There’s no shame in letting a popular TV show dictate where you settle in for a meal. That’s what I did the first afternoon I visited Sarasota.
It seemed somewhat counterintuitive. Instead of going to one of the mom-and-pop cafes or hole-in-the-wall sports bars that my friends (former locals) recommended, we went to the Old Salty Dog—because the British-style pub had appeared on a food-centric travel show. And we were glad we did. Once we’d followed this hot tip, we ended up discovering other restaurants on Sarasota’s coastline. The moral of the story? Don’t be afraid to head wherever calls your name and you’re sure to find tasty treasures on a food-first visit to Sarasota.
Sunshine will greet you nearly everywhere; dress for heat.
If you only have time for one thing, make it visiting local Amish and Mennonite communities.
Welcome to Sarasota; it’s time to start salivating! Get the lay of the land while exploring the city’s thriving dining scene on a walking food tour. You can get an introduction to local fare by stopping by a few restaurants and sampling their specialties, including some gourmet seafood.
If you appreciate art and wine, you’re going to love Sarasota. The city’s art scene is just as impressive as its culinary offerings. Join a boozy art crawl, and you’ll enjoy both while visiting some of Sarasota’s galleries and the coolest public art spaces in the area.
If you don’t know about Sarasota’s Amish and Mennonite communities, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Take a tour of Pinecraft with a local guide, and you’ll learn a lot about this Amish vacation enclave. As you walk along Bahia Vista Street, you’ll also work up an appetite worthy of the amazing pie at Der Dutchman.
Next, drive down to famous Siesta Key and catch some rays. When your tan is evened out, trade your flip flops for sneakers and drink up the evening on a twilight walking tour to local watering holes. Lastly, catch the sunset from a rooftop bar.
Your final day in Sarasota should start and end on the water. Wake up early and hop in a kayak for a few hours of relaxed paddling off of Lido Key. Afterwards, dry off under the sun with a walking food tour.
End your trip aboard a booze cruise. Part wildlife tour, part tiki bar hop, this sightseeing trip will have you sipping drinks and soaking up the views. Spot wildlife like manatees and dolphins while you take your pick of food and drink at local faves; make sure to try a fully loaded salty dog at the Old Salty Dog.