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Planning Your Trip

With 35 miles of powdered-sugar sand, it’s easy to think that a visit to Sarasota is all about the beaches, but there’s so much more to “Florida’s Cultural Coast.” Here’s what to pack to make the most of your visit.

Evening view of an outdoor lounge setup

Exploring the City

Sarasota’s main attractions are all relatively close together, making long walks an enjoyable way to experience all the city has to offer.

 

  • In winter, temperatures can be in the 70s during the day and dip into the 50s at night, so it’s wise to pack layers.
  • Bring a pair of sensible shoes for your walk around town. You’ll likely trek a few miles taking in the shops, galleries and restaurants along Main and First streets.
  • Keep it casual. You may want one more buttoned-up outfit for a night out, but most of Sarasota is quite relaxed, so focus on comfort.  
A seashell on the beach

Day Trips

There are lots of things to do just beyond Sarasota, from outdoor adventures to kid-friendly activities. While Sarasota is very walkable, you will need to rent a car to venture farther out.

 

  • Bring a tote bag and head to Sanibel Island for a day of shelling — the island is famed for its shells and is just about two hours away.
  • Be sure to pack comfortable shoes if you’re planning to bring the kids to Walt Disney World or Universal Studios in Orlando, both a two-hour drive from Sarasota.
  • Head to Myakka River State Park, about a 45-minute drive, for bike riding, birding, canoeing and more. If you’re planning to take one of the fantastic airboat tours, be sure to bring a light jacket or sweater. Even on a warm day the breeze can be intense.
Two men playing golf

Weekend Getaway

Sometimes the best way to spend your time in Sarasota is to just relax and take in all the resort has to offer: a stunning pool, a top golf resort, delicious restaurants and stunning ocean views.

 

  • Keep it casual. All you need is a bathing suit for enjoying the pool and a couple of breezy pieces for wearing around the resort. Even at the property’s buzzed-about waterfront restaurant, Jack Dusty, the dress code is far from formal.
  • The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club is only a short drive away, so pack your clubs and golf gear for a day on the award-winning links.
  • You’ll want to spend the day on the beach and then linger for the nightly sunset celebration to try to catch a glimpse of the famed “green flash.” Bring a light layer or two to ward off any evening chill.

 

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DON'T FORGET:

Pack something colorful. Locals don’t shy away from bright hues and big prints, and neither should you.


There’s no need to arrive in Sarasota with a full itinerary — there’s plenty to do that requires zero planning — but there are a few activities where it would be wise to book a bit in advance.

Cabanas

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A fantastic way to enjoy the property is to make the most of the pool and its ocean views. While loungers and even a poolside hammock are available, if you’re anticipating a full day of poolside R&R, a great way to truly unwind is in one of the private, tented cabanas. There are several options, but call ahead to reserve the Gale cabana, which includes lunch, sangria, a mini-bar stocked with nonalcoholic beverages, a snack basket and exotic fruit, a TV, plush seating and a private butler.  

Spa Appointments

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A visit to the spa is a delightful way to while away an afternoon. Make an appointment for one of the signature treatments like the Spoiled Silly package, which includes a back exfoliation and massage, custom facial, scalp massage, pedicure, a glass of champagne following the treatment and a lunch at the spa. Arrive early or linger post-treatment in the sauna, steam room, one of the whirlpools, or a relaxation lounger with a book in hand.

Tee Times

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Take advantage of the spectacular weather and reserve a tee time (or two) during your stay. The award-winning Ritz-Carlton Golf Club is a Tom Fazio-designed 18-hole championship course featuring a par-72 layout and is only open to club members and resort guests. After a round on the 315-acre course, retreat to the Grand Clubhouse for a meal at The Golf Club Grille and Bar.

Day Trips

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If you’re traveling with children, a trip to Orlando to visit Walt Disney World is a fantastic way to spend a day. Arrange for a rental car before you arrive and consider booking your park tickets in advance to avoid waiting in line once you arrive. Alternatively, consider a trip to Sanibel Island for a day of shelling (the locals coined the term “Sanibel Stoop” for the way one doubles over while picking up shells). Or visit Myakka River State Park, but call ahead to reserve a seat for the lake tour aboard one of the world’s largest airboats.

Nestled south of Tampa on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Sarasota is well known as a sort of cultural capital. The former home of the Ringling Brothers circus, this scenic city hosts stunning museums, sprawling botanical gardens and a variety of theater and opera houses. That cultural relevance also translates to the city’s culinary scene, where a fusion of international cuisines makes for diverse, creative menus. And, of course, Sarasota’s beaches are world-famous. White sand. Turquoise water. Soul-calming sunrises and sunsets. When it comes to a Gulf Coast getaway, Sarasota is second to none.

Glittering oversized whirlpool and pool at The Members Beach Club

Family Vacation Fun

Known for its white sand, Gulf Coast breezes and ample sunshine, Sarasota is a wonderful escape for families looking for a balance of relaxation and excitement. The former winter home of the Ringling Brothers Circus, the city is home to museums, gardens and, of course, miles of beaches. Looking for arts and culture? You’ll find them in Sarasota, too. The art lover in the family won’t want to miss one of the largest collections of Peter Paul Rubens paintings in the world, while the music buff might enjoy an outdoor concert or festival.

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Day Trips

Given Sarasota’s proximity to so many other iconic South Florida destinations, it’s a great jumping-off point for a series of day trips. Cruises. Shopping. Tours. Wineries. This region has so much to offer. So pack the sunscreen, your camera and your sense of adventure. Whether you’re voyaging to the Keys or embarking on a wine-tasting adventure, you’re bound for excitement before returning to the comfort of The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota.

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