It might be February but it's not too late to start planning your trip to Sarasota, FL!
I'm constantly asked what my favorite things to do, places to eat and kid friendly places are so here is just a quick list of what I recommend! Note: I am not affiliated with any of these establishments, I just happen to love taking my daughter here!
Family Friendly Places to Visit:
1. Mote Marine - City Island (Just off St. Armands Circle)
Mote Marine is a staple in Sarasota. Located just off of St. Armands Circle (another Family Friendly shopping area I'd highly recommend) - Mote is part aquarium, part research facility. They have everything from the tiniest of species in their baby lab to alligators, sea otters, and our beloved manatees and rehabilitating sea turtles. My daughter's personal favorite are the sea otters. They are SO playful and fun to watch. Tip: Arrive early (around opening time) to see the otters in full swing! Mote Marine displays all kinds of LOCAL fish and have a staff of very knowledgable volunteers to educate our visitors. Grab a bite to eat at their diner (great cheeseburgers and ice cream!) and check out their baby sea horses as you exit to their gift shop. It's a super fun experience for the whole family!
2. Jungle Gardens - Tamiami Trail
Another great place to visit in the morning! Located right off of Tamiami Trail, Jungle Gardens is THE place to be to get up close and personal with wildlife. This would be the place to feed the Flamingos and enjoy trails of tropical canopy and animals along the way. At around 1pm they allow guests to take pictures with parrots and provide educational talks about their reptiles and local wildlife. For the kiddos, there's a very cute playground to get their energy out. Be sure to stop in the Cafe for a special flamingo water bottle to take home!
3. Fun Boat Tours - Siesta Key Marina
This is probably one of the best kept secrets in Sarasota (I've lived here most of my life and never knew about it until just a few years ago!) Right before you head over the south bridge to Siesta Key - stop into Siesta Key Marina and book your adventure! You'll arrive at the marina where you and other guests will hop on a large boat which will take you around Siesta Key and one of our famous sandbars. You'll find starfish, sand dollars, hermit crabs... just to name a few and watch the sun set on another perfect day!
Family Friendly Places to Eat: Locally Owned (Just off of Siesta Key!)
FRESH Seafood (Trust this local - it's good!) loud environment, the kids can speak freely and reasonably priced! Try the Grouper Tacos, Flounder or Shrimp!
Geckos was started right here in Sarasota and has grown into multiple locations. Classic American food and each kid gets a cute plastic gecko with their placemat. (My daughter has collected close to 20 geckos - we must really like the place!)
Italian! Fabulous pizza, spaghetti, and sandwiches. Very low key and consistently yummy food. Demetrio's is located right next to Walt's and has super friendly staff as well.
I hope this list makes planning your trip just a little easier. Do you have a favorite spot I missed? Have you tried one of these items out? Tell me how you liked it!