Are you in sarasota

Tips for visiting Sarasota

Former fishing village with the most beautiful beaches in America

Sarasota (Florida) is a former fishing village and is located on the beautiful Gulf of Mexico on the west coast of Florida. So there was no question that we wanted to visit Sarasota on our 2-week Florida road trip.

Unfortunately, the Sunshine State doesn't mean it well to us today: It rains, flashes and thunders as much as it can when I open my eyes in the morning. There are plenty of alternatives for rainy days like these in Sarasota.

Sarasota - popular holiday destination with a wide range of culture and nature

Only 90 km from Tampa and 120 km from Fort Myers, Sarasota County offers a wide range of culture with museums, art galleries and nature with mangroves, mineral springs, dream beaches and beautiful sunsets.

Sarasota is a city of around 52,000 people and is a very popular holiday destination. Especially through its six offshore islands Siesta Key, Lido Key, St. Armands Key, Manasota Key, Casey Key and Longboat Key with the beautiful white sandy beaches, thousands of tourists come to the west coast to relax here every year.

The keys are all linked by bridges. So you can get from beach to beach quickly by car. In addition to the great beaches - Siesta Key has been voted the most beautiful beach in the USA several times - there are numerous other sights and attractions.

Sights in Sarasota

My highlights also for rainy days

Yes, we were unlucky: thunderstorms like rain showers, flooded streets and beaches, thunderstorms with lightning and thunder. Rain is rare, but when it rains it is huge. On our Florida road trip the rain in the Everglades was announced, but it didn't really come until overnight in Sarasota.

No complaining helps on a road trip, a rain program was needed. Therefore you will find my highlights in Sarasota not only for sunny days:

Siesta Key Beach Sarasota - the most beautiful beach in the USA

Siesta Key Beach, which is located on an offshore island from Sarasota, has been repeatedly recognized by “Dr. Beach "voted America's most beautiful beach. Even before beaches in Hawaii. The residents are particularly proud of this. And I have to admit that I really like it here.

The white quartz sand is very fine and the beach is really very beautiful. Powder-soft sandy beach, very spacious and the water turquoise blue. Unfortunately it had rained so heavily during our visit that even the beach was "under water".

Just with more people and fewer palm trees. Still a dream if it doesn't rain like a torrential rain (like us), which admittedly is very seldom the case in the Sunshine State.

We still enjoyed strolling along the beach and listening to the sound of the sea. With a lot of luck you can see dolphins here or find shark teeth in the sand.

The Ringling Museum Complex

The circus is a tradition in Sarasota. John M. Ringling was one of the greatest circus pioneers and once had winter quarters in Sarasota. The wonderful oneRingling Museum Complex is worth a visit, not only on rainy days: you can visit the former residence of the Ringling couple with the imposing Cà d’Zan residential building, in the style of a Venetian palazzo.

The circus museum is a highlight for the whole family and offers young and old an insight into the everyday life of acrobats and showmen. Old carved animal wagons, barrel organs, elaborate costumes of the artists and animals, old circus posters and an incredible 1:12 scale model, which represents the size of the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

At the far end of the complex is Cà d’Zan (which means something like John's house), the Ringlings' winter palace.

The museum was built on the site where Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus set up winter quarters in Sarasota in the 1920s and 1930s. In addition, an art collection and an imposing residence with mansion and park were gradually added.

The Ringling Estate is the most visited attraction in Sarasota. Rightly so in my eyes. The Ringling complex is huge and beautifully laid out like a park. The area includes the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the Ca ‘d'Zan house and the circus museum. We mainly visited the circus museum.

Circus Museum John and Mable Ringling Museum Circus Museum

Right at the beginning of the museum, Ernest Hemingway is quoted:

"The Circus is the only spectacle I know that, while you watch it,
it gives the quality of a happy dream "

In the circus museum I feel transported back to my childhood. Originally used as winter quarters, the area has now been converted into a museum. There are old circus wagons that the Ringling family used to travel in, antique circus posters and tickets, original costumes and props to look at.

Pretty exciting for children that you can try out a few things. The world's largest miniature model of the circus as it once was can also be admired here.

More information about the circus museum in Sarasota:

You can find more information about the Ringling Estate on the official website and here you can download a site map with all buildings.

Opening times of the circus museum: Daily 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Thursdays until 8 p.m.

Tickets admission is $ 25 for adults, free for children under 6, and $ 5 for teenagers 18 and under. The tickets include all buildings in the Ringling complex. You only have to pay an extra 10 dollars for the Ca ‘d'Zan tour.

MOTE Marine Laboratory and Aquarium

The aquarium on Longboat Key came at just the right time as a tip for us. Because it was still raining heavily after our visit to the circus museum. A third time I didn't want to get wet that day.

in the MOTE aquarium is connected to a research station where marine biologists and scientists bring you closer to nature and wildlife. They are happy to explain something to you if you have any questions. Originally the MOTE was built to explore the marine world. The aquarium is now a globally recognized research station.

Here you can, for example, watch seahorse babies that are collected and brought to the MOTE for protection for rearing. Sea turtle nests are also monitored on the beaches outside the research center and observed until they hatch. Unfortunately, these animals are threatened with extinction.

Sick or injured animals are nursed back to health in the MOTE until they are healthy again and can return to the sea. I don't know if that's 100 percent true.

You can stroke rays in the petting pool. I don't think so and prefer to meet the animals in the open sea (like on my Belize Barrier Reef snorkeling tour). Why do you always have to touch animals? More interesting is the shark tank with reef sharks, nurse sharks, tiger sharks, rays, groupers, barracudas and tarpon. Sea turtles, manatees and otters.

We do not find the dolphins mentioned in Lonely Planet Florida and the rescued giant sick (probably an outdated information).

Tickets for 19.75 dollars you can get it in advance on the MOTE Aquarium website:

St. Armands Key

St. Armands Key has St. Armand's Circle. An area around St. Armand's Circle with restaurants, bars, cafes and small special shops such as the chilli shop "Pepper Palace", in which you can buy umpteen different chilli sauces and powders.

Here we stroll around the circle and then have dinner in Venezia (tips on eating further down in the article).

Other places worth seeing

Unfortunately my time was limited. Therefore, I have listed more places here that I would have liked to visit. In the end the rain was too heavy and the time too short. So you see that you can spend much longer than just 2-3 days in Sarasota:

Venice Beach

Venice Beach is also known as the "Shark Tooth Capital of the World". Here you will find shark teeth of all sizes on the beach. Every year in April the Shark Tooth Festival takes place in Venice Beach. Unfortunately we just missed this one.

Antje reveals more tips for finding shark teeth on

Myakka River State Park

Myakka River State Park is one of the oldest state parks in Florida. Nature lovers and outdoor fans in particular get their money's worth here: hiking, biking or camping is possible here. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to visit the Myakka River State Park.

Food and restaurant tips

The region around Sarasota is famous for good food and especially its stone crabs. October through May is the best time to eat these crabs.

From a culinary point of view, Sarasota County is the best place in Florida anyway. There are more award-winning (from the renowned restaurant guide Zagat) restaurants here than anywhere else in Florida.

Michael's on East

The food at Michael's on East is top notch. For almost 20 years this location has been one of the best restaurants in all of Florida. We had lunch here. However, it is difficult to get a seat without a reservation.

Special recommendation for lunch:Mikey's Grilled Grouper Sandwich. The locals I went to eat with were right in their recommendation: the sandwich is delicious! Tip for dessert:Old Fashioned Poppycock.It's popcorn with chocolate, pecans, walnuts and cashew nuts.

Venezia at St. Armand's Circle - Italian as we know it

We ended up in Venezia when we wanted to explore St. Armand's Circle in the evening. The pizza just laughed at us and just looked "Italian". Not like "American" thick-rimmed pizza. We were lucky and got a place. The two of us shared the pizza as it was huge. We also ate starter salads and drank a delicious glass of wine.

If you're in Florida craving a good pizza, Venezia is the place for you.

  • Opening hours: Daily 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
  • Address: 373 St. Armands Circle

Hotel tip: Aloft Hotel

Aloft Sarasota opened shortly before my Sarasota trip. Great location in the center of town. Also practical on a road trip: the car is given a parking space and you can even do valet parking if you wish.

The best thing about the Aloft Hotel: You get great beach cruisers available during your stay. Unfortunately not an option for us when it rains.

  • Hotel address: 401 Ringling Blvd, Sarasota, FL 34236, United States
Check it out at

Travel time and climate

Sarasota is a year-round travel destination. It is pleasantly warm here all year round. In winter the temperatures are never below 15 degrees. The summer is humid and temperatures are between 22 and 35 degrees.

Thanks to the ever-blowing breeze from the sea, these temperatures are very bearable. Winter is mild with temperatures between 11-23 degrees and autumn with 18-29 degrees is very pleasant. In spring, temperatures of 15 - 28 degrees are also very pleasant with lots of sunshine.

More about the climate in Florida

More articles for a Florida trip

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The visit to Sarasota was supported by Visit Sarasota. My opinion and tips are still my experiences, which are not influenced by it.

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