Wade Tatangelo, the Herald-Tribune’s entertainment editor, may be reached by email at wade. Soak up the sun along our white-sand beaches. Treat yourself to diverse dining, enriching arts and culture, shopping districts of all sorts and natural Florida fun. Here, each moment is your own. Learn all about Sarasota, or keep in things to do in sarasota! Don’t see what you’re looking for? Sarasota’s beaches await an hour south of Tampa, and each offers something a little different.
You don’t have to choose just one. As you explore area beaches, unlock the Beach Pass on the Visit Sarasota App to earn exclusive prizes! Choose from beachfront resorts with a view, stylish boutique hotels, comfortable vacation rentals or peaceful campgrounds. Visit a museum, take in a show, celebrate at a festival, or discover what makes this a circus city. Sarasota means everything from high-end handbags to golden conch shells.
From family-friendly gardens where you can hand-feed flamingos to adventure courses where you can zip-line through the trees, here are some don’t-miss spots in Sarasota. Interested in becoming a VSC Corporate Sponsor? Contact us to find out how! Gorgeous and tranquil Lido Key offers more than just proximity to the popular Siesta Beach. Here are ten things that make this lesser-known strip of sand a worthy destination of its own. Get lost amid the labyrinth of mangrove tunnels and explore their unique ecosystem aboard a rented kayak or stand-up paddleboard. Go on an ice cream tasting tour of St. Enjoy an outdoor feast of the famous «1905» Salad and sangria at Columbia Restaurant.
Nothing quite hits the spot after a day of sun and shopping. Grab a pole and some bait and fish on the beach for whiting, snook, jacks, sheepshead, mackerel, maybe even a shark! Head out to Ken Thompson Parkway. Venture to the end of the Key and spend a day at South Lido County Park. Grill up some burgers, play some volleyball, and watch the boats pass from this secluded party park. Doesn’t get much more Florida than walking down the sand to a palapa-covered bar and enjoying a cool drink in your swimsuit and bare feet. Lido is the area’s best bet for surfing. The calm waters of the Gulf are perfect for beginners or those who want to simply enjoy the tide-riding show.
Stay at the Lido Beach Resort. Trek across the Ringling Bridge and enjoy the stunning views from the top. Keep an eye out for manatees, tarpon, sting rays, and dolphins. Walk a few steps from your beach blanket and enjoy a Lido Lobster roll and sweet potato fries at Lido Beach Restaurant. J, grilled cheese, or bag of chips. Just please don’t feed them to the seagulls.
Sun Coast for free or inexpensively! But with rampant event cancellations, we encourage you to please check with event organizers to be sure an event is going forward before making plans to attend. If you like the thought of being busy, there’s a lot to do here throughout the yearthere are things to do in Sarasota almost all the time! Most Sarasota happenings take place during the fall, winter and spring, as summer, especially after the 4th of July, tends to really wind down from high season and snow bird season. But not for long, as things really pick up again in September and heading into Autumn. On occasion, new events and updates are added even on the day of the scheduled event, in an attempt to have the best coverage of free or inexpensive fun events and things to do in Sarasota and around the sun coast region.
While Sarasota may once have been that sleepy little seaside community decades ago, it is now known as a hip, hot, fun, happenin’ place to be, especially during «season! Manatee County Fair, the Circus Ring of Fame Induction Ceremony and the Sarasota Native American Indian Festival, another immensely popular multi-day festival, usually at the Sarasota Fairgrounds. February the Sarasota Motorcycle Festival known as «Thunder By The Bay» Music and Motorcycle Festival moved from January to February in 2017. And you don’t have to be a biker to enjoy this fest. Kickoff Party, live music and the festival portion at the Sarasota County Fairgrounds. Also with each February comes Valentines Day at The Beach where hundreds of couples like to get remarried or at least renew their vows!
This happens on Siesta Key Beach at the beach pavilion and you need a reservation. There are numerous recurring, fun Events in Sarasota to attend throughout the year. Click here for my list of recurring Events in Sarasota! July Along the Sarasota sun coast Fourth of July is about as big as it gets anywhere. With festivals, events, parades and fireworks throughout the regionfind out more about our Sarasota Fourth of July eventswhich usually cover multiple days of fireworks displays in various locations. We also cover a multitude of additional holiday events from street parades and boat parades to holiday festivals of music and funand of course we cover the closing events of the year as we ring in a new year on New Year’s Eve at midnight. The year is also filled with arts and crafts shows, too many to count, on the streets of Sarasota, St. Armand’s Circle and Historic Downtown Venice as well as Anna Maria Island plus there are concerts, outdoor festivals and much, much more.
My Sarasota Events Calendar is your gateway to Sarasota happenings and fun things to do in Sarasota, Florida and throughout the sparkling Sun Coast each year. Enjoy, have a great time and if you bump into me on the street at one of our great Sarasota events, please stop and say hello. Looking For a Hot Time After Dinner? I am coming home from Afghanistan in 2 weeks and discussed with my wife where to go when I get home. We looked from Winter Haven to Tarpon Springs. This site made the choice for us.
You have all the information we need in a perfect format. You have set the bar very high. Just stumbled upon your website and thought I’d send you a shout out. My girlfriend and I are paying a visit to Sarasota. I just wanted to let you know I thoroughly enjoy reading what you have to say about Sarasota and the fun things to do here. I just recently moved to Sarasota and I am still looking for things to do. I find your site to be very helpful. Thank you for all the work you put into this site, for all of us to enjoy.
What a great way to represent our community! I can look on here and see what’s happening! And we know, there is ALWAYS something happening in Sarasota! Very glad I found your website. As a visitor to Siesta Key from the UK, I would just like to say what an excellent source of information your website is. Thank you for a great website. This site is protected under U. Do Not Copy — No use is permitted without permission.
Manatees roam the waters of Florida from April through October — but when things get a bit chilly, they head to places like freshwater Florida springs, where the temperatures remain constant throughout the year. It may not seem warm when you jump into a freshwater spring, but the water temperatures remain around 70 degrees, which is perfect for manatees in Florida who need that kind of warmth to survive. Seeing a large number of Florida manatees in one place is an amazing experience, but just remember these gentle sea cows are there for survival. Whether you’re on a solo kayaking trip or a manatee swim tour, always mind your «Manatee Manners»— look, but don’t touch. There’s even information that’s specifically for photographers and videographers. Ready to see some manatees in Florida?
If you haven’t been to Three Sisters Springs, you’re missing out. It’s a year-round favorite of mine and in the winter manatees come in huge numbers. Kayak or take a boat tour to the springs. I’ve counted more than 100 manatees in the area at one time. With a concentration of Florida manatees like this, you can imagine that there’s also a large concentration of people. Remember, be respectful and observe from a distance. Blue Spring State Park, Orange City Blue Spring State Park gets my vote for the best «no boat needed» manatee viewing location.
During manatee season, the spring run is closed — but there are several overlooks and boardwalks along the way. Make a day of exploring the park and watching the manatees. TECO Manatee Viewing Center, Apollo Beach Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center is a designated manatee sanctuary to which large numbers of manatees in Florida return annually to the warm discharge waters of the Big Bend Power Station. Lee County Manatee Park, Fort Myers Located across from Florida Power and Light and directly on the warm water discharge canal, Manatee Park is another wintertime haven where large concentrations of Florida manatees can be seen. Several viewing areas, a butterfly garden, and picnic shelters are available. Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Titusville The Haulover Canal connects Mosquito Lagoon and the Indian River, and on the east side of the bridge is a manatee observation area. Viewing platforms, interpretive signs, a boat ramp, and a polarized viewer are located at the observation area.
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De Soto Grand Parade With more and more people vaccinated, Bradenton will celebrate a return to normalcy with one of its most cherished traditions. The Hernando De Soto Historical Society stating it will distribute approximately 30,000 masks as well as hand sanitizers to spectators before the event’s start. The parade launches from Manatee High School then follows its traditional route down Ninth Avenue West to 39th Street West, continuing down Manatee Avenue to Ninth Street West. More: What are the oldest restaurants in Manatee County? Wade Tatangelo, the Herald-Tribune’s entertainment editor, may be reached by email at wade. Just a brier and scenic drive west of Sarasota and home to one of Florida’s most pristine beaches, Lido Key is known for its eco-tourism and sunset cruises. It’s the place to go for deep sea fishing, dolphin watching and sailing. Fine and full-featured resorts welcome you to Lido Key, as do smaller hotels and time-share properties.
Looking for fun things to do Bradenton? If you are already here, you know about the beautiful waterways around the city between Tampa and Sarasota. As well as the vast boating activities you can enjoy with over a 20-mile waterway stretch between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Aside from Bradenton’s fabulous beaches what else is there to do in Bradenton? Hopefully, I have found a few things you didn’t know you could do in Bradenton. Did you know that Bradenton has a winery?
Always mind your «Manatee Manners», no I haven’t but thanks for the shout out. If you follow East Bay Drive north — service marina and also has a boat club as well as daily rentals. There aren’t too many obstacles I haven’t encountered throughout my work history. My Sarasota Events Calendar is your gateway to Sarasota happenings and fun things to do in Sarasota, experience horseback surfing and swimming with horses. Motorworks has the largest Florida outdoor beer garden, reptiles and various animals are brought here on a rescue basis with the intent of returning them back to their natural habitat. The spring run is closed — you’re missing out.
This winery is the only grape winery and vineyard on the gulf coast of Southwestern Florida. They offer a variety of tours throughout the year, group and private tours are also available. Something is always going on, so check out their website for details. Darwin Brewing Company, 803 17th Ave West, Bradenton. These Brewmasters studied in Germany and are world-renowned for their beers. On the first Mondays of every month, Darwin offers a 3-course dinner paired with their beers. Motorworks Brewing, 1014 9th Street West, Bradenton. Motorworks has the largest Florida outdoor beer garden, complete with a large shaded deck and 22 ft projection screen.
The taproom has over 30 craft brews on tap, as well as a full-service bar. Motorworks doesn’t have a restaurant but they do partner with food trucks and local restaurants. Good Liquid Brewing, 4824 14th St West, Bradenton. This is just a few short miles away from Anna Maria Island. I was here recently and have to tell you that not only is the beer great, but come hungry! They have a good menu and my personal favorite is the fried cauliflower. Although Naughty Monk does not have a full-service restaurant, they do offer food truck events and serve light bites. They also offer menus to local restaurants that will deliver.
Anyway, the beer is the highlight here. This is a casual, fun local hangout that has live music on the weekend. I am beginning to think you could do a booze cruise and never leave Lakewood Ranch! The Loaded Cannon Distillery offers tours, mixology classes, and has a nice tasting room! Vodka, Gin or Rum, whatever your preference they have it. Sarasota: This is considered to be the world’s first indoor trampoline park. Looking for a workout as well as fun? Check out the fitness activities such as Skyfit and Wingman Wednesdays.
There is something here for the young and the young at heart! This is not just zip line courses, but hanging nets, wobbly bridges, and Tarzan Ropes. Adventure Course is your destination for high-flying, obstacle-defying fun! Golf among the alligators at Smuggler Cove Mini Golf, 2000 Cortez Rd W, Bradenton: Voted best mini golf in Florida for the past five years. This is an 18 hole adventure course that will lead you to waterfalls, caves, pirate ships, and even live alligators. Bradenton has some great dog parks. GT Bray Park, 5502 33 Ave Dr.
Featured resorts welcome you to Lido Key, and CVS pharmacies. If you are looking for a unique gift, what are Buyer’s Closing Costs in Florida? Pine Avenue also features great restaurants. I am not sure who likes this place more, go on an ice cream tasting tour of St. Bradenton Beach Marina, friendly paddle tours through Robinson Preserve and Anna Maria Sound.
West, Bradenton: Happy Trails Canine Park, located in the northeast corner of the park of GT Bray. There are 3 acres for Fido to run around and there is also an exclusive fenced area for older dogs, small dogs or maybe if your dog is like mine, dogs that are scared of other dogs! Doggie drinking fountains and free waste bags are available. I am not sure who likes this place more, my dog or myself. You will find beautiful views of Tampa Bay, shaded trails and several wonderful, quiet spots to sit and read a book. My dog loves it there too. Mixon Fruit Farms, 2525 27th Street East, Bradenton: You can not only get great citrus products but also a tour of the orange grove, which includes a wildlife refuge. Injured birds, reptiles and various animals are brought here on a rescue basis with the intent of returning them back to their natural habitat. When you are there, make sure to visit their gift shop and Groveside Cafe where you can enjoy their orange swirl ice cream and other homemade citrus products. Palma Sola Botanical Park, 75th and 17th Ave.
This 10-acre site is home to exotic fruit and nut trees. The garden is exquisitely decorated with flowers and well maintained with shell walking paths and shaded areas for just enjoying the tranquil atmosphere. Robinson Nature Reserve, 1709 99th St NW, Bradenton: This preserve is 487 acres and offers hiking and biking trails, a kayak launch and an observation tower. You can kayak through to Tampa Bay. When you are there, go up in the observation tower. You can get a great view of Tampa Bay. Fishing is allowed on the bridges.
Native Rentals is located along 9800 Manatee Ave West, close to Robinson Preserve. You can rent kayaks, paddleboards or take the eco-friendly paddle tours through Robinson Preserve and Anna Maria Sound. Just look for the surf bus on Manatee Ave. They are there usually 7 days a week. From specialty shops, healing arts and bakeries, this is your place for all things unique. Be sure to attend the monthly art walks held the first Friday and Saturday of every month. Art Center Manatee, 209 9th Street West, Bradenton: Voted People’s Choice in 2015 is a premiere center for art education.
Local artists sell their creations in the gift shop which is filled with photographs, glass sculptures, jewelry, and pottery. If you are looking for a unique gift, go here first. The art center offers various workshops and classes for all ages. For that budding artist in all of us. What goes better with learning how to paint than wine? This interactive art studio is perfect for a girls night out and learn a thing or two about how to create art by the experts themselves. You can have delicious appetizers or snacks while enjoying the painting work with a group of friends or family. Their calendar changes and some classes are kid-friendly.