Things to Do in Sarasota with Kids

Fun Family Activities: Things to Do in Sarasota with Kids

One of the best family activities in Sarasota is visiting the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. This aquarium is home to over 100 species of marine life, including sea turtles, sharks, and manatees. You and your family can take a guided tour, watch animal feedings, and even touch some of the animals. The Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium is a fun and educational experience for the whole family.

Another must-visit attraction in Sarasota is the Sarasota Jungle Gardens. This botanical garden is home to over 200 animals, including flamingos, parrots, and primates. You and your family can take a walk through the gardens and see all of the animals up close. There are also daily bird and reptile shows that are sure to entertain the whole family. The Sarasota Jungle Gardens is a great place to spend a day with your family and create lasting memories.

Siesta Key Beach Adventures

Siesta Key Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the Sarasota area. But it’s not just the beauty of the beach that draws visitors, it’s also the many activities available to families.

One of the most popular activities at Siesta Key Beach is paddleboarding. Paddleboarding is a great way to explore the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and get some exercise at the same time. You can rent paddleboards right on the beach, and there are plenty of places to launch from. If you’re new to paddleboarding, there are also lessons available.

Another great activity at Siesta Key Beach is parasailing. Parasailing is an exciting way to get a bird’s eye view of the beach and the surrounding area. You can go up alone or with a partner, and the views are truly spectacular. There are several companies that offer parasailing at Siesta Key Beach, so be sure to shop around for the best deal.

For those who prefer to stay on land, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy at Siesta Key Beach. You can rent bikes and explore the area on two wheels, or take a walk on the beach and collect shells. There are also several volleyball nets set up on the beach, so you can get a game going with your family or friends.

Kayaking and Wildlife in Myakka River State Park

The Myakka River is a “Wild and Scenic River” that flows 68 miles from the Hardee-Manatee county line to Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf of Mexico. 14 miles of the river are located within Myakka River State Park, making it the perfect spot for recreational paddling.

You’ll have the opportunity to see a variety of wildlife, including alligators and birds such as roseate spoonbills. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a bald eagle or a river otter. The park offers kayak rentals, so you don’t have to worry about bringing your own equipment.

If you’re not comfortable kayaking on your own, you can also take a guided tour. The park offers a variety of guided tours, including a sunset tour and a birding tour. The guides are knowledgeable about the park’s wildlife and history, and they’ll make sure you have a safe and enjoyable experience on the water.

Before you head out on the river, make sure you’re prepared. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes that can get wet, and bring sunscreen and bug spray. You might also want to bring a waterproof camera to capture the beautiful scenery and wildlife.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is a 45-acre garden located along the Sarasota Bay and features two campuses: the Downtown Sarasota campus and the Historic Spanish Point campus.

At the Downtown Sarasota campus, you can explore 15 acres of gardens that showcase a variety of plants from around the world. You’ll find rainforest, desert, native Florida, and display garden areas, as well as a bayfront mangrove walkway. Be sure to check out the Tropical Conservatory, which features a variety of exotic plants and flowers.

The Historic Spanish Point campus is located in Osprey, just a short drive from the Downtown Sarasota campus. Here, you can explore 30 acres of gardens and historic buildings. The site includes a pioneer homestead, a citrus packing house, and a chapel, as well as several gardens that showcase plants native to Florida.

Both campuses offer a variety of educational programs and events for visitors of all ages. You can take a guided tour of the gardens, attend a lecture or workshop, or participate in a hands-on activity. There are also several family-friendly events throughout the year, including the annual Lights in Bloom holiday light display.

Admission to the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is affordable, with discounts available for children, seniors, and military personnel. There are also several membership options available, which offer unlimited access to the gardens and other benefits.

Sarasota Jungle Gardens

At Sarasota Jungle Gardens, you’ll have the opportunity to interact with over 200 animals, including free-roaming flamingos, playful lemurs, and even alligators! Feed the flamingos, catch the lemurs at play, and have your picture taken with an alligator. You’ll also be able to explore the beautiful gardens, filled with tropical vegetation and exotic birds.

Sarasota Jungle Gardens is open 363 days a year, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM daily. The attraction is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas days. Admission prices are reasonable, and children under the age of 3 get in for free.

In addition to the animal interactions and gardens, Sarasota Jungle Gardens offers a variety of other activities, including bird and reptile shows, a butterfly garden, and a playground for the little ones. You can also enjoy a refreshing lunch or snack at the Flamingo Cafe.

Celery Fields and Bird Watching

One of the most popular activities at the Celery Fields is bird watching. With over 200 species of birds in the area, there’s always something new and exciting to see. From herons and egrets to ospreys and eagles, you’re sure to spot a variety of feathered friends during your visit.

To make the most of your bird watching experience, be sure to bring along a pair of binoculars and a field guide. You can also check out the Sarasota Audubon Society’s online guide to favorite local birding hotspots for more information on where to find the best bird watching spots in the area.

In addition to bird watching, the Celery Fields offer a variety of other activities for the whole family to enjoy. Take a stroll along one of the many trails and boardwalks, go fishing in one of the ponds, or simply relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

The Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is a must-visit destination in Sarasota. This world-renowned research and conservation facility offers a variety of exhibits and programs that are sure to keep everyone entertained.

One of the highlights of Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is the touch pools, where you can get up close and personal with a variety of marine creatures, including stingrays and starfish. The aquarium is also home to more than 100 species of marine life, including sharks, manatees, sea turtles, and river otters.

In addition to the exhibits, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium offers a range of programs and activities for visitors of all ages. Kids will love the Sea Squirts program, which is designed for children ages 2-5 and includes story time, crafts, and hands-on activities. For older children, the Junior Marine Biologist program is a great way to learn about marine biology and conservation.

If you’re interested in learning more about the research and conservation efforts at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, be sure to check out the working labs and interactive exhibits. You can even take a behind-the-scenes tour to see how the aquarium cares for its animals and conducts research.

Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary

Looking for a unique and exciting family activity in Sarasota? Look no further than the Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary! This non-profit animal sanctuary is home to over 150 exotic and domestic animals, including lions, tigers, bears, and more.

At the Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary, you can enjoy live animal demonstrations and exhibits, where you can see these majestic creatures up close. You’ll also have the opportunity to learn about the animals and their habitats from knowledgeable staff members.

One of the most popular attractions at the sanctuary is the Big Cat Encounter, where you can get an up-close look at some of the sanctuary’s resident big cats. You’ll be able to see these amazing animals in action and learn about their behaviors and personalities.

In addition to the big cats, the sanctuary is also home to a variety of other animals, including birds, primates, and even domestic animals like horses and goats. You can visit the petting zoo area to interact with some of these friendly animals and learn more about them.

The Ringling Museum of Art

One of the highlights of the museum is the Ca’ d’Zan Mansion, which was once the home of John and Mable Ringling. This stunning mansion is located right on the water and features breathtaking views of the bay. Inside, you’ll find a wealth of art and antiques, as well as fascinating exhibits about the Ringlings and their life in Sarasota.

In addition to the mansion, The Ringling Museum of Art also features several other buildings and exhibits. The Circus Museum is a must-see for anyone interested in the history of the circus, while the Historic Asolo Theater offers a unique glimpse into the world of theater and performance.

If you’re visiting with kids, be sure to check out the Bayfront Gardens, which feature a playground, picnic areas, and plenty of space to run around. And with three different dining options, including a cafe, a bistro, and a restaurant (like the KorĂȘ Steakhouse Restaurant), you’re sure to find something to please everyone in your group.

Circus Museum at The Ringling

The Ringling Circus Museum is dedicated to the rich history of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which was founded in the late 1800s and became known as “The Greatest Show on Earth.”

Inside the Circus Museum, you’ll find a fascinating collection of artifacts and exhibits that showcase the history and culture of the circus. You can explore the world of the circus through interactive exhibits, historic photographs, and even a miniature circus model. You’ll also have the chance to see costumes, props, and other memorabilia from some of the circus’s most famous performers.

One of the highlights of the Circus Museum is the Tibbals Learning Center, which features a 3,800-square-foot model of the circus. This model is incredibly detailed and includes over 44,000 individual pieces, including tents, wagons, and even tiny circus performers. It’s a must-see for anyone who loves the circus or is interested in the history of entertainment.

Another exciting feature of the Circus Museum is the opportunity to see live performances by circus performers. During select times of the year, you can watch acrobats, clowns, and other performers as they showcase their skills in the museum’s historic arena.

Sarasota Opera and Performing Arts

Sarasota is home to some of the best performing arts venues in the country, and there’s always something going on.

The Sarasota Opera, located in an intimate art deco opera house in downtown Sarasota, is a must-see for any opera lover. With a rich history dating back to 1960, the Sarasota Opera is now in its 64th season and has become a cultural hub for the city. The opera house hosts a variety of operas throughout the year, and the quality of the performances is unparalleled. Be sure to check out their website for upcoming shows and ticket information.

In addition to the Sarasota Opera, there are several other performing arts venues in Sarasota that are worth checking out. The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, hosts a variety of traveling shows ranging from musical acts to Broadway revivals. The hall is known for its stunning architecture and has become a landmark in Sarasota. The Florida Studio Theatre is another popular venue, known for its innovative productions and intimate setting.

If you’re looking for a more casual evening out, check out some of the free outdoor concerts and events that take place throughout the year. The Sarasota Orchestra hosts a variety of outdoor concerts, and the Sarasota Farmers Market often has live music and other entertainment.

Corn Maze

If you find yourself in Florida during the autumn season, you should know that there are a lot of great corn mazes in Florida you can enjoy as a family.

These mazes are like big puzzles in fields of tall corn plants. From the top of the state to the bottom, you can enjoy a-maize-ing adventures with your family. Imagine walking through rows of corn, finding hidden paths, and feeling the cool breeze of the harvest season. Whether you love solving puzzles, enjoy being outdoors, or just want to have fun during fall, Florida’s corn mazes are perfect for creating special memories with friends and family. So, put on your comfy shoes and get ready for a simple and joyful journey through the heart of autumn’s magic!

You should know that those maze usually end before December when the other Christmas activities begin.

Biking Along the Legacy Trail

If you’re looking for a fun and active way to spend time with your family in Sarasota the Legacy Trail is a great option. This 30-mile paved trail runs from Sarasota to Venice and is perfect for biking, walking, and more.

The Legacy Trail connects communities and neighborhoods in Sarasota, as well as towns south of Sarasota including Osprey, Nokomis, and Venice. Along the way, you’ll enjoy beautiful views of natural Florida landscapes, including wetlands, ponds, and forests.

Whether you’re an experienced cyclist or a beginner, the Legacy Trail has something for everyone. The trail is mostly flat and straight, making it an easy ride for all ages. There are also plenty of rest stops and benches along the way, so you can take a break and enjoy the scenery.

If you don’t have your own bikes, don’t worry – there are plenty of places to rent bikes in Sarasota. You can also rent tandem bikes, which are perfect for families with young children.

One of the best things about the Legacy Trail is that it’s not just a bike trail – it’s also a history lesson. Along the way, you’ll see signs that highlight the area’s rich history, including the early days of Sarasota, the Native American tribes that once lived in the area, and more.

Payne Park’s Family Amenities


The circus-themed playground at Payne Park is a favorite among kids. It features a variety of play structures, including a large circus tent, a tightrope walk, a balance beam, and a slide. The playground is designed to be accessible to children of all abilities, with ramps and other features that make it easy for kids with disabilities to play.

Skate Park

If your kids are into skateboarding, they’ll love the skate park at Payne Park. The park features a variety of ramps, rails, and other obstacles that are perfect for skaters of all skill levels. The skate park is open to the public and is free to use.

Tennis Center

If you’re looking for a more structured activity, the tennis center at Payne Park is a great option. The center features 12 clay courts and 4 hard courts, as well as a pro shop and a lounge area. The center offers lessons and clinics for players of all ages and skill levels.


The amphitheater at Payne Park is a great place to catch a concert or other live performance. The amphitheater hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including music festivals, theater performances, and more.

Circus Park Cafe

When you’re ready for a break, head over to the Circus Park Cafe. The cafe serves a variety of snacks and drinks, including coffee, smoothies, and ice cream. There are also plenty of picnic tables and other seating areas where you can relax and enjoy your food.

Golfing at Resort at Longboat Key Club

The Resort at Longboat Key Club is a must-try for any golf lover. With 45 holes of golf spread across two courses, the Links on Longboat and Harbourside Golf Course, there’s something for everyone.

The Links on Longboat course is an 18-hole championship course designed by Bill Mitchell. It features a variety of challenges, including water hazards, sand traps, and undulating greens. The course is suitable for all skill levels, from beginners to experienced golfers.

The Harbourside Golf Course, on the other hand, is a 27-hole course that consists of three nine-hole courses: the White Egret, Red Hawk, and Blue Heron. Each course has its own unique challenges, including tight fairways, water hazards, and strategically placed bunkers.

The Resort at Longboat Key Club offers a range of golfing packages, including family packages that allow children under 17 to play for free with a paying adult. The resort also offers golf lessons for both adults and children, so you can improve your skills while having fun with the family.