Sarasota Travel Guide

USA  #4 in Best Florida Beaches
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Courtesy of KarolinaBorkowski/Getty Images

Best Things To Do in Sarasota

Though many of Sarasota's top attractions – such as The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art and Ca' d'Zan – have ties to the Ringling Bros. Circus, the bulk of the city's best things to do are linked to nature. For a relaxing day outside, visitors can tee off at one of the area's golf courses, lounge on Lido Key Beach's sands, hike Myakka River State Park's trails, pay their respects at Sarasota National Cemetery or stroll through Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Or, head to Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary and Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium for an up-close encounter with wildlife.

How we rank Things to Do

Updated October 6, 2017

  • #1
    Myakka River State Park
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    #1 in Sarasota
    Hiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Considered one of Florida's oldest and largest state parks, Myakka River State Park stretches across 58 square miles of wetlands, hammocks, pinelands and prairies. The area also features a river and two lakes, making it a prime place to enjoy water activities like canoeing, kayaking and fishing. Or, visitors can

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  • #2
    The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art
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    #2 in Sarasota
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, which features thousands of Medieval, Renaissance, Greek, Roman and Cypriot antiquities and works of art, is the main attraction on The Ringling museum campus. Numerous galleries showcase pieces from Ringling Bros. Circus co-founder John Ringling's personal collection, including paintings by Velázquez, Rubens

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  • #3
    Ca' d'Zan
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    #3 in Sarasota
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Though not as stately as the adjacentJohn & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Ca' d'Zan woos visitors with its Venetian Gothic-style architecture and elegant interior. The property – which was once the home of Ringling Bros. Circus co-founder John Ringling and his wife, Mable – sits five stories tall and

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  • #4
    Lido Key Beach
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    #4 in Sarasota
    Beaches, Natural Wonders, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Natural Wonders, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Though visitors have access to several beaches in Sarasota County, one of the easiest to reach from downtown is Lido Key Beach. Situated less than 5 miles southwest of the city center, Lido Key Beach offers more than 3,000 feet of white sand. Several recreation areas, with amenities like picnic

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  • #5
    Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
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    #5 in Sarasota
    Parks and Gardens
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Once the home and grounds of amateur gardener Marie Selby, the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens opened to the public in 1975 after the death of its namesake. The garden, which specializes in epiphytes (or plants that grow on other plant species) features thousands of varieties in its outdoor gardens and

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  • #6
    Sarasota National Cemetery
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    #6 in Sarasota
    Monuments and Memorials, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Monuments and Memorials, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Designed to highlight Sarasota's background as a military post for flight training, the 295-acre Sarasota National Cemetery has served as the final resting place for thousands of fallen veterans since it opened to the public in 2009. Funerals are still regularly held at the facility, but visitors are more than

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  • #7
    Golf
    View all Photos
    #7 in Sarasota
    Golf
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Golf
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    To many travelers, Sarasota may not be the first Florida destination to come to mind when thinking of agolf getaway. But golfers regularly seek out this city's championship courses. In fact, Sarasota is regularly referred to as "The Cradle of Golf" because of its abundance of top-notch courses. Noteworthy public

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  • #8
    Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium
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    #8 in Sarasota
    Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Part-research center, part-aquarium, Mote Laboratory & Aquarium features nine exhibits, including two interactive areas and a 135,000-gallon shark tank. In total, the property houses more than 100 species of marine animals, such as sea turtles, otters and manatees. A 10th exhibit with American crocodiles, alligators and caimans will open in

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  • #9
    Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary
    View all Photos
    #9 in Sarasota
    Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Animal lovers and families will likely enjoy Sarasota's Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary. This attraction has cared for exotic animals like lions, tigers, bears and chimpanzees since 1987. In addition to housing various animals, the facility hosts bird and big cat shows with educational talks and demonstrations.

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Explore More of Sarasota

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