New Pass Grill
New Pass Grill & Bait Shop

9 Essential Steps to an Epic Sarasota Spring Break

A Florida spring break vacation needs more than beach-side margaritas to stay afloat

Sure, Sarasota is home to the #1 beach in America — but it’s also home to outdoor adventures, affordable cultural activities, and enough dining options to help you temporarily forget the cafeteria. Here are 9 ways to get more out of your spring break than just tan lines and airbrushed t-shirts.

Instagram an Alligator - Myakka River State Park

When it comes to the outdoors, there's beauty beyond the beach. Myakka protects 37,000 acres of wild, “natural Florida,” and you can see it all from atop the park's must-visit canopy walk and observation tower. Rent bikes and explore the many miles of pathways that take you deep into a landscape that feels prehistoric. This place is one gigantic ecology class -- but with fewer lectures and more alligators.  

13208 State Rd. 72, 941-361-6511

Dance Like No One is Watching - Siesta Key Drum Circle

Every Sunday night, visitors and locals gather in a circle on Siesta Beach and move to they rhythm of impromptu drum beats as the sun sets over the gulf. Families, retirees, traveling business executives: no one is exempt from the infectious ritual jam session. There's no specific start or end time, but you can hear the music start to pound about an hour before sunset and last until the drummers' wrists get tired. Leave your shyness back at the hotel and bring your tambourine instead.

Public parking at 948 Beach Rd.

axe throwing facility in sarasota florida

Bury the Hatchet - Axe & Bull

If you prefer to relieve stress in a loud, active kind of way, the destination's first indoor axe throwing facility is worth a shot.  Challenge friends and family on the chopping block and feel the thrill of sinking a blade right into a bullseye! Guests are encouraged to bring their own food and adult beverages (beer and wine only) so grab your meal to go take aim.

4088 Bee Ridge Rd, 941-894-8595

Pinecraft, Yoders. Photo by Eddie Kirsch

Gorge on a Bomb Breakfast - Yoder's Restaurant

Yoder's Amish Country cooking puts even the best college-town brunch spots to shame. Order several unique dishes for the table and create a mini-buffet with your friends. No one should return to campus without first sampling the southern grilled oatmeal and peanut butter pie pancakes. Also, grab a pie on your way out for whenever your apetite recovers. You won't be sorry.

3434 Bahia Vista St., 941-955-7771

exterior view of burns court cinema in sarasota florida

See an Obscure Movie - Burns Court Cinema

If you need a break from your beach break, dip into the Sarasota arts scene at Burns Court. This small downtown theater typically features foreign and independent films that don't make it to mainstream theaters. Shows sell out, so get your tickets early.

506 Burns Ct., 941-955-3456

exterior of the overton restaurant in sarasota florida

Take a Study Break - The Overton

The Overton is the perfect casual hangout for students who need to cram some studying between impromptu beach volleyball tournaments. The coffee is expertly brewed, the open-air space in the up-and-coming Rosemary District is calm, and the menu is scrumptiously simple. Snag a table outside so you can feel the sun's warmth while you prep for the GRE.

1420 Boulevard of the Arts, 941-500-9175

New Pass Grill

Dine Waterfront without Breaking the Bank: Ken Thompson Park

Waterfront dining can cost a semester's tuition, but on this peninsula tucked between Lido Key and Longboat Key – known by locals as City Island – are a few options for quality seafood that starving students can afford. The Old Salty Dog is a classic hang for boaters and cast members of the MTV reality show "Siesta Key." Just a short walk towards the base of the bridge is New Pass Grill & Bait Shop, a local landmark since 1929 offering fried seafood bites, but famous for its award-winning burger. Either way, schedule your dinner around sunset; your social media followers will thank you.

1601 Ken Thompson Pkwy.

Ed Smith Stadium.  Photo credit: Robin Draper.
Ed Smith Stadium is home to the Baltimore Orioles

Root for the Home-Away-From-Home Team - Spring Training

Spring training games aren't just for baseball enthusiasts. Even those without expressed allegiance to the Baltimore Orioles and Atlanta Braves (or an understanding of the game) can enjoy splitting concession food with friends under the stadium lights on a warm March evening.

Orioles - 2700 12th St, Sarasota 941-954-4101

Braves - 18800 South West Villages Pkwy, Venice 941-413-5000

Lido Beach

Contemplate Your Place in the Universe - Lido Beach

According to pop-astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, we humans are merely a “speck on a speck on a speck.” Nighttime at Lido Beach confirms his theory. The horizon line disappears, the moon and million stars reflect off the gulf, and suddenly the water looks like the edge of the universe. It's the ideal place to consider big questions: Am I studying what I love? What should I do with my life?

Public parking at 400 Ben Franklin Drive

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