Many places claim to be paradise, so when I noticed that Sarasota made this claim, my first thought was “Let me be the judge of that!” Well, they were right. It is legit paradise, right in Florida. Sarasota offers white-sand beaches with blue and turquoise-hued water, jaw-dropping million dollar homes to check out, and an endless list of things to do with kids.
Sarasota offers numerous beaches with miles of beachfront for kiddos to play and explore, as well as for parents to relax and sunbathe.
Siesta Beach is known as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. There were no lies told here. I was shocked by the powder-white sand and beautifully hued water. With eight miles of beachfront, it provides a lot of space for the kiddos to burn their penned-up energy.
In addition, a few steps away from the beach is Siesta Key, which offers tons of cute restaurants and bars to grab a bite of food and relax.
Venice is known as the shark tooth capital of the world. Beach goers can hunt for fossilized shark teeth. How cool would it be for your kids to collect fossilized shark teeth? Talk about a souvenir. The best beaches to find shark teeth are Casey Key and Manasota Key.
We unfortunately did not make it there as it’s about 30-40 minutes away from where we were staying in Siesta Key. It’s most definitely on our list for when we return to Sarasota.
Longboat Key and Lido Key beaches were also on our list. Longboat Key is known for turtles. Seeing animals in their natural habitat creates such special memories for my boys.
While in Sarasota, visiting St. Armands Circle is a must. It offers more restaurants, bars, and shopping than anyone’s heart could desire, which makes the perfect combination for great people watching. A short distance away is Lido Key Beach, known for the white sand and turquoise water.
If your kiddos have any interest in animals at all, there are so many amazing animal-focused things to do with kids in Sarasota.
The shrieks of pure laughter and joy that came from my boys when they saw the dolphins jump in and out of the water put a smile on my face that extended from ear to ear. They absolutely loved the adventure of looking for the dolphins. It kept them fully entertained and on their toes.
In addition to dolphins, the Florida Gulf Shores is known as a home to manatees. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to see one, but it’s not uncommon to come across them during a dolphin experience.
We chartered a boat from Island Time Charter.
Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium
When traveling to Sarasota, especially with kids, visiting the Mote is a must thing to do! It’s absolutely amazing the variety of marine life that is on display there. Having the opportunity to touch stingrays, starfish, sharks, etc. absolutely blew my mind. Needless to say, it ended up being an enjoyable and educational experience for the entire family.
Additionally, there is the Wild Kratts Ocean Adventure, which is specifically designed for kids. It offers interactive activities to help kids learn about marine life. My boys loved the conveyor belt exhibit that teaches how sharks lose their teeth when they eat. They could not get enough of it!
Who doesn’t love seeing the beauty of flamingos? But what about the amazing experience of being able to walk amongst them and feed them. My kids (and I) absolutely LOVED it. Not only can you interact with the flamingos, but they also had a petting zoo. The boys went crazy petting the pigs and goats. Honestly, you could spend hours here – they can also feed alligators, interact with peacocks and other animals, and play on a pretty amazing playground.
Big Cat Habitat Gulf Coast Sanctuary
The Big Cat is a large-animal rescue in Sarasota, not to be confused with the infamous one in Tampa from the Netflix show. Here, your kids will be able to experience encounters with animals that range from tigers and lions to sloths, lemurs and foxes. Similar to the Jungle Garden, they offer a petting zoo.
Unfortunately, we were not able to visit the Big Cat as they were only open Wednesday-Sunday and we didn’t have time to fit it into our busy schedule. Next time!
One of the best things about Sarasota is that almost all the activities are kid-friendly.
Selby Botanical Garden
When I think of a botanical garden, “kid-friendly” isn’t necessarily the first thought that comes to mind. Well, Selby Botanical Garden proved me wrong. They actually have an area specifically designed for kids. And man, was it beautiful!!
They had beautiful brightly colored animal structures that my kids loved to climb. In addition to multiple chimes the kids could create “beautiful” music with. But what took the cake were the tree houses connected by elevated bridges. The boys could not get enough of this! They continued to run across the bridges going from one tree house to the next.
If you visit Tripadvisor and research things to do in Sarasota, The Ringling pops up as number 1, even if you aren’t traveling with kids. Luckily, they have a lot of interactive activities for kids, where they can interact with multiple exhibits that make them feel as if they are in the circus themselves.
Unfortunately, we ran out of time and were not able to visit the Ringling Museum. It’s most definitely on my list for the next time we visit Sarasota.
Sarasota is a must-add to anyone’s travel wishlist as it’s not only paradise but it also offers an extensive list of things to do with kids. We will be back!
FREE Tutorials on Selecting Activities When Traveling included in your FREE Travel Planning Toolkit when subscribing