When I think of Florida, I don’t picture Disney, I envision walking across the powder white sand collecting shells and shark teeth on the gulf coast. We spend our days doing an excursion for half of the day and enjoying the sunshine at the beach or by the pool for the other half. It really is the perfect vacation scenario and our town of choice in Florida is Sarasota.
Here is our itinerary for 5 full days in paradise:
I always spend the first morning enjoying my hotel and spending time in the pool with my family. Enjoy the pool and soak up all the sunshine!
Lunch: Old Salty Dog (Great place to grab some burgers right on the water. Once we watched dolphins playing in the water throughout our meal.)
Spend the afternoon at our favorite place in Sarasota…the Mote Marine Laboratory. The best thing about this aquarium is that it is a working research facility. You’ll love meeting our two favorite manatee…Hugh and Buffett. Also, say hello to our pal Hang Tough, a blind green turtle that lives at Mote because he couldn’t survive in the wild. The aquarium is filled with fish, sharks, eels, otters, crocs, ands more. Open daily 10-5. Adults $20 Children $15.
1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy.
Dinner: Café Epicure
Head over to the beautiful Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. The landscaping is gorgeous and it is impeccably clean. It is a relaxing way to spend your morning and the kids will love exploring the gardens. Our favorite place to go to are to the 80-year-old banyan trees. There is also a peaceful koi pond. Open daily 10-5. Adults $20 Children $10. 900 S. Palm Avenue
Lunch: I would just eat something from the concession stand at Siesta Beach. They have burgers, hot dogs, tacos, salads, snacks, and drinks. Beware of the crazy dive-bombing seagulls. They are fearless.
Spend the rest of the afternoon on the powder white sand of Siesta Beach.
Dinner: Tommy Bahamas
Spend another beautiful morning by the pool.
Lunch: Stop at a local market and bring some food back to your hotel. We love to eat fruit and vegetable that are not in season in New Hampshire.
Go enjoy the afternoon at the Sarasota Jungle Gardens. Our family loves to visit this small zoo. They get to see lots of animals like lemurs, birds, snakes, tortoises, and more. They got lots of hands-on time with the animals by being able to hold a crocodile, hold a parrot, and feed flamingos. Open daily 10-5. Adults $18 Children $13. 3701 Bay Shore Road.
Dinner: Caragiulos Italian American. They have great pizza and pasta. We always eat outside. I’m not sure if they still do it, but they used to give the kids dough to play with at the table.
You are in Florida for the sunshine so enjoy the morning by the pool.
Lunch: Eat an easy lunch by the pool.
Time to get out on the water. Take a dolphin tour from Siesta Keys Watersports or another tour operator in the area. Hopefully you will be able to watch them jumping through the air, like we did.
Next, walk around St. Armond’s Circle and pop into some cute shops.
Dinner: Crab and Fin Restaurant
Another morning by the pool or back to the beach.
Lunch: Make some simple sandwiches and eat by the pool or at the beach.
After lunch, head over to the Big Cat Habitat. If you love lions and tigers, you will really enjoy this place. It is a non-profit safe haven for big cats, bears, and native wildlife. They also have birds, tortoises, primates, and a petting zoo. There are also animal shows. Adults $18 Children $8. 7101 Palmer Blvd.
Next, explore what downtown Sarasota has to offer. There are so many adorable shops and great places to get a cocktail, coffee, or gelato. I love to walk down to the marina and take a walk along the water.
Dinner: O’Leary’s Tiki Bar and Grill
Where we stayed: Since we have lots of family in Sarasota, we don’t usually get a hotel. However, once we had a lovely time staying at the Hotel Indigo. Read all about our experience here.