Must Do’s for a Family Vacation in Sarasota, Florida

By: Susan Finch

Sarasota earned a well-deserved reputation for its thriving arts scene, excellent restaurants, and gorgeous beaches. It’s proximity to some of the best entertainment and attractions also make it a popular spot for families to come and explore. From unique entertainment on the beach to marine exploration, here are some of my favorite things to do in Sarasota, Florida.

Kid-Friendly Must Do Attractions and Activities For A Family Vacation in Sarasota, Florida. Must Do Visitor Guides.
Photos courtesy Katie Hallum, Nita Ettinger, Jennifer Brinkman

Weekly Drum Circle

Families looking for fun and unique things to do in Sarasota should follow the beat down to the beach for the weekly drum circle. Every Sunday evening, Siesta Key Beach welcomes artists, dancers, hula hoppers, locals, and tourists for an evening of dancing and music. Everyone is welcome to enjoy the music-filled sunset and enjoy a “judgment-free” zone intended to bring peace to all who gather.

Sarasota Jungle Gardens

Sarasota Jungle Gardens has long been a favorite among family travelers. Exhibits include jungle trails, birds of prey, butterfly garden, tranquil koi pond, flamingo feeding area, petting zoo, and alligator and crocodile exhibits among others. There’s also a playground for kids who want some time to climb and meet new friends, as well as Sand Hill where kids are invited to make a mess. The 10-acres of tropical landscaping features a variety of rescued birds and animals and ongoing performances that educate kids and grown-ups alike.

Big Cat Habitat & Gulfcoast Sanctuary

Give back to a worthy cause when exploring things to do in Sarasota. Ticket proceeds at Big Cat Habitat go towards the rescue and care of large-animals and providing them sanctuary with a permanent home. Three indoor/outdoor structures offer habitat to the animals complete with a swimming pool, toys, and shade trees to provide both mental and physical stimulation and comfort to the inhabitants. And it’s not just a place where big cats like lions go to find permanent refuge. The sanctuary also welcomes bears, birds, ligers, primates, and large tortoises and offers a kid-friendly petting zoo with goats, llamas, chickens and even emu.

Mini Golf

Mini Golf should always be on your things to do in Sarasota wish-list. The area has several options to choose from, including the pirate-themed Smuggler’s Cove Adventure Golf. You’ll find 18 holes of miniature golf to navigate through caves, pirate ships, waterfalls, and even see some live alligators in the Educational American Alligator Exhibit with 20 to 30 residents. After golfing around the pirate ship themed course, you can also feed the alligators with cane fishing poles for a truly unique experience. 

If your family is thinking of something more tranquil than the pirate-theme, try Evie’s Family Golf Center with 18-holes of waterfall adventures. The par 40 western-themed course is designed to be fun for all ages and just challenging enough to keep it interesting. It’s also handicap accessible and welcomes large groups on a family reunion or party.

Hunting for Shark Teeth

Beachcombers looking for something unique are in the right place in Sarasota County. Grab a sand bucket with the kids and look through seashells at area beaches for black, glossy shark teeth. But huntingfossilizedshark teeth is a treasured pastime in the area. Situated just south of Sarasota, Venice, Florida is considered the reigning “Shark Tooth Capital of the World”. Ten million years ago, Florida was submerged under water, and the area was full of sharks. Over time, those prehistoric sharks died off, and their skeletons slowly disintegrated, but their teeth remained. Today, visitors and locals come to look for these fossilized teeth along the Gulf of Mexico shoreline and take home a prehistoric treasure of their own.

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium tirelessly rescues stranded sea life, researches red tide, and works towards solutions to combat coral disease. But they also believe in sharing their wealth of knowledge and experiences with the public. Bring the family to explore touch pools and interactive exhibits. Mote Marine also offers in-depth and hands-on eco-boat tours, walk and talks, kayaking, research charters, shark encounters, and morning rounds to see their work in action for yourself.

With so many things to do in Sarasota, your best bet is coming back for more on your next family vacation. Come back for year-round festivals, events, and see your favorite attractions all over again.

6 Must Do's For A Family Vacation in Sarasota, Florida. Must Do Visitor Guides.
Photos courtesy Nita Ettinger, Jennifer Brinkman, Katie Hallum


Written by: Susan Finch | Author Website

Susan Finch is a travel writer and content marketer for the tourism industry who spends her time obsessing over the latest travel trends, wrangling her small kids, and planning her family's next big adventure.