Siesta Beach drum circle

Summer Guide: Sarasota County for young and young at heart

Do you have friends, children or grandchildren visiting Sarasota and want to know what there is to do for young adults? Look no further than our summer guide.

When the summertime heat hits the Sunshine State, most of us are familiar with the temptation to chill out with the A/C on blast and binge on Netflix—but don’t melt into your couch just yet! We’ve got you covered with a list of suggestions to kickstart your day and cool down at night in Sarasota.

Looking for an excuse to dig into that DIY project you’ve always wanted to finish, but were never sure how to begin? Want to check out the blues and brews scenes but don’t know where to start? Still scouring the city in search of the ultimate brunch? We’ll help you explore the Sarasota scene and make the best of your free time this summer.

Map Out the Best Brunch Spots

Rise and shine early on Saturdays to fill your basket with the freshest fruits and produce at the downtown Sarasota Farmers Market—but keep in mind that during the summer months, the Farmers Market shortens its hours to 8am - 1pm to beat the heat.

Farmer's Market
Farmers Market

Save the sleeping in for Sundays, when rolling out of bed to catch brunch between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. is a perfectly acceptable plan. Sarasota takes brunch seriously, so wherever you decide to indulge, be sure to arrive with a hearty appetite.

Made Restaurant, in downtown Sarasota, holds the current Sarasota Herald-Tribune title for ‘Best Brunch in Sarasota.’ Made’s Sunday-only brunch is known for its Bloody Marys and bacon-garnished, Jack Daniels-spiked ‘Man-mosas’ and its indulgent twists on American breakfast classics like fried chicken with gruyere waffles, pork belly and hash and caramelized banana French toast with Nutella.

Indulge your Parisian tastes at C’est La Vie and Lolita Tartine, two cozy French eateries that are popular with the Sarasota brunch set. Freshly baked croissants and sweet pastries pair well with cafe au lait and people-watching at the C’est la Vie sidewalk cafe on Main Street. In the neighboring Rosemary District, Lolita Tartine is known for its French ‘tartine’ sandwiches, paninis and savory bakery items like quiche and Croque Monsieurs.

Libby's
Libby's

Libby’s Cafe + Bar, a popular eatery in Southside Village, is known for its eclectic selection of small plates at Sunday brunch and as an evening hangout for young professionals during the week. Libby’s casual-chic vibe makes it a popular networking spot, and it’s the space where Sarasota singles tend to mingle—for the cocktails and the company.

On Siesta Key, Another Broken Egg whips up an unbeatable brunch. Try the beignets, the southern crab stack or shrimp ‘n’ grits to satisfy your tastes for Louisiana-inspired southern brunch. For breakfast on the Key, it’s also hard to go wrong at the Village Cafe, a local favorite for over 20 years serving up hearty, traditional favorites.

Get a Taste of Sarasota Outdoors

For residents and visitors alike, the beach is on the shortlist for summertime fun in Sarasota — and the moment anyone digs their toes into the powder-perfect sands of Siesta and Lido Key, they understand why.

Lounging on the beach with a margarita has an undeniable appeal, but weekend warriors with a taste for adventure may wish to get off the beach and explore the shores by kayak or standup paddleboard. Almost Heaven Kayak Adventures, Bay and Gulf Adventures, and Sarasota Bay Explorers provide options to rent paddlecraft and embark on guided or self-lead tours through the mangroves, where explorers might encounter dolphins, manatees and other Sarasota wildlife. For a truly wild taste of authentic Florida ‘swamp living’, head down to the Peace River and spot an alligator on an airboat or swamp buggy ride with Peace River Charters.

Sarasota Bay Explorers
Sarasota Bay Explorers

Another great way to get on the water and commune with nature is in a standup paddleboard (SUP) yoga class. Make your way to Ted Sperling Park at South Lido Beach on Wednesdays at 10am and Saturdays at 2pm for a unique yoga class that takes the practice off the mat and onto the water with SURFit USA. It’s a cool chance to find your Zen while you test your balance on a surfboard-like SUP watercraft. Beginners welcome! SURFit USA rents kayaks too for those who would not like to test their balance.

If you don’t want to rock the boat, how about a treetop adventure? TreeUmph! offers one of the most unique and challenging obstacle courses in the state—and some of the most rewarding views—from the treetops of the Florida wilderness. Due to the afternoon heat and possibility of summertime thunderstorms, it’s best to rise with the early birds and book your trip to the treetops in the morning.

When the weekend draws to a close, don’t forget to make your way to Siesta Key for the sunset to take part in a local tradition: the Siesta Key Drum Circle. Bring an instrument if you have one, and enjoy the sunset with local hoop dancers, musicians and drum circle fans who flock to the beach every Sunday to dance the weekend away.

Make it a DIY Project Day

From decoupage to pallet gardens—you know there’s a DIY project you’ve been dying to dig into… Don’t put it off for another day! There are some truly unique spots in Sarasota where you’ll find an abundance of do-it-yourself inspiration and tips to make your most Pinteresting dreams a reality.

Sarasota Architectural Salvage
Sarasota Architectural Salvage

If you’re seeking a dose of quirky inspiration for an upcycled art project—or perhaps the perfect antique doorknob, funky salvage item, lawn ornament, or piece of vintage hardware—search no further than Sarasota Architectural Salvage (SAS). Part antiques warehouse, part art and furniture store, and part DIY project headquarters: SAS is one of a kind. It’s easy to spend an afternoon just rummaging for treasures, but if you have a project in mind, the SAS staff can help point you in the right direction to bring your DIY day-project game to the next level.

Have a big idea you want to bring to life, but lack access to industrial-grade tools and the skills to wield them? The Suncoast Science Center Faulhaber Fab Lab is a tinkerer’s dream. Sarasota’s state-of-the-art fabrication lab houses a 3D printer, a laser cutter, a computer numerical control (CNC) mill and router, a vinyl cutter and enough other machinery to geek out any gearhead. Visit the Fab Lab on Thursdays and Saturdays for an all-ages tour of the machinery, and sign up for workshops—from beginner to expert—to step up your DIY game with cutting-edge technology.   Hone in on specific skills by joining the Suncoast Makers to network with other makers, take part in workshops, and make the most of the Fab Lab.

Live Music Venues

When the sun sets, the music scene heats up in Sarasota. On any given night, there’s almost always a chance to catch intimate performances with local musicians or a set from a traveling band.

Tucked away at the outskirts of downtown Sarasota in the quiet-by-day Rosemary District, the Blue Rooster springs to life every evening with live blues, bluegrass, jazz, and R&B and soul, so be sure to wear your dancing shoes when you hit up this trendy juke joint. The lineup changes nightly as bands from around Florida and the US make their way through town, but the atmosphere is always lively. The Blue Rooster doesn’t open until 4pm on weekdays—but don’t forget to check out the southern buffet at the Rooster’s Sunday Gospel Brunch when you’re on your weekend brunch-hunt.

Sunday Gospel Brunch - Blue Rooster
Sunday Gospel Brunch at the Blue Rooster

The Gator Club has been an important gathering place in Sarasota since it opened as a general store in 1913. One cool aspect of the Gator Club is that it recalls the Prohibition era—when the two-story building was rumored to be a speakeasy—to this day. The upstairs lounge and billiards room retains a 1920s vibe, while downstairs, the stage and dance floor host local live music throughout the week. From funk to psychedelic rock, the Gator Club has a live set on tap for every taste.

Looking for a good open mic night? Whether you’re getting out to support local artists or to bare your own soul on stage, there’s a great selection of open mics to keep your summer original and local. Check out open mic night at the Cock & Bull Pub, one of the biggest beer bars in the nation on Monday nights. Growlers Pub, Sarasota’s main college bar, hosts one of the most popular open mic nights in town on Tuesday nights, and a karaoke night on Mondays. The Thursday night open mic at the Tea House in the historic Gillespie Park downtown village is another popular option—and one of the most intimate open mic venues in town: a 1925 bungalow-style cottage with dozens of loose leaf teas.

Sarasota Nightlife and Evening Eats

Sarasota nightlife is broken into three main geographic sectors: The downtown region, Siesta Key Village, and Gulf Gate.

By day, Gulf Gate is a grub hub brimming with Thai food, sushi, vegetarian and vegan fare, Polish food, Chicago-style street eats, Italian cuisine, cupcakes and seafood in an eclectic strip of eateries. At night, the bar scene heats up with sports bars, pubs and dives. Gulf Gate also the home of Sarasota’s oldest microbrewery, the Sarasota Brewing Company. For after-midnight eats, hit up Munchies 420 Cafe, open from 4:20 p.m. to 4:20 a.m., and featured on Food Network’s Man Vs. Food for its hot wings and one-of-a-kind, greasy late-night bites.

Daiquiri Deck
Daiquiri Deck

Every day feels like spring break in the beachside Siesta Key Village, where summery spots like the Daiquiri Deck and Gilligan’s Island Bar, the biggest tiki bar in Sarasota, are the local favorites. Flip flops and beachwear are always welcome in the Village, where the pedestrian-friendly streets are lined with restaurants, bars, ice cream and coffee shops, and beach-themed retail spots.

Downtown Sarasota has a distinct ‘small city’ feel—easy walkability paired with urban amenities and eclectic restaurants, bars, and performing arts venues. Aloft Sarasota, the latest and most tech-savvy hotel to hit the downtown scene, is located right in the center of the action. Aloft’s WXYZ Bar and Lounge is generating buzz as one of the most vibrant new additions to downtown nightlife. Other downtown favorites include the Drunken Poet, a Thai and sushi joint that recently underwent a hip remodel, and Selva Grill, a Latin-inspired late night tapas lounge with some of the trendiest cocktails on the Gulf Coast. In the less than two miles between these downtown lounge spaces, you’ll find no shortage of craft taverns, sports bars, and international cuisine to suit any taste.

Brew Thru SRQ is one of the newest and coolest ways to get acquainted with the Sarasota scene—if you’re a hophead, that is. This craft beer bus tour partners with local breweries and craft beer joints like Big Top Brewing Company, Darwin Brewing Co., Mandeville Beer Garden, JDub's Brewing Company, and newcomer Calusa Brewing Co. to support the local craft beer scene and introduce craft-fanatics to what’s on tap throughout the city.

Still looking for things to do in SRQ? Check out Visit Sarasota’s daily Local Events Calendar to keep your social schedule on point.

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