18 Most Fun Things to Do in Sarasota | 2024 (with Photos)

Nataša Obradovic

Nataša Obradovic - Travel Writer

Published: June 29, 2023

Hey there! I'm Natasha, your guide to the most exhilarating activities in Sarasota. From exploring vibrant cultural attractions to soaking in the sun-drenched beaches, I'll show you the top experiences that make Sarasota an unforgettable destination. So get ready to dive into this enchanting city and create memories that will last a lifetime!

Most Fun Things to Do in Sarasota, Florida - 2024

With its beautiful beaches, rich cultural heritage, and abundance of outdoor activities, it's no wonder that Sarasota, in Southwest Florida has become one of the most popular tourist destinations.

In this city, you can find something for everyone. There are Sarasota Jungle Gardens for families, Sarasota Classic Car Museum for vehicle lovers, and Mote Marine Laboratory for science-oriented folks.

So, let's take a look at 18 fun things to explore in Sarasota in 2024. There's something on this list for everyone.

Most Recommended Thing to Do

Top Choice Hotel

Hyatt Regency Sarasota

Our Top Choice Restaurant

Our Top Choice Bar for Nightlife

Best Time to Visit

Beautiful beaches, warm weather, and vibrant cultural scene.

Average Temperature

The average temperature in Sarasota, United States, varies.

Transportation Options

Bus, taxi, rideshare, bicycle, walking, car rental, trolley.

Average Cost ($, $$, $$$)


My Top Recommendation

Sarasota, United States of America, is a captivating city offering a multitude of options for a memorable travel experience. Spend a leisurely day exploring the iconic Ringling Museum, immersing yourself in its rich art and history.

As the sun sets, head towards Siesta Key Beach, known for its powdery white sand and breathtaking sunsets, where you can unwind and create cherished memories that will last a lifetime.

What You'll Need to Bring

  1. Travel documents
  2. Swimming essentials
  3. Camera

What Not to Miss

  1. Siesta Key Beach
  2. The Ringling Museum
  3. St. Armands Circle
  4. Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium
  5. Myakka River State Park

What to Avoid

  1. Crowded tourist areas
  2. Rush hour traffic
  3. Excessive sun exposure without sunscreen

1. Visit the Ringling Museum of Art and its Stunning Ca'd'Zan Mansion

Ringling Museum of Art

To start with culture, one of the notable attractions in Sarasota is the Mable Ringling Museum. Located in Sarasota County, the Ringling Museum of Art is Sarasota, Florida's number one art museum.

The museum's collection includes an extensive range of works, from Renaissance and Baroque art to contemporary art.

The galleries contain many different exhibitions which allow marveling at masterpieces by renowned artists such as Rubens, Velazquez, and Titian. In short, this stunning museum houses an impressive collection of art and artifacts.

In addition to the art, visitors can also tour the Ca' d'Zan Mansion, which was designed in the Venetian Gothic style and features beautiful architecture and stunning views of Sarasota Bay. The Ca' d'Zan Mansion was built by circus magnate John Ringling in the 1920s.

Whether you're an art lover or just appreciate beauty, the Ringling Museum of Art is an unforgettable experience and should be on your list if you decide to visit Sarasota, Florida.

2. Take a Scenic Walk Along the John Ringling Causeway and Enjoy the Views

John Ringling Causeway

A beautiful bridge that spans Sarasota Bay and connects Lido Beach to the mainland in Sarasota Florida is known as John Ringling Causeway.

The bridge offers stunning views of the bay and the Gulf Coast, making it a popular spot for tourists as well as for locals.

After crossing the bridge, visitors can explore the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, which is home to an impressive collection of tropical plants and flowers. Afterward, you can head straight to Sarasota Farmers Market which is nearby.

Additionally, downtown Sarasota is just a short drive away and offers a range of activities, from shopping and dining to cultural events and nightlife.

Whether you're looking for a relaxing day at the beach in the hot Florida sun or an exciting night out, you will come across the Causeway.

3. Learn About Marine Life at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

Established in Sarasota, the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is a world-renowned research facility and an exciting destination for everyone.

The aquarium features a variety of marine animals, including sharks, manatees, and sea turtles, as well as an interactive touch tank and a beautiful koi pond.

Science enthusiasts can also learn about the groundbreaking research being conducted at the Cape Haze Marine Laboratory, which is dedicated to studying the health and ecology of the Gulf of Mexico.

After exploring the exhibits, tourists can stop by the gift shop to pick up souvenirs and unique items. With its fascinating exhibits and thorough research, the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is a destination for all ages.

4. Experience Nature and History at Ken Thompson Park

Ken Thompson Park

Located on the southern end of Lido Key, Ken Thompson Park is a beautiful nature preserve that offers a range of outdoor activities.

You can take a stroll along the beach or rent a kayak and paddle through the mangrove tunnels.

In addition to its natural beauty, the park also has a unique history - it was once the winter headquarters of the Ringling Brothers Circus.

As such, it offers a chance to learn about the circus and its impact on the area at the Circus Museum, which is located nearby.

5. Discover the History of Sarasota at the Historical Society Museum

Historical Society Museum

In the heart of downtown Sarasota, you can find The Historical Society Museum, dedicated to preserving and celebrating the area's rich history.

Exhibits and artifacts are regularly held and they showcase Sarasota's past, from the Native American communities that once called the area home to the city's growth and development over the years.

The museum is also home to the South Florida Museum, which features exhibits on the natural history of the region, including fossils, live animals, and interactive displays.

Whether you're a history buff, an art enthusiast, or just curious about the area, the Historical Society Museum is a must-visit destination.

6. Explore the Outdoors at Oscar Scherer State Park

Oscar Scherer State Park

Located just a short drive from the city center of Sarasota, Oscar Scherer State Park is a beautiful natural oasis that offers a range of outdoor activities.

There are many trails you can hike or bike along, or you can go fishing or kayaking on the lake, or simply relax and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.

The park is also home to a variety of native wildlife, including bobcats, gopher tortoises, and bald eagles. If you're looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, Oscar Scherer State Park is the perfect destination.

And with its proximity to other Sarasota attractions like South Palm Avenue and Ken Thompson Parkway, it's easy to make a day of exploring the area.

7. Enjoy the Sun, Sand, and Surf at Siesta Key Beach

Siesta Key Beach

For a day in the hot Florida sun, Siesta Key Beach and its Siesta Key village are top destinations for anyone looking to soak up warmth and enjoy beautiful Florida's Gulf Coast.

With its crystal-clear waters and powdery white sand, Siesta Key has been consistently ranked as one of the top beaches in the United States.

Moreover, you can take a stroll along Bay Shore Road to explore the local shops and restaurants, and experience night activities in Siesta Key.

The beach also offers a range of activities, from volleyball to kayaking, and is home to a variety of habitats and Gulf Coast creatures.

8. Catch a Game at the Ed Smith Stadium

Ed Smith Stadium

Located in the heart of Sarasota on North Pineapple Avenue, Ed Smith Stadium is a minor league baseball site that is perfect for sports fans of all ages.

The stadium is home to the Baltimore Orioles during spring training. It also hosts a range of other events throughout the year.

If you decide to visit, you can catch a game and enjoy the excitement of minor league baseball, or simply take a tour of the stadium and learn more about its history.

Finally, with its central location, it's easy to make a day of exploring the area and discovering all that Sarasota has to offer.

9. Visit Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary

Gulf Coast Sanctuary

The non-profit organization known as Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary is dedicated to providing a safe haven for big cats and other animals in need.

Located near Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota, Florida, the sanctuary offers visitors the opportunity to see and learn about a variety of animals.

In addition to the big cats, the sanctuary features other exotic animals and offers a hiking trail in Nathan Benderson Park for visitors to explore.

Whether you're a wildlife enthusiast or simply looking for an educational and fun experience, the Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary are worth a visit.

10. Experience the Nature of Lake Manatee State Park

Lake Manatee State Park

Lake Manatee State Park is a beautiful natural area located just a short drive from Sarasota, Florida. It offers a range of activities such as hiking, fishing, and camping.

The Lake Manatee State Park is located near other natural Sarasota attractions such as Myakka River State Park, Nathan Benderson Park, and the Wild Bird Learning Center.

Birdwatchers will also enjoy exploring the Great Florida Birding Trail, which runs through the park and offers sightings of a variety of birds including the bald eagles.

If you're looking for a peaceful escape to nature, Lake Manatee State Park should be on your list.

11. Take a Kayak or Airboat Tour of Myakka River State Park

Myakka River State Park

Myakka River State Park is one of the oldest and largest parks in Florida and one of many incredible Sarasota attractions. The park spans portions of Sarasota County and Manatee County.

The park is known for its diverse range of wildlife, including alligators, deer, and more than 300 species of birds. As such, it is a part of the Great Florida Birding Trail.

Visitors can take a scenic drive through the park, hike on one of the many hiking trails, or take a guided tour of the Myakka River.

For those interested in local produce and crafts, the nearby Sarasota Farmers Market offers a wide selection of fresh fruits and vegetables for potential picnics, as well as artisanal products.

A trip to Myakka River State Park and the Sarasota Farmers Market step on the way is a great way to experience the natural beauty and local culture of the Sarasota area.

12. Explore the Stunning Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Apart from Sarasota Jungle Gardens, another botanical marvel are Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, a stunning attraction located in Sarasota County, Florida.

The gardens feature a vast collection of plants and flowers from around the world, as well as a research library, a butterfly garden, and a herbarium.

The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens are named after Marietta Lee Selby, a local philanthropist who supported the arts and cultural organizations in the Sarasota area.

Culture lovers of the area can also include a tour of the Marietta Museum, which showcases local history and culture, and the Mote Marine Laboratory, a research center dedicated to the study and conservation of marine life.

However, a visit to the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is a must for anyone interested in nature and the environment.

13. Visit the Sarasota Classic Car Museum and See Vintage Cars and Memorabilia

Sarasota Classic Car Museum

This is one for the car enthusiasts in the family. The Sarasota Classic Car Museum is a fascinating destination for automobile lovers.

Located in Sarasota, Florida, the museum features a wide variety of classic cars from different eras and regions, including an impressive Italian car collection.

Tourists and locals alike can admire the beautiful designs and craftsmanship of these cars and learn about the history of the automotive industry.

14. Take a Bike Ride on the Legacy Trail and Enjoy the Scenery

Legacy Trail

The Legacy Trail is a popular outdoor destination in Sarasota, Florida, offering visitors the opportunity to hike, bike, or skate along a scenic trail that runs from Sarasota to Venice.

Along the way, visitors can explore nearby attractions such as Lido Key, known for its beautiful beaches and charming shops and restaurants.

For those interested in education, the Florida State University campus is nearby. In part, it runs along Bayshore Road, along other popular destinations including Bay Shore Road, Bayfront Park, Payne Park, Ted Sperling Park, and Palmer Ranch, all of which offer unique opportunities for recreation and relaxation.

With so much to see and do along the way, the Legacy Trail is the best destination for anyone looking to explore Sarasota's natural beauty and culture.

15. Bring Your Kids to Sarasota Jungle Gardens

Sarasota Jungle Gardens

If you travel with kids, Sarasota Jungle Gardens is a popular family-friendly attraction located on the Bayshore Road in Sarasota, Florida. The gardens offer visitors the chance to see a wide variety of animals up close, including flamingos, parrots, and alligators.

Visitors can also check out the petting zoo, which offers a fun and interactive experience for children.

Whether you're looking for an educational experience or just some fun things to do in Florida, Sarasota Jungle Gardens and its surrounding attractions are worth a visit.

Nearby, South Lido Park offers a beautiful beach and hiking trails for visitors to enjoy. For those interested in history and culture, close by is the Marietta Museum which is an art museum showcasing local history.

16. Take a Swim at Lido Key Beach

 Lido Key Beach

Apart from Siesta Key Beach, another good spot is Lido Key Beach located in Sarasota, Florida.

Lido Key Beach is a great place to relax and soak up the Florida sun, with a wide range of activities available, including swimming, paddleboarding, and kayaking to Anna Maria Island.

Whether you're looking for a peaceful retreat or an active adventure, Lido Key Beach is the perfect destination for a fun-filled day in Sarasota.

Beachgoers can enjoy the crystal-clear waters and soft, white sands of Lido Key Beach, as well as nearby attractions such as South Lido Park, which offers hiking trails and beautiful waterfront views.

Bay Shore Road and Ken Thompson Parkway are popular destinations nearby for those looking to take a scenic drive or bike ride, with plenty of restaurants and shops along the way.

17. Learn About History at Sarasota National Cemetery

Sarasota National Cemetery

For those that look up to history, Sarasota National Cemetery is a solemn and poignant destination in Sarasota, Florida, offering visitors the opportunity to pay their respects to fallen soldiers and veterans.

Near the Sarasota National Cemetery is the Florida Studio Theater, which features live theater productions and other performing arts events, and the Marietta Museum.

With so many unique and interesting attractions nearby, the Sarasota National Cemetery is a destination that visitors won't want to miss.

18. Catch a Sarasota Orchestra Concert at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

Sarasota Orchestra Concert at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

If you are into performing arts, The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall is a premier destination in Sarasota, Florida. The hall offers a wide range of events and shows throughout the year, from music concerts to dance performances and musical theater shows.

Nearby, theater lovers can also check out the Sarasota Opera House, a historic venue that hosts a variety of operatic performances, as well as the Florida Studio Theater, which showcases live theater productions and other performing arts events.

With so many unique and exciting theater attractions nearby, the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall is an amazing spot for anyone looking to experience the best of Sarasota's cultural offerings.

FAQs About Things to do in Sarasota FL

Now, we take a look at and provide answers to your most frequently asked questions about things to do in Sarasota.

What is Sarasota best known for?

What Sarasota is best known for are spectacular beaches, including Lido Key Beach and Siesta Key Beach. The sand is white so it doesn't get burning hot in the Sunny State heat, and the water is warm and pleasant for swimming.

How do you spend a day in Sarasota?

You can spend a day in Sarasota by visiting the key attractions, such as the Sarasota Classic Car Museum. The most popular sites tend to boast ample parking, so you can bring your car and check out Siesta Key Village and Bayfront Park as well.

Is there a lot to do in Sarasota, Florida?

Yes, there is a lot to do in Sarasota, Florida. For example, you can sail in Sarasota Bay, enjoy a show at the Sarasota Opera House, take a boat to Anna Maria Island, or relax at Bayfront Park.

Which is better, Sarasota or Siesta Key?

The choice between Sarasota and Siesta Key ultimately depends on your preferences and what you're looking for in a vacation. Siesta Key is a barrier island with a unique vibe and culture, which sets it apart from the rest of Sarasota. However, the city center offers a more diverse range of attractions.

Summing Up: Things to Do in Sarasota, Florida 

As we’ve seen, the vivid and colorful Sarasota, located in the Sunny State, is a beautiful city in Southwest Florida that is full of attractions. For this reason, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States.

Some of the attractions you can visit are notable museums, such as Mable Ringling Museum and Bishop Museum. Moreover, tourists love the Sarasota Jungle Gardens, Ca'd'Zan Mansion, Patriot Plaza, and Venetian Waterway Park.

So, if you have a chance to go to the beach this summer, make sure it is Sarasota, Florida, the hottest attraction for the year 2024.