A pink flamingo profiled in the frame, with a gazebo in the background. Pink flamingos abound at Sarasota Jungle Gardens, one of many things to do in Sarasota

Hidden Sarasota: Things To Do There

a field of marsh grass with a cabbage palm on the left side of the frame, and a blue sky with clouds
Hidden Sarasota? Yup, Myakka River State Park’s a far cry from the Van Wezel.
Photo by Cathy Salustri

A couple of weeks ago, my Florida Spectacular cohost Rick Kilby and I talked about Sarasota and things to do there. Sure, everyone knows about the Ringling, the St. Armand’s Circle, and camping at Myakka River State Park, but these hidden Sarasota gems are a don’t-miss for your next Florida road trip.

Here’s a few of our favorites from the show, and why we like them.

Hidden Sarasota: Places to Eat

a plate of boiled peanuts at Owen's Fish Camp in Sarasota
Photo by Cathy Salustri

Owen’s Fish Camp is a rustic yet elegant restaurant that’s always packed, so it’s not hidden at all if you’re local to Sarasota. The boil on the menu’s amazing, but don’t sleep on two of my favorites there: boiled peanuts and deviled eggs.

Rick raved about the Bali Hut Tiki Hut, because, well, all things Tiki. Not many of these left, so stop in when you can.

Hidden Sarasota: Outdoors and Nature Experiences

a field of marsh grass with a cabbage palm on the left side of the frame, and a blue sky with clouds
Hidden in plain sight: Take a hike through Sarasota’s Myakka River State Park.
Photo by Cathy Salustri

Myakka River State Park is one of Florida’s first state parks, built during the Great Depression by the CCC. It’s a popular park for the boat ride and camping, but fewer people take the time to hike the trails. Watch out for wild hog. Seriously.

Although it took a hit from Hurricane Ian, Warm Mineral Springs is once again welcoming people to soak in its allegedly healing waters.

Selby Botanical Gardens has some beautiful specimens, but unless you were around when it happened, you may not know it’s also the sight of a sexy orchid scandal.

Mote Marine Aquarium isn’t simply a place to go to look at sea turtles; they offer some amazing kayaking trips, and in February they offer their Farm to Fillet fundraiser.

Looking for a beach day? Head to nearby Venice Beach, where you can find fossilized shark’s teeth near the shoreline and in the water.

Sarasota’s Best Roadside Attraction

A pink flamingo profiled in the frame, with a gazebo in the background. Pink flamingos abound at Sarasota Jungle Gardens, one of many things to do in Sarasota
Photo by Cathy Salustri

Sarasota Jungle Gardens remains a classic roadside attraction. Want to see a bird on a bicycle or feed a flamingo? This is the place for you. 

Hidden Sarasota:  Arts Worth a Closer Look

Urbanite Theatre offers a more intimate experience than Asolo or the Van Wezel, but moment for moment, their shows pack a more powerful punch than many Sarasota and Tampa Bay theaters.

Finally, it’s worth a trip to the Sarasota Art Museum for the architecture of the building — a former high school — alone.

Want more Sarasota travel suggestions? Take a listen to this episode of the Florida Spectacular podcast.


Looking for other Florida road trip ideas? I have plenty; check out a few of my favorites!