How to Make a Girl's Night Out (or In)

Elevate your Bachelorettes, birthdays or just a regular weekend (or weekday) nights around Sarasota for the perfect Girls Night Out (or In).

Ah, the Girls Night Out. The reprieve all women need to let loose with the gals, complain about the responsibilities lingering back at home, and recharge with some girl power.

We all need it.

And yet each G-N-O looks different to each gaggle of girls. Maybe it’s Bachelorette Party time. Maybe someone needs a little extra girl love in her life. Perhaps it’s just time.

And then what to do? Do you want to dress up? Dress down? Be able to chat? Sick of talking? Early birds or night owls?

Just like each of us, the GNO can be a complex individual. Sarasota has a little bit of everything to fit each flavor – so pick a spice (or make a medley!) and tell me what you really, really want.

Sunny Spice

For the gal who wants to soak up each snippet of sunshine and sea salt Sarasota has to offer. Flip flops and a boat drink float her boat.

A cruise on downtown Sarasota-based LeBarge Tropical Cruises brings the festivities to the sea. Float along with a margarita or a cold beer and watch with the girls for dolphins frolicking or do some serious real estate stalking as those massive mansions drift past. The on-boat music gives the perfect backdrop to girl talk.

A weekend (or day) at Lido Beach Resort takes away the work and leaves the fun. The only decision you’ll need to make is whether to swim in the Gulf or the pool first. A quick visit to their poolside bar for a cool drink and a quick snack won’t even require shoes.

Nothing screams casual fun like a Tiki Bar. With the saltwater on your skin, a sundress or shorts serve as the perfect uniform for trop-rock music, loads of laughter, and fruity concoctions. Don’t bother doing your hair – beachy waves are legit here. O’Leary’s  in downtown Sarasota (near LeBarge) and Pop’s Sunset Grill in Nokomis top the list of local jaunts.

Make it a GNI (girls night in)

Lounging alongside the Westin’s rooftop pool while overlooking the Bay feels almost like you’re on the beach itself. Wicked Cantina down the street sells House Margaritas by the Quart for that tiki-bar feel from the safety of your own pod. Have your own personal tiki on the water for the vibes sans the sand.

Spice of Life

A cackle, a giggle, a chuckle, or a snort – this is the girl who loves to laugh until her cheeks hurt. And, yes, it counts as an ab exercise.

Sarasota’s resident comedy club, McCurdy’s Comedy , in downtown Sarasota features new acts from the well-known to the starving artist. Whatever gets the corners of your mouth to nearly touch your ears, they’ve got it. There’s even a drag queen bingo show!

Immerse yourself into an interactive theatre experience with Florida Studio Theatre’s improv program, one of the finest in the country! One interaction between the performers and your group could lead to endless jokes for the rest of the trip.

Make it a GNI (girls night in)

Both the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe and the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall sporadically offer online or virtual presentations of their comedic acts. You’ll catch every punchline in a room with your pals. The homey vibe at Siesta Sun Beach Villas give you ample space to get comfy and laugh loud enough to go through the (private) walls.

Island Spice

Siesta Key is the place to be and there’s no reason to leave. A sundress and wedges pair nicely with that beachy glow.

Fruity? Check. Festive? Check. Full of alcohol? Check and double check. The Daiquiri Deck on Siesta Key features 33 daiquiri options, as well as rum runners, to get the party started. Names like Banana in the Bush, The Karen, and Patriot Missile guarantee the convo leans to the lively side.

One of the best parts about great girlfriends is that you can make a fool of yourself with them and they’ll just laugh along with you and join in. Enter karaoke at Captain Curt’s. Select your favorite blast from the past ditty and belt out to your heart’s content. It’s an extra bonus if you’re out of town since you’ll never see any of the other people ever again.

Before all this drinking and walking, a tres chic meal is in order. Miguel’s Restaurant creates French dishes that are almost too beautiful to eat. Start with a glass of French wine and finish it off with one of their decadent French desserts and it’s a Parisian dream made in Florida heaven.

Sometimes a girl needs to talk, vent, and have an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on. A stroll on Siesta Beach below the stars eliminates distractions and manages to make the world seem larger and smaller at the same time. Food and drinks are allowed for a midnight picnic, but no glass containers. So put that wine in a thermos and hit the sand.

Make it a GNI (girls night in)

Watch the sunset with while enjoying a daiquiri to-go from Daiquiri Deck. No judgement if you wear your swimsuit in your Siesta Key Beachside Villas beachfront rental.

Ginger (Rogers) Spice

Be it clad in heels or boots, this girl wants to dance the night away, swaying to soothe the soul and forget any troubles.

Every night, The Beach Club on Siesta Key hosts a DJ to provide the ultimate backdrop to a nightly beach dance party. Check their calendar for events such as Naughty Santa and Asylum Halloween. The girl squad drinks free on Ladies’ Night every Wednesday.

Express your emotions or learn a new skill with a drop-in adult class at Sarasota Contemporary Dance or Sarasota Cuban Ballet. Experienced or not, you and your ladies can boogie together, from Bachata to ballet, Contemporary to Dancing in the Park. Lay it all out there -  that’s what true friends are for.

A country fan or not, there is no denying that watching the floor at The White Buffalo Saloon is mighty impressive. Rows upon rows of amateur dancers kick up their heels and stomp their boots to the twang overhead. If you care to join in but don’t know how, Thursday through Saturday evenings they offer lessons and Wednesday is Ladies’ Night.

For a different tune and a little less structure in the moves, The Gator Club in downtown Sarasota features live music or a DJ nightly. The dance floor tends to be packed with swayers and grinders singing along. Upstairs features a second bar and a pool table if you need a moment to rest your feet.

Make it a GNI (girls night in)

Never underestimate a ballerina. The Sarasota Ballet offers virtual adult ballet classes for you and your company. So fun, but so hard. The pool at Aloft is the perfect location to practice those sautés and jetés.

Chic Spice

Some gals just want to get dolled up, grab a bite, and have a glass of Sancerre. A simple request Sarasota is happy to fulfill.

For Instagram-worthy plates that taste as good as they look, hit up Shore restaurant on St. Armand’s circle. People watch from the patio or enjoy the private yet open air dining room in the back. To make it perfect? Downstairs is Shore, a store of the same name that features some of the coolest clothes out there. Eating and late night shopping, what more could a girl want?

You want wine? Done. Bohemios has no shortage and makes the decision-making as easy as can be. Thursday night is Ladies’ Night if you need a nudge to go out mid-week.

Book a private table at downtown hotspot Element: Steak. Seafood. Pasta. and enjoy your girl squad in style. No one will hear you spill your secrets and there’s no fear your boss is sitting behind you as you complain about last week’s memo. From happy hour to their extensive wine menu, each element (get it?) is perfection.

Make it a GNI (girls night in)

A stay at The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota embodies the ultimate ladies’ getaway – lush amenities, pool, spa, gym, exclusive beach resort access, and access to their private golf course. Sometimes you don’t want to go anywhere and just be. Together.

Granola Spice

Dirty hands, a smock, and art appreciation mold into the trifecta for this creative soul.

Need a distraction? Grab a group of hands-on friends for a “Clay Date” at Carla’s Clay. Embrace your inner Demi as you knead the clay, learn the wheel, and see what hidden talents you may (or may not) possess. My “bowl” was a bit wonky, but the experience was far from it. The hypnotizing spin leaves little opportunity to think about the worries elsewhere.

No artistic talent? No worries. At Painting with a Twist it’s all about who can have the most fun, not who can outpaint the rest. Bring a bottle of wine or a cooler of cocktails – or mocktails -  to share with your gal pals as you follow along together to master your pieces together.

Any art aficionado’s night out will happily begin with Ringling Art After 5 at the stunning Ringling Art Museum. Admire art from around the world and watch as the sun sets along the bay from the Bayfront Gardens.

Shopping and art? My mom would say yes, my dad would say no way! And that’s why girlfriends are the best. The First Friday Gallery Walks  on downtown’s Palm Avenue opens a plethora of art galleries to attendees during their after-hours. Meander the avenue and pop in and out at your leisure while admiring the various paintings, sculptures, jewelry, and antiques. Live music creates a gentle soundtrack to the monthly event.

Whenever I’m out to dinner without my husband, I intentionally order something he would never want to split, just because I can. A girlfriend recently divulged she does the same, and, as her partner always wants steak and potatoes, she wants to search out her vegetarian Asian favorites on our girls’ nights. Happy to oblige. Tsunami Sushi & Hibachi Grill is known as one of Sarasota’s top spots for vegan sushi, so you can explore the East while honoring those plant-based wishes.

Enjoy the fresh air and stroll through town, admiring the myriad public art sculptures and murals throughout.

Make it a GNI (girls night in)

Art-centric hotel Art Ovation abounds with inspiring creations. Load up on supplies at Nailed It’s Take and Make menu and some goodies from vegan-friendly Lila’s Cook at Home menu and get your creating on.

Sporty Spice

Time to try something new. Out with the old and in with the new. This gal refuses to sit still and wants to try everything life has to offer. No balconette here – this gal is all sports bras and yoga pants.

No lazy ladies here – use those gams to get around with Sip-N-Cycle’s Party Petal Bikes. Zip through town with your besties while sipping on your beverage of choice. Matching outfits are not required but will guarantee extra cheers sent your way from jealous onlookers.

Just because you’re on vacation or out of the house doesn’t mean you necessarily want to sit down. Maybe putting your feet up is your ahhh. But for a smidge (I mean, you are on vacation) more, check out Mandala Med Spa & Yoga Shala’s evening and private classes. Grab a few limber and willing gals and give it a try.

Hey, the guys aren’t the only ones who want to keep an eye on the score while grabbing a craft brew.  Watch your team at Evie’s Bowl, a downtown sports bar that just happens to have two bowling lanes incorporated into it for those emergency games. Make a team or make new friends to form one. There’s never a shortage of smiling faces at Evie’s.

Kick off GNO with a bang at Sarasota Trap, Skeet and Clays. Your own group can bring your own food – or cater it in – and make an epic night of gals and guns amongst the Sarasota foliage.

Make it a GNI (girls night in)

Four Pillars offers yoga classes online, so you can get your om on recenter with your own candle glowing. Hotel Indigo has stunning clutter-free rooms that won’t distract you from your Zen.

All Spices

For any activity or activities, save the worry of parking and driving by utilizing Uber, a limo service, or the always festive Sarasota Trolley and Siesta Trolley.  No need to carry those keys and instead keep the party going.