Sun, surf, and Southern food. These three things all equal Florida, right?
Whether you've never been there or you've already hit places like Orlando and Miami and now want something new, Sarasota is the next destination for you! You can't possibly get bored in this great city.
Keep reading to learn the top things to do in Sarasota, Florida. This is the ultimate do-not-miss list!
Where is Sarasota?
The city of Sarasota is located on the western coast of Florida. It's a large coastal town that boasts many different beautiful beaches.
It sits an hour south of Tampa, 2 1/2 hours southwest of Orlando, and 3 1/2 hours northwest of Miami. It's not as tourist-y or as crowded as Orlando or Miami, so you'd love it if you're looking for something a bit quieter.
While it's not as tourist-y as Orlando, Sarasota is by no means small! It has its own international airport, the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport (or SRQ). All of the major airlines fly into/out of it, so you have the ultimate convenience.
1. Beaches, Beaches, Beaches!
Sarasota boasts miles and miles of shoreline! If you're headed there, you don't want to miss the pristine beaches.
Did you know that the sand on most beaches is made up of coral? Well, Siesta Key Beach is unique because its sand is actually white quartz! This beach is very well-loved because of its gorgeous, unique white sand.
It's also family-friendly, with a playground and lifeguards. A great place for a day in the sun or a leisurely stroll at sunset.
Venice Beach is another Florida favorite! Known as the "Shark Tooth Capital of the World," it sits quaintly in the heart of Sarasota.
Not only can you surf, swim, and play in the sand, you can also spend your day searching for prehistoric shark teeth! There's no better take-home souvenir than that!
2. Big Cat Habitat & Gulf Coast Sanctuary
This sanctuary is home to large, exotic animals who have been rescued! It's different from a zoo in that it is non-profit (all proceeds go towards taking care of the animals) and they strive to make the environment as natural and non-cage-like as possible.
Adults, teens, and kids of all ages love visiting the lions, tigers, birds, bears, primates, and tortoises. There's even a petting zoo area with rescue goats, chickens, llamas, and emu!
One day child passes are $8. One day adult passes are $18. Great fun and educational experience for the whole family!
3. Myakka River State Park
Myakka River State Park is a huge, diverse nature preserve. It includes pinelands, wetlands, and prairie!
These diverse ecosystems cater to a wide variety of wildlife that you can observe. You can see gators, all sorts of fish, and beautiful, unique birds.
It's your choice to camp, lodge, or just sight-see. There's also fishing, birding, hiking, geo-seeking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and paddling. Or, if you want to just enjoy the views, you can hop on a boat tour!
And good news to all who love traveling with their dogs: Myakka allows pets to adventure with you! Just be sure to keep them on a leash and clean up after them. That's an amenity you won't find many places!
4. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
If you want to experience the beauty of Sarasota but don't feel like hiking, kayaking, or baking in the sun at the beach, visiting the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is perfect for you!
This "living museum" is a must-see for nature lovers and plant lovers. You'll experience breathtaking flowers, water features, trees, walkways, koi pond, and vegetation. These botanical gardens are so beautiful that they even host weddings.
There's even a children's garden that simulates being in the rainforest! It covers an entire acre and there's plenty to see.
Visiting adults get in for $20, kids for $10, and children 3 and under are free. This can be a relaxing and easy but fun and educational activity for adults and kids alike!
5. Anna Maria Island
Just half an hour northwest of Sarasota City, Anna Maria Island is an actual island right off Florida's coast! It's seven breathtaking miles of white sand beaches where you can swim, surf, or relax in the sun.
You can find it just 40 minutes northwest of Sarasota city. It's a resort city, so the local government strictly regulates what the buildings, structures, and businesses look like, do, and their upkeep. So it's sure to be a beautiful, well-kept area.
Cedar Cove Resort & Cottages sits right on Holmes Beach on Anna Maria Island. It's surrounded by palm trees, beautiful sand, and breathtaking water. You'll be blown away by the views available from your patio!
There's plenty to do at the resort, on the many beaches, in the water, and in the city. Ever dreamed of kayaking next to dolphins? That's a reality here!
Be sure to look into Bean Point Beach, Coquina Beach, and Manatee Beach. Bean Points and Coquina are where you can do things like kayaking with dolphins, Manatee is where you can bring hot dogs to grill and set up your favorite beach games.
Don't Miss These Top Things to Do in Sarasota!
Sarasota, Florida, is a lively, rich destination. It's not as well-known, crowded, or tourist-y as Orlando or Miami, so you can consider it a hidden gem. There are plenty of things to do in Sarasota, you won't be at a loss.
You'll definitely want a fun, safe, clean place to stay while you're there. Check out Cedar Cove Resort & Cottages on Anna Maria Island! Contact us with questions or inquiries. We're excited to have you!