Day Trips From Sarasota
Sarasota is a beautiful city on Florida’s Gulf Coast. It has so much to offer with one of the top beaches in the state, a beautiful art scene and plenty of nature to explore.
There are so many things to do in Sarasota, but if you want to explore the surrounding areas then there are other incredible destinations near Sarasota as well.
These are our favorite day trips from Sarasota Florida.
Approximate drive time: 1hr 10min
Tampa is a larger city that attracts millions of people every year. It has many fun things to do to choose from that are great options for a day trip from sarasota.
Busch Gardens is one of the top amusement parks in Tampa. It is a mix of an amusement park with a zoo. There you will find roller coasters, live animal habitats, gardens, ziplines, and games. Of course, there is plenty of food to try and shows to see.
If you prefer a waterpark instead, Adventure Island is right next door. With many slides, a lazy river, and pools, it’s the perfect place for a sun-filled day.
To spend the day indoors, one of the best options Tampa has is the Florida Aquarium. It is the biggest in Tampa with over 20,000 animals. The 80-foot glass dome in the Wetlands and the 500,000-gallon Coral Reef habitat are the highlights of the Aquarium.
Approximate drive time: 35min
With a small town feel, Venice is one of the closest cities to be able to get away to. It has a beautiful little downtown lined with historic buildings where you can go for a walk, get some ice cream, or get a bite to eat.
The Centennial park in the middle of downtown is a great place to relax and enjoy the slower pace while still being able to take advantage of all the shops and cafes.
A short walk away from downtown Venice is the Venice Beach. It has warm, blue water with soft white sand, just as pristine as Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota but with half the crowd.
There are also more beaches to explore in Venice where the terrain is more rugged. In fact, Venice is referred to as the “shark capital”. Grab a Venice Snow Shovel for filtering sand and you’ll be able to find many shark teeth and shells.
Approximate drive time: 2hrs
Weeki Wachi is one of Florida’s springs with crystal clear turquoise water. It is one of the deepest springs in Florida and it’s thought to have one of the deepest underwater caves in the world.
They are fun to explore with different options like renting kayaks or a small boat and drifting along the springs, sliding down the waterslides at Buccaneer Bay, or tubing down the “lazy river”.
But what makes these springs the most unique are the mermaids. Since the 1900’s the mermaids have been performing shows in the underwater theater.
It used the be one of the most popular attractions in Florida until Disney World came to Orlando. Even so, it is still a very popular attraction so if you do plan on making it one of your day trips from Sarasota, then be sure to get there early in the morning.
Approximate drive time: 2hrs 20 min
There is so much to do in Orlando that a trip there is always fun. The good news is that Orlando is just a little over two hours drive which is very doable for a day trip from Sarasota.
Walt Disney World is probably the number one thing that people travel to Orlando for, but there are so many other things to do there.
Discovery Cove is a cool opportunity to get up close with dolphins, sharks, rays, and fish. At SeaWorld you can experience thrilling roller coasters and animal exhibits.
Apart from sea-themed entertainment, you can visit Legoland, go for a ride on an airboat, see alligators at Gatorland, or wind down at Harry P. Leu Gardens.
Approximate drive time: 1 hr 10 min
Boca Grande is one of the hidden gems near Sarasota. The town sits on a beautiful island with picture perfect historic buildings, plentiful beaches and many things to do.
For some time, the town has been known for tarpon fishing and holds an annual tournament every May.
The lighthouses and the Lady of Mercy Church are a few of the best things to see on the island.
You can’t leave the island without dining at the iconic restaurant The Pink Elephant. The eatery is part of the legendary Gasparilla Inn that still has the classic old Florida resort feel.
Approximate drive time: 50 min
St. Petersburg is in close proximity to Tampa but a smaller city with yet extraordinary things to do.
The Sunken Gardens, a botanical hideaway in the middle of the city, make it to the top of the list. Then, immerse yourself in the art and history of the Spanish artist Salvador Dali at the Dali Museum.
The St. Pete pier is one of the favorites of locals and visitors alike. You can stroll down the pier or head to St. Pete Beach where you will find soft white sands and turquoise water.
At the Imagine Museum, the carefully curated glass art makes it one of the top museums to see while in the city.
The drive back from St. Pete to Sarasota is an experience in itself when you cruise over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. You will get to see the exceptional views of Tampa Bay and maybe even catch the sunset colors across the sky.
Approximate drive time: 1 hr
You may have not heard of Punta Gorda as much as some of these other destinations, but it has so much to offer.
One of the most unique things to do in Punta Gorda is to look for fossils in the Peace River. There are prehistoric shark teeth and other fossils and bones that you might find.
The Peace River Botanic Gardens are worth a stop too with lunch at the Peace Rive Seafood crab shack after.
Fisherman’s Village is a waterfront shopping, entertainment and dining scene that includes over 30 shops and restaurants and a resort. If you want seafood and to dine with a view, this is one of the best places to do it.
The Village Fishmarket was voted the best seafood in Punta Gorda where you will be served up New England-style seafood.
Approximate drive time: 1hr 50min
Imagine yourself on a beautiful island with perfect white sandy beaches, breezy palm trees, and warm turquoise water away from the crowds but enough things to do and you get Sanibel Island.
The Darling National Wildlife Refuge is one of the top attractions on Sanibel Island. With a huge mangrove system, it makes for a great habitat for many animals.
To spend the day, Bowman’s Beach is one of the best places to relax, have fun in the sun, and look for shells.
Blind Pass Beach offers more seclusion and is even more popular among shell collectors. This beach is right by the bridge to Captiva Island which you can explore too.
Ready to eat after a day on the island? Mud Bugs, Grandma Dots, and Mucky Duck are some of the top recommendations.
Approximate drive time: 1hr 50 min
Known as one of the most luxurious cities in Florida, Naples has an abundance of amazing beaches and incredible food that will help you enjoy the tropical lifestyle to the fullest.
In Naples, you will find many enjoying the beach and it is no surprise as the soft sand and clear water is so welcoming. On the beach is the famous Naples Pier that many like to stroll, especially during sunset.
Want to enjoy the food scene even more? Visit the Celebration Food Truck Park where you can get different bites of food and settle down into a table enjoying the warm day.