Looking for fun things to do in Sarasota? Great – you have come to the right place.
Just north of Tampa, you will find one of the nicest beach towns in Florida, the beautiful Sarasota.
Sarasota is famous in its own right for once hosting the famous Ringling Brothers Circus. Nowadays, the circus is long gone but there are still plenty of fun activities for vacationers to enjoy in the city from the beautiful beaches to the awesome museums you will be never limited for fun attractions in Sarasota.
30 Best Fun things to do in Sarasota Florida You Must Do!
1. Siesta Key Beach
This beautiful beach is located just west of downtown Sarasota on Siesta Key. This was voted in 2020 as the best beach in the United States and should be a must visit when staying here. It has some of the softest sand I have ever walked on. It is made of 99% quart which gives it a light white appearance and a great contrast to its beautiful turquoise waters.
It is a public beach, so it is free to all visitors every day of the year. It has nice and clean bathrooms and outside showers to help clean off the salt water and sand before leaving. This is my personal favorite spot to swim in the Sarasota area as the water is typically almost crystal clear on most days.
This is a great spot on the coast because the algae and other debris rarely collect much at all on the beach or swimming area. If you plan on visiting in a car, I would strongly recommend arriving as early in the day as possible as it is a popular place among locals and visitors.
2. Ringling Ca’ d’Zon Mansion
This absolutely mesmerizing property and residence were finished being built in 1926 for circus tycoons John and Mable Ringling. The mansion is roughly 26,000 square feet of a unique Venetian architectural design.
It sits right on Sarasota Bay and the views from the courtyards and large marble terrace are worthy of the price of admission alone. Donations and tour proceeds help a restoration of a majestic swimming pool out in the courtyard area.
Tours of the mansion are available and the furnishings are accurate to when it was occupied by its original owners. Even from far away, this place is an absolute eye catching mansion from all aspects.
3. Sarasota Jungle Gardens
Also referred to as a zoo, this roughly 10 acre attraction has many animals, birds, and reptiles to observe and experience. It is a great place to learn about many of the special species of Florida. A cool feature of the gardens is the real flock of pink flamingos that call it home.
You can hand feed them if you want to and they are truly beautiful and fun to interact with. They look even better in person, believe me. There are daily shows that allow the visitors to enhance their experience as well. They offer 4 special shows every day and I recommend trying to see them all. Another cool option to choose is to have your picture taken with a parrot or an alligator after a show.
4. Sarasota Car Museum
Another fun place to visit is the Sarasota Car Museum. If you like cars, then this is the place. This place is packed full of rare and vintage automobiles. There is even custom one of a kind vehicles as well. I remember my last visit and was stunned by someone creating a van like a car out of an airplane fuselage.
A guided tour is available or you can browse at your own leisure. All the cars have their information posted on a sign in front to give you all the details.
This place has a lot of variety and features some really unique rides used on the battlefield from wars too. The Grateful Dead’s original van was also featured there on my last visit. It also had a few vintage boats as well such as Chris Crafts. It’s a nice laid back place and the workers are extremely friendly and helpful.
5. Ed Smith Stadium
Now for our sports fans. Do you like baseball? Sarasota has that covered for you too! The Baltimore Orioles are the latest major league team to occupy Ed Smith stadium just a few minutes from downtown.
It’s a beautiful ballpark and has full amenities as regular stadiums such as food, beverages, peanuts, and a great view from any seat. Sit and relax in the Florida sunshine and watch some of your favorite teams play each other.
There is nothing like watching a baseball game live in person. It is also a great experience and not having to navigate large crowds and long lines like a regular game. Ticket prices are also much more affordable than at the actual ballparks during the regular season. Don’t forget to grab your hat, glove, and peanuts!
6. Duval’s Fresh Seafood
Located at 1437 Main street in downtown Sarasota, Duval’s is the go to restaurant for locally caught fresh seafood. They offer the fresh catch of the day specials and the freshness and flavors cannot be beaten. It is a fun dining experience and any local will tell you it is a place to try for sure. One of the best restaurants in Sarasota for sure.
7. Mote Marine Lab and Aquarium
Situated on City Island across the bay from downtown Sarasota is this wonderful place to visit. This began as a small, one room research center primarily focused on sharks.
It has grown since its beginnings and is an exciting place to check out. Besides sharks, there are turtles, manatees, and so much more. There are many experience options as well too. A guided kayak ride on the bay or a private walk-through for single families is just a couple of extra tour options available.
A truly unique place! It is an adventure course located up in the trees! It is over three thousand yards in size and has different courses that challenge your climbing and balancing skills.
There are obstacles such as climbing nets, climbing walls, and zip lines to transverse through the trees. A truly unique experience and I highly recommend it. Adults and children are welcome and the course is divided into difficulty sections to make sure you do not accidentally overdo it.
9. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Personally, I have never been in a place like it. There are so many things to see and I highly recommend this to all you green thumbs out there!
The gardens are so well taken care of and the locals agree on the beauty of the place. The flowers are colors are vibrant and deliver a true tropical paradise experience. It is like a tropical tunnel of splendor to admire.
10. Marina Jack
This is a great place to book a romantic or just a fun dining experience. Marina Jack offers either lunch or dinner cruise on beautiful Sarasota Bay.
It features a two-story yacht with a fully licensed captain and chef. Enjoy a great view from any seat on the ship and the captain also provides commentary on different topics about the bay area during the cruise. The yacht features a nicely sized front viewing deck for guests as well. Worried it will be too hot? No worries, the cabin and dining room are completely air conditioned for a comfortable ride.
11. Key Parasail
Looking for an exciting adventure? Book a parasailing ride and take a look at this beautiful land and water from high up in the sky. This is a very popular choice for visitors here in Sarasota.
The ride provides views of dolphins, birds, and larger fish in their environment. It’s a great choice to provide a lifelong memory. This is one of many businesses offering this experience so there are many options to choose from.
12. University Park Country Club
Golfing is a great option for fun here in Sarasota. The choices of courses seem endless here, but with the courses, I have personally played I have not been disappointed.
Most of the courses are meticulously maintained and even the wildlife can be entertaining to watch too. It is not uncommon to have an alligator pay you a visit or just give you a wave from a pond.
This truly is a great area to experience golfing all year round. My advice is to make reservations whenever possible as it is the most popular sport in the Sarasota area. There is also a huge golf store in town in case you need anything too.
13. The Mall at University Parkway
Shopping is also a fun thing to do here in Sarasota. I could not imagine this mall not having what you are looking to buy plus some.
It features over 100 stores and has plenty of choices for a place to eat. It is easy to get to and out of as well as the roads have many lanes to help with the amount of traffic. It has all the popular stores you are accustomed to and a nice variety of smaller businesses as well. Make sure you have your comfortable walking shoes on!
14. Bayfront Excursions
Imagine hitting the turquoise blue water on a jet ski and checking out Sarasota Bay and other areas not accessible by car. Again, there are many choices in rental businesses but a jet ski ride is always a fun activity here.
Not a fan of jet skis? Rent a boat tour with your family and friends and let the locals show you what most visitors never know or see. The option of renting your own boat is another service offered by some places too.
15. Sarasota Offshore Fishing Charters
This is a great choice for a really fun experience on the water. Let the local captains and crew take you on an adventure that is not only fun, but extremely informational as well.
Some captains have been fishing the waters here since they were young children and have decades of experience. That experience literally puts you in the driver seat of having the best chance of catching a great fish.
16. SRQ Trolley
Consider booking a ride on a trolley and exploring all the streets and businesses in downtown Sarasota. There are many different tours available, so it’s not just downtown tours that they offer.
This is a great way to learn about the city quickly and its surroundings. Plus, if it is a really hot day, these trolleys are equipped with air conditioning to help keep you comfortable during the ride.
17. St. Armand’s Circle
Nestled in the middle of City Island across the bay lies an exciting place to visit. This place offers a unique shopping area and many indoor and sidewalk dining options.
There is plenty of parking and all the crosswalks are pedestrian priority first. From shopping for local artwork, high end clothing, or just grabbing a refreshing cold ice cream cone, there is something for everyone in this beautiful spot. It even features a nice park to kick your feet up and enjoy the sunshine.
18. Sarasota’s Farmer’s Market
Originally opened in 1979 is the featured Saturday only farmer’s market. Available from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., this weekly and year round market features over 130 vendors offering up fresh produce, flowers, street foods, and homemade items.
It is located in downtown and the streets are blocked from traffic to make it a fun and relaxing event to check out. Also, enjoy the views of the beautiful downtown scenery and unique architecture.
19. Coquina Beach and Coquina Beach Café
Here is another great beach to visit and have a great time. The first thing I like about this beach is there is a nice walking path before the sand that is paved and runs along the beach. It has nice, tall, and mature trees that shade the walkway for most of the day making it very comfortable to take a nice long walk.
There are a nice abundance of restrooms and changing areas along with outdoor showers for easy cleanup after a day in the ocean and sand.
In the middle of the beach, there is a café and tiki bar to help quench your thirst for sodas, beers, and frozen drinks. A large wood patio and umbrellas help provide a comfortable place to enjoy a pleasant breakfast or lunch. That’s right, enjoy a breakfast on the beach with spectacular views of the ocean.
20. Sarasota Art Museum
Now, what was the historic Sarasota High School, has been transformed in 2003 to the area’s first art museum. It is open 7 days a week and features a bit more modern and contemporary art pieces.
There are always many special exhibits that are featured daily, and they are always changing. With over 15,000 square feet of display area, there is a large variety of different genres and creativity to be admired.
21. Sarasota Opera House
Looking to check out a real live show? Sarasota Opera House is a 1000 seat capacity facility that offers live opera, symphony, concerts, ballet, and even comedy shows.
It offers a little something for everyone and is a popular place to visit and experience. It served as a host for Elvis Presly and also had visits from Charlton Heston. It has been rated as one of the best opera houses in the United States over the last few years.
22. Sarasota Helicopter Tours
Interested in getting some of the best views in Florida? Try booking a helicopter tour and get an experience like none other. Imagine riding along with an experienced pilot and getting the best views from up high over the Florida gulf coast.
Funny, as one flight option to choose is if you want the side doors of the helicopter on or off for the ride. A romantic flight is another popular option with this service provider.
23. John Ringling Causeway Bridge
This is a more interesting option for those who like a nice long walk in a paradise setting. The bridge features 2 car lanes in both directions as well as a safety barrier pedestrian and bike path on the outsides of the bridge.
It is popular with locals and visitors because of the breathtaking sunset views that can be seen from it. It is one of the most beautiful sunset spots I have ever been to, and what else is great after the sun sets is the walk back across to all the beautiful and vibrant lights glowing from the downtown buildings and streets.
24. Siesta Key Rum Distillery
This place produces some of the best tasting rums anywhere! It is another fun place to experience in north Sarasota and is open from Monday through Saturday.
They offer free tours throughout the distillery and have a nicely designed tasting room. Tours typically last about an hour and help describe the process of making fine rum from beginning to end. If you are lucky, you will visit when they have a limited edition release as these tend to be very unique and flavorful.
25. Myakka River State Park
Open all year round, this park offers a lot of fun and opportunities to experience the beauty of Florida far away from the ocean breezes and beaches. This is one of the largest parks in the state of Florida and offers camping, RV’s, hikers, kayakers, and bicycling enthusiasts.
Horses are welcome and horseback riding is another popular activity in the park. Visitors enjoy boating and water sports here as well. There is lodging available as well as a popular restaurant in the main building.
There are also opportunities in the winter months to purchase a special permit to view alligators congregating in large numbers on a private part of the park land. Alligator numbers can easily be over 400 on certain days according to the locals I have had a chance to chat with.
26. Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary
Founded in 1987, this sanctuary has become a forever home to some large and exotic animals. Lions and tigers highlight some of the animals on this property.
There is a petting zoo for adults and children to enjoy and interact with. Other animals worth mentioning are different species of monkeys, birds, and foxes. This is a great place to get close to real lions and tigers and admire their beauty and their strength.
27. Discover Sarasota Tours
This trolley service is unique as it offers a view of the life of the Amish and Mennonites in the area.
You will visit the Pinecraft community which, already buzzing with life and work, is a popular winter destination for the northern Amish people wanting a break from a harsh winter season. This tour is narrated by a lead guide and provides information on the religious beliefs and practices in the community. There is also a gift and souvenir shop to browse and purchase unique Amish made items.
28. Sky Dive Sarasota
That is right thrill seekers, skydiving is a great choice here in Sarasota. What I like about this business is they only schedule jumps by appointment so you don’t show up and wait all day long to get your jump in.
They fly out of the main airport in Sarasota which is fairly easy to get to and there is always ample parking. First timers are always welcomed and experience a jump of a lifetime.
29. Coastline Dolphin and Snorkeling Excursions
Get a great view of the other side of Florida, underwater that is. Book a snorkeling excursion and let a seasoned veteran of a Florida diver show you the beauty underneath the surface of the waters.
A great way to learn more about the ecosystem and wildlife in the waters below. Check out the bright colored fish, crabs, shrimp, and other ocean creatures on an exciting tour. If you get lucky, you may be joined by the playful dolphins swimming around the area.
Another great way to have fun is to visit the different nightclubs throughout the area, from downtown to the beach. Sarasota nightlife is one of almost a half island, half city type of buzz around.
There are high end places to visit and popular and casual tiki bars. Live music is definitely a staple in this area and the music artists come from all over the world to show off their talents. The downtown area does have more options in this regard, but dancing out on a deck on the beach is not unappealing either.
Some of the best nightlife includes:
- Pangea Alchemy Lab
- Smokin’ Joes Pub; and
- Perspective Rooftop Pool Bar
More fl fun: