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Sarasota Vacation Ideas

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Just an hour’s drive south of Tampa, find more incredible white sand beaches at Sarasota. There is more than sunny skies and sparkling seas that make Sarasota an enchanting getaway. Enjoy the dynamic arts community and lush tropical beauty that keep visitors coming back to Florida’s central west coast cultural capital. Check out our top vacation ideas for Sarasota and start planning an unforgettable trip so you can hit the ground running when travel dreams become reality. From the impressive Mediterranean Revival architecture dotted across the city to Mother Nature’s stunning brush strokes along the coastline, your Sarasota itinerary will make sightseeing a breeze. Don’t miss our accompanying Sarasota Vacation Travel Guide video for stunning visuals of the region and its fantastic sights.


Ideas of places to visit in Sarasota

From the picturesque barrier islands to the dynamic Downtown, there is something to suit every traveler’s pace in Sarasota. Sun yourself on the white sand, relax in sprawling green spaces, or emark on a tour of the best cultural attractions in this bayside city. Check out the most prized and popular places to visit in Sarasota and start filling your travel itinerary with the best spots for you.


The Ringling - Sarasota, Florida, USA

The Ringling

(1:42 in the video) Circus magnate millionaire, John Ringling, and his wife, Mable, left a stunning legacy in Sarasota in every sense of the word. Pay a visit to their early 20th Century winter home and explore the 66-acre estate. The Ringling remains today a vast cultural complex whose real estate influence was largely responsible for elevating this sleepy town by the sea to the dazzling vacation destination it is today.


ca'd'zan - Sarasota, Florida, USA

Ca’d’Zan

(2:08 in the video) Take a tour of the Ringling’s breathtaking 1926 Venetian Gothic-inspired winter escape. This waterfront, palatial mansion is adorned with colourful 16th-century tiles from Spain and captures the grandeur and romance of the palazzos that circle the Venice canals. Be inspired by the 56 rooms and 5 floors of the Ca’ d’Zan, which stands to represent and affirm the American Dream.


John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art - Sarasota, Florida, USA

John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

(2:36 in the video) Explore the diverse and extensive collection of artworks showcased at the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Comprising 31 galleries of European, Asian, American and contemporary art as well as antique Cypriot artefacts, this portion of the Ringling estate is the official State Art Museum of Florida. The Italian-influenced building stretches over two wings and features long colonnades and summery pink tones, with a charming Mediterranean garden. Be sure to enter the museum through the Visitor Pavilion to find out what temporary exhibitions, tour opportunities and talks are available.


Asolo Repertory Theatre - Sarasota, Florida, USA

Asolo Repertory Theatre

(3:29 in the video) Asolo Repertory Theatre is Florida’s premier professional theatre and one of the most important cultural forces in the Southeastern United States. Set aside an evening in your Sarasota itinerary at this center for theatrical excellence. With up to 15 productions staged every season, travelers will be spoilt for choice when looking for their dose of arts and entertainment. From the classic to the contemporary, Asolo Rep bodly brings them to stage. The theatres, parking, and bathrooms are all fully accessible to persons with disabilities.


Sarasota Classic Car Museum - Sarasota, Florida, USA

Sarasota Classic Car Museum

(3:45 in the video) Whether you’re a motoring enthusiast or just car-curious, the Sarasota Classic Car Museum offers something special to all those that pay a visit. The museum displays over 75 automobiles, including vintage makes, classics and new models from a wide range of manufacturers, as well as rare models and timeless favorites alongside the original cars of celebrities. The museum also contains a number of fascinating exhibits that detail the rich and intricate history of the automobile. This state-of-the-art museum is a must-see attraction for visitors of the Ringling estate.


Marie Selby Botanical Gardens - Sarasota, Florida, USA

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

(4:22 in the video) Immerse yourself in the diverse, tranquil splendor of the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. This 14-acre garden getaway doubles as a research facility and features an impressive collection of 6,000 plant species in lush greenhouses, native tropical gardens and an herbarium. It is also home to one of the world’s most diverse bromeliad collections. Take it back to basics and enjoy a refreshing commune with nature with a visit to this botanical park.


St Armands Key - Sarasota, Florida, USA

St Armands Key

(5:21 in the video) Cross the John Ringling Causeway to St Armands Key, an island in Sarasota Bay off Florida’s west coast. This is one of three barrier islands that shelters the shoreline of Sarasota. Plan a trip here to enjoy the spectacular views on offer that look back over the bay and on to the Gulf of Mexico.


St Armands Circle - Sarasota, Florida, USA

St Armands Circle

(5:32 in the video) Boutiques, restaurants and salons draw many patrons around a charming park center. From day to night, this circular mall welcomes visitors to shop, dine, browse and people-watch across its 360-degrees of amenities. Wander around to the tune of sidewalk musicians who often entertain here. Set aside a few hours of your travel itinerary to spend here – or at least long enough to try one of the inventive ice-cream flavors from the popular parlors.


Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium - Sarasota, Florida, USA

Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium

(5:53 in the video) Animal lovers will thrive at the Mote Marine Laboratory. This marine research organization, aquarium and education center puts visitors right in the colorful fray of Florida’s native marine life. Check out the touch pools, interactive exhibits, eco-boat tours, and laboratories that celebrate and protect hundreds of species of sealife. From sharp-toothed sharks to gentle sea turtles, velvety sting rays to colorful seahorses – the world beneath the surface is suddenly in reach. Check the public program calendar to see what exciting events and experiences are on offer during your trip to Sarasota.


Lido Beach - Sarasota, Florida, USA

Lido Beach

(6:14 in the video) Lido Key is another of the barrier islands off the coast. The narrow natural reef features pristine sandy beaches along the western coast looking out over the sprawling blue of the Gulf of Mexico. Enjoy panoramic views of the Gulf and Sarasota Bay from the lively beachside bars and restaurants along the waterfront. One of the best things to do in Sarasota is spend a day or more at the central Lido Beach. Enjoy the wide family-friendly shore, snacks and drinks at the concession stand, swimming pool, washrooms and lifeguard service. Bring a cooler and enjoy an ocean-view picnic on the picnic tables followed by a visit to the wheelchair-accessible observation tower.


Need more Sarasota vacation ideas?

Want some more travel inspiration for your next vacation? Browse through our Sarasota photo gallery to see more unique pictures of this incredible destination. If you want to broaden your horizons, our wider photo gallery houses pictures from around the world to help you envision that soon-to-be unforgettable vacation.

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This article was originally published on September 28, 2020. If you’d like to stay updated on new videos of the beautiful destinations that our planet has to offer, subscribe to Expedia’s YouTube channel.

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