THE SARASOTA TRAVEL GUIDE (2023) | What To Do When You’re Not At the Beach

“The Sarasota Travel Guide (2023) | What To Do When You’re Not At the Beach” is a captivating video that serves as a comprehensive travel guide for exploring Sarasota, Florida. Hosted by the adventurous couple, Jamie and Skylar of Explorcation, this video showcases the best activities and attractions in the city, aside from the famous beaches. From delectable food and drinks to arts and nature activities, viewers will find a plethora of recommendations to make the most of their time in Sarasota. Additionally, the video provides useful information on where to catch breathtaking sunset views over the water. Join Explorcation as they take you on an exciting journey through the hidden gems of Sarasota and prepare to be inspired for your next adventure!

In this 2023 travel guide, Explorcation invites you to be their travel guide in Sarasota, Florida. They offer a diverse range of activities, including exploring downtown Sarasota, visiting local attractions such as the Sarasota Farmer’s Market and local bakeries, and discovering the beauty of Bay Park with its stunning views of Lido Key and Longboat Key. They also recommend must-visit spots like the John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, and Mayaka River State Park for outdoor adventures. Don’t forget to indulge in Sarasota’s culinary delights at Owen’s Fish Camp, Shakespeare’s craft beer and gastropub, and Assan Thai. Finally, be sure to catch the breathtaking sunset views at the rooftop bar of the Westin Sarasota. Let Explorcation be your ultimate travel companion as they show you the best of Sarasota, Florida!”

Exploring Downtown Sarasota

Sarasota Farmer’s Market

When exploring downtown Sarasota, a visit to the Sarasota Farmer’s Market is a must. Located on Main Street, this vibrant market is open every Saturday morning and offers a wide range of fresh produce, artisanal goods, and local crafts. You can stroll through the market, sample delicious food, and shop for unique, handmade items. It’s a great place to support local businesses and get a taste of Sarasota’s thriving community.

Local Bakeries

After visiting the farmer’s market, head over to the local bakeries in downtown Sarasota to satisfy your sweet tooth. One popular bakery is Of Kors Bakery, located on Main Street. They offer a wide selection of European baked goods, including cookies, muffins, cakes, and pastries. Don’t forget to try their freshly roasted coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice for a perfect morning treat.

Art Galleries

Downtown Sarasota is also home to numerous art galleries, showcasing both local and international artists. Whether you’re an art enthusiast or just appreciate creativity, these galleries offer a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in Sarasota’s vibrant art scene. From contemporary paintings to sculptural installations, you can explore a variety of artistic styles and discover new favorites.

Shopping Districts

If you’re in the mood for some retail therapy, downtown Sarasota has several shopping districts that cater to a wide range of interests. Stroll along St. Armands Circle, an upscale shopping and dining destination known for its boutique shops, art galleries, and gourmet restaurants. Another popular area is Southside Village, where you’ll find a mix of trendy boutiques, vintage stores, and specialty shops. With so many options, you’re sure to find something unique and exciting.

Enjoying Outdoor Adventures

Bay Park

For outdoor enthusiasts, Bay Park is a must-visit attraction in Sarasota. Located on Tamiami Trail, this newly opened park offers a variety of activities for all ages. Take a walk along the wooden pathways, which feature beautiful carvings and educational displays about the local flora and fauna. You can spot wildlife, such as herons and turtles, and enjoy the colorful wildflowers that attract butterflies and bees. Don’t forget to take in the stunning views of the bay and relax on one of the park’s benches.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

For a tranquil outdoor experience, head to Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Located on South Palm Avenue, these gardens are known for their stunning display of tropical plants and orchids. Take a leisurely stroll through the gardens and enjoy the serene beauty of nature. You can also participate in educational programs, attend special events, or relax by the water features. It’s a perfect place to reconnect with nature and find inner peace.

Myakka River State Park

If you’re looking for a more adventurous outdoor experience, Myakka River State Park is the place to be. Located a short drive east of downtown Sarasota, this expansive park offers a range of activities for nature lovers. Explore the park’s hiking trails, rent a kayak or canoe to navigate the river, or go on a scenic drive to spot wildlife. Don’t forget to visit the park’s iconic canopy walk, where you can walk among the treetops and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding area.

Canopy Walk at Mayaka River State Park

One of the highlights of Myakka River State Park is the Canopy Walk, a unique experience that allows you to walk among the treetops and experience the park from a different perspective. This elevated walkway takes you through the canopy of the forest, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscape. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in nature and appreciate the beauty of the park from a bird’s-eye view.

Birdwatching at Myakka State Park

If you’re a bird enthusiast, Myakka River State Park is a paradise for birdwatching. With its diverse habitats, including wetlands, prairies, and hammocks, the park is home to a wide variety of bird species. From wading birds like herons and egrets to colorful songbirds and raptors, you can spot an impressive array of avian life. Be sure to bring your binoculars and camera to capture these beautiful feathered creatures in their natural habitat.

Visiting Popular Attractions

John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art

No trip to Sarasota is complete without a visit to the John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art. Located on Bay Shore Road, this museum is a cultural treasure that showcases a rich collection of art from around the world. Explore the stunning art galleries, admire the intricate architecture of the Ca’ d’Zan mansion, and stroll through the beautiful gardens. Don’t miss the Circus Museum, which pays homage to the legacy of the Ringling Brothers Circus. With its diverse offerings, the Ringling Museum is a must-visit attraction for art enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

Sarasota Opera House

For a dose of performing arts, make sure to catch a show at the Sarasota Opera House. Located on North Pineapple Avenue, this historic theater is known for its world-class performances and stunning architecture. From opera to ballet, concerts to theater productions, the Sarasota Opera House offers a diverse program that caters to all tastes. Sit back, relax, and immerse yourself in the magic of live performances in this spectacular venue.

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

If you’re interested in marine life, a visit to the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is a must. Located on City Island, this research institution and public aquarium offers a unique opportunity to learn about the diverse ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico. Explore the exhibits, which feature a variety of marine species, including sharks, dolphins, sea turtles, and colorful fish. You can also participate in interactive programs and behind-the-scenes tours to further enhance your understanding of marine conservation.

Marina Jack II

For a memorable cruise on Sarasota Bay, hop aboard the Marina Jack II. This luxurious yacht offers sightseeing, lunch, and dinner cruises, allowing you to enjoy stunning views of the bay and its surrounding attractions. Whether you’re looking to celebrate a special occasion or simply relax and unwind, a cruise aboard the Marina Jack II is a perfect way to experience the beauty of Sarasota from the water.

The Ringling Historic Asolo Theater

Located within the Ringling Museum complex, the Historic Asolo Theater is a hidden gem that shouldn’t be missed. This unique theater was originally built in 1798 in the Italian city of Asolo and later moved to Sarasota. Today, it serves as a venue for a variety of performances, including plays, dance, and music events. The theater’s intimate setting and rich history create a truly special atmosphere that transports visitors to another time.

Indulging in Local Cuisine

Owen’s Fish Camp

For a taste of Southern comfort food with a seafood twist, head to Owen’s Fish Camp. Located on Burns Court, this cozy and charming restaurant is known for its fresh seafood dishes and laid-back atmosphere. From fried oysters and jumbo lump crab cakes to Southern classics like fried chicken and shrimp and grits, the menu offers a variety of flavorful options. The rustic decor, friendly staff, and live music create a welcoming ambiance that adds to the overall dining experience.

Shakespeare’s Craft Beer and Gastropub

If you’re a beer enthusiast and enjoy gastropub fare, Shakespeare’s Craft Beer and Gastropub is the place to be. Located on South Tamiami Trail, this trendy spot offers an extensive selection of craft beers from around the world, as well as a menu that features elevated pub food. From burgers and sandwiches to artisanal pizzas and small plates, there’s something to satisfy every craving. The laid-back atmosphere and knowledgeable staff make Shakespeare’s a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

Assan Thai

For authentic Thai cuisine, look no further than Assan Thai. Located on South Tamiami Trail, this family-owned restaurant offers a menu filled with traditional Thai dishes bursting with flavors. From pad Thai and green curry to hot and sour soup and crispy duck, every dish is prepared with care using fresh ingredients and traditional cooking techniques. The cozy atmosphere and friendly staff make Assan Thai a popular choice for those in search of a delicious and satisfying meal.

Javier’s Restaurant and Wine Bar

If you’re craving Latin American cuisine with a modern twist, make a reservation at Javier’s Restaurant and Wine Bar. Located on South Tamiami Trail, this upscale restaurant offers a refined menu that celebrates the flavors of Latin America. From ceviche and empanadas to grilled steaks and seafood, every dish is expertly prepared and beautifully presented. The extensive wine list and attentive service add to the overall dining experience, making it a perfect spot for a special occasion or a romantic dinner.

Eat Here

For a casual dining experience with a focus on fresh, locally sourced ingredients, check out Eat Here. With two locations in Sarasota, one on South Siesta Drive and the other in the downtown area, this restaurant offers a menu inspired by “Gulf Coast cookery.” From seafood specials and gourmet burgers to creative salads and shareable plates, the menu at Eat Here offers a variety of flavorful options. The laid-back atmosphere and friendly staff make it a popular choice for those looking for a relaxed and enjoyable dining experience.

Experiencing Vibrant Nightlife

The Gator Club

For a night of live music and dancing, head to The Gator Club. Located on Main Street, this iconic Sarasota venue has been a staple of the city’s nightlife for over 100 years. With its vibrant atmosphere, talented bands, and spacious dance floor, The Gator Club is the perfect place to let loose and have a great time. Grab a drink from the fully stocked bar and get ready to dance the night away.

Evie’s Tavern on Main

If you’re looking for a more laid-back atmosphere with great food and drinks, Evie’s Tavern on Main is the place to be. Located on Main Street, this neighborhood sports bar offers a wide selection of craft beers on tap, as well as a menu filled with delicious pub fare. Whether you’re watching a game on one of the many TV screens, playing a game of pool, or enjoying live music on the outdoor patio, Evie’s Tavern is a great spot to relax and unwind.

Selva Grill

For a night of fine dining and cocktails, Selva Grill is a top choice. Located on Main Street, this upscale restaurant offers a fusion of Latin American and European flavors, creating a unique and memorable dining experience. From ceviche and tapas to grilled meats and fresh seafood, every dish at Selva Grill is crafted with care and attention to detail. Be sure to check out their extensive cocktail menu, featuring handcrafted specialty drinks that perfectly complement the flavors of the cuisine.

Daiquiri Deck

If you’re in the mood for frozen drinks and a lively atmosphere, head to Daiquiri Deck. Located on Ocean Boulevard on Siesta Key, this popular spot offers a variety of frozen daiquiris in different flavors, as well as a menu of casual American fare. Whether you’re looking to relax on the outdoor patio, listen to live music, or play a game of beach volleyball, Daiquiri Deck is the perfect place to kick back and enjoy a fun night out.

Bearded Clam Waterfront Restaurant and Tiki Deck

For a waterfront dining experience with a tropical vibe, Bearded Clam Waterfront Restaurant and Tiki Deck is a must-visit. Located on South Tamiami Trail, this casual restaurant and bar offers delicious seafood dishes, tropical drinks, and stunning views of the water. Whether you’re grabbing a drink at the tiki deck, dining indoors with a view, or watching the sunset from the outdoor patio, Bearded Clam provides a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere for a night out.

Discovering Art and Culture

The Marietta Museum of Art and Whimsy

If you’re looking for a unique and whimsical art experience, visit The Marietta Museum of Art and Whimsy. Located on North Tamiami Trail, this charming museum showcases contemporary artwork that celebrates joy, imagination, and creativity. From colorful sculptures to vibrant paintings, the museum offers a lighthearted and joyful exploration of art. It’s a great place to escape the ordinary and immerse yourself in a world of whimsy.

Art Center Sarasota

For a deeper dive into the local art scene, visit Art Center Sarasota. Located on North Tamiami Trail, this non-profit organization promotes contemporary visual arts through exhibitions, educational programs, and community outreach. Explore the gallery space, featuring a rotating schedule of exhibitions that highlight the work of local, national, and international artists. You can also participate in art classes and workshops to unleash your own creativity.

Sarasota Jungle Gardens

For a unique combination of nature and culture, check out Sarasota Jungle Gardens. Located on Bay Shore Road, this family-friendly attraction offers a mix of botanical gardens, wildlife exhibits, and interactive animal shows. Take a leisurely stroll through the lush gardens, where you can encounter exotic plants and colorful birds. Don’t miss the opportunity to get up close and personal with animals like flamingos, parrots, and alligators. It’s a perfect place for both relaxation and educational experiences.

Ringling College of Art and Design

To get a closer look at the next generation of artistic talent, pay a visit to the Ringling College of Art and Design. Located on Old Bradenton Road, this prestigious art school is known for its world-class programs in visual arts and design. Explore the campus and visit the galleries to see the work of emerging artists and designers. You can attend student exhibitions, presentations, and lectures to gain insight into the creative process and support the local arts community.

Relaxing in Nature

Siesta Key Beach

While Sarasota is known for its beautiful beaches, it’s worth mentioning a few of the nearby options where you can relax and soak up the sun. Siesta Key Beach, located just a short drive from downtown Sarasota, consistently ranks as one of the best beaches in the United States. With its powdery white sand and crystal-clear waters, Siesta Key Beach is a true paradise for beach lovers. Whether you’re looking to swim, sunbathe, or simply take a leisurely stroll along the shore, Siesta Key Beach offers a serene and picturesque escape.

Lido Key Beach

Another nearby beach worth exploring is Lido Key Beach. Located just off John Ringling Boulevard, this beautiful beach offers pristine sand, gentle waves, and breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico. Take a dip in the sparkling water, relax on the sandy shoreline, or enjoy a picnic in one of the beachside pavilions. Lido Key Beach is a popular spot for both locals and visitors, and its laid-back atmosphere makes it a perfect place to unwind and enjoy the natural beauty of Sarasota.

Longboat Key Beach

For a quieter and more secluded beach experience, head to Longboat Key Beach. Located on the barrier island of Longboat Key, this beach offers a tranquil setting with fewer crowds and more privacy. Take a leisurely walk along the shore, collect seashells, or simply enjoy the sound of the waves crashing against the sand. Longboat Key Beach is a hidden gem that provides a peaceful retreat for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Bayfront Park

If you’re looking for a peaceful park setting with beautiful views, Bayfront Park is the place to go. Located on Ringling Boulevard, this waterfront park offers a variety of amenities, including walking trails, picnic areas, and a fishing pier. You can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the water, watch boats sail by, or simply sit back and relax while taking in the stunning views of Sarasota Bay. Bayfront Park is a great place to connect with nature and enjoy a moment of serenity.

Celery Fields

For a unique outdoor experience, visit Celery Fields. Located east of Sarasota on Palmer Boulevard, this scenic area is known for its expansive wetlands, walking trails, and observation towers. Take a hike through the fields, spot a variety of bird species, or climb one of the towers for panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Celery Fields offers a peaceful and picturesque setting for nature enthusiasts and birdwatchers.

Exploring Nearby Islands

Anna Maria Island

If you’re looking to venture beyond Sarasota, a visit to Anna Maria Island is highly recommended. Located just a short drive to the north, this picturesque barrier island offers pristine beaches, charming coastal towns, and a laid-back atmosphere. Spend a day sunbathing, swimming, and exploring the island’s beautiful coastline. Don’t miss the chance to visit the cozy cafes, boutique shops, and art galleries that dot the island. Anna Maria Island is a hidden gem that captures the essence of coastal Florida.

Sanibel Island

Just a short drive from Sarasota, Sanibel Island is a nature lover’s paradise. Known for its beautiful beaches, unique shell collecting opportunities, and abundant wildlife, Sanibel Island offers a peaceful and serene escape. Explore the island’s nature reserves and wildlife refuges, go on a dolphin-watching tour, or simply relax on the sandy shores. With its unspoiled beauty and tranquil atmosphere, Sanibel Island is a perfect destination for those looking to reconnect with nature.

Captiva Island

Connected to Sanibel Island by a bridge, Captiva Island is another stunning destination worth exploring. Known for its breathtaking sunsets, pristine beaches, and charming village atmosphere, Captiva Island offers a true escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Take a leisurely bike ride along the island’s scenic paths, search for seashells along the shoreline, or indulge in a delicious meal at one of the island’s waterfront restaurants. Captiva Island is a slice of paradise that will leave you feeling rejuvenated and relaxed.

Gasparilla Island

Located to the south of Sarasota, Gasparilla Island is a hidden gem that offers a mix of history, natural beauty, and small-town charm. Visit the town of Boca Grande, known for its historic lighthouse, charming shops, and beautiful beaches. Take a leisurely walk along the island’s sandy shores, explore the local museums, or go fishing in the pristine waters. Gasparilla Island is a tranquil and enchanting destination that will transport you to a simpler time.

Cabbage Key

If you’re looking for a unique island experience, consider a trip to Cabbage Key. Accessible only by boat, this secluded island is known for its pristine natural beauty and rustic charm. Explore the island’s walking trails, visit the historic Cabbage Key Inn and Restaurant, and enjoy stunning views of the surrounding waters. Cabbage Key is a perfect place to disconnect from the outside world and immerse yourself in the peaceful tranquility of island life.

Enjoying Water Sports


Sarasota is a paradise for kayaking enthusiasts, with its calm waters and scenic surroundings. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced paddler, you can rent a kayak and explore the local waterways. Discover hidden mangrove tunnels, paddle through the bay, or embark on an eco-tour to learn about the area’s unique ecosystems. Kayaking is a fantastic way to connect with nature and experience the beauty of Sarasota from a different perspective.

SUP Boarding

Stand-up paddleboarding, or SUP boarding, is another popular water activity in Sarasota. Rent a paddleboard and glide along the calm waters, enjoying the tranquility and serenity of the surroundings. You can paddle through the bay, explore hidden coves, or even take a yoga class on the board. SUP boarding is a great way to stay active and enjoy the beauty of the water in a unique and engaging way.

Jet Skiing

For those seeking a thrill on the water, jet skiing is a fantastic option. Rent a jet ski and zip across the waves, feeling the wind in your hair and the spray of the water on your face. You can explore the coastline, visit nearby islands, or simply enjoy the adrenaline rush of speeding through the water. Jet skiing is a popular activity in Sarasota and allows you to experience the excitement of the ocean firsthand.


For a bird’s-eye view of Sarasota’s stunning coastline, try parasailing. Strap into a harness, ascend to the sky, and soar above the water, taking in panoramic views of the beach and the city. It’s an exhilarating and unforgettable experience that allows you to enjoy the beauty of Sarasota from a whole new perspective. So if you’re looking for an adventure that combines excitement and breathtaking views, parasailing is the way to go.

Fishing Charters

Sarasota’s waters are teeming with fish, making it a prime destination for fishing enthusiasts. Whether you’re a novice angler or an experienced fisherman, booking a fishing charter is a great way to explore the local fishing grounds and catch some impressive fish. Choose from a variety of fishing charters that cater to different skill levels and interests, and spend a day on the water reeling in snook, tarpon, grouper, and more. Fishing charters provide all the equipment and guidance you need for a successful and enjoyable fishing experience.

Finding the Best Sunset Views

Rooftop Bar at the Westin Sarasota

For breathtaking sunset views over the water, head to the Rooftop Bar at the Westin Sarasota. Located on North Tamiami Trail, this elegant bar offers panoramic views of Sarasota Bay and the surrounding area. Enjoy handcrafted cocktails, fine wines, and a selection of small plates as you watch the sun sink below the horizon. With its stylish atmosphere and unparalleled vistas, the Rooftop Bar is the perfect place to unwind and witness the beauty of a Sarasota sunset.

Bay Park

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, Bay Park is a great place to catch a stunning sunset. As mentioned earlier, this newly opened park offers beautiful views of the bay and the nearby keys. Find a spot along the waterfront, sit back, and watch as the sky turns shades of pink, orange, and purple. Whether you’re with friends, family, or that special someone, a sunset at Bay Park is a memorable experience that captures the magic of Sarasota’s natural beauty.

Beachfront Restaurants

Another great option for watching the sunset is to dine at one of the beachfront restaurants in Sarasota. Many of these establishments offer outdoor seating with unobstructed views of the beach and the setting sun. Enjoy a delicious meal while watching the vibrant colors fill the sky and reflect off the water. It’s a romantic and picturesque way to end the day and create lasting memories.

Sunset Cruises

For a truly unique sunset experience, consider taking a sunset cruise. Several tour companies offer cruises that allow you to enjoy the beauty of the sunset while gliding along the water. Sit back and relax as the boat takes you on a leisurely tour of Sarasota Bay, offering stunning views of the coastline and the setting sun. Some cruises even include live music, delicious food, and drinks, making it a perfect option for a special occasion or a romantic evening.

Marina Jack

For those looking for a convenient location to catch a sunset, Marina Jack is the place to be. Located on North Tamiami Trail, Marina Jack offers a variety of dining options, including a waterfront restaurant and a popular outdoor patio bar. Grab a table or find a spot on the patio, order your favorite drink, and watch as the sun dips below the horizon. With its prime location and lively atmosphere, Marina Jack provides a front-row seat to Sarasota’s dazzling sunsets.

In conclusion, Sarasota, Florida offers a wide range of activities and attractions beyond its beautiful beaches. From exploring downtown Sarasota and its farmer’s market to indulging in local cuisine and enjoying vibrant nightlife, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Outdoor adventures await at Bay Park, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, and Myakka River State Park, while art and culture can be found at the Ringling Museum of Art and other local institutions. Relaxation can be found in the area’s stunning nature parks and beaches, and nearby islands offer even more opportunities for exploration. Water sports enthusiasts will find plenty to do, from kayaking and paddleboarding to jet skiing and fishing. Finally, the best sunset views can be found at various locations throughout Sarasota, including rooftop bars, beachfront restaurants, and popular parks. Whether you’re a nature lover, an art enthusiast, a foodie, or a thrill-seeker, Sarasota has something to offer. So next time you visit this beautiful city, be sure to step away from the beach and embrace all that Sarasota has to offer.