I have a love/hate relationship with Summer in Florida. Nonetheless, after moving to the FL Gulf Coast, I’m leaning more towards love. It’s all about planning and keeping your options open if the afternoon thunderstorms decide to show up. From beaches to restaurants, a farmer’s market, museums, world-class shopping, and much more, I have decided to compile the ultimate Sarasota Summer Bucketlist for 2021.
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Crescent Beach Sunset
Siesta Beach – With 99% pure Quartz sand and turquoise waters, Siesta Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the United States. It’s a free public beach, and here you can find picnic shelters, playgrounds, and refreshments.
A favorite of families, groups of friends, and couples alike, Siesta Beach in Siesta Key is the perfect place to enjoy a Gulf Coast Sunset and get a Sun Tan.
Turtle Beach – The waves in Turtle Beach tend to be bigger than those in some of the other Sarasota beaches. But, it is a great place to hunt for shells. Something worth mentioning is that it has a campground with direct beach access. You might even spot some loggerhead or green turtle nests!
Crescent Beach – This one might be my favorite. Crescent Beach is on the same stretch of land as Siesta Beach, and it only has one access, making it feels more secluded. If you enjoy snorkeling or diving, you’ll find here Points of Rocks, where you can see many coral formations and diverse marine life.
Lido Beach – Also a public beach. Lido Beach is not as crowded as Siesta Beach (sometimes) and is close to St. Armand’s and an array of eco-tourism activities. Sometimes dolphins like to show off around the area.
Local Tip: If you stay at the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota, you get access to their Beach Club, which includes a private Gulf of Mexico beach in Lido Key.
Sarasota Restaurants & Bars
View from the restaurant Jack Dusty’s patio
I have already mentioned Boca Sarasota and Clayton’s Siesta Grill in a previous post, and for now, I won’t stop recommending them. But, here are some other favorites that you should give a try this Summer.
Duval’s – If you are looking for fresh seafood, Duval’s in downtown Sarasota should be one of your first options. The Scallops Rockefeller made me fall in love with scallops, and the service is consistently good. What I think I like the most is how non-pretentious the place is (when it could be!).
Indigenous – For an unforgettable dinner, give Indigenous a try. Let’s say Chef Steve Phelps knows what he is doing. My last birthday dinner was here, and I can’t wait to go back. I appreciate the restaurant’s compromise with the environment by being a partner of the Seafood Watch Program and engaging in sustainable sourcing.
The menu changes with what’s available locally, but it doesn’t matter what it is, you won’t be disappointed. Wild Mushroom Bisque is typically on the menu, and it deserves to be ordered.
Jack Dusty – Sometimes you have to compromise between a beautiful view and a good dinner but not here. Jack Dusty also has a big selection of rums and ‘Sarasota’ inspired cocktails. The decor and ambiance are elegant, but you still have that marina vibe (and view). The Apple-Brined Bone-In Porkchop and the Breakfast menu are my personal favorites.
Cask Ale and Kitchen – Aside from having one of the best bars in the city, their food is also pretty great. I recommend going for brunch and ordering a Sunrise Burger. If you go for dinner, the Poutine is always a winner.
Brick’s Smoked Meats – I never thought I see the day that I could find good BBQ in Florida. That was until Brick’s Smoked Meats opened. Their USDA Prime Brisket and Bacon Burnt Ends have nothing to envy, to say BBQ from Texas or Memphis, and their tacos are not too shabby either.
Sarasota Museums & Attractions
The Ringling Museum Courtyard
The Ringling – You will need more than a day to see everything there is at The Ringling Museums, so get there early.
Start by booking your Ca’ d’Zan tour, which has a timed entry, because some tours, such as Mable’s tour, are sold out early. The Ca’ d’Zan is a Mediterranean Revival residence that was the winter home of the American circus owner, developer, and art collector John Ringling and his wife, Mable. The view from its terrace it’s a beautiful sight.
While you wait for your tour to start (or after), go to the Tibbals Learning Center and the Original Circus Museum. Some of the things you can do here are learning about how the Ringling Circus started, ‘circus life,’ see the world’s largest miniature circus, and enjoy some interactive exhibitions.
Then, move to the Museum of Art. From the Center for Asian Art to the Monda Gallery and the Original 21 Galleries, this is an excellent choice if it starts raining. All the previously mentioned buildings and galleries are connected from the inside, making it a respite for those typical Florida Summer afternoons.
If you still have time, don’t forget to check out the Visitors Pavillion and pay a visit to the Kotler-Coville Glass Pavillion.
Local Tip: The Museum of Art has free admission on Mondays. If you live in Sarasota or surrounding areas, I recommend you become a member – the benefits are many!
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens – The world’s only botanical garden specialized in plants that grow on other plants without harming them (epiphytes) is the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens Sarasota.
But don’t come here only for the plants. There is an interactive “rainforest” for kids and kids at heart, numerous exhibits, a butterfly garden, and stunning views of the Sarasota Bay.
Downtown Sarasota & Incoming Summer Thunderstorm
The Mall at UTC – If it starts getting too hot outside, go and refresh at The Mall at University Town Center. Find the latest fashions and casual and upscale eateries if you don’t feel much like shopping, at least pop in into the mall for a Godiva Chocolatier soft ice cream cone.
St. Armand’s Circle – Aditional to the luxurious boutiques, St. Armand’s Circle has restaurants, salons & spas. Get pampered and/or sip a frozen daiquiri at Daiquiri Deck Raw Bar.
Downtown Sarasota – If you’re looking for an eclectic fashion choice, my recommendation would be to go to Downtown Sarasota. Boutiques here tend to carry handpicked and unique items you won’t be able to find anywhere else. If you’re looking for an art piece, Downtown Sarasota Galleries should be between your top places to check out.
Macaroon Ice Cream Sandwich from the Sarasota Farmer’s Market
Sarasota Farmer’s Market – Open Saturdays from 7 AM to 1 PM. The Sarasota Farmer’s Market can be found on Lemon Avenue in Downtown Sarasota. There is food ready to eat and made to order at the market, and of course, fresh produce, vegetables, pasta, cheese, crafts, and other homemade items.
Shark Days at Mote Aquarium – During the last week of July, Mote Aquarium (a nonprofit organization) has Shark Days at Mote. During this week, there are activities and events scheduled that involve this incredible animal, and that will make your Summer in Sarasota even more jawsome (Get it? Ok, I’ll walk myself out).
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