Winter Fun in Florida
December 12, 2017 6:37 AM   Subscribe

My parents moved to Florida a few months ago and I'm going to visit them for a week at the end of the month. What are your favorite things to do/see/eat in the Sarasota area?

My mom asked me what I might want to do when I'm down there. I know my mom well enough to know that "IDK whatever you want to do" is not a good answer, but I've also never been to this part of Florida before, so I truly don't know what kinds of fun things there are to check out in the area.

My parents are in a town south of Sarasota, but my mom has told me that any/all of the following locations are also easily accessible from where they are: Venice, Englewood, Punta Gorda, and Ft. Myers.

I'm open to pretty much anything, but here are some things I particularly like: weird little museums (esp. medical), marine science centers/aquariums, awesome thrift stores or fleamarkets, arts & crafts stores or centers, famous graves, interesting statues/public art, craft breweries, dive bars, tasty breakfast joints, etc.

Thank you!
posted by helloimjennsco to Travel & Transportation around Sarasota, FL (13 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Check out Mote Marine Aquarium and Jungle Gardens. If you go to Mote Marine, you can walk across the street to eat at the Salty Dog, which has outdoor seating overlooking the Bay. Jungle Gardens is one of my favorite “old Florida” places, if you enjoy that sort of thing. I haven’t been to any of the Ringling museums in years, but I have fond memories of the circus museum. Sorry for no links, on my phone. Have fun!
posted by hovizette at 6:56 AM on December 12, 2017

Selby Botanical Gardens are nice, as well as the Ringling Museum and grounds. Myakka River State Park has a canopy walkway. Yoder's is a random yet delicious Amish restaurant in Sarasota.
posted by gnutron at 7:09 AM on December 12, 2017

One of America's great craft beer bars The Cock and Bull Pub, is in Sarasota (albeit in a somewhat remote area).

Seconding Mote and Yoder's (very, very good pie).

The Ringling museum is definitely worth checking out, as is the adjacent Ca D'Zan (former winter home of John Ringling).

There are some great beaches too (Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key, Siesta Key). I especially like
posted by voiceofreason at 7:29 AM on December 12, 2017

The Cottage in Siesta Key was amazing when we went there a couple years ago. Myakka River State Park has a short canopy walk and lots of big alligators (and kayaking because in Florida kayaking and alligators are not mutually exclusive) if you want to stroll around a bit inland. It's dry prairie which isn't the most exciting habitat in Florida but it is something Florida-specific and totally underappreciated.
posted by hydrobatidae at 8:12 AM on December 12, 2017

After you eat at Yoder's, take some time to explore the surrounding Amish community of Pinecraft, which is THE retirement/vacation destination for many midwestern Amish. If you never thought you'd see an Amish person on an electric bike, well, think again.
posted by storminator7 at 8:43 AM on December 12, 2017

Yoder's for the best pie and Amish-style food, which is so hearty you won't need to eat again for the rest of the day. There's also a gift shop and a farmer's market connected to the restaurant, perfect for browsing and finding old country-store type goodies. There's going to be a wait, but it is SO GOOD. (My parents live in Fort Myers, a bit south of Sarasota, but they DRIVE the two hours one way to go to this restaurant sometimes. It is great.)

Mote Marine and the Selby Botanical Gardens are also enjoyable, but I'm a big fan of Siesta Key if the weather's warm enough and you want a beach day (it might be).
posted by PearlRose at 9:44 AM on December 12, 2017

I'll nth the Ringling Museums (art, circus & mansion). I was just in Sarasota this past summer and for craft beer we to JDub's, Big Top Brewing, Motorworks and 3 Keys. I've listed them in roughly the order I enjoyed them from most to least. JDub's Milk Stout was an especially nice version of the style.
posted by mmascolino at 12:41 PM on December 12, 2017

You could go shark tooth hunting on Venice Beach (they rent little baskets for a few bucks that help you sift through the sand, but they're not strictly necessary).

Or for a good town center with lots of awesome stores and restaurants, check out St Armand's on Longboat Key (Venezia has awesome Italian food).

Siesta Key beach is my personal happy place that I visualize during dental appointments or when sitting in the bitter cold car waiting for it warm up in the winter. (Siesta Key Village has a Salty Dog too, and it's my first stop when I get into town, so seconding that recommendation! Olaf's for ice cream is my second stop.)

Mote Marine is awesome, as others have said. Other than that, I would honestly just take advantage of the amazing scenery and sit on the beach, paddleboard, rent a pontoon boat, bike around, and whatever other outdoor activities strike your fancy. I'm wishing I was there now, have a great time!
posted by carlypennylane at 12:44 PM on December 12, 2017

Arrgh...I should have said Milk Chocolate any case, it was delicious.
posted by mmascolino at 12:56 PM on December 12, 2017

From Punta Gorda take a boat tour to Cabbage Key or take the Peace River nature tour. The Babcock Ranch eco tour is also fun.
posted by SyraCarol at 1:57 PM on December 12, 2017

My parents live near that area. I really like stump pass on manasota key, it’s gorgeous.
posted by pintapicasso at 2:20 PM on December 12, 2017

The Thomas Edison House in Ft Meyers might pass for a weird little museum.
posted by SemiSalt at 3:25 PM on December 12, 2017

There is a FANTASTIC Goodwill Bookstore in Sarasota. Let me see if I can find a link. Here.
posted by wittgenstein at 6:10 PM on December 12, 2017

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