Sarasota, located along the Gulf Coast of Florida, is a treasure trove of hidden gems and has lots of amazing day trips. Known for its beautiful beaches and vibrant cultural scene, the city also offers off-the-beaten-path destinations that leave visitors awe-inspired. This guide will take you on unforgettable day trips, revealing a unique facet of the hidden treasures in Sarasota, Florida.
Explore pristine nature reserves, secluded beaches, and lesser-known historical sites, museums, and architectural marvels. Discover the stories of early settlers and influential figures who shaped the city’s past, and gain a deeper appreciation for its cultural heritage. Join us on a journey to discover the most amazing day trips from Sarasota, Florida.
#1. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida, offers a world of natural beauty and tranquility. With over 15 acres of tropical plants and exotic flora, the gardens are a sensory feast for the eyes and a center for botanical research and conservation. The Tropical Conservatory showcases lush greenery, cascading waterfalls, and delicate orchids in full bloom.
The gardens also host various events and workshops, such as guided tours, photography classes, and yoga sessions, to help visitors connect with nature. The gardens’ charming café offers picturesque views and a serene atmosphere, perfect for reflecting on the wonders encountered during your visit.
#2. Ringling Museum
The Ringling Museum in Sarasota is a hidden gem that showcases the area’s rich history and beauty. The museum’s stunning architecture, reminiscent of the Italian Renaissance, transports visitors to a world of grandeur and elegance. Inside, visitors can explore a vast collection of art by renowned artists such as Rubens, Van Dyck, and Titian. The museum also houses the awe-inspiring Ca’ d’Zan, the former residence of John and Mable Ringling, overlooking Sarasota Bay. The museum’s gardens, landscaped with winding paths, vibrant flowers, and peaceful water features, provide visitors with a serene experience.
#3. Myakka River State Park
Experience an unforgettable kayak adventure through the picturesque Myakka River State Park in Sarasota, a serene oasis for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. The park is home to countless species of birds, turtles, alligators, and the elusive Florida panther, providing an immersive experience in nature.
Whether you prefer a leisurely paddle or an exhilarating exploration of hidden creeks and channels, the tranquil environment and gentle sound of water lapping against your kayak create an unforgettable sensory experience. For a break from paddling, explore hiking trails and observation decks. In summary, Myakka River State Park is one of the most amazing day trips from Sarasota, Florida.
#4. Siesta Key Village
Siesta Key Village, located along Florida’s Gulf Coast, is a hidden gem with a charming atmosphere and laid-back atmosphere. The village features shops, boutiques, and art galleries, showcasing local artisans’ talents. The culinary scene offers a variety of options, from casual beachside cafes to upscale seafood restaurants. Outdoor adventures include pristine white sand beaches, paddleboarding or kayaking, and breathtaking sunsets over the Gulf. Siesta Key Village is an enchanting destination for both locals and visitors seeking a special day trip in Sarasota.
#5. The Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium
The Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium in Sarasota, Florida, offers an unforgettable day trip experience. Dedicated to advancing marine science and conservation, the aquarium showcases a diverse range of marine species, such as tropical fish, sea turtles, and sharks. Visitors can participate in interactive experiences and educational programs, engage with knowledgeable experts, and experience hands-on touch tanks with stingrays and other marine animals.
The facility also offers behind-the-scenes tours, allowing visitors to witness groundbreaking discoveries and learn about conservation and rehabilitation initiatives. On-site dining options provide a serene experience, and supporting the institution contributes to the preservation of marine ecosystems. Whether a nature enthusiast or marine lover, a day trip to the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is a must for a lasting impression and appreciation of the ocean’s wonders.
#6. Towles Court
Towles Court, one of the best day trips from Sarasota, Florida, is a haven for local artists and creatives. The neighborhood is filled with quaint cottages transformed into art galleries, studios, and boutiques, showcasing a diverse range of artistic styles and mediums. Visitors can explore the incredible talent on display, such as contemporary paintings, sculptures, ceramics, jewelry, and mixed media art.
More so, the monthly art walk on the third Friday of every month is a highlight, bringing live music, street performances, and a festive atmosphere. After exploring, take a break at one of the charming cafes or restaurants, or visit the Towles Court Artist Colony Gallery, where you can browse curated exhibitions featuring works by resident artists. This enchanting neighborhood offers a unique and enriching experience for art enthusiasts, travelers, and those seeking a unique and enriching experience.
#7. The Crowley Museum and Nature Center
The Crowley Museum and Nature Center in Sarasota offers a serene retreat for nature enthusiasts and those seeking a break from daily life. Situated in a secluded corner, the center offers 190 acres of pristine wilderness, lush forests, meandering trails, and picturesque views. Visitors can explore the museum’s rich history, including the Crowley House, which showcases the lives of early settlers.
Moreover, the nature center is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, offering diverse ecosystems and habitats for various species. Workshops and educational programs are available throughout the year, providing a deeper understanding of the region’s natural and cultural heritage. Whether you’re looking to reconnect with nature, learn about local history, or unwind, the Crowley Museum and Nature Center is the perfect destination for a day trip.
#8. Historic Spanish Point
Historic Spanish Point, located on Little Sarasota Bay, is a 30-acre site with a rich history and cultural heritage. Visitors can explore the site’s lush gardens, Mary’s Chapel, Guptill House, Butterfly Garden, Webb Family Indian Burial Mound, and gift shop. The site offers a serene atmosphere, stunning architecture, and a glimpse into early settlers’ lives. Visitors can also admire the butterfly garden, where delicate butterflies dance amidst colorful flowers.
The Webb Family Indian Burial Mound showcases the rich history and heritage of the indigenous people, while the gift shop offers unique souvenirs and mementos. Whether a history buff, a nature lover, or a peaceful retreat, Historic Spanish Point offers an unforgettable day trip from Sarasota that will leave a lasting impression.
#9. Oscar Scherer State Park
Oscar Scherer State Park, located in Sarasota, Florida, offers an unforgettable day trip for nature enthusiasts. Covering over 1,400 acres, the park features diverse ecosystems, including pine flatwoods, scrubby flatwoods, and hardwood hammocks. Visitors can explore on well-maintained trails, enjoy water activities such as kayaking and canoeing, and even spot resident wildlife like ospreys and turtles.
The park also provides camping facilities for tent and RV campers, offering a serene experience. The Nature Center offers interactive exhibits, informative displays, and knowledgeable staff to help visitors understand the unique ecosystem of the Florida scrub.
#10. Sarasota Jungle Gardens
Experience the enchanting world of the Sarasota Jungle Gardens, a hidden gem in Sarasota, offering a unique and unforgettable day trip experience for nature enthusiasts and families. The gardens are filled with lush vegetation, exotic wildlife, and captivating displays.
Visitors can witness breathtaking bird shows, such as macaws and flamingos, and interact with various animal species. For hands-on experiences, visitors can interact with cuddly lemurs or gentle goats, creating lasting memories. The gardens provide a perfect escape from everyday life, allowing visitors to connect with nature and rejuvenate their senses.
#11. Turtle Beach
Turtle Beach, located on Siesta Key’s southern end, is a serene escape from Sarasota’s city life. With its tranquil atmosphere and untouched natural beauty, it is one of the amazing day trips from Sarasota, Florida that offers a peaceful setting for beachgoers seeking tranquility. The beach is known for its abundance of seashells, making it a favorite spot for shell collectors and beachcombers. Outdoor activities include swimming, paddleboarding, and fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. Picnic and grilling areas provide a natural canopy for enjoying the views.
Turtle Beach also offers a nature trail through mangrove forests, perfect for birdwatchers. Whether you choose to spend your day at Turtle Beach or explore Sarasota, you’ll leave feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
#12. Sarasota National Estuary Research Reserve
Experience a wildlife safari at the Sarasota National Estuary Research Reserve, a hidden gem in Sarasota. The reserve spans over 10,000 acres and offers panoramic views of wetlands, marshes, and mangrove forests. Guided tours provide fascinating insights about local wildlife and ecosystem. Visitors can observe manatees, dolphins, alligators, and bird species. Well-maintained hiking trails allow visitors to explore at their own pace.
Kayak or canoe rentals provide a closer encounter with wildlife and the serene waters. Paddle along mangrove tunnels and marvel at the intricate root systems of this unique habitat.
#13. St. Armands Circle
St. Armands Circle in Sarasota offers a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors. The area is filled with boutique shops, art galleries, and upscale boutiques, offering a blend of local treasures and renowned brands. The European-inspired architecture adds an elegant touch, creating a sensory delight. The diverse culinary scene includes cozy cafes and fine dining establishments, offering fresh seafood, authentic Italian flavors, and desserts.
The circle also features picturesque parks and tranquil gardens, and the crystal-clear waters of Lido Beach are just a short stroll away. Whether a seasoned local or a first-time visitor, St. Armands Circle provides a delightful escape from the ordinary, surrounded by Sarasota’s distinctive sights, sounds, and flavors.
#14. Sarasota Opera House
Explore the enchanting city of Sarasota and add the Sarasota Opera House to your day trip itinerary. This historic landmark boasts opulent architecture, intricate details, and ornate designs, transporting visitors to a bygone era of elegance and grandeur. With a rich history dating back to 1926, the Sarasota Opera House has undergone meticulous restoration efforts to preserve its charm while incorporating modern amenities.
Additionally, attending a performance at the Sarasota Opera House is an unforgettable experience, with exceptional acoustics and talented performers. The diverse program caters to different tastes and preferences, making it an indelible mark on your day trip from Sarasota and creating lasting memories.