Florida Family Vacations; Sarasota
One of the best kid friendly Florida beach vacation cities on my list is Sarasota, Florida. Not only does it have some of the most gorgeous sand on the planet, spectacular sunsets, and amazing art community, but it’s also the best kid friendly area on the west coast of Florida. Come see why Sarasota is the best kid friendly Florida beach vacation city in the U.S.
Sarasota, Florida is one of those places that when you visit once, you’ll end up coming back again and again. You won’t be able to help yourself, it’s just that good. The beaches and sands are immaculate, the people are friendly, and you’re surrounded by so much beauty that you’ll never find anywhere else. Plus, the kids will love all that Sarasota has to offer.
Kid Friendly Things to Do in Sarasota Florida:
Of course we can’t have a post about Sarasota being the best kid friendly Florida beach vacation city without mentioning Siesta Beach. Siesta Beach is featured on BestKidFriendlyTravel in Florida With Kids: Check out Siesta Beach Florida!, or see Florida Family Beach Vacations; The Florida Gulf Coast, and also see Family Summer Activities in Sarasota, FL.
There are more recreational beaches and barrier islands in Florida than any other state in the nation, so it’s no wonder that Siesta Beach Florida won the “Great International White Sand Beach Challenge” in 1987 for sporting the “whitest and finest sand in the world”.
As Stephany stated in her post for “Top 5 Kid-Friendly Florida Beaches”, there’s also lots of fun abound outside of Siesta Beach in Sarasota,
“Nearby Marina Jacks, a playground with splash fountains, along with O’leary’s Tiki Bar & Grill, and water sport rentals. Sarasota is also home to the Ringling Bros. Circus Museum and winter headquarters.”
Other beaches in Sarasota, FL: From north to south:
- Longboat Key–
- Lido Beach
- South Lido
- North Siesta Beach
- Siesta Beach
- Siesta Village
- Crescent Beach
- Point of Rocks
- Turtle Beach
- Casey Key
- Nokomis Beach
- North Jetty (Casey Key, North Jetty and Nokomis Beach are actually located in Nokomis, FL, but are so close to Sarasota that you’ll want to check them out while you’re in the area). See the map below courtesy of Sarasota County Government Parks & Recreation
Beach Access Points (information and map courtesy of; www.scgov.net/parksandrecreation/beaches/beaches.asp)
Click on a beach to view the beach Web site:
G Wiz – The Gulfcoast Wonder and Imagination Zone.
A hands-on science center. Exhibits are located on two floors of the science and technology center. They also schedule field trip programs for kids. G.WIZ offers special one-week half day and full day programs during June and July each summer. Open Tuesday – Saturday 10:00am – 5:00pm, Sunday 1:00pm – 5:00pm and closed Monday. Admission is free from 5pm-8pm on the first Wednesday of each month. 1001 Blvd. of the Arts, Sarasota. (941) 906-1851.
A not-for-profit performing arts educational organization. Circus Sarasota’s long-range goal is to have a permanent professional circus school based in Sarasota County, offering a progressive educational program to keep the circus arts alive. Our aim is to educate and encourage students to achieve professionalism and excellence in the circus arts, while embracing all performing arts. Circus Sarasota currently conducts limited Circus Arts workshops at various times throughout the year. (941) 355-9335
Crowley Museum & Nature Center.
A non profit nature and pioneer history center located on 190 acres of native land adjacent to the Myakka River in Sarasota County. Visitors can enjoy nature trails through the protected wildlife sanctuary, a boardwalk traversing the Maple Branch Swamp and Tatum Sawgrass Marsh and an observation tower overlooking the Myakka River. The pioneer history area includes a museum with artifacts from the late 1870’s to the early 1900’s, a one room homestead cabin, a working blacksmith shop, a working sugar cane mill, and a restored 1892 “Cracker” house. Trails are well maintained, and many are handicapped accessible. (941) 322-1000
Florida Gulf Coast Railroad Museum.
The Florida Gulf Coast Railroad Museum, Inc. was founded in 1981 to acquire, protect, preserve and operate interesting and historic examples of railroad rolling stock, artifacts, and other aspects of railroad history, with emphasis on railroads that served the state of Florida. It is a not for profit corporation. The museum operates excursion trains consisting of its own rolling stock every weekend, year round. The 1.5 hour trip departs Saturdays and Sundays at 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM, rain or shine. Special weekend events are planned year-round. (941) 365-5738
Livingstons Amusement Center.
45,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art venue (formerly the Albritton Fruit location) is the ultimate place for guests to drink, socialize and enjoy the latest in amusements and fun. Full service Bar, Pizza & Soft drinks, 5,000 sq ft Arcade, Indoor Go Kart Track, 26 Pool Tables, Private Party Room. Off Clark Rd -5947 Clark Center Ave, Sarasota. (941) 925-7665
Mote Marine Laboratory and Science Center.
Internationally recognized marine research facility, aquarium and touch tank. Includes a 135,000 gallon marine research and display aquarium where sharks and other marine animals are maintained. Turtles, rays, eels, rare fish, sharks, and manatees oh my. 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota. (941) 388-4441.
Known throughout the world for its rich and varied collections, the Ringling Museum of Art was planned by the Ringlings to be part of a grand legacy. They built their winter home, Ca’ d’Zan, in 1924-26 and opened the galleries to the public in 1930. Also on site is the Ringling Museum of The Circus, and Cà d’Zan The Ringling Winter Residence. Open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota. (941) 359-5700.
Ringling Circus Museum.
A collection of circus art and memorabilia–from posters and photographs to wagons and costumes. Established in 1948, the Ringling Museum of the American Circus was the first museum of its kind to document the rich history of the circus. With so many circus people living in the immediate area, the collection grew quickly. Because of this, the Ringling Museum has a fine collection including rare handbills and art prints, circus paper, business records, wardrobe, performing props, as well as all types of circus equipment, including beautifully carved parade wagons, sturdy utility wagons, tent poles and massive bail rings. There are also 19th- and early 20th-century posters and props used by famous performers. A large collection of circus history and literature includes newspaper clippings dating as far back as 1816. Web Site
Sarasota Bay Explorers.
An exciting, hands-on, educational and fun experience on the water. Offering several types of eco-tours including the Sea Life Encounter Cruise, Guided Kayak Tours, Nature Safari and private charters aboard the Miss Explorer. In addition to the regular cruises, you may charter a trip on one of the 40-foot pontoon boats for a private group. Private charters are available for anything from school field trips to company outings to birthday parties. 1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy. City Island, Sarasota. (941) 388-4200
Sarasota Classic Car Museum.
Built in 1952, the Sarasota Classic Car Museum is the 3rd oldest automobile in the United States. The museum hosts three primary exhibits within the 60,000 sq ft. of space under roof. The automobile exhibit has over 100 automobiles and spans nearly ten decades of automotive history beginning with the horseless carriage. Open daily 9:00 – 6:00pm. 5500 N. Tamiami Tr., Sarasota. (941) 355-6228. COUPON
Sarasota County Boys & Girls Club.
We Inspire and enable all young people, especially those from disadvantaged circumstances, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens. Sports & Recreation programs as well as Life-enhancing programs and character development experiences. More than 25 national programs are available in the areas of education, the environment, health, the arts, careers, alcohol/drug and pregnancy prevention, gang prevention, leadership development and athletics. (941) 366-3911
Sarasota County Library System.
8 libraries in the area to serve you. Including The Summer Reading Program – for children ages 5-11 (K-5th grade). Thematic, literature based programs offered weekly during the summer. Programs encourage children to read so that they retain and reinforce their reading skills while school is not in session. Reading logs are provided for children to keep track of daily reading. (941) 861-5000. Also, listen to Dial-A-Story (941) 486-2330 – You will hear a 2-4 minute story. These stories might be fairy tales, legends, holiday stories, or fables.
Sarasota Family YMCA.
Four fitness branches offerering more than 60 youth and family development programs within six counties. The Sarasota Family YMCA provides free childcare at the Frank G. Berlin, Sr. and Evalyn Sadlier Jones branches. Children as young as six weeks up to 5-years-old are welcome for two-hour periods seven days a week while their parents enjoy the Y. The YMCA also provides after school care programs. When school is out or after the school day is complete, children are supervised at Sarasota County schools by a professional and licensed YMCA team. Children socialize with other kids their age and enjoy indoor and outdoor games, sports, arts & crafts and other challenging activities. (941) 951-2916 x1061. Child Care Offices (941) 952-9533 ext. 201
Sarasota Jungle Gardens.
Acres of beautiful gardens and nature trails make this a perfect setting for leisurely strolls. Birds of Prey exhibition, Critters and Things show, Reptile Encounter interactive show, Birds of The Rainforest show, and Meet the Keeper. Open daily 9AM to 5PM, closed Christmas Day. 3701 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota. (941) 355-5305. COUPON
Sarasota Reading Festival.
A FREE EVENT for the whole family featuring acclaimed authors, panel discussions, book signings, children’s events, storytellers, booksellers, free giveaway books for kids, food and more. A once a year event held at 5 points, downtown Sarasota. In front of Selby Public Library, 1331 First Street. (941) 906-1733
Sarasota Sailor Circus.
Dedicated to the development of programs that provide a safe environment for kids to participate, learn, and achieve while developing positive relationships between kids and law enforcement. The mission of Sailor Circus is to keep the family tradition of the Circus alive while using the circus arts as an alternative teaching method and intervention program for youth at risk in the community. Students are trained in various circus skills from clowning to tumbling, from high-wire to flying trapeze, from unicycle to juggling and much more. We incorporate every aspect of circus training from rigging and costuming, to presentation and performing. 2075 Bahia Vista Street. (941) 361-6350
Sarasota Youth Sailing Program.
A nonprofit educational organization established to teach the youth of Sarasota and Manatee Counties to learn to sail, as well as to develop boat and water safety skills. Through a variety of programs, the organization introduces youth to a lifelong activity, and instills a sense of the value of sportsmanship, responsibility, self-discipline, and self-esteem. Classes are provided at low cost. The calm waters of Sarasota Bay provide an ideal location for youngsters to learn to sail. The YSP operates out of facilities provided by the Sarasota Sailing Squadron located at 1717 Ken Thompson Parkway. (941) 924-5118
Siesta Key Drum Circle.
Every Sunday in Sarasota, about 1 hour before sunset, located just south of the main pavilion between lifeguard stands 3 and 4 on Siesta Public Beach. Just follow your ears. This is not a commercial event but local phenomenon that began sponteneously and now has a life of its own. Web Site
Smugglers Cove Adventure Mini-Golf
Two great locations in the Sarasota-Bradenton area! Come play “adventure” mini-golf amid pirate shipwrecks, caves, beautiful waterfalls and live alligators!!! Feed the live alligators too! The best courses on Florida’s West Coast. Open 9am-11pm daily. 3815 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota / (941) 351-6620 & 2000 Cortez Road W., Bradenton / (941) 756-0043.
South Florida Museum – Bishop Planetarium & Parker Manatee Aquarium.
*Planetarium – Planetarium Starshows, these presentations can place visitors in a simulated thunderstorm or propel them through the universe on a photon of light.
*Laser lightshows, – One of the longest continuously-running laser shows in the world (20 years!) offered at 2:30 pm daily, features artistic interpretations in light to a wide variety of musical styles. Weekend evening laser shows – Feature various rock & roll music, presented on Fridays and Saturday nights.
*The Rooftop Observatory – Solar observing is open to the public Friday and Saturday nights 8:30 PM until 10 PM (weather permitting) for lunar, planetary and deep-sky observation. The observatory is also open Saturdays from 11:30 AM until 1 PM for solar observation (weather permitting).
*The Parker Manatee Aquarium – Above and below-water viewing of West Indian Manatees. The pool holds approximately 60,000 gallons of water and includes both deep and shallow areas to provide viewing of Mo and Snooty the Manatee’s. 201 10th Street West. Bradenton. (941) 746-4131.
Stardust Skate Center.
Sarasota’s largest air conditioned roller skating/dance arena. D.J. playing all of your favorite music and a large projection screen playing your favorite videos. Open Fri, Sat, & Sunday. 2571 12th Street. Sarasota. (941) 365-6888. Web Site
* Business viability, hours of operation & activities subject to change. Please call ahead to confirm.
Kid Friendly Restaurants in Sarasota Florida;
Sarasota is known for it’s variety of restaurants. There are so many to choose from, and they literally have anything you could want.
And as far as kid friendly goes, Sarasota is one of the best in the nation in choices of family friendly restaurants. Some of my old favorites are gone now, but others have risen to the challenge, and have proven to be great.
Anna’s Deli, in Siesta Village is a great choice for yummy homemade sandwiches.
The Broken Egg in Siesta Village is a must for breakfast.
And as far as dinner goes, you have hundreds of wonderful choices for whatever you’re in the mood for.
Saga; for the best Japanese
Rico’s in Gulf Gate ; Best pizza!
Cafe Baci; awesome Italian. early bird specials are the best.
The best Kid Friendly Restaurants in Sarasota according to Urban Spoon.com
- Gateway to India
- Columbia Restaurant
- Tommy Bahama…
- Kilwin’s Chocolate…
- Mattison’s City Grille
- Veg (Eatery)
- Gecko’s Grill & Pub
- Two Senoritas Restaurant
- Station 400
- Broken Egg Restaurant
Kid Friendly Hotels & Resorts in Sarasota, Florida;
- Tropical Beach Resorts- Siesta Key-6717 Sara Sea Circle, Sarasota, FL US 34242
- House of the Sun Condo Resort – 6518 Midnight Pass Road, Sarasota, FL US 34242
- Island House Beach Resort – 6150 Midnight Pass Road, Sarasota, FL US 34242
- Holiday Inn Express – Siesta Key-6600 South Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL US 34231
- Siesta Beach Resorts & Suites – 5311 Ocean Boulevard, Sarasota, FL US 34324
- Tropical Breeze Resort – Siesta Key- 153 Avenida Messina, Siesta Key, FL US 34242
- Beach Palms of Siesta Key Village – 153 Beach Road, Sarasota, FL US 34242
- Banana Bay Club Waterside – 8254 Midnight Pass Siesta Key, FL 34242
- Beach Palms 153 Beach Road Siesta Key, FL 34242
- Sea Castle Beachfront Accommodations 1001-1019 Seaside Dr., Siesta Key, FL, 34242 941 349 8858