Things to Do in Downtown Sarasota

Sarasota Magazine – April 2017

Art, culture, outdoor adventures and more–downtown Sarasota has it all.

Things to Do in Downtown Sarasota


Stroll Historic Burns Square

In this charming enclave of 1920s bungalows, shops and restaurants, you can take in a foreign flick at Burns Court Cinemas, enjoy jazz at Burns Court Café, and treasure-hunt in the boutiques, galleries and antique shops.

Stop and smell the flowers at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Beautiful Marie Selby Botanical Gardens shelters more than 20,000 plants and some of the rarest orchids in the world. There’s a Tropical Conservatory and kids’ rainforest garden, too. The Garden Shop offers plants and gifts. 811 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota, (941) 366-5731,

Listen to music at The Gator Club

Downstairs at The Gator Club, the joint is jumping with live rhythm and blues, top 40 and reggae. The upstairs bar is more tranquil, with 180 varieties of whiskeys. 1490 Main St., Sarasota, (941) 366-5969,

Walk (or run or bike) the Ringling Bridge

Join the runners, walkers and cyclists making their way over the John Ringling Causeway bridge. This 60-foot-high span commands spectacular views of downtown Sarasota and Sarasota Bay. And you can get bait (and beer) at Hart’s Landing beneath the bridge and fish from the T.J. “Tony” Saprito Fishing Pier. 920 John Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, (941) 955-0011,

See world-class opera at Sarasota Opera House

The company presents four operas in its February-March winter season, plus a fall performance in October-November, along with recitals and concerts. Also home to a youth opera. 61 N. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota, (941) 328-1300,

Take in the art at Art Center Sarasota

Art Center Sarasota is celebrating its 90th birthday this year. This season features seven juried exhibitions and, with three separate galleries, there’s plenty to see. 707 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 365-2032,

Get in touch with nature at Sarasota Children’s Garden

Little ones can get in touch with nature and play on fun installations at this lovely two-acre oasis. Check out the daily organized art and gardening classes. 1670 10th Way, Sarasota, (941) 330-1711, 

Visit local artists in Towles Court

Towles Court’s third Friday art walks allow gallery-goers to peek into artists’ studios after hours and get to know local makers firsthand. There’s often live entertainment and refreshments, too.

Play at Payne Park

A big, bright, happy red and yellow circus-themed playground where kids climb, swing, jump and slide to their hearts’ content. There’s a separate, tamer play area for toddlers, too, and for tweens and teens, the city skateboard park is right next door. 2100 Adams Lane, Sarasota

Take in a show at Florida Studio Theatre

With five theaters downtown under its umbrella, FST presents four mainstage shows, three cabaret shows, a summer season and improv performances. 1241 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota, (941) 366-9000,

Laugh your a** off at McCurdy’s

McCurdy’s packs in the crowds for comics both known (Tom Arnold, Jon Lovitz) and unknown (frequent open mic nights for the aspiring laugh getter). 1923 Ringling Blvd., (941) 925-3869,

Get into the groove at Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe

Now 17 years old, this company produces musicals, revues, dramas and comedies related to the African-American experience. 1646 10th Way, Sarasota, (941) 366-1505,

Watch the best indie films at Burns Court Cinemas

At our own little downtown arthouse cinema, you can satisfy your thirst for international films and a cold beer or glass of wine at the same time. 506 Burns Court, (941) 955-3456,

Catch national touring acts at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

The city’s bayfront hall presents a full season of touring Broadway shows, orchestras, dance, comedy, pop music and more, mostly October-April. 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 953-3368,

Sit back, relax and enjoy a show at The Players

This long-running (now in its 87th season) community theater presents seven mainstage productions, mostly musicals, along with a summer season. 838 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 365-2494,

Watch the sunset at Bayfront Park

TBH, it’s a perfect spot to relax any time of day, thanks to its waterfront location, playground, perfect-for-picnics grassy lawn, dog-friendly sidewalks and proximity to O’Leary’s Tiki Bar. But we’re partial to this popular park at sunset, where we recommend sitting back on a bench or a swing and watching the sun dip below the horizon, with the silhouette of the Ringling Bridge in the distance.