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Theme each day to a specific Sarasota specialty: Peruse its many art galleries, take in a show, or immerse yourself in the storied history of John and Mable Ringling. Or simply abandon all ambition and wile away the day on the world-renowned beaches, which ranks tops in our book for Sarasota’s things to do.

Things to do in Sarasota

Art Walk

Sarasota is home to several artists’ colonies, but the best is Towles Court where moss-draped oaks tower over colorful little cottages that house working studios and galleries. Shop for original artwork, and, if time permits, visit nearby Palm Avenue, another arts’ district just off Main Street.

Adams, Link & Morrill Sts., near downtown, FL,
Tags: arts and culture | trendy | things to do | gallery

Drum Circle

Need more cowbell? Every Sunday night, Sarasota’s Key West-style salute to the setting sun brings out the community’s drummers, belly dancers, and street performers, and yes, even cowbell shakers. The free-for-all (anyone can participate) attracts hundreds and begins an hour before sundown. Arrive early and picnic on the sand.

Siesta Key Public Beach Park, 948 Beach Rd., FL,
Tags: great value | live entertainment | things to do


Kids won’t even know they’re learning when they explore the interactive exhibits and special displays providing hands-on education at G.Wiz. With nearly 100 diversions, the museum will easily keep your young ones busy most of the day.

1001 Blvd. of the Arts, FL, 941-309-4949,
Tags: family | great value | things to do | family attraction | educational

John and Mable Ringling Circus Museums

The kids probably won’t appreciate the art museum or the grandness of the Ringlings’ winter home, but they will love the circus and clown museums that document a century of the “Greatest Show on Earth.”

5401 Bay Shore Rd., FL, 941-359-5700,
Tags: family | things to do | history | family attraction | museum

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Like the Ringling estate, Marie Selby’s former winter home offers a glimpse inside the high-society lifestyle of early 20th-century Sarasota. The 9-acre estate is revered for its 20,000 tropical plants – orchids, bromeliads, and banyans among them – and vistas of Sarasota Bay.

811 South Palm Ave., FL, 941-366-5731,
Tags: historic | great value | things to do | gardens | park

Mote Aquarium

Want to know what lurks in the water? This marine biology lab introduces visitors to the creatures that inhabit Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico: dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, and even sharks. Splurge on the combination ticket for entry into the aquarium and an eco-tour of Sarasota Bay, which includes a touch tank the kids will love.

1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy., FL, 941-388-4441,
Tags: family | great value | things to do | family attraction | wildlife

Sarasota Jungle Gardens

This 70-year-old zoo gives visitors the chance to eye gators and crocs up-close and even feed flamingos. There are daily reptile and bird shows and a kiddy play area with a tree house.

3701 Bay Shore Rd., FL, 941-355-5305,
Tags: family | great value | things to do | family attraction | wildlife

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

The circus came to town in the 1920s when the Ringlings started wintering in Sarasota. The 66-acre estate along Sarasota Bay is home to a 21-gallery art museum with an impressive collection of Old Masters’ paintings, a museum devoted to circus memorabilia, the 18th-century Asolo Theater, and gilded Cà d’Zan Mansion, the Ringlings’ over-the-top and slightly ostentatious winter abode.

5401 Bay Shore Rd., FL, 941-359-5700,
Tags: arts and culture | historic | great value | things to do

Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

Broadway blockbusters headline at the Van Wezel, a lavender-hued landmark along Sarasota Bay. The venue mixes in comedy, dance, and musical performances that range from orchestral to pop.

777 N. Tamiami Trail, FL, 800-826-9303,
Tags: arts and culture | things to do

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