Sun, sand and water are three things Sarasota has an abundance of, but not all Sarasota beaches are the same. Six islands line Sarasota’s extensive coastline, each revealing its own personality, recreational options and natural beauty. They are Siesta Key, Longboat Key, Manasota Key, Casey Key, Osprey Key and Nokomis Key, all worth visiting while in Sarasota. Sarasota Beaches are among the most beautiful in all of Florida and the United States, and that’s not just my opinion. Siesta Key Beach has been rated #1 n a national poll of the Top beaches of the USA. Breathtaking views of the sparkling Gulf of Mexico combined with balmy gulf breezes make most beach-going days of the year here in paradise about as enjoyable as they can be; bright sunshine, warm air and water temperatures, soft sand, blue water. With six keys, or barrier islands, a Sarasota beach vacation will give you plenty of options for beaches, and there is 35 miles of beaches! Our Sarasota Florida Travel Guide will give you all the information you need to plan your next vacation to Sarasota Florida.
Sarasota Weather – When to Visit
The best times to visit Sarasota are from March to May and between September and November when crowds, temperatures and prices are manageable. Keep in mind that you may encounter a hurricane should you visit between June and November, Florida’s hurricane season. The city’s most comfortable temperatures come in December, January and February, but its population swells with Northern residents (or “snowbirds”) in the winter, meaning Sarasota’s streets will be packed with cars and its attractions filled with people. Prices are also at their highest during these months. For partially thinned crowds and cheaper hotel and airfare rates, travelers can visit between June and August. However, visitors should expect lots of rain and humidity, as well as average summertime highs in the low 90’s.
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Once the home and grounds of amateur gardener Marie Selby, the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens opened to the public in 1975 after the death of its namesake. The garden, which specializes in epiphytes (or plants that grow on other plant species) features thousands of varieties in its outdoor gardens and more than 20,000 plants spread throughout its eight greenhouses. Flora found on-site include ferns, bamboo, banyan trees and orchids.
The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art
This museum features thousands of Medieval, Renaissance, Greek, Roman and Cypriot antiquities and works of art, is the main attraction on The Ringling museum campus. Numerous galleries showcase pieces from Ringling Bros. Circus co-founder John Ringling’s personal collection, including paintings by Velázquez, Rubens and Veronese. And in the museum’s courtyard, 20th-century bronze and stone casts of iconic works like Michelangelo’s “David” are on display.
Ca’ d’Zan woos visitors with its Venetian Gothic-style architecture and elegant interior. The property – which was once the home of Ringling Bros. Circus co-founder John Ringling and his wife, Mable – sits five stories tall and features details like a roof made of 16th-century Spanish tiles, a marble terrace overlooking Sarasota Bay, servants’ quarters, a game room and an 82-foot-high tower with a domed ceiling. Many of John and Mable Ringling’s personal belongings, plus unique furnishings, such as an Aeolian organ and a crystal chandelier that once hung in the original Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, are also on display in the building.
Myakka Canopy Walkway
Considered one of Florida’s oldest and largest state parks, Myakka River State Park stretches across 58 square miles of wetlands, hammocks, pinelands and prairies. The area also features a river and two lakes, making it a prime place to enjoy water activities like canoeing, kayaking and fishing. Or, visitors can tour the lakes via one of the attraction’s airboats, which are the largest in the world. Land-based tours are offered seasonally as well.
Lido Key Beach
Though visitors have access to several beaches in Sarasota County, one of the easiest to reach from downtown is Lido Key Beach. Situated less than 5 miles southwest of the city center, Lido Key Beach offers more than 3,000 feet of white sand. Several recreation areas, with amenities like picnic tables and a pool (which can be enjoyed for a fee), are also available. If you like hunting for seashells, you’ll love Lido Key Beach.
Sarasota Tours & Tickets
Mangrove Tunnel Kayak Ecotour
Experience the flora and fauna near Sarasota on this guided, 2-hour, small-group, eco kayak tour. Choose from a morning or afternoon departure time, then roam and explore the beautiful mangrove tunnels and estuaries of picturesque Sarasota Bay. Also, see friendly manatees in their natural environment. It’s a favorite tour for all ages — great for the beginner or experienced paddler. Read more about Sarasota Florida Mangrove Tunnel Kayak Guided 2-Hour Eco-tour
Downtown Sarasota Food Tour
Get an insider perspective of Sarasota during a downtown food walking tour that takes you to four restaurants, some of which you may never know about otherwise. You’ll have the chance to sample two to three dishes at each stop, including dessert, plus visit more local eateries in one tour than you would by dining out on your own. Read more about Downtown Sarasota Food Tour
TreeUmph Adventure Course
Reserve your place in advance to save time on vacation and unleash your inner Tarzan with this ticket to the TreeUmph! Adventure Course in Bradenton. Enter the park and swing into action on the zip lines, ropes, bridges, and cargo nets between the pine trees, bonding with friends and family as you brave the challenges. Adults’ and childrens’ courses, full instructions, all equipment, and a choice of time slots are included. Read more about TreeUmph Adventure Course
I Kayak Sarasota
They Rent Kayaks, Stand up Paddle Boards, and offer Professional Guided Kayak Tours. They are close to all resorts near Sarasota, Venice, Bradenton, Longboat Key Anna Maria Beach, North Port, Lido Key and the 34236 zip code. They deliver for kayaking exclusively for the Mangrove Tunnel on Lido Key and Bird Key Park. Telephone: 941-302-2677 or reserve online at I Kayak Sarasota.
Discover Sarasota Tours
Discover Sarasota Tours offers entertaining, interactive, and informative air-conditioned trolley tours of the most interesting people, intriguing places, and amazing stories that shaped Sarasota’s rich cultural past. We offer 8 different trolley tours! City Sightseeing Tour, Ghost Tour, Circus City Tour, Sports History Tour, Amish Experience Tour, Public Art of Sarasota Tour, Psychic Sunday Tour and an “Infamous Sarasota” Happy Hour Tour. Telephone: 941-260-9818 Web: Discover Sarasota Tours
Best Sarasota Restaurants
Lido Beach Restaurant Under $10
Home of the lido lobster roll. Welcome to the Lido Beach Restaurant where they pride themselves on serving restaurant quality food, in a simple beach concession. You can come to Lido Key Public Beach and not have to bother packing food to eat sitting on your blanket. Just stop by their window and grab great food for yourself or your whole family and not worry about busting your budget. They also offer beer and wine, so wash down that lobster roll or burger with a cold one. Telephone: 941-388-0400 Web: Lido Beach Restaurant.
Café Gabbiano $11 – 30
Just a short walk from the beautiful beaches of Sarasota, Café Gabbiano brings Italy to Siesta Key. Café Gabbiano’s serene, casual ambiance imitates that of the paradise surrounding it. Café Gabbiano offers intimate, private dining in their wine rooms as well as comfortable outdoor seating on their climate controlled patio. They offer authentic Italian cuisine and an extensive collection of wine from around the world. They feature $5 happy hour specials, from 4-6, and $10 wine tasting samplers offered daily. Telephone: 941-349-1423 Web: Café Gabbiano.
Shore Diner $11 – 30
Shore Diner is their expression of an open air, mid-century Florida beach café. They crafted a menu that utilizes many local farms, to create a fabulous abundance of fresh choices. Creative recipes are their specialty, combined with local coastal favorites, all served in an open air dining space. From your first sip of our signature cocktail, to your last bite of Key West Shrimp and Scallop Risotto, the entire Shore experience is nothing short of a beach day makeover, with laughter, a cool vibe and delicious eats. Telephone: 941-296-0301 Web: Shore Diner.
Ophelia’s On The Bay $31 – 60
When you visit Ophelia’s, one of the first things you’ll notice is their view. Their two glass walled dining rooms and outside open air patio give you an unfettered, eye-level view of Little Sarasota Bay. As you peruse their menu and enjoy one of our carefully chosen wines, you’ll watch tropical birds fly among preserved mangrove islands, watch the water gently sway, and see dolphins, blue herons, and other sea life pass by. Telephone: 941-349-2212 Web: Ophelia’s On The Bay.
Surf Shack $11 – 30
Their menu features only the freshest ingredients served in a clean, fun and casual environment. Although they are already famous for their Gourmet Tacos, they are “Soon to be Famous” for things like their handmade Buffalo Chicken Eggrolls, Ahi Tuna and Udon Noodle Salad, Pat LaFreida Burger and the Steak and Onion S’mac and Cheese. They didn’t just stop at the food either. They take pride in offering draft beers from local breweries such Big Top, Darwins and JDubs as well as make the BEST margaritas in all of Sarasota! Telephone: 941-960-1122 Web: Surf Shack.
Best Sarasota Bars & Nightlife
Siesta Key Oyster Bar
Siesta Key Oyster Bar (or as the locals call it “SKOB”) is the hangout with the laidback, beachy atmosphere that will get you right into the Island Spirit. When you’re at SKOB you feel right at home, like you’re hanging out with good friends on your back patio. From Raw Oysters and Crawfish to Crab Legs and Crab Cakes – there is something for everyone on the menu. And with over 21 beers on tap along with Domestic, Imports, and specialty bottled beer – you will not go away thirsty! Telephone: 941-346-5443 Web: Siesta Key Oyster Bar.
The Daiquiri Deck is the perfect place to share a meal with the whole family or kick back and relax with friends while you enjoy Live Music, Tasty Treats, and the best Frozen Daiquiris anywhere! Their casual atmosphere and unparalleled selection of taste-tempting Frozen Daiquiris will bring you in, but our Raw Bar and full menu, which includes mouthwatering selections for seafood lovers and land lovers alike, served by the friendliest wait staff around, will keep you coming back for more. Telephone: 941-349-8697 Web: Daiquiri Deck.
The Blasé Café & Martini Bar
They have been offering Siesta Key a casual and unique dining experience since 1997. Their menu includes a variety of appetizers and entrées, which include seafood, pasta, beef, and poultry. They also offer a full bar, which is a great place to stop and have a drink to meet up with friends or to make new ones. Telephone: 941-349-9822 Web: The Blasé Café & Martini Bar.
The Old Salty Dog
Always a friendly place, great food. Pleasant, relaxing, an overall great experience. Peel & eat shrimp, ice cold beer, wonderful salads and of course the “Salty Dogs!” Casual dining, Seafood, Burgers, Their World Famous “Salty Dog”, A 1/4 lb. Hot Dog deep fried in their Beer Batter. Try if fully loaded as seen on TV’s “Man-Vs.-Food Telephone: 941-349-0158 Web: The Old Salty Dog.
Beach Club Siesta Key
Sarasota’s Premiere Live Music Venue. The Beach Club is located in Sarasota on Siesta Key Island and has South Florida’s premiere live local and national bands including some of the hottest DJ’s playing 7 nights week. Join them any night of the week for the best entertainment around and great customer service. The Beach Club offers a huge dance floor, amazing lighting and great drink specials daily. Telephone: 941-349-6311 Web: Beach Club Siesta Key.
Best Sarasota Hotels
Carlyle Inn Sarasota
Make yourself comfortable with a combination of modern comforts and Amish tradition, including handsome handcrafted beds, a checkerboard, jigsaw puzzles, all-season swimming pool and deluxe continental breakfast.
Homewood Suites by Hilton Sarasota-Lakewood Ranch
They are nestled in the middle of the University Town Center, providing easy access to shopping and entertainment destinations. Walk to the Mall at University Town Center or to Nathan Benderson Park, a unique 600 acre community park slated to become North America’s premier 2,000-meter sprint rowing course and Regatta Center. Their hotel features 133 new over sized suites, ideal for accommodating families and groups.
Only hotel in the heart of Downtown Sarasota, Florida. Walk to dozens of fabulous restaurants. Shops, galleries, etc. Full kitchens, sitting area, spacious rooms. Pillowtop mattresses, luxurious linens, flat screen TVs, Wi-Fi and more. Minutes to beaches.
Siesta Key Palms Hotel
The fully renovated rooms are nestled among hammocks and two tropical outdoor pools. The main family pool and Tiki Hut area is heated and open year-round with heated outdoor showers and adjoining dining and barbecue area. The second pool is for guests desiring a 21 and over environment. Some rooms include a small kitchenette with stove, oven and kitchen supplies, pull out sofa beds, flat-screen TVs, safes, cable channels, upgraded “quite air units”, free amplified WiFi throughout the property, and queen size beds.
Comfort Suites Sarasota
Guests of the Comfort Suites Sarasota hotel are invited to relax in the outdoor heated pool and work out in the Fitness Center. There are 2 meeting rooms, with the hotel able to accommodate 35 people for banquets and conferences. Other amenities include: Free wireless high-speed Internet access, Free newspaper M-F, Business Center.