sarasota nightlife scene at the ringling

Sarasota Nightlife, Music & Entertainment

Live for the night? Lucky for you, you can head out on the town to find nightlife fun and entertainment year-round in Sarasota. 

Whether an evening of class and conversation sipping wine or a rowdy night of local brewery and dive bar hopping – eat, drink, giggle and experience the mirth of bouncing around Sarasota County once the sun goes down.

Whatever your attire or idea of a "night out on the town" may be, there's a nightlife alternative in Sarasota to fit your style and speed! Dress up in heels and your finest fit for a swanky performance downtown, throw on your favorite casual threads for an evening of laughs, or come right off the beach with flip-flops and a cover-up over your swimsuit for some tiki bar action. It's all here – you just have to get out and find it!

Downtown Sarasota Discoveries

Mattison's City Grille

Enjoy the electric vibe of being in the heart of downtown Sarasota! One of the longest-standing, popular restaurants is located conveniently on the corner of Main Street and Lemon Ave. Mattison's City Grille is all-outdoor and where you'll find live bands playing just about every night under the giant, red awning. Right down the street, enjoy fine wine or craft cocktails in The Lounge at Element, a chic and intimate lounge for a quiet, elevated nightcap. On the next street over, find two side-by-side local hotspots to bar-hop and keep the night alive: 99 Bottles Taproom & Bottleshop serves up a rotating selection of beers in a vibey setting while next door, Circo offers table games and pitchers of margaritas. For a great happy hour or patio aperitifs, head to 1592 Wood Fired Kitchen & Cocktails. For those looking to move and groove, find salsa dancing at Latin Quarters and or crowds dancing to live bands outside of Cask & Ale

Should you find yourself in the Florida Gulf Coast area from October to May, on the first Friday of the month, scrap whatever original plans you may have had and grab your crew for a new plan of action: Fresh Fridays Downtown Sarasota. This outdoor event series encompasses themed social events, community block parties and more, presented by the Downtown Improvement District and the City of Sarasota. Locations vary from Selby Five Points Park to State Street and always include live performances, food and drinks vendors, games and art displays. 

the bay outdoor concerts

Further north, find The Bay Park, a signature public park along Sarasota's bayfront that hosts a rotating door of local bands and outdoor movie nights for free on its expansive green lawn. For the sweet acoustic sounds of live performances—from jazz and marimbas to guitar and gospel—plan to catch Sundays at The Bay, offered from 6–7pm throughout most of the year. And to catch classic flicks, grab your blankets or lawn chairs for Cinema at The Bay, projecting films onto the big screen on select Thursdays at 7pm. Stay up to date through The Bay's calendar of events here!

Rooftop Rendezvous 

the westin rooftop

Downtown Sarasota boasts a multitude of spots where you can take the elevator up to the top floor to cheers delicious libations under the nightsky—a 360-degree view of the entire city and bayfront is just the cherry on top! You don't have to be a guest at Art Ovation Hotel's Perspective Rooftop Bar to enjoy live DJ sounds, upscale cocktails and the epic vista among a trendy crowd. The same goes for The Westin Sarasota's Roof Bar and Eats, where another panoramic view attracts a hip crowd looking for a picturesque backdrop to take photos and enjoy a round of spritzes.

Tiki Bar Feels

O'Leary's Tiki Bar & Grill

On Sarasota's bayfront, O'Leary's Tiki Bar & Grill hosts a rotating lineup of local bands and musicians daily—playing everything from Caribbean beats and blues to classic hits in a tropical island setting. Sip on frozen daiuiries and dig your toes into the soft sands of Bayfront Park while catching the sunset over the water as sailboats anchor for the evening in the marina and the string lights above turn on under the nightsky.

If pub-crawling is not on the evening’s itinerary and a more stationary approach to reveling is in order, Casey Key Resorts is a sure-fire fix. You don't have to be a guest at the newly renovated Osprey resort to head out to the pool deck area to sip tropical libations at the Tiki Bar, where live bands play laid-back melodies five nights a week. 

For one of the most iconic nightlife spots in Sarasota, make your way to the oldest tiki bar in Florida: Bahi Hut Tiki Bar at Golden Resort. The recently renovated hotel features 60s and 70s design, a huge tiki hut over the patio and legendary mai tais. Rain or shine, there's live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights, in addition to Drag Queen Bingo on Sunday nights and Trivia on Monday nights. No admission costs—just get buy a drink to play!

With live music happening every night at Pop's Sunset Grill, this Nokomis institution remains a Gulf Coast favorite—well-loved by locals and tourists alike. With a beautiful waterfront setting matched with "It's 5 o'clock somewhere" Margaritaville vibes, it's the perfect tiki bar landmark to hit after a full day of sun and salt. Whether it's a full cover band or a solo guitarist acoustic set, local musicians will perform in one of the two performance areas: Pop’s Tiki and Pop's Courtyard.  Dancing and singing along are encouraged!

Theatrical Experiences

Sarasota Opera House

If you're truly looking for a night to remember, look no further than downtown's iconic Sarasota Opera House. There, catch an electrifying performance of passion, love and intense drama. Year after year, Sarasota Opera puts on world-class performances, bringing in international talent and compelling stories through theater and song all season long.

Theater buffs can also check out The Players Centre for Performing Artpresenting a slate of shows with talented actors during the arts season— performing everything from newly commissioned plays and modern musicals to The Players New Play Festival and much more year-round entertainment.

Catch a daring performance at Urbanite Theatre, an intimate black-box venue bringing the most thrilling new plays to the region. Grab some friends for HBO-style playwrights and one of the most unique entertainment experiences in Sarasota to review over drinks after. 

Comedy Shows

florida studio theatre at sunset

Florida Studio Theatre (FST) is packed full of laughs in the historic theatre of downtown Sarasota. Engage in interactive theatre that is hip and lively but unfailingly professional or catch the cast of FST Improv, which often puts on themed improv shows that draw inspiration from crowd suggestions—weaving sketches, musical numbers and hysterical games between the audience and cast members.

Leave with your cheeks hurting at McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre & Humor Institute in downtown Sarasota. Touring national acts perform standup comedy in the remodeled showroom as audiences pick items from a full menu of cocktails and grub. Most of the seats are less than 35 feet from the stage (which is flanked by two high-definition monitors), so every spot is golden and there is no shortage of visibility.

Music & Dance Performances

The Venice Symphony

Performing arts alternatives in Sarasota County are simply unmatched for an evening of inspiration and entertainment. Though many of these opportunities are seasonal, they undoubtedly pack more than enough power into their May-to-October schedules. Sarasota Orchestra, the oldest continuing orchestra in Florida, has been dazzling audiences for nearly seven decades with exciting classical, family and pops concerts. Further south of the county, The Venice Symphony's concert season includes a mix of masterworks, modern classics and popular symphonic music at the beautiful Venice Institute for Performing Arts in Historic Downtown Venice.

Audiophiles flock to the Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota, which features classical music programs with internationally renowned performers. Concert events are held at the Historic Asolo Theater and other small area venues around town.

Dance aficionados—be sure to buy tickets to Sarasota Contemporary Dance’s quick-to-sell-out performances this season. The company’s repertoire includes works by some of the most high-profile choreographers in the world of modern and contemporary dance with some of the most skilled dancers brought onstage.

Siesta Key Village

Daiquiri Deck and Gilligan's Island Bar

Siesta Key Beach may be one of the best beaches in the world but lest we forget its vibrant and lively Siesta Key Village. Here you'll find one of the most active nightlife scenes of Sarasota=a—only enhanced by its quirky coastal charm.

Enjoy DJs and late-night dancing at the newly-remodeled Beach Club, sample the many frozen daiquiri flavors over live music at Daiquiri Deck and catch half-priced oysters at Siesta Key Oyster Bar's famous happy hour while a band plays dive bar tunes. Looking for even more local entertainment long after you've eaten? Head under the thatched tiki roof of Gilligan's Island Bar, which exudes an Old Florida charm – complete with surfboards and a vintage VW bus – for bar games and the likelihood of meeting new friends.

Further south of Siesta, hear the pulsing sounds of live music and chatter at Captain Curt's Crab & Oyster Bar, a local institution serving up "Old Florida" feels and one of the few places to enjoy late-night drinks and an upbeat atmosphere on the south end of the key. 

New Downtowns on the Scene

downtown wellen park at sunset

Further south of the county in North Port, find a newly developed master-planned downtown known as Wellen Park. With an outdoor amphitheater for local events and live music, this vibrant community hub attracts residents and visitors to its lively nightlife scene. Dress for dinner or drinks at one of the many bars and restaurants in the area—including The Banyan House; Oak & Stone; Villani & Co; Acqua Pazza Coastal Italian Restaurant; Louie's Bistro; Florida Taphouse Bar & Grill; Irma's Tacos, Craft Beers & Tequila Bar and more. 

sunset at waterside place

Out east of Sarasota, find another master-planned community called Waterside Place. For natives of Lakewood Ranch and out-of-towners, this happening hotspot plays host to live music under the pavilion on weekends, and a slew of new local restaurants and bars. From Osteria 500, Agave Bandido, and AllSwell Modern Gastro Pup (opening soon) to Deep Lagoon Seafood & Oyster House (opening soon), and Korê Steakhouse, you'll find a week's worth of nightlife and entertainment. End an evening with a cold pint or flight at Good Liquid Brewing Co's beer garden—situated perfectly to view daily Waterside sunsets—or head across the street to its brand-new small-batch distillery and chic cocktail lounge.