Soaking Up the Sun in Sarasota

This west coast city in Florida is all kinds of relaxing if you want it to be. Just go with the laid back flow and take in some of the most rejuvenating sites in town.

The incredible grounds of the Ringling Museum.

Think of Florida and your mind might automatically go to Miami, South Beach and Orlando. But there’s a chill, relaxed, quieter side to the state, and it’s all along the west coast. The life in Sarasota moves at a slightly slower pace, nothing feels too rushed, nothing too hectic. So if you have a couple of days to just be, here’s what you can leisurely see and do in Sarasota.

Ringling Museum

Who would have thought that the infamous Ringling Brothers (yes, those who created the circus) would also have one of the most stunning properties in all of the United States? Their glorious estate, complete with a museum dedicated to their circus adventures, and one dedicated to art, and incredible grounds is open to the public as a museum. But prepare yourself. You can easily spend an entire day getting lost through the rose gardens, the pathways, the pink stone halls of the estate, checking out every single fountain and view. It might be one of the most picturesque spots in the whole city… so go Instagram ready, because the pale pink stone and marble archways are just begging to be captured. A bonus is if you happen to be stuck at the airport for a layover of some kind, or staying at an airport hotel like the Hampton Inn, you can still swing by and see the Ringling because it is super close.

Find a quiet moment on Siesta Key Beach.

Siesta Key Beach

If you haven’t been to Siesta Key Beach, a local will start of by telling you that the sand feels like powdered sugar on your toes. You might think that’s an exaggeration, that is, until you get your toes in said sand. It truly is the softest sand you may ever feel. And if you’re looking for a place to unwind, relax and rejuvenate, how could the name “Siesta” not fit the bill? The beach stretches 8 miles, so even if the section you land on is bustling, a walk down the sand along the shore will get you to a quiet escape. Nearby you’ll also find loads of food and drink hot spots. Get yourself to the beach just in time for sunset (which is picture perfect on the west coast), not only for those magical golden hour moments, but also for the perfect selfie lighting.

The quaint cafe at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.

The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

There’s really not much that is more relaxing than wandering through tropical plants, taking in all that fresh, floral air and sitting still for a few moments. You can do all that at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota. Founded by William and Marie Selby, the affluent pair in Sarasota turned their home into a spacious, tropical oasis that eventually became open to the public. The collection of tropical plants also includes some of the world’s most unique tree plants. Tiptoe through the bamboo garden, have a moment to reflect by the koi pond, breathe in the lush air of the tropical conservatory, or get a tour inside the Selby home… and finish it all off with tea from the on-site cafe.

Walk the downtown

When you say downtown, you might automatically think hustle and bustle. But the wide streets, open-door shops and casual restaurants of Sarasota’s downtown leading to the waterfront are as laid back as they come. Start at Main Street and North Orange Avenue, stop in to Gelato-go on North Orange Ave first for a bit of italian gelato before meandering down Main Street to poke into local shops filled with sea glass, shells, local fashions and more. By the time you get to the end, you’ll be by that calming Gulf of Mexico water where you can swing by Marina Jack on the water to grab a icy margarita and maybe tuck into a freshly caught fish sandwich.

This trip was sponsored by the Sarasota Tourism board, but all views and opinions are that of Travel & Style Magazine.

More From Travel & Style
Celebrity chef David Rocco’s Passion for Travel
Why You Should Carry-on Your Luggage
Jillian Harris’ Packing Essentials