Sarasota Attractions Offer Diverse Mix of Interesting Activities

Located south of Tampa on the Gulf of Mexico and Sarasota Bay, the city of Sarasota offers the perfect blend of beach town and evolving arts and culture. This combination even led to a Best Places to Visit in Florida accolade. Plus, many of the top Sarasota attractions cater to all ages. Start exploring today.

Sarasota Attractions: Indoor and Outdoor Activities for Travelers

sarasota attractions family vacation

Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium

This non-profit marine research institution doubles as a family-friendly attraction. Visitors enjoy exploring shark habitats, resident manatees and sea turtles, coral reefs, fish, crabs, jellies and more. In addition, the aquarium has otters, gators, Florida’s Bay habitats and fossils.

For a more in-depth adventure, Mote hosts kayaking trips, eco tours and customized trips. Each is led by an expert and helps educate guests about the importance of marine life preservation.

ringling museum florida

John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

Those who buy tickets to The Ringling receive admission to the Museum of Art, Circus Museum and Bayfront Gardens. These attractions are part of Ringling Estate, which measures 66 acres and houses one of the best art collections in Florida.

Exhibits have included Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and Ringling, Women in Print, ceramics, prints and glass from Japan, world-renown artists, and local culture. In addition to art exhibits, the museum hosts performances, lectures, films and family events. After The Ringling, see more collections at the Circus Museum and stroll through lovely gardens.

Ca’ d’Zan

Those with more time can purchase an additional ticket to Ca’ d’Zan, the home of the Ringling family. This guilded mansion was inspired by Ventian Gothic style and features 36,000-square feet of luxury on the waterfront. It measures five stories and is furnished with art such as an Aeolian organ and crystal chandelier.

Tours allow guests to explore the first floor. For more options, learn more about Ca’ d’Zan.

Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary

One of the top Sarasota attractions for families, Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary doubles as a rescue facility and educational site. Resident animals include white and orange tigers, lions, ligers, tigons, bears, primates, birds, goats and other animals.

Due to limited hours available to the public, guests should buy tickets in advance. In addition to seeing animals, guests enjoy live demos, bird shows and yoga with animals.

sarasota wildlife nature

Sarasota Jungle Gardens

Sarasota Jungle Gardens is one of the top Sarasota attractions for families and animal lovers. The site provides a home to plants and animals native to Florida and helps visitors experience safe interactions. Entertainment and education go hand-in-hand here.

Exhibits include giant snakes, porcupine, butterflies, lemur, flamingo, giraffe, birds of prey and dozens more. While visiting, guests attend live shows, encounter reptiles, stroll paths, meet new friends at the petting zoo and play at the playground.

Ed Smith Stadium

Baseball fans will love Sarasota as it’s home to Ed Smith Stadium. The stadium provides a spring training facility for the Baltimore Orioles, a Major League Baseball team from Maryland. Spring practices are free and open to the public. Games start in March and welcome more than 7,500 fans.

In addition, the stadium has practice fields, batting cages and concessions. For more local sports, head to the nearby Buck O’Neil Baseball Complex.

Myakka River State Park

Looking for some quiet time? Drive to Myakka River State Park. The river once served Native Americans and Spanish explorers, but today welcomes all ages to enjoy outdoor recreation. Popular activities include bicycling, fishing, horseback riding, paddling, hiking, and watching wildlife.

The crew at Myakka River State Park also hosts guided boat and tram tours that last about an hour. Then walk the Myakka Canopy Walkway, a public treetop that provides guests up-close views of nature.

beaches siesta key lido

Area Beaches in Sarasota

If these Sarasota attractions are not enough to keep everyone busy, then check out the beaches. Sarasota has several beautiful beaches along the Gulf of Mexico. To the north, find Longboat Key and three beaches in Lido Key: North Lido, Lido Beach and South Lido.

Some of the most popular beaches are located in Siesta Key, which is one of the top beaches in the world. If Siesta Key is too busy, drive to nearby Crescent Beach or Turtle Beach. Those who need more options may enjoy Caspersen Beach in Venice and Brohard Paw Park, a dog-friendly beach.

No matter the beach, guests will have room to play in the water, build sandcastles, lounge and soak up some sun.

Golf Courses Near Sarasota

Additionally, the area is a top place to play golf. More than 15 public and private options are available, and they all incorporate Florida’s natural landscape. A few top courses include University Park Country Club, Rolling Green Golf Club and Longboat Key Golf Club.

For a local adventure, book a sightseeing tour of Sarasota.

Stay close to the action! Browse these Sarasota vacation rentals.