Now that my mom lives in Sarasota, Florida, I’m basically a pseudo-snowbird. Having someone to visit in the Sunshine State has made it much more affordable to plan frequent trips there. Since I’m already starting to embody the “snowbird” lifestyle, I have a travel guide’s worth of restaurants and activities to recommend in the area. I will share them all here!
Because I usually stay at my mom’s apartment while visiting Sarasota, I don’t have any personal suggestions for lodging and will therefore not include that in this guide. I do visit the area fairly regularly, though, and plan to make updates after every trip!
Where to Eat In & Around Sarasota, Florida
I first visited the Surf Shack for dinner with my little brother. It is located in the beautiful St. Armand’s Circle, which makes for a great drive from the mainland at sunset. We had an awesome server and arrived during some nice live music. Their vegan tacos were such a great and unique menu item!
Located conveniently between Sarasota and Tampa, Circles Waterfront Restaurant is a great place to have lunch or dinner. Tyler and I visited for lunch on a sunny day and enjoyed a table outside with a view of the harbor. While they don’t have a ton of vegetarian options, the Vegetarian Feast was the only option I needed. Prices are a bit steep, but the quality of the food and cleanliness of the restaurant make this meal a great investment.
Where to Hike/Walk In & Around Sarasota, Florida
This is such a fun place to explore with friends and family! I visited Myakka River State Park with my sister, brother, and little nephew. It has nature trails and a ropes course with overlook tower that was super fun for my nephew and a great photo-op for me. There are also longer trails to hike, shelters to eat at, and boat tours to explore the area by water. I hope to take a ride next time I visit! Admission is $5 per car.
Arlington Park is a great place to walk or jog, as it has wide, paved trails. While it appears to be most known for its adjacent aquatic complex, I have yet to see it myself. Our morning walk included jungle views, a beautiful pond, and lots of green space to run the dog. I would also recommend coming here with a book or for a picnic, since it is basically a storybook setting.
Little Manatee River State Park is a great stopping point on a road trip from Sarasota to Tampa. From the Oxbow Nature Trails that we hiked on, you can glimpse the beautifully clear Little Manatee River. I hope to come back someday with a kayak or canoe! The park winds through the forest and features hiking and horseback riding trails of all lengths. Campsites are also available! Daily park admission is $5 per car.
Best Day Trips from Sarasota, Florida
Beach Day at Fort De Soto Beach (3500 Pinellas Bayway S, Tierra Verde)
Rated the “best family beach” in the country by Parents Magazine, Fort De Soto Beach is a great place to have a beach day near St Petersburg. If the bright sands and ambient blues alone don’t convince you to visit, the historic fort and nature trails in the adjacent park will do the trick. This place has as much history as it does natural beauty! A $5 admission fee gets you into all parts of Fort De Soto Park.
Enjoy a day on and by the lake at Lake Seminole Park in Pinellas County. Just over an hour’s drive from Sarasota via the iconic Sunshine Skyway ($1.50 toll each way), Lake Seminole Park makes for a great day trip. Start your day on Lake Seminole and enjoy a round of boating, jet skiing, or water skiing before the waves pick up. There is a boat launch conveniently located within the park. After, stop for a picnic at one of the many tables nearby and finish off your adventure by taking a walk on one of the park’s many trails.
Start the IndyCar season off right by watching the Firestone Grand Prix of Saint Petersburg in March! This weekend-long event takes place on a temporary course composed of roads and airport runways right in the heart of the city. Food and drinks can be purchased on-site. While all parts of the event are fun to attend, you’ll for sure want to be there on Sunday for the big race! It is one of only two IndyCar races in the south, the other being the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama that Tyler and I attended last year.