My family is always looking for great day trips from the Tampa area. I recently had the opportunity to explore Sarasota, and I am so excited to share some of their amazing attractions with you. My drive from the north part of Tampa was only about 90 minutes, which I consider the perfect distance for a day trip. If you’d rather make a weekend of it and explore further, I have a great recommendation for accommodations!
St. Armands Circle
Fun fact – my family and I lived in Longboat Key when I was six years old. My school bus drove through St. Armands Circle every day, but at only six years old, I did not appreciate the draw of this great area. St. Armand’s is boasts luxury shopping and delicious restaurants, and hosts unique events throughout the year. When I visited in November, the 30th Annual St. Armands Art Festival was underway with large crowds, but an impressive 175 artists and craftsman displaying their work.
Do not miss St. Armands’ restaurants when you visit! We enjoyed a fabulous dinner at Tommy Bahama Restaurant (yes, that Tommy Bahama!), where we ate their World Famous Coconut Shrimp, Filet Mignon Flatbread, incredible Pina Colada Cake, and so much more! Want to enjoy a taste of Tommy Bahamas at home? Check out this recipe for their Happy “Huladays” Cocktail!
I loved our visit to The Ringling! Initially, I thought the museum was simply going to display the history of the Ringling Circus. It turns out that circus life is only the focus of the Circus Museum portion of The Ringling. While we did begin our tour by viewing scaled models depicting every detail of circus life in the fictional Howard Bros. Circus, then walking through artifacts from the circus life, The Ringling itself has so much more to offer. When I return with my family, we could very well spend all of our time viewing and experiencing the circus displays, but there is so much more to see!
The grounds are also home to Mable’s rose garden, John and Mable Ringling’s 56-room home Ca’ d’Zan on Sarasota Bay, and the impressive Museum of Art. Ca' d'Zan was the winter home of the Ringlings, one of America's richest couples. The opulence has to be seen to be believed, and there are various tours available to view different areas of the home.
I truly had no idea the Museum of Art had such an extensive collection. I was reminded of my visits to European art galleries with pieces ranging throughout history.
The location of The Ringling is itself a beautiful setting. I am eager to bring my family back to the grounds to leisurely walk along the paths among the banyan trees. For more information about The Ringling and ticket information, visit their website: https://www.ringling.org/.
Sarasota has an amazing selection of hotels and resorts to enjoy your stay. My top pick for an easy trip to explore the area is Lido Beach Resort. Their rooms are comfortable and clean efficiencies with kitchenettes, and the gulf-front location can simply not be beat. They have a beautiful quiet beach, lovely lush grounds, and one of the best brunches in the south according to Southern Living! We enjoyed their shuttle service to St. Armands just a few minutes away, and we weren’t far from The Ringling in Sarasota.
More Ideas for the Day
Hi! I'm Diana. I love the beach, my family, chocolate, coffee, and meeting new people. I host monthly events in the Tampa area and cannot wait to meet all of you!