Sarasota Florida Travel Guide
Hope everyone had a nice long weekend. Can’t believe it’s already Friday, yayy!
Bun and I spent 4 full days in sunny Sarasota, Florida, and aside from my super swollen 2nd degree sunburned foot, the getaway was spectacular (gonna pretend that I didn’t get “emergency walk-in clinic worthy” sunburned on the FIRST day and that I’m not still hobbling around 6 days later. Ugh, sunless tanning lotion ALL THE WAY).
I had been to Florida many times before– Disney, Naples.. but never to Sarasota, where the beaches are v highly regarded for good reason. Sarasohhhtttuuurrr. We caught a 5AM flight, enjoyed 7AM airport beer during our short layover and were laying on a quiet, white sandy beach by 10AM, commenting on how prettyyyy the water was– close enough to the Caribbean for us! Last year at this time we were in St. Thomas and St. John, and THOSE beaches are unreal but we snagged a very sweet deal on this trip, so it was no-brainer. Inexpensive flight, short travel time, cheap airbnb, gorgeous beaches, mmmmmk!
We stayed at this Airbnb, which was close enough to downtown to uber around to the beaches/restaurants. Nice location and very inexpensive. Hotels in Sarasota are crazy expensive for the most part, so an airbnb is the way to go. There’s also a bus/trolley that can take you from the outskirts into town (but we never took the time to figure it out)..
Day one we relaxed on the beaches of Longboat Key, which was my favorite spot of the trip due to its quiet (did I mention I don’t like people? Ha). It’s a bit more removed than the rest of the beaches so it was very peaceful. We passed by expensive condos and exclusive-looking clubs until we finally put “public access” into our Uber and found our magical beach Bun zone. It’s a short walk to Publix from the public access beach, where you can grab groceries or a sandwich from their deli (and a beach umbrella!!!). Across from the beach was a place called Neptune that looked pretty shabby but probably pretty affordable and a great location, if you’re looking to stay on Longboat.
We checked into our Airbnb eventually after WAY too much sun, took a power nap and were right back out again. Dinner at Marina Jack’s (downtown Sarasota) was a good choice– scenic spot by the water and boats. Can’t remember what I ate but I know I liked the wine haa.
Afterwards we walked over to Oleary’s Tiki Bar– bev consumption at tables on the sand by the water. I think it’s impossible for a tiki bar not to be cute/enjoyable.
Morning came around and big baby need snaacckkksss. We ate at the BEST place, Station 400. The space is a charming restored train depot from 1852, and our breakfast selections were everything. I got the falafel wrap and Bun got the lemon curd & fresh blackberries pancakes with vanilla bean maple syrup (!!). Both amaze.
By noon we were ready for bevz (or maybe we had beer during breakfast), so we checked off the Art Ovation Hotel from our list. This rooftop pool and bar area (walkable from Station 400) was pretty much a party scene, while kids and the older crowd did their own thing (I’m sure it’s more enjoyable during non holiday weekends..). Take a look at the artwork throughout the hotel and then sip sangria on the rooftop, if you can find someone to swipe you up the elevator. Stick around long enough and it shouldn’t be a problem.
We fit in some beach time at a stupid-packed Lido beach and then discovered the Lido Beach Resort Grille, where we enjoyed unbelievable views from a random public balcony in the hotel and then equally amazing dinner views at the Grille. We thoroughly enjoyed this gem of a place we hadn’t expected to stumble into. Fill up on their fresh bread and spreads!
It was early to bed for us so that we could wake up earllyyyy AF to hit Siesta Key beach (everyone’s favorite) before the blistering sun and waves of people. It never got very crowded where we plopped down because it was before the main area with the concessions. The parking lot is small, so uber and get dropped off across from Captain Curt’s. This beach was pretty perfect, with white sand that was fine like powdered sugar and clear blue calm water (until the wind picked up in the late afternoon and turned us into Mary Poppins).
The last night of the trip was probably our favorite– Bun’s bday (!), celebrated with cocktails on the most glorious Westin rooftop at golden hour/sunset, followed by a mouth watering dinner at the eclectic Melange Restaurant. Ugh the Westin rooftop was breathtaking and we wished we had spent more time there instead of our previous hooligan experience at the Art Ovation, but I’m glad we saw both. Melange’s menu is such a unique hodgepodge of items, so there’s something for everyone. Try the cheese plate at Melange, oh emm it was so nicely presented, and dat honayyy drizzle, hazelnuts and cheese tho! Bun loved his dish of beef short rib with fried spinach and I downedd my ramen.
Heavy laughter and ooos and ahhhs concluded the last day during the mangrove kayaking and manatee spotting, a highlight of the trip. If you need to hide from the sun a bit while experiencing something truly spectacular, book a day with Sea Life Kayak Adventures. Don’t worry, there are no alligators! Or avocados. Ahaha literally called alligators avocados accidentally while half asleep during our 3AM travels. We didn’t sign up for a tour because ew. Just go off on your own and enjoy maneuvering through the many narrow mangrove tunnels. Hopefully on the way to the tunnels you will get to see manatees canoodling. They come up for air every 3 minutes or so and people make a BIG fuss about it. It was pretty sweet to see one swim by our kayak though (they’re huge!) and to see two of them nuzzling boop faces. Definitely cracked up thinking about how the guides are out there every day with the same enthusiasm while pointing out little brown heads from a distance. Sarasottuuurrr.
Unfortunately tandem kayaking isn’t like riding a tandem bike– you can’t just pretend to paddle like you pretend to peddle ahaha. So, tum needed food after all of that, and we headed to the pretty St. Armand’s Circle for lunch. St. Armand’s is definitely worth walking through, and if you are looking to grab a bite to eat, try Shore restaurant. Great atmosphere, amazing burgers (including a huge and flavorful veggie burger!).
Then we held hands and skipped on down the circle while eating ice cream….aka Ubered to a pharmacy to get meds for my sunburned foot. Sarz, Bun. We will get you ice cream this weekend in Georgetown.