14 Best Things To Do In Sarasota: Top-Rated Attractions 2022
Located between St. Petersburg and Cape Coral on the central part of the state’s west coast along the Gulf of Mexico, Sarasota is known for its natural, historical, and cultural attractions. It is conveniently located off Interstate 75, one of Florida’s major north-south highways.
Close to other popular destinations like Punta Gorda, Fort Myers, and Tampa, there are also various day trip options for those who don’t mind spending a few hours in the car.
Here are 14 things to do in and around Sarasota, Florida, that shouldn’t be missed when in the area.
1. Sarasota Farmers Market
Here’s the skinny guy at the Sarasota Farmers Market. It has been around since 1979. It is open year-round, rain or shine, and every Saturday from 7 am to 1 pm.
Although the market is probably best known for its fantastic array of fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables, it is also packed with other great products, many of which you won’t find anywhere else.
Arts and crafts, health and body products, fresh baked goods, and prepared foods like honey, pasta sauce, and gravy are abundant. You don’t want to pass up a vitamin C cup filled with fresh-squeezed Florida OJ.
2. The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art
Located on Bay Shore Road in Sarasota, the sprawling grounds that house the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is filled with incredibly original and reproductive arts and architecture from ancient Greek, Roman, and Renaissance eras that make many visitors feel like they have been transported to a different time and place.
It is named after the once famous and now-defunct Ringling Bros co-founder. & Barnum and Bailey Circus, the museum is a unique treasure worth a few hours of your time; It is also appropriate for children. Consider taking advantage of the free tours that last about 45 minutes.
3. Baltimore Orioles Spring Training Site
Although Sarasota and Baltimore couldn’t be more different if they tried, Florida City has been hosting spring training for the Baltimore Orioles for years, and Ed Smith Stadium is where they play their home games when they’re in town.
The stadium is located just a few miles off Interstate 75, not far from downtown Sarasota. In 2019, the O’s played 17 of their 33 Grapefruit League games.
It’s a great way to enjoy a relaxing afternoon or evening without going over an arm and leg as you would at a major league stadium during the regular season. Visit their website for game times and ticket options.
4. Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium
Located on Ken Thompson Parkway, the Mote Marine Aquarium and Laboratory features a variety of exhibits, including fascinating marine animals such as turtles, eels, and otters. Even a dedicated shark tank holds over 100,000 gallons of water.
Although the cost of admission is relatively high, most guests find it a good value, considering all there is to see and do. The facility hosts an annual reptile exhibit featuring American alligators and crocodiles and is a favourite for adults and children.
Free on-site parking is available, and it is possible to get to within a short walk using the public transportation system.
5. Myakka River State Park
Comprised of various unique habitats such as grasslands, lakes, rivers, and wetlands, the Myakka River State Park spans nearly 60 square miles. It offers visitors a variety of activity options that will bring them up close and personal with the natural world.
Hiking, biking, fishing, and kayaking are among the most popular, and guided tours by land and airboat are also offered.
For those who have never experienced the exhilaration of an airboat, it’s a great way to get an adrenaline rush and see the incredible surroundings from a different perspective.
Amenities include miles of trails, gift shops, a visitor centre, and a restaurant.
6. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Located on South Palm Avenue, the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens have opened to the public more than four decades ago. They include thousands of plants and flowers in various cultivated gardens and greenhouses.
The Butterfly and Rainforest Gardens are perennial favorites for those traveling with little ones. There are even caves, rope bridges, and great oriental-themed goldfish ponds worth exploring.
The gardens are an oasis of serenity and natural beauty in a bustling city, so consider stopping by when you’ve filled in on the area’s more commercial tourist attractions.
7. Mad Moe $0027s
Located on the North Tamiami Trail in nearby Osprey, Mad Moe $ 0027s is one of those places where you can see a Ferrari parked next to a decades-old family van like the one that Chevy Chase drove in the iconic movie Vacation.
Although far from exclusive, Moe $0027s is known for its tasty food at reasonable prices and laid-back atmosphere.
From Cuban sandwiches and fish tacos to outdoor seating and a full bar, Mad Moe $0027s is the perfect place to stop for a quick lunch or to spend a few hours in the afternoon sipping adult beverages and catching a game or two on one of its more than 20 televisions.
8. Florida Maritime Museum
With more coastline than almost any other state, it is not surprising that Florida has such a rich maritime history. Located on four acres in the historic town of Cortez, the Florida Maritime Museum is housed in a former school that was originally built more than 100 years ago.
The museum’s exhibits and memorabilia focus primarily on commercial fishing and shipping and include an exciting mix of boat records, photographs, first-hand accounts, and various nautical equipment.
The museum also includes a research library that is one of the largest of its kind. Most guests spend between one and two hours installing.
9. Village of the Arts
With more than 100 homes and an eclectic mix of galleries, restaurants, studios, and workshops, Village of the Arts is one of the unique destinations in the Sarasota area, especially for those looking to immerse themselves in an artsy and bohemian environment for a few hours.
Most of the town’s buildings date back almost a century. At nearly 40 acres, it is a sprawling site perfect for an afternoon stroll, enjoying fantastic art, or relaxing with a cappuccino and a good book.
The village is located on 12th Avenue West in Bradenton and is a must-see for those looking to kick-start their creativity or pick up a unique, locally created piece of art.
10. Soto National Monument
Nearly 500 years ago, Hernando De Soto landed on the shores of Florida near Bradenton, searching for lost cities of gold and the mythical Fountain of Youth.
Although he didn’t find it either, the De Soto National Monument is worth visiting historically minded travelers. It sits on nearly 30 scenic acres of shoreline overlooking the Manatee River and Tampa Bay.
In addition to its historical significance and natural beauty, many visitors participate in outdoor recreation such as kayaking, fishing, hiking, and picnicking. The area is also popular with bird watchers, so don’t forget your camera and comfortable walking shoes.
11. Manatee Lake State Park
Lake Manatee State Park is located about 20 minutes east of Bradenton and comprises more than 500 acres of diverse landscapes that offer guests various recreational options, including freshwater fishing, boating, sunbathing. And swimming.
Formed in the 1960s, when the Manatee River was dammed, the lake has become a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers of all stripes.
Hikers exploring the park’s trails are likely to see various animals, and for those who sweat or want to wash off the lake’s water after swimming, there are plenty of showers near the beach.
12. Palma Sola Botanical Park
Bradenton’s Palma Sola Botanical Park was established nearly 30 years ago to create idyllic green space and preserve various trees from a municipal nursery.
The park includes several distinct gardens, and the grounds are connected by trails that include picnic areas and pavilions, a playground, and three lakes with bridges.
Park staff also offer instructional and educational workshops; many are suitable for children. Check the event calendar on their website, so you don’t miss out.
The park is open every day, except for the main holidays.
13. Bradenton Riverwalk
The Manatee River is one of Bradenton’s top recreational attractions. In addition to its breathtaking views, Bradenton Riverwalk offers guests a unique combination of cultural, epicurean, and calorie-burning activities, all in one location.
The Riverwalk runs nearly two miles and is wheelchair accessible. In addition to many open spaces, it also features a skate park, beach volleyball courts, and an outdoor amphitheatre that can host up to 400.
It is known for its open-air festivals and live entertainment during the summer months. There’s even a splash pad, fishing pier, and playground, making it ideal for families traveling with little ones.
14. Bobby Jones Golf Complex
Comprised of 45 holes, the Bobby Jones Golf Complex is a municipal facility that has been open to the public for just over a century. The only golf facility located within the Sarasota city limits sits on more than 300 sprawling acres that include various natural features.
With various courses to choose from, there is an appropriate option for those of almost all skill levels.
Most guests appreciate the almost total lack of development in all but one of the facility’s holes. Located on Circus Boulevard in Sarasota, it is advisable to reserve your departure time well before your trip.
Frequently Asked Questions: Best Things To Do In Sarasota
What is Sarasota best known for?
The city has been referred to as Florida’s “Cultural Coast” because of the many theaters, art galleries, museums, and other art venues found in the city. With 10 theaters, a professional symphony, the ballet, an opera, and over 30 art galleries, Sarasota is most known for the arts and culture scene.
Is Sarasota Florida worth visiting?
Sarasota, Florida is an excellent place to take a vacation. Located on the west coast of Florida about an hour south of Tampa, Sarasota offers beautiful beaches, cultural activities, historic landmarks, lush gardens, and pristine golf courses as some of its main attractions.
What do people do in Sarasota?
Best things to do in Sarasota, FL include the Ringling museum, Sarasota Jungle Gardens, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, and the Big Cat Habitat. Theater, music, and opera fans can head to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, the Sarasota Opera House, and the Beatrice Friedman Symphony Center.
Is Siesta Key worth visiting?
Siesta Key beach is one of the most famous beaches in Florida known for its many family-friendly amenities, sugar-white sand, and beautiful turquoise waters. If you are within at least two hours driving distance from Siesta Key Beach, Florida Gulf Coast’s number one beach, it’s definitely worth the visit.
Are there alligators in Sarasota Florida?
Alligators might inhabit virtually any freshwater or saltwater body of water in Sarasota, although most gators that make their way inland are too small to pose a serious threat to humans and are not typically dangerous if left alone.
Do you need a car in Sarasota?
You don’t need a car because you have all of the recreations on the inside of the community. As for shopping, you can choose to use one of the delivery services that are found throughout the area, including Grub Hub from restaurants and grocery delivery services found throughout Sarasota.
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