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12 Must-Visit Spots in Sarasota, From St Armands Circle to the Beautiful Ringling Museum

February 4, 2024 8 min read

There are so many wonderful cities in Florida, but if you’re looking for a change of scenery, Sarasota, Florida is the perfect getaway. It is also an easy day trip from Tampa, which is about an hour’s drive north. With charming neighborhoods, cultural attractions, and historical spots, Sarasota has become one of my favorite cities to visit. From the St Armands Circle to the Ringling Museum, Sarasota not only introduces visitors to European-inspired architecture but also offers something to do and see for all ages.

Sarasota is also a safe destination for many solo travelers and it is a wonderful place to visit year-round thanks to the many outdoor activities, stunning beaches, and indoor fun.

In addition, there are many charter fishing opportunities in Sarasota, Florida, perfect for the fishermen seeking an adventure in the Sarasota waters. There are also boat rental companies in case you’d like to explore on your own.

Beyond the outdoor fun, there are many other interesting spots where you can learn about art, and culture and where you can pick up some baked goods. While Sarasota has plenty to do, below are the 12 Must-Visit Spots you should check out.

12 Must-Visit Spots in Sarasota

From the vibrant art scene to hidden outdoor gems, Sarasota has plenty to offer visitors of all ages. Not only is Sarasota great for the whole family, but you can also do a solo trip or a couples trip as well.

So if you’re planning to visit Sarasota soon, here are the 12 must-visit spots in Sarasota.

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Historic Sites and Landmarks

There are so many different historic sites and landmarks around Sarasota, but if you have limited time, I recommend visiting these two places.

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The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

One of the first things I did when I got to Sarasota, after leaving my things in the hotel room, was go to the Ringling Museum. This gorgeous museum is not a typical museum of art. The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art stands out among Sarasota Florida museums as an absolute gem. From the lush gardens to the majestic architecture, The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art will surely capture your attention. You don’t have to love art to enjoy this wonderful museum as there are other things to do besides admire the art collection.

Before I get into the other things you can do at the museum, here is more to know about the Ringling Museum. It was named after John Ringling, who was best known for his association with the Ringling Bros. John and Mable were avid art collectors and started the museum to showcase their vast collection of art. The museum is located on the grounds of the Ringling estate along with a few other buildings. The estate is 66 acres full of gardens and buildings to explore.

What else can you find at the estate?

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Ca’ d’Zan: John and Mable’s winter residence. This beautiful Mediterranean Revival-style mansion is 36,000 feet with 56 rooms. You do need to pay extra to do the tour, but it’s worth it once you see the inside of the mansion, and there is this incredible view of Sarasota Bay.

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The Circus Museum: Here you’ll find all things related to the history of the Ringling Brothers Circus. This was quite an awesome place to visit.

Mable Ringling Rose Garden: This beautiful garden is near the Circus Museum and it is just so lovely to walk around the garden. It’s also a great spot for photos.

Millenium Tree Trail and More: At the estate, you’ll find quite a bit to see and do. There are a few more things such as the Millenium Tree Trail and the Dwarf Garden, which offer just as much entertainment and learning as the other spots mentioned here.

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Museum of Art: You may not be a fan of art, but you don’t have to be to check out the Museum of Art. The architecture is incredible to look at and there is a garden with statues to stroll through. If you do decide to go inside the art museum, brace yourself for the stunning collection and the architectural details that continue inside.

Expect to spend about: 4-5 hours, you can spend the whole day there!
Cost: Depends on the ticket you get. 

Museum Admission: 
Adult: $25
Age 6-17: $5

Museum Admission + 1st Floor of Ca' d'Zan: 
Adult: $35
Age 6-17: $15

Address: The Ringling is 5401 Bay Shore Rd, Sarasota FL 34243
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Burns Square Historic District

This quaint neighborhood has beautiful historical buildings as well as charming boutiques, art galleries, and dining establishments. You’ll also see a lot of street art in the area – From the walls to the sidewalk, it’s a charming area to explore.

Expect to spend about: 1-2 hours. Really depends on what you do here. 
Cost: Free to check out. Varies depending on where you go. 
Address: 531 S Pineapple Ave, Sarasota, FL 34236

Outdoor Gems

If you’re more of an outdoor person, but don’t want to go to the beach. Then check out some of the below outdoor gems.

Myakka River State Park

One of Florida’s largest and oldest state parks, Myakka River State Park has plenty to offer visitors. From outdoor recreational activities to a range of wildlife, this is one of the best state parks to check out in Florida. With over 37,000 acres, this state park has boat tours, hiking, fishing, bird watching, and a bunch of other outdoor activities. You can also go camping as well.

Aside from all that this state park also has an incredible suspension bridge, where you can view the wildlife and it also provides stunning views of the park.

Expect to spend about: 2-3 hours, depending on what you do. 
Cost: $6 per vehicle
Address: 13208 State Road 72
, Sarasota FL 34241

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

There are two locations, the Downtown Sarasota Campus and the Historic Spanish Point Campus. The Historic Spanish Point Campus is in Osprey, and while it is fairly close to Sarasota with a 24-30 minute drive, I am focusing this section on the Downtown Sarasota Campus.

situated on the shores of Sarasota Bay, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is a beautiful 45 acres of lush gardens. You’ll also find a koi pond, a butterfly garden, a restaurant, a cafe and so much more. You can also take a boat tour that takes you to the other Campus as well.

Expect to spend about: 3-4 hours on one campus 
Cost: Adults: $26, Ages 5-17: $11
Address: 1534 Mound Street, Sarasota, FL 34236
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Culinary Delights and Local Flavors

When it comes to going to a different city, I almost always need to try the local flavors and culinary delights the city offers. So when I heard about the Amish restaurants in Sarasota, I couldn’t help myself and had to check them out.

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Yoder’s Restaurant & Amish Village

A beloved dining spot in Sarasota, Florida, Yoder’s is known for its charming Amish village and its delightful offerings. The star of the show is undoubtedly the amazing pies, a must-try for any visitor. The accompanying farmers market offers everything from fresh produce to unique finds. Personally, I scored a whole 6 lbs of hibiscus Jamaica tea for just $3 – a fantastic deal. The restaurant also boasts a gift shop and a charming outdoor setup that gives a glimpse into Amish life. Inside, the menu showcases a variety of mouthwatering dishes, including broasted chicken, pot roast, country ham, and more.

Expect to spend about: 1-2 hours
Cost: Free to roam around
Address: 3434 Bahia Vista St., Sarasota, FL 34239
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Der Dutchman

Another beloved Amish spot, Der Dutchman brings the flavors of Ohio Amish Country to visitors with their breakfast, lunch, and dinner. When you walk into Der Dutchman, you’ll see the restaurant, but you’ll also see a section of the building full of baked goods and a gift shop on the second floor. The bakery has all sorts of goods – cookies, sweetbreads, white or wheat bread, apple cinnamon bread, cinnamon rolls, and more.

Der Dutchman is part of the Dutchman Hospitality along with its accompanying hotel Carlisle Inn. So if you’re looking for a place to stay, try the Inn and hop on over to Der Dutchman for some food.

Expect to spend about: 1-2 hours
Cost: Free to roam around
Address: 3713 Bahia Vista Street, Sarasota, FL, USA
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Siesta Key Rum

If you’re looking for a distillery with a free tour, check out Siesta Key Rum. Not only will you get the chance to try some free samples, but they also have a gift shop with unique merchandise great for gifts or souvenirs. The rum is also quite delicious as they infuse it with real food ingredients, such as their Toasted Coconut Rum, which is infused with real toasted coconut.

Expect to spend about: 2-3 hours
Cost: Free to roam around
Address: 2212 Industrial Blvd. Sarasota, FL 34234

Retail Therapy

Whether you’re interested in shopping, dining, or simply soaking up the atmosphere, the below places will give you all that and more.

st armands circle

St Armands Circle

A popular shopping and dining district in Sarasota, Florida, St Armands Circle offers a diverse and enjoyable experience for visitors. Situated on St. Armands Key, a barrier island off the coast of Sarasota, it is connected to the mainland by bridges making this spot a more secluded area. But it definitely is not secluded with the amount of people roaming around St Armands Circle.

Aside from all the upscale shops and restaurants, St Armands Circle is lively and has a cosmopolitan atmosphere. You’ll also find street performers, musicians, and artists often contributing to the entertainment in this fun district.

Expect to spend about: 3-4 hours, you could spend the whole day here. 
Cost: Free to roam around
Address: 300 Madison Dr, Sarasota, FL 34236

Main Street

If you’re looking for another shopping spot that is more central to Sarasota, then Main Street is the place to be. Another wonderful area, Main Street is located in Downtown Sarasota, where you’ll find yourself surrounded by shops and restaurants. It’s also quite a colorful spot with street art and quaint buildings.

Expect to spend about: 1-2 hours
Cost: Free to roam around
Address: 1568 Main St., Sarasota, FL 

Family-Friendly Activities

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

With educational programs tailored for children, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is a great family-friendly activity in Sarasota. Watch as marine science comes to life as you wander around the aquarium and learn more about marine conservation. There are also engaging exhibits showcasing a diverse array of marine animals, including sea turtles, sharks, and manatees.

Expect to spend about: 2-3 hours
Cost: Aquarium: Adult 13 and over: $29.00, Youth Ages 3-12: $21.00
Address: 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway
, Sarasota, FL 34236

Unique Experiences

While the list above should keep you busy, there are also unique experiences in Sarasota. If you’re looking for something more out of the ordinary away from museums and landmarks, then check out the below list.

From shopping at St Armands Circle in Sarasota, Florida, to outdoor adventures, museums to Amish restaurants, Sarasota is a great place to visit and make unforgettable memories that will linger long after your visit.

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1 Comment

  • Nancy February 9, 2024 at 10:48 am

    I am going to Florida in a few months and it’s exciting to learn about how culture influences certain areas. Sarasota has a really cool architecture and it is great that you can spend a couple of days exploring the town! Thanks for sharing some great gems of this town.

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    Hola! I'm Hanny and I have been traveling since the age of three. Although, I grew up traveling, it wasn't until 2013, when I decided to start a blog. Read More

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