Holiday shopping and happenings in Sarasota County

It's always hard to think of good, creative holiday gifts for your loved ones. Instead, try exploring for some great holiday gifts and while you're out and about, enjoy some festive happenings around town.

We've all been there at this time of year: it's a few weeks before the holidays, and you're still scratching your head at what to give to your family members for the holidays. Try exploring some of the shopping districts in Sarasota County and while your out enjoy festive events and activities around the area.


The Mall at University Town Center


The Mall at University Town Center is located right of the I-75 University Boulevard exit. The two-level shopping center is anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's and Dillards and there are a lot of niche and fun shopping stores in between. Techies will love checking out Windows and Apple stores, homemakers will spend hours in Crate & Barrel, LoveSac and Z Gallerie, and trendsetters will peruse H&M, lululemon athletica, OndadeMar and more.

St. Armands Circle

On the other side of town in the heart of Lido Key is St. Armands Circle. Decorated in lights and holiday ornamentations, this shopping district is packed with boutique shopping and al fresco dining. 138 merchants call this district, often called the "jewel of Sarasota" home, almost guaranteeing that you'll find something unique and fun for friends and family.

Downtown Sarasota

Downtown Sarasota
Downtown Sarasota

Main Street, Burns Court, Towles Court and the Sarasota Downtown Historical Village are all great places to find one-of-a-kind treasures, as well as a great place to grab lunch while you shop! These areas are filled with galleries, hand-made art, niche boutiques such as Artisans' World Marketplace and even some DIY stores, such as the Artful Giraffe's Paint-Your-Own-Pottery studio that can add a special touch to a gift! Not far from downtown is Elysian Fields, which you'll definitely want to check out if you are looking for something a little more Feng Shui. This store carries Japanese tableware, Tibetan imports, and Fair Trade, environmentally conscious products.

Westfield Southgate + Square Mall

Just minutes from downtown Sarasota is Westfield Southgate mall. Transitioning into an upscale center of specialty shops, this mall is adding a Cobb CineBistro cinema which features ultra-chic leather rocking chairs, in-theater dining and a full bar.

Further south, Westfield Sarasota Square features a comprehensive collection of favorite stories, include Hollister and Co., Charlotte Russe, American Eagle, Sephora and even a Costco. The mall also features the Suncoast's largest and roomiest IMAX movie theatre.

Venice Main Street

Venice Main Street
Venice Main Street

Downtown on the Isle of Venice is another great shopping location for clothes, kids and gifts galore: Venice Main Street. Buy some cheeky cards, magnets or Florida-centric home accessories. Pick out a resort-worth outfit, versatile jewelry or a hot new swimsuit. Enjoy the Venice Farmers Market Saturday mornings for fresh food and hand made trinkets.

Olde Englewood Village

The Olde Englewood Village on Dearborn Street is the de facto center of Englewood, Florida and home to a collection of shops and restaurants with a throwback vibe. Try on new and vintage clothing, seek rare antique finds and enjoy flavorful seafood and refreshing drinks at sophisticated, yet approachable restaurants.

Around Town Happenings

Looking for something to do in Sarasota County during the holidays? Check out our list of five places to visit to get in the holiday spirit:

Holiday Nights at Ca' d'Zan

The Ca' d'Zan with its holiday decorations in place
The Ca' d'Zan with its holiday decorations in place

The Ca' d'Zan is dressed for the holidays and has extended hours, until 8 p.m. on certain dates. The festive features include fireplace mantels, balconies, doors and a 10-foot-tall tree that stands in the Grand Court. The cost is $10 or free for members.

Sarasota Holiday Boat Parade of Lights

The annual Sarasota Holiday Boat Parade of Lights takes place in the second week of December in Sarasota Bay. The best areas for viewing are Marina Jack Restaurant, Bayfront Park, City Island and Centennial Park. The event is free and open to the public.

Holly Days Mangrove Lights

Holly Days Mangrove Lights at Historic Spanish Point
Holly Days Mangrove Lights at Historic Spanish Point

Historic Spanish Point shines bright with the Holly Days Mangrove Lights at 5p.m. on Fridays in December. The event extends the attractions evening hours and lights up the White Cottage, Mrs. Palmer's Sunken Garden, Mary's Chapel and the mangrove tunnel.

The annual holiday "Lights in Bloom"` features more than a half million lights, surrounding visitors with several unique installations, including a massive Tunnel of Lights. Tickets available at the Selby Gardens website.

Sailor Circus Holiday Spectacular

Enjoy a performance blending the talents of extraordinary student performers of Sailor Circus with the magic of the holiday season. Check their website for performance schedules.

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Cafe Venice - Savor Dish. Photo courtesy of Cafe Venice
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