museum opened in 1953 and features exhibits of vintage, classic, exotic, and one-of-a-kind cars.

For anyone who loves cars, visiting the museum is one of the best things to do in Sarasota. There are over 100 cars in the museum’s collection, with rotating displays showcasing 75 at a time.

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There are many fantastic things to do in Sarasota.

There are Tons of Exciting Things to do in Sarasota

There is no shortage of interesting things to do in Sarasota, Florida. With lush gardens, beautiful sandy beaches, and other attractions to explore, there is something for everyone in this seaside city.

Whether you check out a few of the things to do in Sarasota on this list or are able to see them all, it is an excellent holiday destination. Rain or shine, your trip to Sarasota will be one to remember if you explore all that it has to offer.

If you’re planning a trip to America, check out these stunning road trip destinations in the USA.