Home to numerous beautiful Gulf Coast beaches, Sarasota, Florida is a wonderful place to visit for a relaxing family vacation. With a small, easy to access airport that has daily flights from major carriers, it’s also a convenient place to visit. On a recent press trip to the area, I had the opportunity to experience a few great things to do with kids in Sarasota. Here are a few of the things I saw, as well as two that I didn’t have the chance to experience.
Things to Do in Sarasota With Kids
Disclosure: This things to do in Sarasota post is part of a hosted stay. All opinions are my own.
I didn’t visit the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium during my visit, but I’d love to return in the future with my kids. This not-for-profit facility showcases over 100 species of marine life, including manatees and sea turtles. You’ll find numerous exhibits, including a shark zone and a touchable ray tank.
One of the highlights of my trip was kayaking with Kayaking SRQ at Ted Sperling Park in Lido Key. If you are looking for outdoor things to do in Sarasota, you’ll definitely want to do this! The park, which is located near the Lido Beach Resort, offers a free kayak launch. If you have your own, you can launch from there, or you can book a tour or rent a kayak.
We took the two hour mangrove tunnel tour. Guests have the option of booking a private tour or joining a scheduled tour. Children are welcome on the tour, and tandem kayaks are available. First, you’ll search for manatee, cormorants, and osprey. During our tour, we didn’t see any manatee, but we did see several cormorants, as well as a beautiful osprey who swooped down among our kayaks to grab a fish.
After that part of the tour, we headed to the mangrove tunnels, which was the highlight for me. The tunnels are so beautiful and so unique, that I had to stop to take several photos. I definitely want to return with my family.
I wish I had the opportunity to check out the Selby Botanical Gardens, but unfortunately I didn’t. These gardens include a number of family-friendly activities, including a children’s rainforest garden and a plant scavenger hunt.
I wasn’t prepared for how absolutely amazing the Ringling Museum is. This museum, founded by John and Mable Ringling (of the famed Ringling Brothers circus) is actually more like three museums in one. Kids will absolutely love the Circus Museum, which includes an amazing room filled with a miniature circus. There are also numerous exhibits, including a clown car that you can get it. I could have watched the miniature circus for a while – there are so many neat little details to explore.
Beyond the circus museum, the Ringling also includes a fantastic fine art museum – the Ringling Museum of Art. While kids may not want to explore the entire art museum, there are specialized kids’ programs offered that can help introduce them to art appreciation. You can see the kids’ programs here.
The Ringling also offers an outdoor play space. If the weather is nice, it’s the perfect spot to get out your kids’ energy during your museum visit. There’s also a gorgeous rose garden that is great to explore.
Your museum ticket will allow for admission to both the Circus Museum and the art museum. If you choose, you can also add on a tour of Ca’ d’Zan, John Ringling and his wife Mable’s beautiful 56-room home. Even if you don’t tour the house, you can explore the exterior, which sits on the Sarasota Bay. I would definitely recommend visiting the Ringling during your trip to Sarasota with kids.
Visit the Beach
Of course, no Sarasota family vacation is complete without a trip to the beach. I’d recommend staying at a resort with beach access, and then take small drives to the various attractions listed here. We have reviews of both the Lido Beach Resort and the Resort at Longboat Key Club, which I’d definitely recommend. Siesta Beach, located on Siesta Key, is also an extremely popular beach.