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20 Things to Try in 2020

Check out some new experiences and old favorites you won't want to miss on your 2020 beach vacation to Sarasota County

January 23, 2020

The Sarasota Art Museum

The region’s newest contemporary art museum opened at the end of 2019 and is an attraction fit for all ages. Outdoor installations invite young ones to climb and play, while every floor of renovated Sarasota High School building has a unique blend of paintings and 3D art both enthusiasts and casual observers can appreciate.

New Restaurants

Good news for all you foodies out there: dozens of new restaurants have set up shop in Sarasota County over the past year. Notable additions to the downtown Sarasota scene include Sage SRQ, and Bavaro’s. Old favorites like Libby’s Neighborhood Brasserie and Shore have opened up new locations around the area too!

Venice Symphony

The Venice Symphony’s 2019-2020 concert season is the first created entirely by music director and conductor Troy Quinn. When the 35-year-old was hired at the end of 2018, he was touted as a rising star with the versatility to blend classic and modern in his shows. Look no further than 2020 concerts like “Shaken not Stirred: the Music of James Bond” or “The Movie Maestro: A Tribute to John Williams” to see how the young conductor is delivering on those promises. Bravo!

Stone Crab Claws

If you’re desperate to sample local seafood during your stay in Sarasota County, do not skip this local delicacy! Stone crab season runs from October through mid-May and can be found in local restaurants and markets.

New Beach, Who's This?

Old habits die hard, but a trip to the beach rarely disappoints along the Gulf Coast. Did you know Sarasota County has nearly 40 miles of beaches? Sure, you may want to frequent favorites like Siesta, Lido and Venice beaches, but perhaps this is the year you venture a little farther one day during your stay. Go shelling on Nokomis Beach. Bring the dog to Caspersen Beach. Step back in time for some Old Florida vibes on Manasota Key. 2020 is the year for adventure!

Shark Tooth Hunting

Venice is known as the Shark’s Tooth Capital of the World because fossilized teeth wash up daily on the shores and shallow waters of the area’s beaches. These free souvenirs aren’t hard to find if you know what you’re looking for. Grab a sifter or a snorkel and go on a treasure hunt for the coveted teeth of the prehistoric Megalodon!

Drum Circle

The Siesta Key Drum Circle has become a famous sundown tradition on Sunday’s, adding more and more spectators every year. Will this be the year you finally go? (Hint: it’s not the only beach drum circle in the area!)

Sailor Circus

If you’ve driven down U.S. 41 towards downtown Sarasota, you’ve probably passed the huge, dome-like structure Sailor Circus calls home. If you haven’t been inside yet, this is definitely the year to see the longest running youth circus in America. The Circus Arts Conservatory opened the newly renovated arena in 2019 complete with new lighting, concessions, bathrooms and – for the first time ever – air conditioning!

Jumpin’ Fun Inflata Park

The largest inflatable adventure park in the U.S. set up permanent shop in Sarasota in September of 2019. The 15,000 square foot bouncy playground is sure to delight kids of all ages – and maybe even a few brave adults! Whether you’re dodging rain or heat for a few hours, this indoor adventure is worth a try!

Downtown Venice

The charm of downtown Venice can’t be overstated as it perfectly preserves the laid-back feel every beach town strives for. Last year, this historic town finished a facelift adding updated walkways, blossoming on the ground and hanging from above flowers, and a secret mural along one of its side streets as part of a major renovation. Another renovation wrapping up in 2019 was to the Venice Fishing Pier, a local landmark with a new surface and lighting. The city already known as one of the most pedestrian friendly just got even better.

Rooftop Bars

Sipping along the city skyline has been a booming trend that has also made it’s way to Sarasota! Among the new construction in downtown Sarasota during recent years were several of these new rooftop bars. Whether you’re out and about for an afternoon cocktail, happy hour or nightcap, the views of our small city on the coast will take your breath away.

New Hotels

Looking for a new place to stay? Make any vacation feel like the first time at one of the area’s newest hotels in downtown Sarasota and beyond over the past year like the Westin, Art Ovation, Embassy Suites, or The Sarasota Modern.

The Mangrove Tunnels

Ditch the motorboat and grab a paddle to explore this hidden charm on South Lido. The narrow tunnels formed by decades of untouched mangrove growth encourage a slow cruise through a serene landscape of broken sunlight and adorable sea critters like tiny crabs and seahorses. Set up a tour with one of our incredible local guides that will take care of your boat and navigation. All you have to do is show up!

The Legacy Trail

This 12.5 mile bike trail connecting Sarasota and Venice is a favorite for locals but often underutilized by tourists. Explore the former railroad route of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus trains, or spend a few hours at the trailhead where a playground, restored circus car and museum tell the story of the once-bustling Venice Train Depot. Cyclists love the continuous, quite design of the trail where you can hide from hours from the sights and sounds of traffic, especially after the completion of a new bridge extension in 2019. Rent a cycle at POPcycles or other shops near the trail and get ready for a full day exploring on two wheels!

North Port

A lot is happening in Sarasota County’s largest city. In 2020, North Port will host the first full spring training season of the Atlanta Braves at their brand new, state-of-the-art facility CoolToday Park. The city has also added some new amenities for the little ones like a massive aquatic center and the Boundless Adventures Playground – an innovative park friendly for kids of all levels of ability.  The city is also breaking ground on its first new hotel in nearly 50 years!

Gander a Gallery

The moniker Florida's Cultural Coast® does not come lightly – it requires constant attention by local theaters, galleries and museums to push the boundaries of their rotating shows and exhibits. Some notable features coming up in 2020 include the Salvador Dalí: Gardens of the Mind exhibit at Selby Gardens, Kabuki Modern at The Ringling featuring 19th century Japanese portraits in the state art museum of Florida's popular Center for Asian Art, and an adaptation of the children's classic Snow White at the Asolo Repertory Theatre.

SRQ Airport

Nonstop service to and from Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport flourished in 2019, growing to nearly 40 U.S. cities and welcoming more passengers than ever! Save on a rental car and jump on one of the new Allegient, United and Frontier flights to paradise!

The Suffragist Project

Over 50 local arts and educational organizations are teaming up in 2020 to present The Suffragist Project: a tribute of performances, exhibits, lectures and more across the destination celebrating the 100 year anniversary of women voting rights in the United States.

Feed a Flamingo

Looking to stir up some real vacation envy on social media? Swing by Sarasota Jungle Gardens for an afternoon at one of the only free-roaming flamingo exhibits in the world. Snap photos right with Florida’s unofficial state bird, or fill your hand with food and watch how they flock up to you!

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe

For years, the only professional black theatre troupe on Florida’s West Coast has delighted audiences with their toe-tapping performances despite their quaint stage and seating. But in 2020, the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe played their first show in their newly renovated space including an expanded lobby and three updated stages. A happy 20th anniversary indeed for WBTT!

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