Getting Around Sarasota
Sarasota's attractions are spread throughout the city, so the best way to get around is to hire a car or ride the SCAT, Sarasota County's bus service. Though SCAT buses offer many convenient routes – including to and from Sarasota–Brandenton International Airport (SRQ) – most do not operate on Sundays, and service is typically limited at night. Rental cars, while more convenient, average around $20 per day. Taxi and ride-sharing services can also be arranged but cost significantly more than bus rides and car hires. Bike rentals are available as well, but are not ideal for traveling long distances.
One of the easiest and most affordable ways to travel in Sarasota is by bus. Known locally as SCAT, the Sarasota County Area Transit service costs $1.25 per one-way ride or $2.50 per ride on the Express Route 100x, which travels between the airport and downtown Sarasota. One-way fares are paid in cash on board the bus. Visitors can also purchase a one-day, seven-day or 30-day bus pass for $4 to $60 each. All tickets are sold at the Downtown Transfer Station, the SCAT Transit Administration or various Goodwill stores throughout Sarasota County.
In addition to servicing the airport and the center of the city, SCAT routes make stops near attractions like The Ringling Museum of Art, Lido Key Beach and Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Most buses do not run on Sundays and offer limited evening schedules from Monday to Saturday. Many start at about 5:30 a.m.; some buses stop operating around 7 p.m., while others are available until approximately 10 p.m. Bus frequency varies depending on the route and time of day, but most come every 20 to 60 minutes.
Rental cars are one of the city's most flexible modes of transportation. Since many of SCAT's buses are not available late at night or on Sundays, cars are an ideal option for night owls and travelers who are visiting on weekends. Plus, bus routes to some areas are limited, so having a car may be the easiest and quickest way to get to select attractions. Keep in mind that fees may apply for some parking garages, although many attractions and streets in the downtown area offer free parking all day or for a few hours. All major car rental vendors have locations throughout the city and at the airport.
Several taxi companies service the Sarasota area. However, all rides start with a $3 drop charge on top of a per-mile rate of about $4. Cabs can be hailed at the airport, on the street or arranged through your hotel concierge. Additionally, ride-sharing services like Lyft and Uber are bookable in Sarasota County via their respective smartphone apps.
If you plan on sticking to a limited area while in Sarasota, renting a bike may be worth considering. The city does not offer a public bike-share service, but several bicycle shops supply rentals, and many attractions provide free bike parking. Some bike stores charge by the hour, while others have daily or weekly rates. Expect to pay less than $10 per hour, $10 to $60 per day or $40 to $250 for each week. Most bicycle stores include helmets, locks and chains in their rental rates.
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