20 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
- 16. Visit the Ed Smith Stadium
- 17. Tour the Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy
- 18. Shop in St. Armands Circle
- 19. Visit Oscar Scherer State Park
- 20. Stop by the Mixon Fruit Farms
- Ready to Book Your Trip?
Florida has always been a popular vacation and travel destination – and for a good reason. There are gorgeous beaches, hot and sunny weather, and lots of activities to do. It’s no wonder why nearly 138 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 fun things to do during 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! Beyond relaxing on the beach, there are plenty of other activities to do in Sarasota that will make your vacation memorable.
If this town is on your list of travel destinations this year, here are twenty things to do in Sarasota!
1. Visit the Ringling Museum
One of Sarasota’s most iconic and famous landmarks is the Ringling fine art museum. This museum is home to 21 galleries filled with European paintings, Asian sculptures, contemporary artwork, and more. 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!
Once you’re done perusing the museum, take a stroll through the Ringling’s beautiful gardens. The 66-acre grounds are full of lush vegetation, stunning pathways, and plenty of places to relax.
2. Go on a Kayaking Tour
If you want to truly experience all that Sarasota has to offer, go on a kayaking tour! You can take in the stunning sights of mangroves, nature preserves, and waterfront homes while paddling around the area.
Most tours are led by knowledgeable local guides who will provide all the necessary equipment and helpful tips for a safe and enjoyable experience. Tours usually include wildlife spotting, bird watching, and even some interesting historical facts about the area.
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!
The aquarium also offers educational programs and workshops throughout the year. So, if you want to get a more in-depth experience with the animals and learn interesting facts about their habitats and behaviors, then this is definitely worth checking out.
4. See Sarasota from a Birds Eye View
See the gorgeous beaches, the downtown skyline, and all of the vibrant nature that this city has to offer. Plus, depending on what tour you choose, you may even get a chance to fly over some of Sarasota’s other attractions – like the Marie Shelby Botanical Gardens.
5. Go to the Sarasota Classic Car Museum
Whether you’re a car enthusiast or just curious about the history of automobiles, you’ll be sure to enjoy your time at the Sarasota Classic Car Museum. This is the second oldest operating classic car museum in the country.
You will get to explore the museum’s rich collection of vehicles from various eras over the past hundred years. Some highlights include the 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. Here you can learn about the unique process of distilling rum. From sugarcane to barrel aging, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at how this delicious spirit is made.
The distillery offers tours and cocktail tastings throughout the day, so you can sample some of their many flavors. Don’t forget to pick up a bottle – or two – to take home!
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.
The trail, which runs through the Palmer Ranch, and Oscar Scherer State Park, is perfect for cyclists of all skill levels and ages. You’ll see some gorgeous views of the Gulf Coast while getting some exercise in at the same time. Be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen!
8. Paddleboard in Ted Sperling Nature Park
Many rental companies around the beach offer 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 off.
Once you’ve rented your paddleboards, be sure to check out the beautiful Ted Sperling Nature Park waters. You may spot some manatees and dolphins swimming as you paddle – plus, you’ll get a great workout in!
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 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 empire. 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 that the Ringling family 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 before visiting to see which exhibitions, events, or performances are happening. You can also book guided tours or purchase tickets to films and on-screen per
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 over 150 domestic and exotic animals that have been rescued from various circumstances. While you’re here, you will get to meet lions, tigers, bears, birds, and some friendly primates who call this place home.
The sanctuary even offers interactive experiences with some of its animals, such as their wallabies and lemurs. The Big Cat Habitat also offers truly unique experiences like Tiger or Lemur Yoga classes. Just be sure to book in advance – these classes and encounters with the animals fill up fast.
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, RV owners, and explorers. Don’t miss the star of the show, the 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 live concerts, theater performances, and dance shows to family-friendly events, there is something for everyone here.
Be sure to check the calendar before visiting – you never know what shows may be playing during your visit! If you’re lucky, you might even get a chance to see some of the biggest names in entertainment gracing the stage. No matter who is on the bill, you’re sure to have a night full of entertainment and enjoyment.
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, smell the tropical flowers, and play with the hundreds of butterflies that 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
Nothing quite beats the beauty of a Sarasota sunset. Whether you’re out on your own boat or taking a tour, there are plenty of opportunities to get out on the water and watch the sun go down.
Make sure to bring your camera – this is the perfect opportunity to capture some stunning nature shots! From dolphins swimming alongside your boat to the breathtaking colors of the sky, these moments in Sarasota will be ones you won’t soon forget.
16. Visit the Ed Smith Stadium
If you’re visiting Sarasota in the spring, consider checking out a game at the Ed Smith Stadium. This is the spring training home of Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles and offers some exciting opportunities to watch your favorite teams play.
The stadium also hosts various events throughout the year, so there’s always something fun to do here. So, whether you’re an avid baseball fan or just looking for something enjoyable to do with your family, Ed Smith Stadium is worth a visit.
17. Tour the Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy
For a more unique experience, check out the Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy. This museum features an expansive collection of quirky and whimsical art pieces from local artists. From sculptures made out of recycled materials to interactive installations, the museum offers something for everyone.
Visiting the Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy is not only a great way to explore art and creativity, but it’s also a great way to connect with the local community. So, if you’re looking for something a bit different to do in Sarasota, be sure to swing by.
18. Shop in St. Armands Circle
If you’re in the mood for some retail therapy, then head over to St. Armands Circle. This open-air shopping center features over 100 specialty shops. From high-end fashion stores to jewelry boutiques, you’ll find something here to please everyone in your group.
St. Armands Circle is also a great place to grab a bite for lunch or dinner, as it’s lined with cafes and eateries serving delicious local dishes. So, take a break from the shopping and enjoy some of the area’s best cuisine!
19. Visit Oscar Scherer State Park
For a relaxing outdoor experience, spend some time at Oscar Scherer State Park. This park is home to over 15 miles of hiking trails, along with a variety of wildlife and scenic views. It’s a great place to get some exercise while also taking in the beauty of nature.
You can also go kayaking on South Creek or take the kids to explore the nature center for some hands-on learning. Oscar Scherer State Park is also one of the few places in the area where you can see Florida scrub-jays in their native habitat, so be sure to come prepared with binoculars and a camera!
20. Stop by the Mixon Fruit Farms
If you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Sarasota’s downtown area, then take a trip out to Mixon Fruit Farms. This family-owned citrus farm has been in operation since 1939 and offers a true taste of Florida’s agricultural past.
At Mixon Fruit Farms, you can take a tram tour of the groves, see the different kinds of citrus they grow, and sample some freshly squeezed juice. The farm also offers a variety of other activities, like its on-site wildlife rescue, so make sure to check out what’s on offer before heading out!
Ready to Book Your Trip?
From sunsets on the coast to exploring unique art galleries, Sarasota offers plenty of exciting activities and sights to explore. So, whether you’re looking for a relaxing escape or an adventure into nature, this city is sure to deliver.
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. We even offer customized tours so you can create the perfect experience for your group!
So, what are you waiting for? Book your Sarasota helicopter tour today and get ready to explore some of the best sights this city has to offer!
First published on: Aug 30, 2021
Updated on: Mar 15, 2023