I travel to Florida at least once or twice a year. It’s an easy flight from the Washington, DC area, and there’s so much to do as a family. We went to Sarasota (we stayed at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota) for the first time in April and here are 10 must do’s as a family.
Things to Do in Sarasota
1. Jump the Waves at Siesta Beach. Head to Siesta Key, which was voted as the #1 beach by Dr. Beach a few years ago, and splash in the calm waters. The beach is huge and the sand is soft, which makes it perfect for families. Bring along pails and shovels, but know that it’s quite a walk from the parking lot.
2. Explore the Gardens at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Spend the morning or afternoon at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, which opened a new Children’s Rainforest Garden not long ago. Kids will love the treehouse, rope bridges, and interactive activities. Don’t forget to stop in the Selby Garden Kids’ Corners for books and puzzles before you leave.
3. Explore the Lives of Seahorses at Mote Aquarium. There’s so much sea life to take in at the Mote Aquarium, including a behind-the-glass look into the Seahorse Conservation Laboratory. Kids will also love exploring the inner workings of jellyfish, dolphins, sea turtles and sharks while at the aquarium. On poor beach days, the aquarium can get quite busy, so get there early.
4. Learn About Local Birds at Save Our Seabirds. Located next door to Mote Aquarium, be sure to stop in the wild bird sanctuary, Save Our Seabirds. You’ll learn about each bird by name, as well as each one’s story. Some were rescued to be released following rehabilitation while others will never be able to survive in the wild and now make Save Our Seabirds their long-term homes.
5. Do the Statue Walk at St. Armands Circle. As a family, you’ll love walking around St. Armands Circle in Sarasota and taking in the Greek- and Roman-style sculptures. You’ll find more than 20 statues, including sculptures representing Sarasota’s seven virtues (e.g., Music, Learning, Water, etc.). It’s a fun way to cap off a day of fun in this beach town.
6. See the Sunset at Lido Beach. Plan for dinner on at least one evening at one of the many restaurants at St. Armands Circle. Just steps away from Lido Beach, it’s worth the short walk to enjoy the evening sunset as a family. Lido Beach is also a wonderful beach to enjoy during the day with its soft white sands, picnic tables, and clean restrooms.
7. Have a Tropical Adventure at Sarasota Jungle Gardens. If your kids love animals, then Sarasota Jungle Gardens is the place to be. Look for more than 150 animals, including parrots, lizards, snakes, flamingos and alligators. Also, enjoy meet-and-greets with exotic birds, reptiles, even the zookeepers.
8. Watch Acrobats and Clowns at Circus Sarasota. Year-round, spend time under the big top watching trapeze artists, acrobats, clowns and jugglers at Circus Sarasota. In addition to circus acts that take place throughout the year, Circus Sarasota also offers classes and camps for adults and children.
9. Pick Up Souvenirs at the Red Barn Flea Market. Give each child $5 and let them hunt for trinkets and treasures among more than 600 booths at the Red Barn Flea Market. Look for garage sale booths, as well as art murals and an open-air farmers’ market boasting fresh produce at value prices.
10. Follow the Yellow Brick Road at the Sarasota Children’s Garden. For smaller children, spend time at the Butterfly Garden, the Amazing Maze and Flamingo Road at the Sarasota Children’s Garden. There’s so much to do spread out over two acres, and it’s a particularly good spot to visit when you’re looking to spend a bit of time away from the beach.
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