Things to Do in Sarasota, FL – Tourist Attractions and Places to Go in Downtown Sarasota

Sarasota is a beautiful coastal city in Florida that offers plenty of things to do for tourists. From its crystal-clear waters to its vibrant nightlife, there are things to do in Sarasota for people of all ages and interests. Let’s see what’s in store!

things to do in sarasota

Things to Do in Sarasota Downtown

Downtown Sarasota is where you’ll find most of the city’s shops, restaurants, and nightlife. It’s also home to some of its most popular tourist attractions, like the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art and the Sarasota Opera House. If you’re looking for things to do in Sarasota, consider visiting these places!

  • The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art houses a collection of European paintings as well as Asian and Renaissance art. It’s a must-see for any art lover or history buff. Admission is $25 for adults.
  • The Sarasota Opera House is a historic theater that hosts operas, ballets, and other live performances throughout the year. If you’re a fan of the arts, be sure to check out what’s playing during your visit!

Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall is another option for theater-goers. It’s located right on the water and offers stunning views of the bay. The hall hosts a variety of performances, including concerts, dance recitals, and comedy shows.

Take a Stroll around Sarasota!

What else can you do downtown? Well, it’s a great place to stroll around. The Main Street is the heart of downtown Sarasota and is lined with quaint shops, restaurants, and cafés. Take a leisurely walk and take in the sights and sounds of this charming city.

Sarasota Classic Car Museum

For those who want to take in some history, the Sarasota Classic Car Museum is a must-see. It houses over 75 classic cars from different eras, as well as collections of vintage gas pumps and other memorabilia.

Ca’ d’Zan Mansion

You could also explore the Ca’d’Zan Mansion, which is the former home of John and Mable Ringling. This historic mansion – modeled on Venetian palazzos – is now a museum that offers tours to visitors.

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Sarasota National Cemetery

If you’re looking for things to do that are a bit more low-key, Sarasota National Cemetery is a great option. This beautiful cemetery is the final resting place for over two hundred thousand veterans and their families.

While it may not be everyone’s idea of a fun day out, exploring the cemetery can be a moving and educational experience.

Bayfront Park

Outdoor enthusiasts will love Bayfront Park, which offers plenty of things to do in Sarasota. This waterfront park is perfect for picnicking, fishing, kayaking, and simply taking in the stunning views of the Sarasota bay.

A Bit of History Before You Visit Sarasota

Who are John and Mable Ringling, you might ask? John Ringling was an American circus magnate. He and his wife, Mable, were also avid art collectors. They donated their collection – which includes paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, and Titian – to the state of Florida in 1936.

Sarasota was once home to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus winter headquarters. The circus operated from 1919 to 1967, when it moved to Venice, Florida. Even though it’s gone, you can still see evidence of its presence in Sarasota. For example, the Circus Museum – located in downtown Sarasota – houses artifacts from its time in the city.

Outdoor Things to Do in Sarasota

Florida is known for its beautiful beaches and Sarasota is no exception. Its sandy shores and crystal-clear waters make it the perfect place to relax and soak up the sun. If you’re searching for outdoor things to do in Sarasota, look no further!

Siesta Key Beach

Siesta Key Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Sarasota. It’s known for its fine, white sand – which is made up of 99% quartz! – and turquoise waters. If you enjoy taking photos, you’ll be delighted.

Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary

If you’re looking for something a little different, check out the Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary. This non-profit organization is home to lions, tigers, bobcats, and other big cats. You can take a tour of the facility or even volunteer!

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Myakka River State Park

Myakka River State Park is a great place to go hiking, bird watching, or canoeing. With more than 37,000 acres of land, there’s plenty to explore – and a great opportunity to relax away from other tourists.

Lido Key Beach

Lido Beach is another great option for a day by the water. It’s located on Lido Key, which is just off the coast of Sarasota. The beach is known for its beautiful sunsets and clear waters.

If you’re looking for things to do in Sarasota that are a bit more active, consider going on a kayak tour. There are many companies that offer tours of the area’s mangrove forests and waterways. You might even see some wildlife!

Places to Go with Kids in Sarasota

Sarasota is a great place for families, thanks to its many kid-friendly attractions. Chances are, your kids won’t be able to decide what they want to see!

  • Sarasota Children’s Garden. This two-acre playground is designed specifically for children and features a butterfly garden, sensory garden, and more.
  • The Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium. Here, your children can learn all about the marine environment and see creatures like sharks, manatees, and dolphins up close. The aquarium also has a touch tank where kids can pet stingrays.
  • The Sarasota Jungle Gardens. They feature shows with birds of prey, alligators, and other animals. Kids will also enjoy the chance to feed the parrots and lorikeets.
  • Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. With more than 15 acres of gardens to explore, your kids will be in awe of the plants and flowers. They can also meet some resident sea turtles, snakes, and iguanas.
  • No visit to Sarasota would be complete without a trip to the circus! The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art offers a Circus Kids program. Children can learn about juggling, acrobatics, and other skills.
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For a relaxing family afternoon in Sarasota, pay a visit to St. Armands Circle. This island is home to over 140 shops and restaurants. You can find everything from beachwear to jewelry to art galleries.

What to Do Near Sarasota?

If you’re looking for things to do near Sarasota, consider visiting one of these nearby cities.

  • Venice, FL – Just a short drive from Sarasota, Venice is known for its charming downtown and beautiful beaches.
  • Tampa – Tampa is a major city located just an hour away from Sarasota. It’s home to many attractions, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team and the Florida Aquarium.
  • St. Petersburg, FL – St. Petersburg is another city located close to Sarasota. It’s known for its museums, art galleries, and waterfront parks.
  • Clearwater – Clearwater is a beach town located about 45 minutes from Sarasota. It’s home to some of the best beaches in the area, including Clearwater Beach.

Have You Found Your Place in Sarasota?

These are just some things to do in Sarasota. As you can see, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city. So, whether you’re looking for excitement or relaxation, you’ll find it here. Sarasota is waiting for you!

What are your favorite things to do in Sarasota? Let us know in the comments below.

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