Exploring Sarasota, FL - Top 5 Things to Do
I will be the first to admit, with the number of things there are to do in Orlando, you may never want to leave. But this summer, I am challenging myself and my fellow community to explore the beauty that the sunshine state has to offer. Years ago, I visited Sarasota, and I only had my eye on one thing- Siesta Key Beach, nothing else.
Fast forward today, I stopped by Sarasota for a weekend trip to check out Siesta Key, one of the most beautiful beaches in Florida. But I was stunned by what I saw. Over the past 2-3 years, the city of Sarasota approved plans for nearly 1700 apartments, 1400 condominiums, and 1000 hotel rooms, some of which have been finished or currently in the works for completion. The increase of jobs and population during a time of booming economy, Sarasota has drastically changed and has added incredible restaurants, hotels, and art museums to the area.
I cannot recommend enough how wonderful a trip is to Sarasota County. There is much to explore, and you may never want to leave. Here are some of the top 5 activities you do while in Sarasota.
Big Cat Habitat & Gulf Coast Sanctuary
Home of dozens of exotic animals, including lions and tigers, the Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Sanctuary is a non-profit organization that helps animals in need, whose mission is to bring education about animal care and conservation. Don’t miss out of catching a glimpse of their majestic big cat liger, a tiger and lion hybrid.
Le Barge Tropical Cruises
There is nothing like seeing a beautiful sunset over glistening blue waters. Le Barge Tropical Cruises offers a casual laid-back atmosphere- they even have a palm tree on the top floor of the boat! Choose from their Dolphin and Manatee Watch Cruise, afternoon Sightseeing and Nature Cruise, or their Tropical Sunset Cruise with live musical entertainment. All cruises include a full bar and light snacks for purchase. This is a great date idea and family outing option while vacationing in Sarasota.
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
This is one of my favorite botanical gardens in Florida- a true tropical oasis with unparalleled displays of greenery and nature, nestled in the bay front of Sarasota. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is a living museum and world-class center for conservation. The gardens feature impressive gardens, ponds, waterfalls, multiple play areas for kids, larger than life trees, and exotic plants from all over the world.
The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
Have you heard of the Ringling Brothers – “The Greatest Show on Earth”? John Ringling was one of five brothers who owned and operated the Ringling Circus. His wife Mable had a deep love for Sarasota, and purchased acres of waterfront property in Sarasota, and at one point, owned 25% of Sarasota’s total area. Out of this birthed The Ringling, the State Art Museum of Florida, a 66-acre museum complex featuring the Museum of Art, Circus Museum, Ca’ d’Zan mansion, Historic Asolo Theater, Art Library, and Bayfront Gardens. Explore the gorgeous architecture of the secret gardens, the Japanese tea house, galleries, art, chao lecture hall, and much more. This is a beautiful place for capturing amazing pictures, and an absolute must do while visiting Sarasota County.
Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium
There is something fishy here! Have you ever been to an aquarium that has not one, but TWO touch tanks and a 135,000-gallon shark habitat? At the Mote Marine Lab & Aquarium in Sarasota, you can witness firsthand marine biologists and researchers performing studies in the labs and with the animals on sight. See up close their huge manatees, sea turtles, and more than 100 species of marine life. The wonderful thing about this aquarium is that is has been accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and exceeds the standards for wildlife conservation, animal care, and education. During your visit, ask about their Eco-Boat tours that will offer you an interactive, hands on eco-adventure to see manatees, ospreys, eagles and other wild animals in the beautiful Sarasota waters.
Staying in Sarasota
Recommended place to stay: The new beautiful Sarasota Modern just opened this year, and featured 3 swimming pools, 2 bars, state of the art restaurant run by a Top Chef winner, and one of the best locations in Sarasota in the art District.
Recommended Restaurants: Rudolph’s, Tamiami, Tsunami Sushi Bar, Tommy Bahamas, Selva, Owens Fish Camp, Yoder’s Restaurant & Amish Village.
This piece was sponsored by Sarasota County. Be sure to check them out on instagram @visitsarasotacounty and at linktr.ee/visitsarasotacounty. The article was also featured on Lake Nona Social Magazine’s summer issue 2019.