Plan a Day Trip to Sarasota

Anna Maria Island, Florida, is a breathtaking destination just off the Gulf Coast. Guests flock to enjoy the “Old Florida” feeling and experience the company of welcoming locals, fresh seafood, and the stunning nature around every corner. Should you feel the need to explore more, you can easily make a day trip to Sarasota while vacationing on AMI.

Sarasota is only a 45-minute drive from Anna Maria Island and offers plenty for the entire family to enjoy. Experience the rich history and fascinating nature for the day before heading back to our Anna Maria Island resort in the evening. If you only have one day to explore Sarasota, here are some of the top destinations you should consider visiting. 

sarasota skyline at sunset
Photo by Shutterstock

Things to Do 

When you come to Sarasota, perhaps your biggest issue will be deciding which activity to do first! There’s something for everyone, from the art enthusiast to the science lover to the nature buff and everyone in between.

Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium

At the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, fun and education perfectly combine. You and your family can get face-to-face with some of the most fascinating sea creatures in the area, and you can learn about Mote’s efforts to help rehabilitate animals and learn more about them and their habitats. They’ve got a good number of permanent and rotating exhibits, offering something new to explore every time you come! Sea horses, manatees, otters, turtles, jellyfish, and sharks are just a few of the breathtaking animals you can expect to meet on your visit.

You’ll find the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium at 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway.

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art 

John Ringling (and his wife Mable) dominated the circus industry and had a massive impact on the Sarasota area. Here, you can witness artwork from around the world, many of them genuine pieces that John collected on his travels around Europe. You are welcome to explore the museum at your own pace, or if you want a bit more insight into what you’re seeing, you can take a 45-minute tour. This museum has been called the “go-to” art museum of Florida, and once you visit for yourself, you’ll understand why!

The Ringling Museum is located at 5401 Bay Shore Road. 

Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary

Since it opened in 1987, the Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary has been one of Sarasota’s most beloved tourist attractions. This facility lets you meet exotic cats, and it also maintains a rescue and rehabilitation center to keep these animals in tip-top shape. You’ll find three large habitats across the grounds, housing the big cats and other animals like chimpanzees, bears, and birds. If you’re traveling with kids, bring them to the petting zoo! Or, if you’re feeling brave, you can feed lions, tigers, and bears. Oh my!

Visit Big Cat Habitat at 7101 Palmer Boulevard.

Ca’ d’Zan Mansion

We’ve already mentioned John and Mable Ringling on this list, but we’re bringing them up again to talk about Ca’ d’Zan, the couple’s winter home. This breathtaking mansion has been standing since 1926 and spans five stories and 36,000 square feet. The architecture will transport you to Venice, Italy, and the artifacts and décor inside will have you feeling like royalty (particularly the 16th-century Spanish tiles and the crystal chandelier!). Be sure to go on a tour to learn all you can about this opulent home.

The Ca’ d’Zan Mansion is located at 5401 Bay Shore Road. 

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

If you want to spend some time in nature but want a break from the beach, the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is the place to be. This destination allows you to lose yourself to the outdoors, wandering through the flowers and leaving your worries at the gate. The gardens span more than seven acres and hold over 20,000 plants in total, including the world’s most extensive collection of bromeliads. Explore the Rainforest Garden and the Butterfly Garden, take a walk along the rope bridges, and visit the quaint goldfish pond during your trip. 

Come to the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens at 900 South Palm Avenue. 

interior of some botanical gardens
Photo from Unsplash

Sarasota Jungle Gardens

For both beautiful plants and fascinating animals, don’t miss a visit to the Sarasota Jungle Gardens. Since 1939, visitors have been coming here from around the world to witness stunning sights like macaws, flamingos, snakes, lizards, tropical flowers, and so much more. Sarasota Jungle Gardens is so much more than your average zoo, offering a more intimate and hands-on experience than you’ll find anywhere else. Visit the exhibits at your leisure or learn more about the animals here by attending a show. The entire family is sure to have a blast!

Visit the Sarasota Jungle Gardens at 3701 Bay Shore Road. 

Myakka River State Park

One of Florida’s largest and oldest state parks, Myakka River State Park, is a must-see attraction for any nature lover in your group. This park covers more than 37,000 acres and is centered around the Myakka River, which flows 58 miles throughout the park. Here, you’ll be able to walk along the boardwalk to see wildlife in their own habitats, hike through the trails, kayak across the mangroves, or have a relaxing picnic amid nature. If you’re looking for a place to truly relax and reconnect with yourself and your loved ones, this is it!

Myakka River State Park is located at 13208 State Road 72.

Sarasota Farmers’ Market

Every Saturday of the year, you’ll find locals and visitors alike flocking to the Sarasota Farmers’ Market. The market brings together vendors of all kinds, offering local produce, fresh-squeezed juices, handmade soaps, baked goods, desserts, and so much more. Plus, you can enjoy live music and the company of your loved ones as you wander from stall to stall. Even some specialty products are only sold here at the market, making for a truly one-of-a-kind souvenir! You’re welcome to visit from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., making this attraction the perfect place to begin your weekend. 

The Sarasota Farmers’ Market is held at 4454 South Beneva Road. 

Where to Stay

Once you’ve discovered some of the best attractions and activities that Sarasota offers, it’ll be time to head back to Anna Maria Island for some well-deserved rest. You’ll sleep soundly knowing you’ve booked one of our Anna Maria Island resort rentals for your stay! Anna Maria Beach Resort proudly welcomes guests from around the country to experience the beauty and tranquility of AMI. You’ll have countless convenient amenities at your disposal, and you’ll be staying just a short distance from all the best things to do near Anna Maria Island.

Plan Your Visit

There’s no better time than the present if you’re ready to escape your worries and retreat for a relaxing getaway, there’s no better time than the present. Contact Anna Maria Beach Resort today to learn more about our rental properties!