One of Florida’s primary Gulf Coast cities, Sarasota offers visitors an eclectic blend of culture, fine dining, pristine beaches, and a wide array of shopping.
Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater are all popular day trip destinations for residents of the Villages of Citrus Hills. These are all great options, and there might be an even more intriguing destination that you haven’t thought of located just south of Tampa Bay.
The city of Sarasota is known for being a hub of art and culture. From museums to art festivals, there is no shortage of bold and exciting entertainment. Combine that with fabulous birding, boutique shopping, beautiful beaches and outstanding restaurants, and there is enough to do in Sarasota to occupy you for many weekends.
With Sarasota just 2.5 hours south of the Villages of Citrus Hills it makes for a great day, or weekend trip. There is so much to do and see, with many wonderful resort and boutique hotels for you to stay in.
Arts and Culture
The most famous attraction in all of Sarasota would have to be The Ringling. Yes, we are talking about those Ringlings.
The Ringling combines a fabulous museum of art with one of the most interesting circus museums in the entire world. There is also a huge mansion that was once home to the Ringling family, the historic Asolo Theater, and the stunning Bayfront Gardens.
If you want to really dive into the arts and culture scene in Sarasota, plan your visit to coincide with one of their annual festivals like the Sarasota Film Festival, The Ringling International Arts Festival, the Sarasota Music Festival, or the Sarasota Blues Fest.
First Class Birding
Nature lovers will also have plenty to see and do during their time in Sarasota. Two of the best locations for birding here are Celery Fields and Myakka State Park.
Celery Fields has more than 360 acres of open wetlands with plenty of trails that you can wander through. The location of the site, the large number of diverse bird species, and its public ownership by Sarasota County make the Celery Fields an ideal location for wildlife watching and recreational use.
For the more adventurous bird lover, Myakka State Park has a canopy walkway that allows visitors to get high up into the trees. The park also offers tram tours and airboat tours.
When it comes to shopping in Sarasota, two locations come to mind that can both satisfy your enthusiasm for retail. Simply strolling through the downtown area, you will find a number of great boutique shops like Elsa, Lotus, and Write on Sarasota.
You will also want to head out to St. Armands Circle for even more great shops and boutiques.
Dining in Sarasota
The dining scene in Sarasota is exactly what you would expect from a city that prides itself on its arts and culture. It’s fantastic.
Lunch options like Beauty of Sprouts and Mozzarella Fella are quite a treat with their flavor combinations and attention to detail. You seriously won’t believe some of the vegan and gluten-free creations you will find at Beauty of Sprouts. And you will definitely be blown away by how good the homemade mozzarella at Mozzarella Fella tastes.
Marcello’s Ristorante and Selva Grill are perfect dinner options for Italian and Spanish cuisine, but the one place you absolutely must experience is Indigenous! Built to complement its surroundings, everything about Indigenous is unique and interesting, and the food is exceptional. The menu changes based on seasonally available ingredients, but everything is delicious. And as always the wonderful Columbia Restaurant, a Florida tradition since 1905, located in St. Armands Circle. Relax in one of their Mediterranean style dining rooms or enjoy an outdoor table on the patio while sampling their award-winning Spanish/Cuban cuisine.
Sarasota is known for its strong arts and culture community, but there is plenty more to see and do on top of that. The next time you are looking for a great place to spend a day or two, make the drive to the other side of the bay and check out everything that Sarasota has to offer.