Things To Do
For many visitors, a Sarasota vacation is a chance to get away from it all and do nothing. But relaxing isn't for everyone. Luckily, from its vibrant arts scene to action-packed outdoor experiences, Sarasota County has activities and attractions for all.
Some of the Many Great Places to Visit in the Sarasota Area
Circus Sarasota - Sarasota's own resident circus. Circus Sarasota presents exciting professional family entertainment in winter performances under the big-top and special events and classes throughout the year.
Crowley Museum and Nature Center - The self-guided nature trail winds through the property from dry pine flatwoods, shady oak hammocks, over the Maple Branch swamp, and out to the edge of Tatum Sawgrass Marsh along the Myakka River. The wide trails offer easy and pleasant walking conditions that are enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. The Museum exhibits a variety of historic objects, household furnishings and tools.
Florida Gulf Coast Rail Road Museum - The Museum offers one of the most unique museum experiences in the world. Here you "Ride the Exhibits!". The Museum operates weekend excursions year-round from the Train Station in Parrish, Florida.
Historic Spanish Point - Historic Spanish Point is a 30-acre historical, archaeological and environmental museum. Here you can walk through the history of the area from the region's earliest people and their shell mounds to the inhabitants of the early 1900s.
John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art - The Museum of Art, built by John Ringling to house his personal collection of masterpieces, today features paintings and sculptures by the great Old Masters including Rubens, van Dyck, Velázquez, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, El Greco, Gainsborough and more. In addition you can tour the Cà d'Zan Mansion, the Ringlings' dazzling palatial mansion with its 56 furnished rooms, a tribute to the American Dream which reflects the splendor and romance of Italy. Also housed on the grounds is the famous Circus Museum celebrating the American circus and its history.
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens - The 9.5-acre bayfront Selby Gardens property is an open-air and under-glass museum of more than 20,000 colorful plants. The gardens specialize in tropical plants, especially epiphytes (plants that grow on other plants). Selby Gardens is perhaps best known for its living collection of more than 6,000 orchids.
Mote Marine Laboratory - At Mote Aquarium, you can 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, dolphins, manatees and sea turtles, along with more than 100 other species of marine life.
Myakka River State Park - One of the largest parks in Florida, Myakka features some of the most diverse natural areas. The Myakka River flows through 58 square miles of wetlands, prairies, hammocks, and pinelands. Enjoy the wildlife from a boardwalk that stretches out over the Upper Myakka Lake or take a walk along the canopy walkway. You can also enjoy boating on the park's river and two lakes, hike along trails that cross dry prairie, or take a lake tour on the world's two largest airboats. Full-facility campgrounds and primitive campsites are available.
Sailor Circus - “The Greatest ‘Little’ Show on Earth.” Sailor Circus Academy is one of the top circus schools in the USA and provides full-length circus performances featuring students enrolled in the Sailor Circus Academy.
Sarasota Classic Car Museum - The Sarasota Classic Car Museum is recognized as one of the Nation's oldest continuously operating antique car museums. The museum has rotating exhibits throughout the year featuring antique, exotic, European and one-of-a-kind car classics.
Sarasota Jungle Gardens - Sarasota Jungle Gardens features 10 acres of tropical vegetation, winding trails and entertaining, educational bird and reptile shows. Also featured are the American Flamingos that will eat out of the palm of your hand.
Save our Seabirds - SOS is a group dedicated to working with injured and disabled seabirds. View their facility and see the many birds they are rehabilitating. They are directly across from the Mote Marine Laboratory so it is easy to enjoy both the same day.
Siesta Key Public Beach - One of the world's best beaches for its power white sand that is soft and cool on the feet as well as its breath-taking sunsets, easy-going waves. Best of all, it's free. This is an absolute must see if you come to Sarasota.
South Florida Museum, Parker Manatee Aquarium and Bishop Planetarium - Three great attractions in one stop. The South Florida Museum shows the region from the prehistoric to the present with life-size dioramas and exhibits based on its extensive collections of anthropological artifacts. The Manatee Aquarium is a second stage rehabilitation facility for manatees that will be released back into the wild. It is also the permanent home to Manatee County's most famous resident and official mascot, ‘Snooty’, the manatee. Bishop Planetarium is a domed theater, boasting one of the most advanced all-digital projection systems in the world. The planetarium is a remarkable astronomy education resource, allowing visitors to explore their universe through traditional live star talks and virtual journeys to the far reaches of the cosmos.