Sarasota Florida Travel Guide

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.


Over the course of a year, the temperature typically varies from 51°F to 90°F and is rarely below 38°F or above 93°F.  The warm season lasts from May 16 to October 7 with an average daily high temperature above 86°F. The hottest day of the year is July 31, with an average high of 90°F and low of 75°F.  The cold season lasts from December 8 to February 24 with an average daily high temperature below 74°F. The coldest day of the year is January 18, with an average low of 51°F and high of 70°F.


There are three airports close to Sarasota, Florida.    Of course the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport is going to be the closest.  The next closest airport is the St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport which is 48 miles from Sarasota.  Tampa International Airport is 55 miles away. To create a fair watch, go to AirFareWatchDog which will alert you when the flights are going down in price.  Also check my airfare tips on how to make sure you are getting the lowest fare.  For finding the lowest fare, go to CheapFlights.  I find them to be the best for flight comparison, and getting the best deal if you are ready to purchase.  Once you have your airfare, make sure you reserve your airport parking ahead of time.  You can  Save On Airport Parking and not have the last minute hassle (been there) of trying to get parking reserved.

Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport

St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport

Tampa International Airport

Car Rental

A few hours spent in Sarasota is all you’ll need to understand why this city is also called “Paradise.” With sandy beaches, a background rooted in the circus, and year-round warm weather, there’s very little to long for once you’ve arrived in this part of the Sunshine State. Make the most out of your next trip to the area with a cheap car rental in Sarasota, FL.

A car rental in Sarasota, FL isn’t just good for your vacation—it’s good for your wallet. At, they provide the top vehicles from the nation’s best car rental companies, all at prices you can afford. Pick out the best car rental for you and head for the sunny skies of Sarasota.

Bars & Nightlife


Siesta Key Oyster Bar, Sarasota Florida, Sarasota Beaches, Sarasota Florida Travel GuideSiesta 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!  For more information call 941-346-5443 or visit Siesta Key Oyster Bar.

Daiquiri Deck, Sarasota Florida, Sarasota Beaches, Sarasota Florida Travel GuideDaiquiri Deck

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.  For more information call 941-349-8697 or visit Daiquiri Deck.

The Blase Cafe & Martini Bar, Sarasota Florida, Sarasota Beaches, Sarasota Florida Travel GuideThe 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.  For more information call 941-349-9822 or visit The Blasé Café & Martini Bar.


The Old Salty Dog, Sarasota Florida, Sarasota Beaches, Sarasota Florida Travel GuideThe 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  For more information call 941-349-0158 or visit The Old Salty Dog.

The Beach Club Siesta Key, Sarasota Florida, Sarasota Beaches, Sarasota Florida Travel GuideBeach 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.   For more information call 941-349-6311 or visit Beach Club Siesta Key.


$-Inexpensive     $$-Moderate     $$$-Pricey     $$$$-Ultra High End

$  Lido Beach Restaurant

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.  For more information call 941-388-0400 or visit Lido Beach Restaurant.

$$  Café Gabbiano

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.  For more information call 941-349-1423 or visit Café Gabbiano.

$$ – $$$  Shore Diner

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.  For more information call 941-296-0301 or visit Shore Diner.

$$$  Ophelia’s On The Bay

Since it opened in 1988, Ophelia’s on the Bay has remained, at its core, a place for friends and family to gather to celebrate life, fun, and unique and flavorful food. But that’s just the beginning.  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. They’re proud to offer natural splendor the way Florida should be: no glitz, no glamour, just nature at its best.  For more information call 941-349-2212 or visit Ophelia’s On The Bay.

$$  Surf Shack

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!  Hanging on the circle late?  Their Happy Hour, or Shacky Hour as they like to call it, starts rocking at 9pm and goes till they shut the door, 7 days a week.  Go see what all the buzz is about and experience the food, drink and atmosphere of Sarasota’s hottest new restaurant. Surf Shack Coastal Kitchen….Live Free and Eat Coastal!  For more information call 941-960-1122 or visit Surf Shack.

Things To Do

Mote Marine Laboratory & Auarium, Sarasota Florida, Sarasota Beaches, Sarasota Florida Travel GuideMote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium

Explore the secrets of the sea through touch pools, viewable-working labs and high-tech interactive exhibits that showcase the world-renowned research of Mote Marine Laboratory. See sharks, manatees and sea turtles, along with more than 100 other species of marine life.  For more information call 941-388-4441 or visit Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium.

Liquid Blue Outfitters, Sarasota Florida, Sarasota Beaches, Sarasota Florida Travel GuideLiquid Blue Outfitters

 Kayaking Sarasota with Liquid Blue Outfitters is the only way to experience the Lido Key Mangrove Tunnel Tours. Kayak Tours and Kayak Rentals are available in Sarasota, Florida. Experience unforgettable adventures while paddling with Dolphin & Manatee!  They have the highest rated and best reviewed kayak tours and kayak rentals in the area – hands down. The mangroves are the areas most popular paddling location with an abundance of wildlife.  Let your daily stress melt away and relax as your Liquid Blue Outfitters guides take you on a remarkable adventure through the lush and scenic surroundings of this beautiful Marine Habitat and its Protected Inter Coastal Waterways.  The area provides a safe, fun and adventurous experience that the entire family can enjoy.  For more information call 941-306-1220 or visit Liquid Blue Outfitters.

Biotica Eco Tours, Sarasota Florida, Sarasota Beaches, Sarasota Florida Travel GuideBiotica Eco Tours

Their guides are passionate about what they do and that enthusiasm is contagious. Not only do they want to make sure you have a great time in the great outdoors, they want to make sure you leave with a greater knowledge and respect for the amazing places visited.  They started Biotica EcoTours as an extension of a lifestyle. They wanted a way to share their passion for the great outdoors combined with their desire to preserve it. They adhere to the International EcoTourism Society precepts that advocate for a smaller travel carbon footprint and they practice Leave No Trace. For more information call 941-350-4905 or visit Biotica Eco Tours.

Island Time Charter, Sarasota Florida, Sarasota Beaches, Sarasota Florida Travel GuideIsland Time Charter

Cruise mangroves and beaches for native wildlife spotting with their eco tours.  Fish for grouper, snapper, pompano, jacks, drum, shark, Spanish mackerel, kingfish, tarpon, snook, and speckled trout.  They provide licenses, gear, and tackle. Take a sightseeing tour to explore the area, Enjoy a sunset cruise and witness the sights and sounds of a Siesta Key drum circle.  Visit various waterfront restaurants and bars in the Sarasota area on their Tiki Bar Hopping cruise.  Enjoy a pontoon party for 7-16 people.  For more information call 941-735-6830 or visit Island Time Charter.

Myakka Canopy Walkway, Sarasota Florida, Sarasota Beaches, Sarasota Florida Travel GuideMyakka Canopy Walkway

One of the oldest and largest state parks, Myakka protects one of the state’s most diverse natural areas. The Myakka River, designated as a Florida Wild and Scenic River, flows through 58 square miles of wetlands, prairies, hammocks, and pinelands. Visitors can enjoy wildlife viewing from a boardwalk that stretches out over the Upper Myakka Lake, then take to the treetops with a stroll along the canopy walkway. The park´s river and two lakes provide ample opportunities for boating, freshwater fishing, canoeing, and kayaking; a boat ramp provides access to Upper Myakka Lake. Hikers can explore trails that cross large expanses of rare Florida dry prairie. Scenic lake tours are offered daily on the world´s two largest airboats. Safari tram tours of the park´s backcountry are offered from mid-December through May.  For more information call 941-361-6511 or visit Myakka Canopy Walkway.


Hyatt Place Sarasota/Bradenton

This Sarasota hotel is directly across from the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. The Hyatt features a 42-inch flat-screen TV in every room, an outdoor pool with a hot tub and 24-hour cafe.  Guests at the Hyatt Place Sarasota have free access to the 24-hour fitness center and business center. A hot breakfast buffet is provided daily. Airport shuttle services are provided.  For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Hyatt Place Sarasota/Bradenton.

La Quinta Inn & Suites Sarasota

Located just off Interstate 75, this hotel is 10 miles from Sarasota-Bradenton Airport. The hotel offers a heated outdoor swimming pool, free WiFi and an on-site Perkins Family Restaurant.  A hot breakfast buffet is served daily at the La Quinta Inn & Suites Sarasota I75. Guests can also enjoy the evening Manager’s Reception Wednesday and Thursday.  A fully equipped fitness center and outdoor hot tub are available at the Sarasota 175 La Quinta Inn & Suites. The business center offers fax and photocopy facilities. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit La Quinta Inn & Suites Sarasota.

Hotel Ranola – Adults Only

This contemporary all-suite, adults-only hotel is in the city center of Sarasota, Florida, 6 blocks from the Sarasota Bayfront & Marina. It features suites with a 27-inch flat-screen TV and full kitchen.  An iPod docking station and free WiFi are provided in each suite at Hotel Ranola. The kitchen is complete with an oven, stove top, and full-size refrigerator. The suites are furnished with hardwood floors and contemporary wall art.  Free parking is available at this adults-only Sarasota hotel. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Hotel Ranola.

Siesta Key Palms Hotel

Showcasing 2 outdoor pools, year-round outdoor pools and barbecue, Siesta Key Palms Hotel is located in Sarasota, just 1.7 miles from Siesta Key Public Beach. Free private parking is available on site.  All rooms include a flat-screen TV with cable channels. Some rooms include a seating area to relax in after a busy day. You will find a coffee machine in the room. Each room has a private bathroom fitted with a shower. For your comfort, you will find free toiletries and a hairdryer. Siesta Key Palms Hotel features free WiFi throughout the property.  For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Siesta Key Palms Hotel.

The Ritz-Carlton – Sarasota

On the seafront in downtown Sarasota, this Ritz-Carlton resort features a spa center and access to a nearby private beach and outdoor pool. All rooms include private balconies.  Guests have access to the exclusive Members Beach Club just 3 miles from the hotel on the white sandy beaches of Lido Key. It features a private beach, a gulf-front heated swimming pool and a hot tub.  The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota features an array of in-house dining options. There is the organic Vernona restaurant, the Beach Club Grill restaurant and the Ca D’Zan Lounge, serving light meals and appetizers.  For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit The Ritz-Carlton – Sarasota.


  1. Trevor

    Highly detailed article! I really could use a nice beach vacation however work, work and more work. Pictures look really exotic, I now have a desire to leave my location and travel.

    I’ve literally not been on holiday in years! One day I shall travel but until then its looking at pictures. lol

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Well looking at pictures gets you thinking about it and then one day, you’ll just do it 🙂 Sarasota beaches and the whole area is wonderful, you would love it!

  2. Lauren

    I love this page! So much helpful information that spans way more than just about the beaches. I’m not too familiar with these beaches as I’ve only been down to Florida a couple of times, but there are so many beaches in Australia and New Zealand where I’ve lived, that just nothing can compare too. Pristine waters, and such white sand. It really feels like a dream come true. I’ll have to make a trip down to Florida eventually, and check these out as well!

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      The beaches in Florida have some that are ranked in the Top Ten in the U.S. Which is pretty amazing itself. I think Florida has a lot of great beaches to offer. Thanks for reading the Sarasota Florida Travel Guide!

  3. Christine

    Thank you for the well written information and great pictures. I have not been to Sarasota in over 8 years, after reading your article I am ready to return. Thank you for the information about places to visit while there, some I have visited in the past and some are new to me.
    Bottom line is I am now ready to return.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Great Christine, you have been so you know you will love it 🙂 Sarasota beaches are great!

  4. Ed

    Nice article.

    All the pictures make me want to get into the sun instead of in dreary old Manchester!

    I’m saving up to visit Disney Land Florida (the big kid that I am) but want to branch out for a few weeks after – glad I stumbled across your page it’s got some good recommendations.

    I am a total USA noob but this looks like a good place to start!

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You can stay in Orlando and still be able to hit beaches on the West or East side. Last time I visited, I did just that. Simply because I have a timeshare there, but I drove to the beach every day. I have outgrown Disneyland, LOL

  5. massagearroo

    Thank You for this great information.We have cousins in Tampa who want us to visit. You have made it easier for me to budget and get the most out of the holiday for all 4 of us.Two adults and two children. It’s great to be given B&B options when you have a young family as they get tired out during the day and it feels more homely for them. With your detail in, weather and how far beaches and restaurants plus cafes, I can now plan what to pack in terms of clothes also what type are needed for eating out. I feel confident that you have provided me with enough knowledge with regards to food as children can be fussy eaters. I feel I know now where I can bring them where we will all be satisfied and not spending money on food they won’t eat. You have provided me with enough interests to keep us all busy for the week. the Eco park sounds great. This gives me confidence now, to look forward to the holiday, have good quality time with family and friends and to enjoy and relax.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I am glad I could help you plan and decide to go! You will have to check out my travel guides for the St. Pete, Clearwater and Fort Myers area as well. All are close to Tampa 🙂 Thanks for visiting Beach Travel Destinations.

  6. Tom

    I will honestly say before reading this I have always wanted to go to California over Florida. However, after this article and so much information on Sarasota, it has for sure moved up on my list. Thank you for such a detailed guide and providing so much information!

    So what is your favorite thing to do in Sarasota?

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, I used to agree as well. I have been to California beaches, and then I have been to Florida beaches….over and over and over. I just like the laid back attitude, the friendliness of the people, and then the cost is better as well. Thanks for reading Tom.

  7. Hans


    Thank you for detailed description of Sarasota, it makes me feel the sand between my toes:-) Do you have any suggestion regarding the most interesting food place in the area?
    A place like Sarasota usually have a number of places, however one usually sticks out from the crowd. Restaurants or coffee shops like that can really change the whole vacation experience:-)

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hands down The Lido Beach Restaurant. You have to try it when you are in Sarasota. Thank your checking out the Sarasota Florida Travel Guide.

  8. Mel

    Thanks for sharing this post and keeping it so informative.
    Were looking to branch out for our summer holiday this year and Florida has some of the best beaches. This has definitely given us food for thought, Lido beach resort looks especially promising since we love eating out!

    Great post,

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You would enjoy the Sarasota beaches for sure and the Lido Beach Resort is an awesome pick. Glad you enjoyed!

  9. Demi

    Florida is my favorite beach destination but I haven’t been to Sarasota. It seems a lovely place to enjoy.However I’m more excited by seeing the pic of Myakka Canopy Walkway. I’m already planning my next trip there. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are very welcome Demi. Yes, my favorite place is Florida as well. You do really have to make it to Sarasota. They have so much to do and see besides the beautiful Sarasota Beaches! Thanks for checking out our Sarasota Florida Travel Guide!

  10. Brett

    Very nice, now I will know where to go when I’m in that area. I’m going to move into a van soon, you see? I’ll be hittin up those oyster bars and booze places you mentioned. The Myakka canopy walkway looks like a must do as well. I’m gonna surf and drink on the beach and all that stuff.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Sounds like a blast Brett! I like the oyster bars for sure. Thanks for reading Beach Travel Destinations!

  11. Jeff

    Great article and nice pictures. I haven’t been to Sarasota beach since I was a kid. All I remember is that the sand on the beach was like flour. Softest sand I’ve ever felt.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Exactly, the west coast beaches of Florida do have the softest whitest sand, hands down. Hope you can make it back soon. Sarasota beaches are definitely a place to keep coming back to! Thanks for visiting the Sarasota Florida Travel Guide!

  12. Tyson Aziz

    Excellent post! I always thought about visiting florida and what I would do if I did, now I feel like I need to visit solely to experience these amazing activities exclusively the kyak tour!

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you Tyson and glad you enjoyed reading. It really is a great place that most people would not associate as having amazing beaches.

  13. Benson

    Wow! these are some really nice places. When I am ready to go on vacation here, I will definitely take the advice from this website. I am glad I found this information. I didn’t know that there would be so many things to do in Sarasota. Can’t wait! Thanks!

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes Benson, Sarasota is a wonderful place with plenty of things to do for everyone. Please let me know if you need any additional information.

  14. Owain

    Thank you Leahrae for your insightful guide to Sarasota. I’d love to visit Florida one day and this looks like a great place to visit. Although it is a bit warm for me in the summer, I think I will visit during the colder months. Will it be less busy then as well?
    I think that when I do come to visit I would stay at Best Western Plus Siesta Key Gateway. They’re a large chain that I am aware of, and I have stayed at many of them. So Sarasota sounds like a great place to stay!

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are right Owain, it will not be near as crowded at the beaches in the winter months, yet still very nice. Yes, the Best Western is a very budget friendly, and good hotel choice. Thanks for reading the Sarasota Florida Travel Guide.


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