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3 Days in Sarasota for Families

Organisiert von Nick Dauka travel writer with in-laws just south of Sarasota.

My time in Sarasota is almost exclusively family time. While my first visits to the area were filled by visiting shops, restaurants, and the keys with my in-laws, I now spend my time exploring parks, nature preserves, and other kid-friendly spots with my son. Thankfully, Sarasota has plenty of indoor and outdoor spaces where families can make memories, enjoy themselves, and find ways to experience the soul of the city—including lots of spots that appeal to all generations. Whether this is your first Florida family vacation or just your first time exploring this slice of the Gulf Coast with kids, you and your family are sure to enjoy three days of fun in Sarasota. Here’s what to do.

The kiddos will love the year-round sunshine, so bring sunscreen.

If you only have time for one thing, make it Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium.

Day 1

Fun in the sun starts on day one. Stroll over to Siesta Key and get in the water. You can swim, of course, or rent your own kayaks or paddle boards and for a different kind of on-water activity. After a quick lesson from a guide, you can paddle along and admire the area’s wildlife.

Don’t dry off just yet; you can’t leave Siesta Key until you’ve cruised on a Lift Efoil. This unique watersport, which feels like a combination of a surfboard and a magic carpet ride, will wow the whole family.

Day 2

After a fun day splashing in the Gulf and playing on the beach, explore the streets of Sarasota on a scavenger hunt. Playable from an app on your phone, a virtual scavenger hunt will show you the coolest spots in the city while challenging your family to solve puzzles and complete challenges.

In the afternoon, you can get out of the sun with a trip to the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, located on Lido Key. Alternatively, stay downtown and check one big must-have off of your to-do list by hiring a professional to take family photos you can use to remember your trip.

Day 3

On your final day, make sure you haven’t missed out on any must-see attractions or restaurants by taking a sightseeing tour of the city in an air-conditioned trolley.

In the afternoon, you can head back to the beach or take a break from the sun at an indoor inflatable park: Jumpin’ Fun Inflata Park has an obstacle course, a rock wall, and other fun activities that are perfect for escaping the sun—or waiting out the clouds during a rainstorm.

When the moon comes out, return to the trolley for a haunted history tour, then bid the ghosts and good times of Sarasota goodbye.

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