Things to do in Sarasota (Rain or Shine…Young and Old!)

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Sarasota provides a wonderful coastal lifestyle for those who live in Sarasota and offers many things to do for those who are visiting as well. Whether you are looking for something to do with the kids, an adults night out, on a budget, or just for a few hours. No matter if it is raining outside, hot outside, or perfect weather, there are plenty of activities indoors and outdoors to keep you busy and entertained.

In this article, we’ve gathered many different things to do here in Sarasota and grouped them by category so that it’s easy for you to find something to do that suits you!

Table of Contents

You may scroll through the entire list of things to do in this blog post or click on the items below in the table of contents to jump to that section.

 


Things to in Sarasota for All Ages

Visit the Sarasota Farmers Market

If fresh local food is your thing, then visit the Sarasota Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. The market provides not only homegrown fruits and vegetables but baked goods, arts and crafts, homemade soaps or even gourmet dinner items are available on Saturdays!

people walking along sarasota farmers market downtown with vendors and tents

Sarasota Classic Car Museum

If you enjoy antiques and automobiles, then you’ll love this place! The Sarasota Classic Car Museum houses an extensive collection of cars from 1930-1990s. From Cadillac and Lincoln sedans to Ferrari and Lamborghini sports cars – they’ve got vintage wheels in every shape and style! Stop by for a visit and take a tour. Their knowledgeable guides will point out interesting facts about each vehicle while taking you through a chronological display detailing how advances can change features in just one generation!

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Discover Sarasota Trolley Tours

The helpful and friendly drivers of the Sarasota Trolley Tours will be happy to show you around their lovely city. Hop on and off as you like or just stay on for the entire tour! Enjoy a narrated tour of downtown, Siesta Keys, St. Armands Circle and more – all from your seat aboard a vintage trolley!

The Crowley Museum & Nature Center

The Crowley Museum and Nature Center is a fun stop for the whole family. The museum provides insight into what life was like in Florida from 500 BC to 1650 AD. You can tour their exhibits and even take a turn spear fishing in their replica shoreline!

The Mote Aquarium

Fancy seeing a shark up-close and personal? The Mote Aquarium & Marine Laboratory has plenty of those as well as sting rays, moray eels, octopus and sea turtles! Get an introduction into the water world right here on the land. As you walk along their many exhibits you will learn about each type of marine life living within Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

Howey Mansion

If you enjoy walking around interesting historic homes, then the Howey Mansion is a wonderful place to visit. Now home to The Players Theatre, you can take a guided tour of the elegant Victorian mansion and learn about all that took place inside.

Explore St. Armands Circle

St. Armands Circle is a lovely outdoor shopping area, perfect for those looking for great deals and unique items. Whether you’re looking to browse or buy there’s plenty of fun shops and charming eateries that will suit any taste!

Attend a Polo Match in Lakewood Ranch

Have you ever wanted to experience a game of polo? During the season (usually Winter / Spring) you can head out to Lakewood Ranch to the Sarasota Polo Club and enjoy a match on a beautiful Sunday afternoon! The matches are open to the public for a fee, and the entire atmosphere is more like a giant tailgate party. They open the gates at 10 am and guests have a few hours to eat and drink, wander around, play lawn games and just enjoy themselves. Then the event starts and you get the chance to learn more about this fascinating and ancient sport. It’s actually a lot of fun for the whole family!

high five of polo player in sarasota before match begins

Go Ziplining at TreeUmph Adventure Park

Not only will you get fantastic views when ziplining through the treetops, but TreeUmph also offers a unique laser show and an aerial ropes course to challenge your skills. You can also enjoy a delicious meal in their restaurant!

Marietta Museum of Art and Whimsy

Haven’t you always wanted to slip into colorful costumes while touring exotic lands? Then check out the Marietta Museum of Art and Whimsy. Peruse their enchanted rooms full of art, artifacts, displays and find-it games that take visitors on a journey around the world. Filled with immersive experiences like “The Salon” where people wear fairy-tale clothes; or logics puzzles in “Revenge of The Mummy,” guests address math problems or decode hieroglyphs with pen and paper to solve mysteries.

 


Things to do in Sarasota for Kids

Sarasota Jungle Gardens

Immerse yourself in a world of wildlife, tropical plants, and fascinating animals. Venture through the winding pathways to discover all that our lush gardens have to offer from exotic animals who call Sarasota Jungle Gardens their home to various exhibitions featuring animals from all over the globe. There is a petting zoo (which kids will love) and you can feed many of the animals during your visit, including the free-roaming flamingos!

There is also a playground area as well as a butterfly garden, not to mention their daily shows where you can watch animals perform different tasks in humorous and interesting ways – including a parrot who rollerskates!

posing up close with flamingos at sarasota jungle gardens

Circus Arts Conservatory

One of the most enjoyable things about being a kid is getting to explore and try new things. One activity that will let kids explore while trying something new is circus arts!

The Circus Arts Conservatory in Sarasota offers classes for kids aged 5-12 years old, teaching them all sorts of fun skills like juggling, tight wire walking, unicycle riding and more! Kids can have a blast learning these skills from our experienced teachers who are encouraging and patient with the students. You can even learn how to be a clown!

Big Cat Habitat

The Big Cat Habitat and Sanctuary is a fun place for the family. See exotic animals including lions, tigers, leopards and more! You can also enjoy watching them on their playtime where they get to swim, climb or run about in an enclosure made just for them.

Kids will love seeing the big cats up close and learning all about them from their interactive exhibits!

Sarasota Children’s Garden

The Sarasota Children’s Garden is a lovely place to stop with the family. The garden provides an ideal environment for children to learn and play in!

Wander along their winding paths or join in on one of their educational programs like gardening, art workshops, cooking classes and more!

Explore the many gardens at their facility; visit the ginger garden and learn how to make your own sushi; or visit their prairie where you can spot all sorts of native wildflowers and grasses!

Dakin Dairy Farm

Dakin Dairy Farm has been a local favorite of Sarasota residents for generations. They offer a variety of family activities from wagon rides, a petting zoo and pony rides! Not only that but you can also enjoy delicious homemade ice cream and take tours of the dairy farm to see how they make their tasty ice cream.

You might even see some of the dairy cows and calves on one of your tours!

Mixon Fruit Farm

The Mixon Fruit Farm is a popular farm filled with fun activities for kids of all ages! Kids will have a blast wandering through their many acres filled with crops, animals and fruit trees.

You can pick your own fruits from the orchards including strawberries, blueberries and pumpkins! You can even take a wagon ride to pick your fruit or take a tractor ride around the farm.

Sarasota Bay Explorers Eco Tour (partnership with the MOTE)

Sarasota Bay Explorers offers a variety of tours for all ages and interests. We offer the Sea Life Encounter which is a great chance to get up close with sea life you might not see otherwise! You can even touch some creatures like starfish or horseshoe crabs. Kids will especially love our Dolphin Tour where they’ll get a chance to meet dolphins up close.

website for sarasota bay explorers "mote boat" eco tours

Inflata Park

A safe, fun place to have outdoor family fun! J-Field offers a large variety of inflatable bounce attractions that are perfect for all ages. We have attractions for toddlers to seniors too! Kids will love the obstacles courses, slides, obstacle courses and more! There is even an area dedicated to smaller kids who want to play.

Circus Park (Payne Park)

Payne Park is a Sarasota landmark that boasts many amenities and attractions for families to enjoy. Kids will love spending a day playing at their playground or going on one of the park’s walking trails!

You can also visit Circus World where they have an extensive collection of circus items from around the world! See how the big top used to be set up, meet their elephant herd and take a tour through the historical museum.

Or you can just stop by to see their beautiful gardens that are free for all to enjoy!

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Things to do in Sarasota Outside & for Those Who Love the Outdoors!

Visit the Beaches Near Sarasota

There is no shortage of amazing beaches in Sarasota and in the nearby area. Siesta Key and Lido Key beaches are some of the most popular (due to their close proximity to downtown) and make for the perfect place for a sunny day in Sarasota! Take the family to the beautiful white sand beaches or have a picnic by the water. You can even rent stand-up paddleboards, kayaks and more from local outfitters to get on the water yourselves!

If you don’t mind driving just a bit further, you can head up to Longboat Key to enjoy beaches that feel more private or even up to Coquina or Bradenton Beach. Driving south, you can also explore Nokomis Beach and a number of wonderful beaches near Venice – including the ONLY off-leash dog beach in Sarasota at South Brohard Beach!

A view from the sand of Lido Beach in Sarasota

Explore Siesta Key Village

Siesta Key Village is a unique shopping and dining experience for all ages! Siesta Key Village boasts endless shops, restaurants and bars that are perfect for the whole family. There’s even an ice cream shop with over 100 flavors to choose from!

Go Kayaking, Boating or Jet Skiing at

The Sarasota Bay, intracoastal waterways and open ocean are all wonderful places to enjoy various watercraft! Whether you want to go kayaking, boating or jet skiing, you can find various places to rent or bring your own! However, you can also book a tour and a rental from several tour operators (such as kayaking nature tours) as well as private charters and custom tours all over Sarasota Bay! Another popular option is to rent a stand up paddle board too!

Take a Boat Trip to Sightsee or Spot Dolphins in Sarasota Bay

Sarasota Bay boasts lots of marine life including dolphins, manatees and more. Many tour operators offer boat trips to allow you to see these animals in their natural habitat! There are also many options for sailing charters that can get you out on open water for a day exploring the Sarasota area!

Explore Myakka River State Park

Myakka River State Park is one of the most popular things to do in Sarasota! This park offers many amenities including trails, horse rentals, kayaking tours and more! Bring your family on a nature hike or rent bikes for an evening bike ride. Bring your fishing poles too because you can fish off their pier or launch your boat from there. You can even camp in a tent or RV!

Visit the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is an amazing place to visit! You can take a self-guided tour or meet with one of their many tours guides to find out about the plants, flowers and trees. There are also special events where you can make crafts for kids, see butterflies emerge from chrysalises and more!

enjoy florida tropical flowers like these is a free thing to do in florida

Go walking, biking, or skating on the Legacy Trail

The Legacy Trail is a new walking and biking path that stretches for over 10 miles all the way to downtown Sarasota! You can even take this trail to other parts of Sarasota such as Siesta Key or Venice! The Legacy Trail also includes access to many parks, playgrounds and even an outdoor fitness area.

 


Things to do in Sarasota Indoors, When It’s Too Hot Outside or Raining

Bowlero Bowling Alley

Bowlero is an upscale bowling alley with hundreds of state-of-the-art lanes and a full arcade! Kids and adults alike can enjoy this activity together or alone. You can also order food right from your lane to make it even easier to have snacks while you’re playing!

Lokey’s Escape Room

Escape rooms are quickly becoming popular for adults and groups of friends! Together, you are locked in a special themed room with a mysterious situation and puzzle that you need to solve together to find your way out. It’s an immersive experience and Lokey’s Escape Room is one of the most popular in the Sarasota area to check out!

Sky Zone Trampoline Park

Sky Zone is an indoor trampoline park that everyone will enjoy! Kids and adults alike can jump in the pits, on the trampolines and even do fun flips and tricks. Sky Zone also offers slam dunks basketball courts too so you can play ball with friends or family.

CineBistro

CineBistro is the only movie theater in Sarasota that allows you to order food and drinks at your seat while you watch a movie! You can also order items from their full-service bar or restaurant before the show begins. They are located inside of Westfield Southgate Mall so it’s easy to get there.

Bounce Down Under

Bounce Down Under is an indoor inflatable fun center that has activities for kids including bounce houses, obstacle courses and more. The adult area allows you to play dodgeball or basketball too! This is a great place to visit with kids on rainy days so they don’t get bored indoors.

 


Things to do in Sarasota for Adults

The Ringling: Ca d’Zan Mansion, Museum of Art and Circus Museum

The Ringling Museum and Mansion is a beautiful Venetian Gothic-style mansion that was built in 1926. It has 60 rooms which you can see while exploring the house’s many exhibits. You can also attend special events at this museum or visit during Christmas for their annual holiday event. The Museum of Art features works from Van Gogh, Matisse and more! The Circus Museum next door is open seasonally and has a large collection of circus-themed art, objects and costumes.

view of ringling mansion in sarasota from the water in sarasota florida

Siesta Key Rum Distillery

Siesta Key Rum Distillery in Siesta Village is an ideal spot to visit in order to see how rum is made in a working distillery. They have daily tours available so you can learn how the various steps are done including mashing, fermenting, distilling and more! At the end of your tour you get to sample their delicious rum too.

Visit Big Top Brewing Company

If you’re a beer lover, a great place to visit is Big Top Brewing Company. They have several beers on tap and also serve food too! You can enjoy the weather while sitting outside on their patio or stop by for their daily tours from 3-7 PM Monday through Saturday.

Sarasota Opera House

The Sarasota Opera House hosts several events throughout the year from opera to ballet performances. They also show movies in the fall so you can enjoy movies while enjoying their architecture too!

Enjoy the Florida Studio Theatre

Florida Studio Theatre has been around for over 55 years and has a season starting in February. They have several shows each year from musicals to dramas and comedies! This is a great way to enjoy live theater as it’s meant to be enjoyed!

view of florida studio theater in downtown sarasota on a bright blue sky day

The Players Theatre

The Players Theatre has been around for over 50 years and holds several events throughout the year including shows such as Grease, The Producers and Steel Magnolias. This is a great place to see live performances whether it’s indoors or outdoors on their beautiful patio!

Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

The Van Wezel is another performing arts venue that features all types of music genres including pop, classical and more. You can enjoy performances by musicians like Diana Ross, the Beach Boys and Sting.

Sarasota Art Museum

Sarasota Art Museum has over 7,000 pieces of art in their permanent collection and hosts several rotating exhibits too! And definitely take note that the last Sunday of the month is FREE admission!

READ MORE: 20 Best Restaurants in Sarasota for Every Occasion

 


Things to do in Sarasota on a Budget

If you are on a budget, no worries! There are plenty of things to do in Sarasota that doesn’t cost a lot. For example, visiting the many parks can be a lot of fun. From Payne / Circus Park, to the beautiful Bayfront Park – which is one of our favorites just to stroll around and watch the boats go in and out of the marina and the Bay.

Bayfront Park in Sarasota swing under the trees looking out at boats in the Sarasota bay on a sunny da

There are also a few places where admission is free, such as the Siesta Key Rum Distillery which offers free samples and free tours and on the last Sunday of the month you can visit the Sarasota Art Museum for free.

It also doesn’t cost much just to stroll around the beautiful St. Armands Circle area, popping into some of the shops to find some fun beachy souvenirs or decor. And don’t forget to buy an inexpensive bag of mini-donuts at Meany’s too (they are amazing!) Last but not least…the stunning beaches are free as well!

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Things to do in Sarasota if You Only Have a Few Hours

If you are just stopping through town for only a few hours and want to get a feel of Sarasota. Here are a few things we highly recommend:

  • Visit Bayfront Park – stroll around and watch the boats on the bay and maybe grab some food and a drink at the famous O’Leary’s Tiki Bar right there with views!
  • Explore St. Armands Circle and grab lunch, some sweets and maybe something fun at the shops
  • Spend a bit of time at one of the beaches, either Lido or Siesta Key
  • Wander Siesta Key Village and enjoy a little “beach life”
  • If the timing works out, perhaps you can take a kayak tour or dolphin boat tour around the Bay

Enjoy Sarasota, No Matter Your Age or the Weather!

Whether you’re looking for an indoor activity to do with kids on a rainy day, or want to go see live theater in Sarasota, there are plenty of things that people of all ages can enjoy! To learn more about things to do and ways to enjoy the Sarasota Lifestyle, visit our Living in Sarasota page!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Great list! Thanks for sharing. If you like birds, Myakka River State Park is outstanding. You can see roseate spoonbills and sandhill cranes here. There are also lots of gators in the park. If you enjoy nature and wildlife, this is a must see spot. There is an observation tower for an amazing view from above the trees. This park really is a treasure!

    1. Elizabeth

      Thanks for reading Mike and for the comment! Yes, Myakka River State Park is quite beautiful. That’s a great suggestion. So much awesome wildlife to enjoy around here.

      All the best to you!
      Liz

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