Whether you’re a local or a visitor, Sarasota County offers something for everyone. From its beautiful beaches, to its botanical gardens, on a single tank of gas, you can visit and experience a wide array of attractions. Here are our suggestions for where you should go from sunup to sundown.
7:00-8:00 AM: Start your day at the Celery Fields. Watch the sunrise on top of the steep hill at this park, which at one time was the county’s landfill. The Celery Fields have walking paths that surround streams and lakes. It’s also one of the best bird watching sites in the area. The Celery Fields is home to the Sarasota County Audubon Society.
Celery Fields Address: 6893 Palmer Boulevard, Sarasota, FL 34240
8:30 AM-9:30 AM: After a 30-minute drive, we suggest getting breakfast at one of the cute and quaint restaurants in Siesta Key Village. Some dining options include, Sun Garden Café, Village Café, Toasted Mango and Another Broken Egg. Siesta Key Village also has some great shopping options.
Siesta Key Village Address: 5100 block of Ocean Blvd., Siesta Key, FL 34242
9:45 AM-10:45 AM: After breakfast, it’s time to burn off those calories by taking a walk on Siesta Key Beach. The beach is often ranked among the best in America, mainly because of its white, sugar-like sand.
Siesta Key Beach Address: 948 Beach Road, Siesta Key, FL 34242
11:15-12:15 PM: Once you’re done with walking the beach, head over the Ringling Bridge to Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. Here, you’ll experience a face to face encounter with marine life, such as fish, turtles and even manatees. Many of the animals at Mote have been rescued from the ocean for various reasons, while scientists work inside the laboratory, researching ways of protecting the marine ecosystem.
Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium Address: 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, FL 34236
12:20-1:15 PM: Directly across the street from Mote is the Save our Seabirds facility. Similar to Mote, this organization rescues seabirds such as seagulls and pelicans. Unfortunately, many of the birds here will never be able to return to the wild, while others are rehabilitating from their injuries. The facility is open to the public and you’ll be able to get face to beak with many of these animals.
Save our Seabirds Address: 1708 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, FL 34236
1:30-3:30 PM: Just a short drive from Save our Seabirds and Mote is St. Armands Circle. This popular destination is one of the marquee places in southwest Florida for shopping and dining. Stores include, Lilly Pulitzer, Tommy Bahama, and a large number of family owned, independent businesses. We suggest having lunch here at restaurants like Columbia, Shore Diner, or Venezia.
St. Armands Circle Address: 300 Madison Drive, Sarasota, FL 34236
3:45-4:45 PM: After lunch and shopping, you’ll head back over the Ringling Bridge to Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. The facility is an urban, bayfront oasis, showcasing a living collection or rare and beautiful tropical plants.
Selby Gardens Address: 811 S. Palm Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34236
5:30-6:00 PM: After Selby Gardens, we suggest driving south for about 45 minutes until you reach the city of Venice. Since you’ll be here around sunset, be sure to visit the pier at Sharky’s restaurant. The pier is popular for anglers, but we think it’s a great place to catch a gorgeous sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.
Sharky’s Pier Address: 1600 Harbor Drive South., Venice, FL 34285
6:15-7:15 PM: After taking in a great sunset, it’s time to eat again. Downtown Venice is quickly becoming a wonderful destination for foodies. Along Venice Avenue, there are many dining options, with some of the best Italian restaurants in the area, such as Made in Italy, Ristorante San Marco, and Cassariano.
Downtown Venice Address: 100 block of West Venice Ave., Venice, FL 34285
Still not tired after a long day? If the night is still young for you, head to Downtown Sarasota’s Main Street. Downtown has many bars and restaurants that remain open very late. For live music, check out Mattison’s City Grille, or the Gator Club located directly across the street.
Downtown Sarasota Address: 1400 block of Main Street, Sarasota, FL 34236
Next week, we’ll show you where to go in Manatee County on a tank of gas.