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Sarasota is a beautiful city to visit on the west coast of Florida. It has everything from a vibrant city life that provides plenty of things to do and yet it is still laid back. From the shops, restaurants, galleries and a wide array of activities, there is no shortage of things to do.
At the same time, you can get away from the city life and just enjoy the quiet, relaxing company of the beach. Either way, you can’t go wrong with a vacation at Sarasota.
So, what if you’ve done all the main attractions that Sarasota has to offer? Don’t miss these hidden gems in Sarasota Florida to complete your experience.
You’ve probably heard of the Ringling Museum as one of the best things to do in Sarasota, but right next to it is the New College. While it is not an ultimate day activity like going to the Ringling, it is still beautiful to visit and completely free.
Marvel at the architecture or walk around the manicured lawns to see the perfect views of the Sarasota Bay. It is a beautiful hidden gem that is the perfect opportunity for some pretty photography.
Selby Public Library
The Selby Public Library is unique in architecture and history. It was established in 1907 as the first library in Sarasota County. Currently, it is still the largest public library in the county in downtown Sarasota with two stories.
The Selby Foundation provided the largest contribution to building the library so it was named the Selby Library. The library has a large collection of books and media so you can roam the library for hours.
A focal point in the library is the very large aquarium that is home to many tropical fish. It is a great place to relax and is definitely one of the libraries to visit if you enjoy literature and architecture.
Nathan Benderson Park Tower
Watching the sunrise or sunset from the Nathan Benderson Park Tower is one of the best unique things to do in Sarasota. You can enjoy the activities the park has to offer during the day and then climb the six-story tower to the rooftop that provides a 360-degree view of the park.
The park itself is a 600 acre park with a 400 acre lake. The lake is used for aquatic sports and competitions. You can join the fun on the lake by renting a kayak or paddleboard and getting out in the water.
If you choose to explore by land instead, there are many paved trails you can walk on or you can rent a bike too. Keep in mind the park is open from 6am to 6pm.
Myakka Elephant Ranch
Florida might be known for dolphin experiences, and maybe manatees, but you can also have an amazing elephant experience while visiting Sarasota.
A short drive away from Sarasota, the Myakka Elephant Ranch is a non-profit conservation center. They strive to educate guests about elephants while providing a memorable experience.
At the Ranch, there are currently two Asian and one African savanna female elephants. They roam 30 acres of land with an 80,000 gallon watering hole.
There are different encounters you can book including the VIP experience where you will help feed the elephant, get one on one time, help wash the elephant, and have the chance to take pictures with the elephant.
Take Circus Classes
Sarasota’s history is richly influenced by the circus. John Ringling, the successful circus owner chose Sarasota for his family’s home. From then on, Sarasota has been highly involved in arts including the circus.
At the Circus Arts Conservatory, you can participate by taking circus classes. If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to fly on the trapeze, now is the time to find out. Another fun class you can join is the aerial silk group class where you will learn everything it takes to climb, lock, and drop with the silks.
Another place where you can take these kinds of classes is Tita Gaona’s Trapeze Academy.
Point Of Rocks
You might be visiting Siesta Key Beach while in Sarasota, but what you might not know is that just south of the beach, is a limestone formation where you can go snorkeling.
The calm, shallow, clear water beach makes it a great place to view all of the sea life that lives around the rocks. If snorkeling s on your list of things to do while in Sarasota be sure not to miss this hidden spot.
To find it, just head to Crescent beach at which on the southern end you will be able to spot this formation. Be sure to pick a clear and sunny day to have the best experience.
Sarasota Architectural Salvage
This is the most unique, antique and fun finds in all of Sarasota. Their collection ranges from antique doors, lighting, furniture and décor. If you’re looking for something specific, they probably have it.
All the items they have are unique, antique and handcrafted so you can spend hours at the store trying to spot your perfect find.
The main store is on Central Ave in Sarasota but they have another location that you can visit as well.
Hunsader’s Farm started out in 1967 when three brothers moved to Florida to grow crops. As the years went by, the farm prospered into what Hunsader’s Farm is today. Many events and activities were added to make it a day of fun while still getting your fresh produce.
The farm allows you to pick your own fresh produce including tomatoes, strawberries, peas, eggplant, and more during their season.
You can also purchase other veggies that are already picked like cucumbers, broccoli, cantaloupes, squash, pumpkins, and more when they are in season.
Inside of their market you will find other goodies like jams, jellies, honey and other goodies. The Eat Shack is available for breakfast, lunch and dinner if you really get hungry while at the farm or you can enjoy some ice cream at the gift shop.
The petting zoo is a fun stop for the whole family but as the holiday season comes around, their pumpkin festival and their country Christmas is truly the time to come experience this charming farm.
There is a thriving Amish community in Sarasota that can be fun to visit. The little Amish Village consists of the market where you can find everything from candies to pies and they also have a section of fresh produce next door.
The Yoder’s restaurant is a great place to stop by and grab a bite to eat. Then visit the gift shop to find a fun gift for yourself or a loved one.
As you visit the village, you can learn more about how the Amish live and support their mall business.
The Celery Fields are one of the best hidden gems in Sarasota. It has over 400 acres of marshlands, ponds, grasslands, and pines that are home to various species of wildlife.
This makes it the ideal spot for wildlife viewing and birdwatching. Its great for other activities as well including walking on the trails, biking, fishing, and kayaking.