10 Things to Do in Sarasota

Sarasota is one of those special places that has a little bit of anything you may be looking for – outdoor fun, relaxing beaches, rich history, culture, arts, food, you name it. The city beyond the beach boasts infinite ways to embrace the day – here are ten.

Van Wezel
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Get Cultured

With so many theatres in town, Sarasota is guaranteed to have a live stage show to suit your tastes. The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall may be the most prominent, but be sure to check out Urbanite Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre, West Coast Black Theatre Troupe, The Players Theatre, and Florida Studio Theatre for everything from Shakespeare to modern grit and everything in between.

Dream Like a Queen – or King

With its downtown location and impeccable décor, Hotel Indigo is a modernist’s dream. For a little more pizazz, including access to a golf course and beach club, The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota and Hyatt Regency Sarasota is just down the street. Both allow you to walk to the marina, a show, or dinner and give you prime locations for sunset watching. Looking for something cool and chic? Look no further than the recently opened Aloft Hotel.

Ringling Grounds

Stop and Smell the Roses

Walk the grounds of The Ringling Bayfront Gardens, open to the public with no admission fee, to immerse yourself in not only 66 acres of amazing foliage, but to ponder that someone actually once lived there, surrounded by intricate banyans and 1200 rose plants. The butterfly garden and playground are always hits with my kiddos. Keep your eyes peeled for statues so old the trees have enveloped them.

Go Cruisin’

LeBarge, adorned with its live palm trees and glimmering mermaids, invites a good time to any and all that hop aboard for an aquatic adventure. Don that tropical shirt, order a boat drink, and embrace the tropical merriment as you watch for dolphins and sunsets aboard this floating ferry of fun.

Chill Out

Slurp a dozen oysters as you feel the watery breeze on your skin, mullet jumping and seabirds diving feet from your table. At the Phillippi Creek Oyster Bar, you’ll get a different view of Sarasota’s waters. Board the gondola behind the PCOB for a romantic tour amongst the mangroves as Boris serenades you with his song.

Selby Gardens

Get Exotic

Entering the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is like entering a fairy tale. Time seems to slow down as the plethora of trees, plants, flowers, and shrubs surround you. All outside sounds vanish as you’re fully immersed in natural beauty. Here you will find unique specimens you’ll likely never see elsewhere, from gumbo limbos to lithophytes, bonsai to exotic orchids. The Children’s Rainforest Garden, Kid’s Corner, and koi pond are guaranteed to keep kids of all ages entertained. Grab a snack and a cup of coffee from the Selby House Café or Carriage House Tea Room and stroll along the water’s edge, where you are sandwiched between mangroves and palm trees, and watch boats drift along the Bay.

Yoder's pies

Pie it Up

With or without its appearance on The Food Network, the pie at Yoder’s Amish Restaurant is famous. The crust is so good I want to suck on it like a Jolly Rancher. With 34 choices and slices as big as a baby’s head, beware of ordering with your eyes rather than your stomach. Grab some friends, each order a slice, and get extra forks. And if you over order, don’t fret – it makes a great breakfast the next day.

Lions, and Ligers, and Bears, oh My!

Big Cat Habitat is the only place I know where you can watch a movie star chimpanzee perform and feed a liger. What’s a liger? According to Napoleon Dynamite, "It's like a lion and a tiger mixed... bred for its skills in magic.” The first part is right. The magic, not so much. But it’s beautiful and rare and gigantic and you can feed them, along with lions, moon bears, emus, and more.

Meet the Fella

Sarasota can be a foodie’s paradise, with fresh fish and options galore. For a guaranteed deliciousness downtown, pop into Mozzarella Fella for their, well, anything. It’s all amazing, fresh, and handmade by a group of friendly New Yorkers who really know their cheese.

Save a Memory

No visit to Sarasota is complete without the obligatory picture of you, standing in front the Unconditional Surrender statue, looking up the nurse’s skirt. Share with your friends, giggle, and plan your next visit back. And be sure to tag it #MySarasota so we can all chuckle along with you.