Snowbirds can’t get enough of Florida because of its beautiful beaches, sunny weather, and cheery vibe. While families love visiting Florida’s best water park, other travelers prefer planning an itinerary to the Florida Keys. There’s a reason why Florida destinations like Miami and Orlando are widespread, including Sarasota. Located south of Tampa, Sarasota offers gorgeous beach views and incredible sights minus the bustling crowds. Travelers aching to visit a tropical destination might want to try Sarasota. At the same time, travelers heading to Sarasota this summer should check out these popular (and incredible) things to enjoy in this sunny Florida city!

8 Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

Address 1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy, Sarasota, FL 34236-1004
Hours of Operation Monday to Sunday, 9:30am - 5:00pm
Admission Cost $26.00 (adult), $19.00 (3 - 12 years), 0 (under 3)

Sometimes it isn’t easy (and not permitted) to get up close and personal to marine wildlife when doing a wildlife tour on a boat. Luckily, the animal-loving traveler can venture to the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in City Island to get a peek into Florida’s ocean life! Step into the reconstructed habitats of Florida’s most iconic animals, including the manatees, alligators, and river otters. Additionally, starting at $35, tourists can book a 2-hour Sea Life Encounter Cruise through the aquarium to learn more about Florida’s manatees and bottlenose dolphins!

7 Myakka River State Park

Address 13208 State Road 72, Sarasota, FL 34241-9546
Hours of Operation Monday to Sunday, 8:00 am - Sunset
Admission Cost $2 to $6 (per vehicle), $2 (per person, bus tour fee)

The Myakka River State Park is one of Florida’s largest parks, blessed with lush land. Visitors can enjoy the gorgeous sights of wetland and prairie landscapes adorned with wildflowers and other tropical plants in the Sunshine State. Adventure buffs can also get their adrenaline fixed at the park, home to several activities like canoeing and kayaking. There are also airboat tours for tourists to sit back and relax while exploring the park.

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6 St. Armands Circle

Address 300 Madison Dr. Suite 201, Sarasota, FL 34236-1300
Hours of Operation Monday to Saturday, 10:00am - 10:00pm, Sunday, 10:00am - 7:00pm
Admission Cost Free (but bring money for shopping!)

Looking for a place to shop and dine? The St. Armands Circle in Sarasota’s St. Armands Key is an excellent destination for dining, shopping, and cooling off from the intense Florida heat! With hundreds of shopping and dining establishments, tourists can spend an entire day here! Though some people would instead enjoy a day at Jupiter Beach, others prefer a fun shopping excursion at Sarasota’s St. Armands Circle!

5 Bayfront Park

Address Bayfront Dr, Sarasota, FL 34236
Hours of Operation Monday to Sunday, 7:00am - 11:00pm
Admission Cost Free

Traveling with a fur baby? Luckily for them, Bayfront Park is pet-friendly! The park is a well-known area for dog-walking, jogging, and catching the beautiful Floridian sunset. Bayfront Park is also home to a kids’ playground, rain garden, picnic areas, and displays of local plant species (try to spot varieties like the cabbage palm, railroad vine, or the sea purslane). Offering some of the best views in Sarasota, Bayfront Park is also equipped with a tiki bar for travelers seeking a cold brew under the scorching Florida sun.

4 Lido Key Beach

Address 400 Benjamin Franklin Dr, Sarasota, FL 34236, United States
Hours of Operation N/A
Admission Cost Free (Fee for pool use)

Lido Key Beach is a somewhat famous beach in Florida, attracting beachgoers from near-far and wide! This white sandy beach is close to hotels, resorts, and condo rentals for snowbirds seeking a Florida escape. Relax under the sun or delve into a picnic lunch while enjoying the chill vibes at Lido Key Beach. For a fee, families can also enjoy the beach’s swimming pool, open from Tuesday to Sunday. Visitors looking for a more relaxed beach setting may also enjoy Lido Key as it's not as crowded as Miami Beach, a tourist hotspot in Florida.

3 South Lido County Park

Address 2201 Benjamin Franklin Dr, Sarasota, FL 34236
Hours of Operation Monday to Sunday, 6:00am - 10:00pm
Admission Cost Free

Only a stone's throw away from Lido Key Beach, the South Lido County Park is located at the southern end of Lido Key. Visitors who make the trip to the park will notice miles upon miles of beautiful coastal sites due to the park’s proximity to four bodies of water: The Gulf of Mexico, the Brushy Bayou, Sarasota Bay, and the Big Pass. In addition, there are 100-acres of property for visitors to enjoy and explore, whether it’s by kayaking, bird-watching, picnicking or leisurely hiking along the park’s trails.

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2 The Celery Fields

Address 999 Center Road Sarasota, FL 34240
Hours of Operation N/A
Admission Cost Free

Despite its name, the Celery Fields is not a field full of celery plants! But, it is, however, a 400-acre site for birdwatching. The Celery Fields are a perfect place for walking, hiking, kayaking, and fishing, offering sights and sounds for the traveling nature lover. Enjoy the marshland and canals found in this protected Sarasota wildlife ground while being amongst the majestic willow and oak trees. There are about 246 birds identified at the park, but who knows, visitors may find more during their visit!

1 Marie Selby Botanical Gardens (Sarasota Campus)

Address 1534 Mound St, Sarasota, FL 34236
Hours of Operation Monday to Sunday, 10:00am - 5:00pm
Admission Cost $25 (Adults), $10 (15-17), Free (Under 4)

The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is a tranquil escape into nature in Sarasota. With over 15-acres of land, this botanical garden features thousands of plants worldwide and is home to hundreds of plants native to Florida. Smell the fragrance of blooming orchids while awing at the majesty of various tropical plants. Some of the world’s most beautiful orchids can be found here, as it’s the only facility dedicated to studying tropical plants—like orchids, bromeliads, and ferns—so extensively!