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48 Hours in Sarasota

Nestled in the middle of Florida’s Gulf Coast, Sarasota is a laid back beach town pulsing with local culture and international flair. Sarasota is home to a world renowned beach, international airport, walkable downtown and waterfront and endless opportunities to explore. Sarasotans such as the Selbys of the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens and John Ringling of Ringling Bros. Circus flocked to this seaside local and created a playful and rich culture. Drive down Florida’s Tamiami Trail and linger awhile longer in Sarasota where the seams of tourist and local ventures run effortlessly together. Below is a curated weekend introduction to Sarasota’s culinary treasures, events and festivals, museums and gardens, and above all, more reasons to linger in this coastal haven.

Sarasota, FL waterfront
By Steve


8AM: Start the morning the right way at Pastry Art and Café

When life gives you Lemon Avenue, walk around the corner and into Pastry Art Bakery on Main. Start the morning off right with a fresh cup of coffee and pastry from an establishment that has served the heart of downtown Sarasota for more than 20 years.  A haven for Sarasota’s artists of all practices, Pastry Art Bakery is filled with art. If you can’t make it on Saturday, try heading over on Wednesday evenings when open MIC night provides ample opportunity to enjoy local talent and conversation. 1512 Main Street, (941) 955-7574

9AM: Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Founded through the legacy of William and Marie Selby, the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens  is located in a residential area of Sarasota and spans over 14 acres of land on the water. Browse through the eight greenhouses and outdoor gardens. The property is home to several research teams and a Museum, along with Banyan Groves, a Bonsai Garden, a Green Roof Exhibit and several plants native to Florida to name a few. After browsing the grounds, a daily tea tasting is hosted in the Carriage House. Discover the history and preparation processes of several loose leaf teas. 811 South Palm Avenue, (941) 366-5731

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
By Scott Zona

12PM: Shore Diner for lunch

Drive out to St. Armand’s Circle by way of the John Ringling Causeway and enjoy lunch at Shore Diner, the restaurant attached to the Shore surf shop. The diner provides an airy atmosphere along with a menu that includes several surf and turf options. 465 John Ringling Boulevard, (941) 296-0301

2PM: Shop all afternoon at St. Armands Circle

Circus magnate John Ringling developed this island after purchasing Armand’s Key in 1917. He created an area devoted to shopping and enjoying the waterfront atmosphere. Spend the afternoon shopping, browsing, eating ice cream or casually walking among more than 130 shops in St. Armand’s. 300 Madison Drive, (941) 388-1554

Shore Diner at St. Armands Circle
By Stacie DaPonte

6:30PM: Dinner at Salute!

Return downtown for dinner at Salute!, a traditional Italian eatery boasting an extensive wine selection. Owner and restauranteur, Alberto Guadagnini, offers a few of his own wines from the Casali winery in Tuscany. If you are so taken with your meal that Italy is calling, Guadagnini will plan a detailed vacation at the winery’s villa: Casali di Bibbiano. 23 North Lemon Avenue, (941) 365-1020

8PM: Comedic night cap at McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre

Still awake from dinner? Head on over to McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre to cap off the evening with an improv or stand-up show. McCurdy’s has hosted comedians of all walks of life and levels of fame including Jeff Foxworthy, Ralphie May, Brett Butler and Elayne Boosler. With events throughout the week and weekend, each show is an opportunity to laugh it up. If the evening’s entertainment leaves you inspired, the Theatre is home to the Humor Institute, a comedian training program. 3333 North Tamiami Trail, (941) 925-3869


8AM: Beachcombing along Siesta Beach

Dr. Leatherman, better known as Dr. Beach, placed Siesta Beach as the winner of his annual Top Ten Best Beaches list. The powdery white quartz sand is world renowned and lines crystal clear waters filled with sloping sand bars and snorkel friendly rock coral formations. Only 20 minutes from downtown Sarasota, you can spend the morning, afternoon or whole day lounging on the shores of the Gulf. There are several public beach access points on the North end of Siesta key and parking can be found off of Beach Road.

11:30AM: Head down the road for brunch at Sun Garden Cafe

After a full morning of beachcombing, hop over to the Sun Garden Cafe on Siesta Key. It boasts titles such as Best Breakfast, Lunch, Outdoor Dining and Best Bacon for several years. Enjoy several breakfast and lunch options inside or on the dog friendly patio. Sun Garden’s menu features locally grown produce and fish caught in local waters. Menu highlights include sweet potato pancakes with pecan butter, the bikini breakfast sandwich and Helen’s biscuits and wavy gravy. You may need to walk back to the beach for a quick nap before the day continues. 210 Avenida Madera, (941) 346-7170


Ca' d'Zan Mansion Sarasota, FL
By Ben Ostrowsky

3PM: Browse through The Ringling museum or Ca’ d’Zan mansion

In 1927 Sarasota became home to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus winter headquarters after John Ringling brought the circus to the shore. The circus culture has been an integral part of Sarasota ever since. As a result both John Ringling’s home, Ca’ d’Zan, and the Ringling museum are on the list of places to enjoy in Sarasota. The museum complex includes a Museum of Art built to house John Ringling’s personal collection, The Circus Museum which is a first of its kind to highlight the history of circus culture, Bayfront Gardens and the Ca’ d’Zan, which translates as “House of John,” the Italianate mansion of John Ringling. John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art and Ca’ d’Zan: 5401 Bay Shore Road, (941) 359-5700

7PM: Selva Grill for dinner

The New York Times heralds Selva as one of the best restaurants in Sarasota with dishes inspired by Peruvian cuisine. After a long day of soaking up the sun and local culture, settle into one of the couches in the Selva lounge for a pre-dinner drink. Selva offers daily happy hours where you can enjoy sangria and mojitos among many drink choices. Make sure to try Selva’s signature ceviche dishes and if normal dinner hours don’t fit into a busy weekend schedule, check out the late night tapas menu. 1345 Main Street, (941) 362-4427

Potential Day trip:

Myakka River State Park and Old Miakka Farmer’s Market

About 30 minutes from downtown Sarasota, Myakka River State Park provides 57 square miles of wildlife and outdoor potential. Every Saturday from 10 to 3, the Old Miakka Farmer’s Market provides a traditional market offering handmade goods, organic produce, locally made cheeses, milk and eggs. Gather everything you need for a picnic or pick up a Mexican tamale at one of the food stands. Picnic tables scattered throughout the park offer a scenic lunch local before the adventuring begins. Biking, kayaking, canoeing, horseback riding and hiking are among the activities up for grabs. Campsites are also available, along with cabins and electric sites, but reservations are encouraged. Myakka River State Park: 13208 State Park Road 72; Old Miakka Farmer’s Market: 1620 Myakka Road (Old Miakka United Methodist Church), (941) 322-1014


Sarasota Florida Chalk Festival
By Sarasota Chalk Festival

Upcoming Events:

  • Crystal Classic Sand Sculpting Competition: November 15-18 2013
  • Sarasota Film Festival: April 4-13 2014
  • Sarasota Farmer’s Market: Every Saturday 7am-Noon (rain or shine)
  • Our Pick! Sarasota Chalk festival: November 13-18 2013 (This year’s theme is: “Legacy of Valor: honoring veterans, inspiring patriotism and embracing freedom.”)


Not Ready to Leave? Check out vacation or residential home opportunities here.


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