Best Things To Do in Sarasota, Florida | Visitor's Guide

If you've followed us for any length of time, you know that Sarasota, Florida is one of our favorite places to vacation. In fact, it's such a favorite that we decided to open to vacation rentals there so that we can slip away into paradise whenever there's an opening. I've been going to Sarasota for the last 20 years and have made it my goal to find every hidden gem in Sarasota. I could never keep all the amazing places to myself so get ready to have the time of your life in the oh-so dreamy place called Sarasota as I share my favorite places to go and things to do. I put these little guys (*) next to the places you ABSOLUTELY have to go to.

THINGS TO DO:

Sarasota Farmers Market  - I've gone to this farmers market for years and it's something I never miss when I'm in town. Even if I don't need anything from the market, I will just go to enjoy the happy people walking their dogs and to take cute pictures with the flowers. I always end up leaving with some fresh guacamole for the beach.
Bradenton Farmers Market - This farmers market is located on Holmes Beach and it's every Sunday morning. One of my favorites to go to and get some handmade goods as well as fresh fruits and veggies for salsa.
*Anna Maria Flea Market on the Pier - I love going out for a walk on the pier to watch the dolphins, drink a margarita, and shop some good old junk.
*Beer Can Alley - I searched for beer can alley for YEARS and could never figure out where it was until a couple years ago! If you're not familiar with what beer can alley is, it's a magical wonderland of driftwood that's washed up on the beach, perfect for photo ops! It's like a cove that you can explore and enjoy! It's out on Anna Maria Island, you'll want to take a left before the last bridge.

WHERE TO STAY:

Expect to be immersed into a luxurious Moroccan experience the minute you step inside our Riad. The space is bright and impeccably decorated, set up exclusively to give our guests a truly exotic stay. The neighborhood is quiet but offers easy access to beaches, shopping, dining, the cultural district of Downtown Sarasota as well as the local Amish attractions and cuisine of Pinecraft Village. Our property managers are available to help you navigate any necessary details to make your stay a success. 
 

PLACES TO EAT:

Millie's (Breakfast + Lunch) - There's not much more that I want than a cold orange juice, omelet, and a crepe on a sunny Florida morning so I always somehow end up at Millie's. This french inspired little breakfast joint quite honestly makes you feel like you're in the movie Pride & Prejudice. The nice thing about this place too is that the staff doesn't make fun of you when you order the crepes and accidentally pronounce it, "creeps."
Station 400 (Breakfast + Lunch) - I recently just happened upon this beautifully designed biscuit place and I am obsessed! I always order a latte and some biscuits! The interior design is so inspiring to me and I couldn't say enough nice things about this place.
*The Donut Experiment (Breakfast) - If you have a sweet tooth like me, you'll love this place! It's a donut bar where they put whatever toppings on your donuts that you like. We like going to the Anna Maria location because of the beautiful drive there.
*Whitney's (Breakfast + Lunch) - Whitney's is a new favorite lunch spot for me! The atmosphere is immaculate and so are the vibes. We got to meet the owner and he is a cool guy, with quite the eye for design. I think this is one of the most Instagrammable places in  the Sarasota area. We got mimosa's and also LOVED their french fries.
Star Fish Company (Lunch + Dinner) - Someone on Instagram told me about this little hidden treasure of a fish taco joint and I've gone back so many times now. There is a huge fishing port with beautiful pelicans everywhere right next to it that we always take photos at and it's a very nautical vibe. We get the fish tacos and margaritas there and it is oh-so-tasty.
Yoder's Amish Restaurant (Lunch + Dinner) - This is the perfect place to get take out at! You can just walk right up to their window, sit on a bench and watch the Amish on their bikes go by and then grab your yummy Amish food to go.
Pizza from Emma's (Lunch + Dinner) - You know that tired-been-in-the-sun-all-day feeling? The type of feeling where you just need some pizza and a movie night. Well, Emma's pizza is the way to go on those nights. She's a dear friend of mine and I just love to support her cute little pizza shop, also because it's very tasty.
*Owen's Fish Camp (Dinner) - If you only end up eating out once when you're in Sarasota, this needs to be the place that you go. It's a little house that's been turned into a cool little restaurant. There is almost ALWAYS a long wait here so I suggest going at 3 when they open for an early dinner. But if you want to go later, no worries! Just put your name in and go hang out in their backyard where they have cozy lights, live music on the weekends, a tire swing, and a bar...what more could you ask for? They have fresh fish, amazing oysters, and Sydni's favorite is the clam chowder soup. We always end up getting the key lime pie for dessert.
*Veronica's (Dinner) - This is a place I recently discovered and can't stay away from. One time I went there three times in a week, I mean at this point the staff knows my name and my order. This place does not miss a beat from the exceptional staff to the beautiful atmosphere to the music they're playing. We always like sitting outside under the cool fans and enjoy the fresh air while we eat our oysters and potato buns for appetizers. Recently, I've ordered the whole fish "El Greco" and it's been ah-maze-ing! Sydni claims that their burger is the best burger she's ever had.
Indigenous (Dinner) - When you want a cute little intimate dinner with a good, cozy atmosphere, Indigenous is your place to go. They're almost always busy so it's good to get a reservation on the Open Table app beforehand! This cozy little house restaurant has amazing food, incredible service, and they top it off with amazing music. You can sit inside or out, but I suggest sitting on the outside because the neighborhood they're in is just too cute to not appreciate.
Shore (Dinner) - Shore is a nice place to take the family after family photos on the beach. This restaurant has such a nice ambiance about it from the food to the service to the outdoor seating...I just love Shore! Plus, they have a beautiful boutique below the restaurant that I love to pop in at.

SHOPPING:

*Detwiler's (Grocery Shopping) - I (and I can't exclaim this loud enough) love Detwiler's! If I am wanting anything fresh from the grocery store, Detwiler's is first on my mind. It's just a small little grocery shop but they have everything from fresh veggies to fresh seafood to literally everything you need!
Yoder Fresh Market - Ahhh Yoder's Fresh Market, another one of my favorites. I would say this is a favorite because of their amazing fresh orange juice. I typically stop here for all the things I need to make salsa. Plus, You can pop over to the deli and grab some meats and cheeses for the beach.
Bon Bon Vintage - This is one of the cutest boutiques in Sarasota in my opinion! The owners are good friends of ours so if you go tell them that Lena from Farmhouse Frocks sent ya! This is actually the place that Felicia found her wedding dress! They have beautiful home goods, accessories, and clothing.
*Goodwill - Ok if you know me, you know I am a thrift-aholic. I have travelled far and wide and the best thrift stores that I've seen are in Sarasota! Especially the Goodwill on Honore and the one off of 301. Here are the two other thrift stores I absolutely love too!
University Mall - If I am being honest, I am not much of a mall shopper but I thought I would include this incase someone else is. This town center mall has a variety of shops, enough that everyone in the family can find a store that they can relate to.
 

BEACHES:

Anna Maria Island - When you're driving up to Anna Maria Island there are a bunch of little private beaches on the left hand side. They are public so you can go on them without getting in trouble but they resemble a private beach because nobody is ever out there. Most days I find myself wanting to get away from the screaming kids on the beach and locals that're vacationing there from home, so I go to one of the private Anna Maria Island beaches. Which, now that I think of it...maybe I shouldn't tell you about them or they won't be so private anymore.
*Lido - We end up going to Lido beach more times than not because of how easy it is. You don't have to walk in that far, parking is usually pretty easy to find, and there are restrooms close by along with a bar. So you could say that it's pretty awesome! Plus, it has lifeguards there to make sure your kids stay safe.
 


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