Kayaking in Sarasota County
Kayaking in Sarasota County

10 Must See, Must Do Activities in Sarasota County

Sarasota County is well known for beaches and art, but there’s several other to-do activities that are bound to energize and entertain families and solo travelers alike. Check out our list of ten things everyone should do and see when visiting Sarasota County.

Dad and son run out to the surf of Siesta Key Beach

Spend the day at the beach:

Sarasota and her islands offer miles upon miles of sand and surf. Enjoy white quartz sand on Siesta Key Beach, and if the public beach access is too crowded for your taste, consider the beautiful scenery and sands at Lido, Longboat, Nokomis and Manasota beaches. If you’d like a souvenir head down to the beaches of Venice, famously know for sharks’ teeth.

Any trip to Sarasota County would be incomplete without spending some time on the beach, visiting a museum or gallery, and seeing a show, but there’s also plenty to do beyond these classic Sarasota activities. Here is our list of ten must see and do activities in Sarasota:

A bike out on Lido beach

Go for a walk or rent a bike:

Several vacation hotels have or are located nearby bike rentals. Enjoy a walk over the Ringling Bridge, a Sarasota landmark, or take a ride down the legacy trail — a 10.6-mile (about 17.1 Kilometers) ride between Sarasota and Venice that cuts through wonderful natural Sarasota County.

Radishes at the Sarasota Farmers Market

Visit the market:

Sarasota Downtown Farmers Market is open every Saturday and features 70 plus vendors offering fresh produce, prepared foods, artwork, plants and more. Sarasota also features several fine arts festivals that often run concurrently with the market, transforming downtown Sarasota into an enormous art showcase.

Myakka River State Park

Hike in nature:

Myakka River State Park is one of Florida’s oldest and largest state parks, spanning 57 square miles of wetlands, prairies and woodlands. Activities include airboat tours, biking, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and hiking on nature trails and canopy walkways, camping and more.


Sea turtle at Mote Aquarium

Mote Marine Aquarium:

Mote Marine Laboratory, founded in 1955, is a worldwide leader in marine research. Its Aquarium contains sharks, manatees, sea turtles and more than 100 other species of marine life. The aquarium is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

The Ca' d'Zan

The Ringling:

No trip to Sarasota is complete without a trip to The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art. The Ringling is the State Art Museum of Florida and features an art museum, historic museum, circus museum, historic theater, conservation laboratory, research library and more. Located on 66 acres of spectacular bay front property, the Ringling combines diverse culture and fine and performing arts.

A flower at Selby Gardens

Selby Gardens:

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, founded in 1975, is located just south of downtown Sarasota and features 13 acres of beautiful horticulture. Its collection includes more than 20,000 greenhouse plants and thousands more in outdoor gardens including species of bonsai, cycad, hibiscus, tropical fruits and Florida native plants.

Tsunami is a Sarasota Manatee Original Restaurant

Eat at a Sarasota-Manatee Original restaurant:

The Sarasota-Manatee Originals is an organization of more than 50 local restaurants. Its website serves as an excellent resource for visitors to locate and discover culinary gems during their stay in Sarasota. Another superb resource is the Visit Sarasota online dining directory, which includes informational articles on topics such as finding great seafood in Sarasota, discovering Sarasota’s agricultural abundance and more. 

Sea a show:

Throw a rock in downtown Sarasota and you’re bound to break a theater window. Despite its relatively small and intimate size, Sarasota is home to an opera, orchestra, ballet, and two professional theaters hosting plays, musicals and more. That list doesn’t include the several community theater venues, which showcase year-round Broadway and off-Broadway shows.

St. Armands Circle

Shop St. Armands Circle

Browse through dozens of unique shops featuring everthing from swim wear to hot sauces. St. Armands Circle is a shoppers oasis with something for everyone. Shop until you drop, and then crawl over to one of several ice cream shops in the area for a sugary recharge before you shop some more!