Family Fun in Sarasota County

Sarasota County offers family-fun for story-loving tots and older siblings to parents and grandparents.

Museums and Aquariums

  • The Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is home to more than 100 marine species and features touch pools, working labs, and interactive exhibits.
  • The Tibbals Learning Center at The Ringling Circus Museum has the world's largest miniature circus. The 3,800-square-foot display includes the big top with circus performers as well as the performers' living quarters and dining tent.

Active Learning Experiences

  • At the Children's Garden & Art Center, children dress up in fairy costumes, walk the plank on a pirate ship and climb a heap of painted truck tires on two acres in downtown Sarasota.
  • The Ann Goldstein Children's Rainforest Garden at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens takes children through a wooden fort high atop a 100-year-old Banyan tree. The fort is outfitted with swinging bridges and a twelve-foot cascading waterfall.  Nearby is an indoor Kids' Corner and cafe.
  • The Ringling's David F. Bolger Playspace is a modern playground with colorful basket swings, a massive slide for older children, and a water fountain steps away from the palatial Cà d'Zan Mansion. Admission to the playground, including the gardens and grounds of The Ringling, is free.
  • The 1,000-acre Dakin Dairy Farms is complete with a six-acre corn maze, farm tours, and hayrides.
  • Established in 1939, Sarasota Jungle Gardens has 150 native and exotic animals on display from parrots and iguanas to alligators and primates.

Circus Offerings


Outdoor Sporting Adventures

  • Sarasota County is made up of more than ten beaches, including Siesta Key, which has been voted a top beach in America for its soft, white sand.  A recent renovation added a large play area with swings to Siesta Public Beach.
  • From kayaking and canoeing to sailing and chartered cruises, families can explore the beautiful coastal scenery of Sarasota County with a number of water sports activities, including boating.
  • Two unique state parks, Myakka River State Park and Oscar Scherer State Park, provide miles of hiking and biking trails as well as diverse wildlife sightings, guided nature tours, and camping.
  • Top picks for parks with playgrounds are Payne Park with its circus-themed playgrounds for tots to teens; Sarasota Bayfront Park, outfitted with a playground and water-play area; and Centennial Park's water fountain area in Venice.
  • The City of North Port was named a Playful City USA Community for its attention to areas that are ideal for the young and the young at heart to play.

Places to Stay

  • At the Ritz-Carlton Kids Club, children ages five and up can enjoy on-site crafts, games and outdoor activities at the Beach Club on Lido Beach.
  • The Resort at Longboat Key Club's Camp Loggerhead welcomes children ages five through twelve for on-site excursions. Full-day, morning, or afternoon sessions available for a fee.  Every Friday night kids can play from 6 to 9 p.m. dinner and dessert included.
  • In addition to a zero-entry pool and cascading waterfall, Hyatt Regency Sarasota features kayak, paddle board and paddle-boat rentals on-site. Complimentary shuttles to Lido Beach and St. Armands Circle are available.


  • A local favorite is for parents and kids alike is O'Leary's Tiki Bar & Grill in Sarasota Bayfront Park.
  • Gecko's Grill and Pub, with three locations throughout the county, offers a robust and crowd-pleasing menu for the entire family, including hummus and pita bread, red beans and rice, and pizza and sandwiches.
  • Der Dutchman is located in the heart of Sarasota's Amish and Mennonite community of Pinecraft, where diners enjoy classic comfort food, such as fried chicken, mashed potatoes, homemade apple butter and peanut butter, biscuits, and desserts.

For more family information, go to Visit Sarasota County©  at 800-522-9799 or  Information may also be found on smartphones and tablets by downloading the Visit Sarasota County©  app.