The Best Ways to Experience Sarasota, FL

Camelot Lakes Village and Camelot East Village, Cove Communities’ two Sarasota locations, are great ways to experience this Gulf Coast city, especially in the coming winter months. If you’re not a fan of the cold weather, it might be time to take a trip to Sarasota. Whether you prefer to stay indoors or you’re the outdoorsy type, this city is sure to ease your winter blues. 


1. The Ringling

Museum grounds with green trees, grass, and two statues
Photo by The Ringling.

Home to the legacy of husband and wife John and Mable Ringling, this museum is a great way to spend an afternoon. In the early 1900s, John and his wife became active members in the Sarasota community, purchasing several waterfront property acres. Sarasota city soon became the winter quarters of the Ringling Brothers Circus, and visiting this museum will surely make you feel like you’re part of the circus. Visitors can see the performers’ wardrobes, props, and much more. Along with the Circus Museum, The Ringling also houses the Museum of Art, Ca’ d’Zan, which stands as a testament to the Roaring Twenties’ American Dream, the Historic Asolo Theater, and the Bayfront Gardens. Put on your comfy shoes because there’s no shortage of unique sites to see at The Ringling.

2. Sarasota Classic Car Museum 

Red antique car displayed in museum on a black and white checkered floor
Photo by Sarasota Classic Car Museum.

If you prefer the history of cars over circuses, the Sarasota Classic Car Museum is the place for you. With perfectly-restored vintage automobiles, this museum is the second oldest operating antique car museum in the nation. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a time machine, seeing antique, one-of-a-kind classics from over 100 years of history. The museum features nearly 80 different automobiles, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

3. Art Center Sarasota

Outside of a museum with a yellow tree hanging in front and a red statue in the foreground
Photo by Art Center Sarasota.

Located on Sarasota’s historic Bayfront, Art Center Sarasota is the heart of this city’s visual arts community. While this is a member-based organization, it is worth checking out. Even if you’re not an artist, the Center provides both educational programs and exhibitions. With a mission to provide Sarasota with creative expression and art appreciation opportunities, the Center hosts international and local teaching artists to bring cultural diversity to the city. The exhibitions showcase contemporary art in three curated galleries, all of which will inspire and challenge any visitor. If you want to get your children involved in the world of visual arts, the Center has youth programs to nurture developing minds. 

4. AlexArt International Art Gallery

Inside of a museum with grey floors and arts on left and right walls
“3-D paintings in Massimo Meda Art Gallery” by Mary K.

Closing out our list of indoor activities is the AlexArt International Art Gallery. Located next to the Opera House in downtown Sarasota, it’s one of the city’s leading venues for contemporary art. Since opening its doors in 2016, the Gallery has quickly established itself as a must-see art destination, featuring contemporary international and American artists. Beyond experiencing the Gallery’s exhibitions, you can host private events here as well. With ceilings up to 16 feet and three large arched windows, it is a fantastic place to hold dinners, weddings, concerts, and much more. AlexArt International Art Gallery also has an in-residence Italian artist and award-winning art collection owner, Fabio Dal Boni. He and the gallery owner provide art consultation services, so if you’re looking to develop your collection, take a trip to the Gallery. 

Fun fact: The AlexArt International Art Gallery was originally home to Morrison’s Cafeteria in 1948, which Elvis Presley was said to frequent.


1. Kayaking SRQ Tours and Rentals

Kayak in the water with trees surrounding it
Photo by Viator.

Voted one of Tripadvisor’s 2020 Travelers’ Choices, Kayaking SRQ takes visitors through what the husband-and-wife-duo tour guides like to call “Sarasota’s hidden gem,” the Mangrove Tunnels. As they take you through the tunnels, you’ll be able to search for manatees, dolphins, and a wide array of sea life. If a self-guided tour is more your speed, you can rent your own kayak or paddle board. With no age restriction, this activity is fun for the whole family. 

2. Sarasota Paddleboard Company

People standing on paddle boards in the water
Photo by Sarasota Paddleboard Company.

Like the above activity, Sarasota Paddleboard Company offers kayak and paddle board tours and rentals in the Mangrove Tunnels. However, if you’re looking to get away from the crowds that gather there, this is for you. This paddle board company has another site in Longboat Key, which offers visitors some time to relax and explore miles of pristine backwaters. Sarasota Paddleboard Company also provides illuminated night tours. Visitors can experience an unforgettable excursion on the Gulf or Bay through the months of October-February, making it the perfect winter activity. 

3. Biotica EcoTours

Bridge extending through green trees
Photo by Biotica EcoTours.

If you’d rather experience Sarasota on land instead of on the water, Biotica EcoTours has you covered. While they do offer kayak rentals, another great component of this company is their hiking tours. They offer both guided hiking tours and nature walks, and they can customize a hike for you based on your skills and interests. So, no matter your skill level, you can enjoy this activity. The tour guides are passionate about what they do, and you’ll leave Biotica EcoTours knowing more about Florida’s great outdoors and how to preserve it best. 

4. Island Time Charter

White boat anchored in the water
“Anchored at Passage Key in the Gulf of Mexico” by Island Time Charter.

Last on our list of the best ways to experience Sarasota is through an Island Time Charter. Awarded a Certificate of Excellence in 2017 by Tripadvisor, this activity won’t disappoint. Island Time Charter offers ecotours, fishing, sightseeing, sunset cruises, and tiki bar hopping. They provide the option of stopping along the way during sightseeing tours for guests to walk around, so you can be sure to see all that Sarasota has to offer. Whether you want to take an adult-only vacation or you’re looking to include the whole family, Island Time Charter has something for everyone.  

See More of the Sunshine State 

Want more Florida fun? Check out The Five Best Outdoor Adventures in Ocala, FL.