How to Have the Perfect Long Weekend in Sarasota

By Vanessa Caceres

There are many reasons why Sarasota, Florida is a popular destination for a long weekend. The weather’s perfect year-round, there’s lots to do, the beaches are gorgeous, and the areas is renowned for its arts and culture. So, just what should you do if you have a long weekend to spend in Sarasota? Here’s your itinerary.

How to Have the Perfect Long Weekend in Sarasota, Florida. Must Do Visitor Guides
Photo credit Debi Pittman Wilkey

Day 1

Once you get settled into your home away from home, make it on over to St. Armands Circle for an afternoon stroll. This famous circular shopping district has all kinds of stores and restaurants, from unique craft and tourist-oriented stores and art galleries to eateries like Tommy Bahama, Columbia Restaurant, and Kilwins Chocolate (get some fudge or chocolate samples if you have a craving). Don’t miss the Spice and Tea Exchange, where you can smell all kinds of spices, salts, and sugars. While visiting St. Armand’s Circle, walk just about five minutes to see Lido Beach. Even if you’re not ready yet for a full beach afternoon, you’ll still get to take in Sarasota’s beautiful shores and white sand.

For dinner, go right over the Ringling Bridge to Marina Jack Restaurant, where you can watch big boats and yachts come in and out of the marina. Take your pick of more casual outdoor seating or the more formal seating indoors. Marina Jack is well known for all of its seafood dishes. After you eat, take a stroll at the adjacent, beautiful Bayfront Park, famous for its marina views and sunsets.

Day 2

The Sarasota area has several thriving farmers markets, but none are as famous as the downtown Sarasota Farmers Market, which has been around for more than 35 years. This sprawling market in downtown Sarasota starts at 7 a.m. and goes to 1 p.m. year-round and includes more than 70 vendors. Load up on local produce, buy some handmade jewelry, and get breakfast from one of the prepared food vendors, including Empanadas by Stef or Alpine Steakhouse. Here’s a gift idea: Sea Salt Florida at the market has salts made from local waters that pair perfectly with locally caught fish as well as plenty of other foods. The packets are easy to carry in your luggage and give as gifts to others—or keep for yourself.

Once you’re done at the market, your next destination is The Ringling, a world-class jewel right here in Sarasota. The Ringling, named for circus magnate John Ringling, has a little something for everyone. It has a famous collection of Renaissance art that Ringling and his wife Mable collected. There also is a collection of Asian art and a Circus Museum. The grounds are also home to Ca’D’Zan, which means House of John. Tour the home of John and Mable to see ornate architecture at its finest, and take in the gorgeous view of Sarasota Bay. You can also walk around the grounds for lots of different types of flowers and trees, including the rose garden, massive-sized banyan trees, and a playground. 

After an afternoon at The Ringling, use your evening to have dinner in the eclectic Rosemary District, off of Fruitville Road. Some popular choices include The Rosemary, Mandeville Beer Garden, or live music over at The Blue Rooster. The Rosemary District also has a growing collection of murals that you can show off on your Instagram feed. If you want to catch an artsy movie while you’re in town, head on over to nearby Burns Court Historic District, where Burns Court Cinema always has the latest independent films.

Day 3

When you think of Sunday, think of Siesta Key. Siesta Beach is often voted the number 1 beach in the U.S. because of its turquoise waters and its powdery, quartz crystal sand. If you’re an early bird, take a peaceful walk along the beach or head over to Beach Access 12 or 13 for snorkeling at Point of Rocks. You’ll see shells, coral, algae, crabs, and all types of fish during this easy snorkeling adventure. Next, prepare to spend a few hours just taking in the sun (while wearing sunscreen, of course) or swimming and floating along the Siesta Key shores, be it on the main beach area or other beaches on Siesta, such as Crescent Beach or Turtle Beach. For brunch, head on over to Siesta Key Village, where you can check out the offering at the Sunday Siesta Key Farmers Market (held year-round from 8 a.m. to noon) and eat at restaurants like Daiquiri DeckSiesta Key Oyster Bar, Village Café, or Sun Garden Cafe. The free Siesta Key Trolley makes it easy to get around Siesta Key and not have to worry about parking.

If you can stick around Siesta Key until the evening, you don’t want to miss the Siesta Key Drum Circle, held on the main Siesta Key Beach every Sunday evening before sunset. All types of drums and drummers unite on the beach for a laidback vibe, adding a real rhythm to your Siesta Key sunset experience. 

Explore more things to do in Sarasota, Florida

Looking for a place to stay on your Sarasota getaway? Check out Altez Vacations list of vacation rental properties! 

Sunset on Siesta Key Beach. How to have a perfect long weekend in Sarasota, Florida. Must Do Visitor Guides.
Photo credit Debi Pittman Wilkey
How to have a perfect long weekend in Sarasota, Florida. Must Do Visitor Guides.
Photo credit Debi Pittman Wilkey
How to have a perfect long weekend in Sarasota, Florida. Must Do Visitor Guides.
Photo credit Debi Pittman Wilkey

Written by: Vanessa Caceres | Author Website

Vanessa Caceres is a Bradenton-based travel, food, and health freelance writer, specializing in writing about Florida. She regularly writes about Florida food and travel for Visit Florida, Edible Sarasota, Forward Florida, and other media outlets. Her work has appeared on the Today Show website, The Huffington Post, USAToday's GoEscape, and other venues.