Fun Day Trips From Sarasota Florida
Sarasota, Florida, is a beautiful coastal city known for its stunning beaches, cultural attractions, and natural beauty. It serves as an excellent starting point for various day trips to explore the Gulf Coast and the surrounding areas of southwestern Florida.
Sarasota Lively and Active
Sarasota has so many things to do within its boundaries that it is hard to imagine heading out on a day trip from Sarasota. On the other hand, everyone has that wanderlust that pushes them to look for new things somewhere down the road.
The number of attractions in Sarasota makes a long list. Places like the Ringling Museum, St. Armands Circle, Siesta Key, and the stunning views of the bay. Florida Travel Blog thinks Sarasota deserves its place as one of the top day trips to Sarasota from many locations! Now we have day trips FROM Sarasota.
As we stated, the travel fever gets us all.
We chose these day trips in Florida based on our experiences around the state. Each one has something novel and unique.
Day Trips From Sarasota Florida
In this comprehensive guide, we will take you on 20 best day trips from Sarasota, each with its unique charm and attractions. Whether you’re interested in nature, history, art, or simply relaxing on the beach, there’s something for everyone within a short drive of Sarasota.
- Myakka River State Park Distance from Sarasota: 9 miles (25-minute drive)
For nature enthusiasts, Myakka River State Park offers a day filled with outdoor activities. Explore the park’s expansive wetlands, go birdwatching, and take an airboat tour to spot alligators and other wildlife. Canopy walkways and hiking trails provide opportunities for closer encounters with nature.
This is one of the unique parks that has a river and a lake in it. Myakka is also one of the state’s largest parks and you have tons of room to roam.
- Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium Distance from Sarasota: 5 miles (15-minute drive)
Learn about marine life and conservation at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. Explore fascinating exhibits featuring sea turtles, sharks, and various fish species. This is a perfect family-friendly destination that’s both educational and entertaining. Kids and adults both love the interactive exhibits.
- Venice Beach and Historic Downtown – Venice Distance from Sarasota: 20 miles (30-minute drive)
Head south to Venice Beach, known for its fossilized shark teeth that wash ashore. Spend some time combing the beach for these ancient treasures. Then, explore Historic Downtown Venice with its charming shops, restaurants, and Venice Theatre. Venice is known as the Shark Tooth Capital of the World. Find them on Capersen Beach.
- Boca Grande Distance from Sarasota: 50 miles (1-hour drive)
Boca Grande is a picturesque island community on Gasparilla Island, accessible via a causeway bridge. Explore the historic downtown area, rent a bike or golf cart to tour the island, and enjoy the beautiful beaches. Boca Grande is also famous for its tarpon fishing in the spring each year. Find out why Boca Grande is known as The Tarpon Capital of the World.
Check out the historic Gasparilla Inn that operates seasonally.
- Fort De Soto Park Distance from Sarasota: 45 miles (1-hour drive)
One of Florida Travel Blog’s favorite parks is Fort De Soto Park located near St. Petersburg. It offers pristine beaches, nature trails, and historical attractions. Visit the old fort, rent kayaks, or simply relax on the beach. It’s a perfect spot for picnics and outdoor activities. Bring a fishing pole too. Some good fishing around the park.
This day trip from Sarasota is quick and easy straight north on I-75 to I-275 and then just a few short miles off the freeway. Fort De Soto Park is our family favorite for a park close to home that has a lot of amenities. One of the best day trips from Sarasota for nature lovers.
- Caladesi Island State Park Distance from Sarasota: 60 miles (1.5-hour drive)
Caladesi Island, near Clearwater, is known for its uncrowded beaches and natural beauty. To reach the island, you’ll need to take a ferry from Honeymoon Island State Park. Once there, you can hike, swim, or simply relax in a serene natural environment.
So you are going from one state park with great beaches to another state park with more beaches and hiking trails with a ferry ride included. Not a bad day trip in Florida!
- Tarpon Springs Distance from Sarasota: 80 miles (1.5-hour drive)
Tarpon Springs, often referred to as the “Sponge Capital of the World,” is a unique Greek-influenced community. Explore the historic Sponge Docks, where you can learn about sponge diving, shop for sponges and Greek-made products, and enjoy authentic Greek cuisine. This is one of the more unique day trips from Sarasota in Florida because of this sponge diving community’s great history.
- Crystal River Distance from Sarasota: 85 miles (2-hour drive)
Crystal River is a paradise for nature lovers and manatee enthusiasts. Take a guided tour to swim with gentle manatees in the crystal-clear waters of the Crystal River. Additionally, visit Three Sisters Springs Wildlife Refuge for more manatee sightings. Florida has a lot of well-known “capitals”. Crystal River is the “Manatee Capital of the World”.
- Naples Distance from Sarasota: 120 miles (2-hour drive)
Naples, located on the Gulf of Mexico, is known for its upscale shopping, dining, and beautiful beaches. Stroll along the historic Naples Pier, explore the Naples Botanical Garden, or indulge in gourmet cuisine at one of the city’s renowned restaurants.
Ladies will love the shops on 5th Avenue. Upscale, exclusive and extravagant are words that come to mind when we visit Naples.
- Fort Myers Distance from Sarasota: 75 miles (1.5-hour drive)
Fort Myers offers a mix of historical and natural attractions. Visit the Edison and Ford Winter Estates, take a boat tour along the Caloosahatchee River, or explore the scenic J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on nearby Sanibel Island.
- Everglades National Park Distance from Sarasota: 160 miles (3-hour drive)
A bit further south, Everglades National Park is a vast wilderness area filled with unique ecosystems. Take an airboat tour to explore the swamps, see alligators, and learn about this fascinating ecosystem’s importance to Florida’s environment. Easily one of the best day trips from Sarasota that has many options to make this a recurring day trip in Florida.
While the Everglades National Park is 160 miles away, the Everglades are actually a lot closer. You can read more about these wonderful places.
- Bok Tower Gardens Distance from Sarasota: 100 miles (2-hour drive)
Bok Tower Gardens, located in Lake Wales, is a tranquil oasis known for its beautiful carillon tower and gardens. Enjoy a peaceful day wandering through meticulously landscaped gardens and listening to the carillon concerts. Over one million visitors head to Bok Tower annually.
Cool place if you include the Pinewood Estate next door. Well worth the trip.
- Sanibel Island Distance from Sarasota: 80 miles (1.5-hour drive)
Sanibel Island is known for its shell-filled beaches, which are a haven for collectors. Spend your day shelling, biking, and birdwatching at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Don’t miss the Sanibel Lighthouse for picturesque views.
It should be noted that about one year ago, Sanibel and Captiva Islands were devastated by Hurricane Ian. They are well on their way to recovery. Visit to see their efforts and visit the local businesses.
- The Dali Museum – St. Petersburg Distance from Sarasota: 40 miles (1-hour drive)
Art enthusiasts will appreciate a visit to The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg. Explore the extensive collection of works by the renowned surrealist artist Salvador Dali. The unique architecture of the museum is an attraction in itself.
You can head over to the waterfront for lunch at one of St. Petersburg’s wonderful restaurants downtown.
- Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Distance from Sarasota: 60 miles (1.5-hour drive)
For a day filled with thrill rides and entertainment, head to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. This theme park offers a variety of roller coasters, live shows, and animal encounters. It’s a fantastic destination for families and adventure seekers alike.
- Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park Distance from Sarasota: 100 miles (2-hour drive)
Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is a sanctuary for native Florida wildlife. Take a walk on the underwater observatory boardwalk to see manatees, alligators, and various bird species. It’s an educational and fun day out for all ages.
One of the best places in Florida to see native habitats and the animals, reptiles, and birds that populate the state. Take a little trip a couple miles down to road and see Monkey Island also. This day trip from Sarasota could be coupled with Crystal River for a weekend getaway from Sarasota.
- Anna Maria Island Distance from Sarasota: 20 miles (45-minute drive)
Anna Maria Island is a charming, laid-back barrier island with pure-white-sand beaches and a friendly, small-town atmosphere. Explore the island’s three main towns – Anna Maria, Holmes Beach, and Bradenton Beach – and enjoy the local shops, cafes, and beautiful beachfront parks. Note that Anna Maria Island is different because of the lack of high-rises. Just quaint colorful cottages.
- Clearwater Beach Distance from Sarasota: 60 miles (1.5-hour drive)
Clearwater Beach is another fantastic beach destination along Florida’s Gulf Coast. Known for its powdery white sand and clear waters, it’s a great place for sunbathing, swimming, and water sports. Visit Pier 60 for daily sunset celebrations.
We are prejudiced a little since we live here, but we think Clearwater Beach is an amazing place to visit. Besides one of the top-rated beaches in the state, we have a beautiful marina, great shops, and 3 miles of sandy shore to explore. While you are here, you must take one of our trolleys 10 minutes away to the Clearwater Marine Science Center.
- Leu Gardens – Orlando Distance from Sarasota: 130 miles (2.5-hour drive)
Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando is a beautiful 50-acre botanical oasis featuring a wide variety of plants and gardens, including tropical and butterfly gardens. Take a peaceful walk and connect with nature in this urban escape.
- Punta Gorda – Punta Gorda is just 55 miles (about 1 hour)
Punta Gorda is on Charlotte Harbor and the Peace River basin. One of the best places to fish for inshore saltwater species, it is also known for great tarpon opportunities. A must-visit while in Punta Gorda is Fishermen’s Village. This covered shopping destination has an eclectic collection of shops and restaurants.
Many More Day Trips From Sarasota Possible
Sarasota is located in an enviable place in Florida. The central west coast along the Gulf of Mexico is a natural location. In addition, the freeway system and I-75 make access to many other parts of the state very possible. There is so much to see and do from Sarasota.
While we have included 20 of our day trips in Florida there could be many more well within a tank full of gas. Places like Arcadia, known for antiques, Lake Placid with its swamp cabbage, Zolfo Springs and the cattle ranches, Gulfport and its artsy downtown, Dunedin near Honeymoon Island, and many more are within range.
If you decide you want to make a little further journey for an overnight trip, there are many more options. Places like Key Largo, Cocoa Beach, Jupiter, Cedar Key and Marco Island come to mind. You can check out any or all of these here.
Florida Travel Blog can always provide you with the latest information for Florida travel. If you decide you want a weekend getaway, a road trip, or a week-long vacation, we are here to help you. Come back often or sign up for our newsletter. Keep in touch!
Day Trips in Florida Made Easy
Our road system in Florida is very convenient for travel. Day trips in Florida are made easy with exceptionally well-maintained highways.
Most areas above are very safe, and the entire state of Florida is much safer than many other places.
Traveling to the day trips in Florida mentioned above are all on verified roads we have traveled. Most of these trips Florida Travel Blog has documented at least once and some many times. Our favorites are noted.
Ideas for Safe and Fun Day Trips in Florida
While these day trips from Sarasota only take you an hour or two away from home base, we have some suggestions that may make your experience more memorable. We also have learned from tens of thousands of miles that safety enhances your experience.
- Tip One – Make sure your cell phone is charged, your car fuel is peeked off and you told someone where you were headed.
- Tip Two – If you take a lot of day trips in Florida, put a small bag in your trunk that has the following:
- Small first aid kit
- Bug repellent
- Tip Three – When you leave, make certain you have a bottle of water, directions and your car is operating properly.
- Tip Four – For the best experience along the way, take pictures, don’t be afraid to talk to locals, and find out what is unique to where you are. Without these things, how are you going to explain your trip to others?
Last Thoughts About Your Day Trip from Sarasota
Southwest Florida is a beautiful part of the state. There are many beach towns, state parks, scenic places, and historically significant locations that are part of Florida’s rich history. Most of our Florida day trips take advantage of our stunning location.
These 20 day trips from Sarasota offer a diverse range of experiences, from relaxing on beautiful beaches to exploring cultural and natural attractions. Whether you’re a nature lover, history buff, or art enthusiast, there’s something to pique your interest in the surrounding areas of Sarasota.
Plan your day trips from Sarasota and make the most of your time in this beautiful part of Florida!