So, as you all know, me and Ruby live in Jacksonville, Florida, but our wedding will take place in Sarasota, Florida. We are compiling this “Where to Go in Sarasota” list to make our wedding guests (and other potential travelers) to the city more welcome and have a one-stop shop of list of places to go.
Our wedding takes place during Memorial Day Weekend 2016 from May 27th (Friday: Rehearsal Dinner), to the ceremony & reception on May 28th (Saturday), so guests potentially have one to three days to know where to go in Sarasota & saves the effort in trip planning.
As a background, Sarasota is a city where I grew up when our family first came to America, and is a very special place for me. It’s not very big, around 50,000 people, but it has many attractions, and some of the best beaches in the world. Without further adieu, the list of places to see (where we’ve been to ourselves – you may see future links below detailing the place itself & photos!):
- The Beaches – My personal favorite is Siesta Key Beach, the most famous beach in Sarasota, and one of the most famous in the United States due to its incredible soft white sand which feels like walking on flour or warm snow. Siesta can get very crowded at peak times in the summer, so getting there around 9:30-10 in the morning is a good idea. You can swim, rent a jet ski, do some parasailing, or just sip cocktails and chomp on seafood at nearby bars and restaurants. The city recently renovated the Siesta Key boardwalk area, so it looks much better.
- Ringling Museum of Art – This sprawling complex is the legacy of famous businessman John Ringling, who brought over many beautiful Renaissance paintings to his mansion on Sarasota Bay. You can view them along with beautiful sculptures and gardens at the museum, but the real draw is Ringling’s mansion, called Ca’ d’Zan, which is opulent and features stunning views over the Bay.
- St. Armand’s Circle – Only walking distance from Longboat Key Beach, this is a great place to walk around boutique clothing shops, ice cream parlors, art galleries, beach shops and some of the best restaurants in Sarasota, including the Spanish themed Columbia Restaurant.
- Marie Selby Botanical Gardens – If you like a large variety of beautiful flowers, plants, towering trees, and spectacular views from the water, then this is the place for you.
- UTC Mall – Sarasota’s newest and biggest mall, it’s a gargantuan complex of retail shops and restaurants, located near the freshly built Rowing complex, which will host the 2017 World Rowing Championships. There can be a lot of traffic here, so be aware of that before your arrival.
- Sarasota Classic Car Museum – Located near the Ringling Museum, this museum contains around 100 vintage cars, from muscle cars to sports cars to classic antique beauties.
- Sarasota Jungle Gardens – A very family friendly attraction, this zoo is full of exotic animals and is big enough to spend a few hours inside.
You will find that Sarasota is a pretty laid back place, with friendly people, reasonable traffic, and great, warm weather. Now, Sarasota does have a reputation amongst some as being the place of “old” people, and it is true that it’s full of snowbirds, as well as East Coast transplants, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that it’s a boring place. You might find some of the driving annoying (to be more precise: some people drive slower than you’ll be used to!), but besides that, it’s a beautiful, vibrant city, and a must see.
Ruby’s note: I love the shopping at Macy’s & Dillards in UTC Mall. It’s a great place to go to after the holidays to take advantage of their many discounts & deals.