15 Fun Things to Do in Sarasota FL: Best Places to Visit
- 1. Visit the Ringling Museum
- 2. Go on a Kayaking Tour
- 3. Check Out the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium
- 4. See Sarasota from a Birds Eye View
- 5. Go to the Sarasota Classic Car Museum
- 6. Visit Drum Circle Distillery
- 7. Bike the Legacy Trail
- 8. Paddleboard in Ted Sperling Nature Park
- 9. Visit the Sarasota Farmers Market
- 10. Learn About the History of the Ringling Family at the Ca d’Zan Mansion
- 11. Play with Some Big Cats
- 12. Walk Along the Myakka Canopy Walkway
- 13. Watch a Show at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
- 14. Explore the Marie Shelby Botanical Gardens
- 15. Get Out on the Water and Watch the Sunset
Florida has always been a popular vacation and travel destination – and for good reason. There are gorgeous beaches, hot and sunny weather, and lots of activities to do. It’s no wonder why nearly 80 million people visit the state every year! And if you are one of the millions of visitors checking out Sarasota beaches this year, chances are you’re looking for things to do in Sarasota on your trip.
Sarasota, FL is a town located on the western side of the state. The entire county has 13 beaches, including Siesta Key which is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the entire country! Sarasota was even named the best small city in America in 2015, thanks to its fantastic weather, beautiful landscape, and endless types of fun activities.
If this town is on your list of travel destinations this year, here are 15 things to do in Sarasota!
1. Visit the Ringling Museum
One of the most iconic and famous landmarks in Sarasota is the Ringling fine art museum. Inside this gorgeous building are 21 art galleries, featuring American, Asian, European, and contemporary art. There are over 10,000 unique pieces of art and ancient artifacts throughout the museum, so you’re bound to find something that piques your interest!
2. Go on a Kayaking Tour
Sarasota’s warm, calm waters are home to manatees, dolphins, and thousands of species of fish! One of the best ways to check out the water and the wildlife is through a guided kayak tour. We recommend checking out the Lido Key Mangrove Tunnels for a truly incredible experience!
3. Check Out the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium
Learn more about the sea wildlife that is native to the state of Florida and surrounding areas at the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. See how animals like river otters, crocodilians, sea jellies, and tropical fish interact, and be sure to check out the 135,000-gallon shark habitat!
4. See Sarasota from a Birds Eye View
There’s truly no better way to see all that Sarasota has to offer than looking at it from above! Booking a Sarasota helicopter tour is a fantastic way to view the city from a totally new perspective. There are various types of tours you can choose from, such as a quick 20-minute or a full hour-long scenic tour! You can book for up to 3 people for a private touring experience like no other.
5. Go to the Sarasota Classic Car Museum
See a bit of unique history at the Sarasota Classic Car Museum. This is the second oldest operating classic car museum in the country, and it is home to cars owned by John Lennon and Mable Ringling, as well as rare vintage Ferraris, Rolls Royces, and Lamborghinis.
6. Visit Drum Circle Distillery
Get a taste of the island life by visiting the Siesta Key Drum Circle rum distillery. You’ll get to see how the various flavors of rum are distilled and get to taste some delicious cocktails along the way!
7. Bike the Legacy Trail
Want to get a workout in while checking out the city? Rent or ride your bike along the Legacy Trail, a 10.8-mile-long bike run that was once the railroad line in the 1910s! This trail runs through the Palmer Ranch, Oscar Scherer State Park, and connects with additional bike trails all around the town.
8. Paddleboard in Ted Sperling Nature Park
There are many rental companies all around the beach offering paddleboard rentals for a great rate. You can even get some quick training and instruction if you’re a first-timer! Don’t worry, you’ll catch on easily and the water is always warm in case you fall!
Once you’ve got your paddleboards rented, be sure to check out the beautiful Ted Sperling Nature Park waters. You may spot some manatees and dolphins swimming about – plus you’ll get a great workout in while you paddle around!
9. Visit the Sarasota Farmers Market
Get a real taste of the beach town life by enjoying some of the freshest treats and produce that Sarasota has to offer at the farmer’s market. Every Saturday morning hundreds of local farmers and vendors set up shop at the Central Sarasota Farmers Market in front of the Sarasota County Technical Institute.
You can browse around and check out local artisan’s goods and maybe even get some free samples of goodies like fresh fruit, baked goods, and beverages. There are also live musicians throughout the market along with food trucks offering delicious fresh-cooked meals!
10. Learn About the History of the Ringling Family at the Ca d’Zan Mansion
Sarasota was home to John Ringling, founder of the Ringling Circus. This 36,000-square-foot mansion known as the Ca d’Zan is five stories high and was built to reflect some of the palaces in Venice the Ringlings loved so much. The family’s mansion has been turned into a fabulous museum full of unique art collections and memorabilia from the 1920s.
Be sure to check out the calendar ahead of time to see which exhibitions, events, or performances are happening! You can also book guided tours or purchase tickets to films and on-screen performances to learn even more about the rich history of the Ringling family and their gorgeous mansion.
11. Play with Some Big Cats
The Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary is every animal lover’s dream. Designed as a haven for endangered wild animals, this sanctuary is home to hundreds of animals who have been safely rescued.
While you’re here, you will get to meet lions, tigers, bears, birds, and some friendly primates who call this place home. You will also get to interact with some baby goats in the petting zoo! The Big Cat Habitat also offers truly unique experiences like Tiger or Lemur Yoga classes and they also offer volunteer opportunities if you want to get more involved!
12. Walk Along the Myakka Canopy Walkway
If you’d like to get out of the sun for a bit, take a nice stroll among the Florida trees at the Myakka Canopy Walkway. In this Florida State Park, you can explore some of the natural wilderness that has remained untouched for thousands of years. Walk along the Myakka River – you may spot some alligators and turtles napping along the bank!
There are many trails throughout the park for hikers, bikers, and explorers. Don’t miss Canopy Walkway, where you can observe the park from up to 74 feet high!
13. Watch a Show at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
There are countless performances throughout the year going on at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. From comedy to dance, music, and theater performances, you’re sure to find something that tickles your fancy.
This theater hall seats up to 350 people, and the outdoor Terrace and Bayfront lawn have room for 1,500 additional guests! Be sure to get your tickets ahead of time as some of the fantastic shows often sell out.
14. Explore the Marie Shelby Botanical Gardens
Check out some of the most beautiful tropical plants, flowers, and trees in the entire state of Florida at the Marie Shelby Botanical Gardens. You can roam around the gardens at your own pace, to smell the tropical flowers, and play with the hundreds of butterflies who call this place home.
There are two botanical garden sites: one in downtown Sarasota and another in historic Spanish Point. Both locations offer guided tours, exhibitions, and educational programs throughout the year. You can also learn about the rich history of the plants and architecture in the gardens while you enjoy a peaceful stroll in the beauty of nature.
15. Get Out on the Water and Watch the Sunset
There’s nothing like watching the beautiful, colorful Florida sunset from the deck of a boat! You can check out one of the many boat touring options offered throughout the city of Sarasota. Some offer sunset tours with live music, entertainment, and refreshments served on the way. You can also try your hand at sailing if that’s more your speed!
Ready to Book Your Trip?
Florida has a lot to offer and you’ll never run out of things to do in Sarasota! With a little bit of planning and some recommendations from the locals, you’re sure to make some memories while you’re here.
If you want to see the city from a totally new perspective, be sure to reach out and learn more about Sarasota helicopter tours! There is truly no better way to explore Siesta Key, downtown, and Bayfront park than from the view of a helicopter. Book your experience with us today!