I was reading an airplane magazine last week and I noticed one of their regular features each month is a “Three days in…” series. Sometimes it’s a city as quaint as Nashville or exotic as Dubai. I have a “three days in” list for Salt Lake (my hometown) and Indianapolis (my current town). I could even come up with one for New York City and Chicago. These trips I’ve been taking lately are the perfect opportunity to put together “three days in” lists for the other cities as well. Oftentimes, I have the opportunity to see the very best parts of the city with a local, the most popular restaurants and to be shown the very best part of what a city has to offer. The worst part is I never get enough time, I’m always left wanting to go back or wishing I could do more.
If you were to do three days in Sarasota, Florida, you would never do as much as we did, but it’s a good starting point to start planning your own Sarasota vacation. Siesta Key, Nancy’s Bar-B-Q and Oscar Scherer State Park are absolute musts when I go back with my own family.
Click through and see a bit of what Sarasota has to offer, and see if it looks like a place you’d like to spend three days.
Three Days In Sarasota, Florida 1 of 15
My new favorite Florida beach town.
Ritz Carlton Sarasota 2 of 15
We stayed in the Ritz Carlton, Sarasota. If you've never stayed in a Ritz, dude. When I first stayed at a Ritz, I only thought they were that friendly and helpful because it was our anniversary. When I stayed at another one and I was convinced they Googled me before my arrival and were trying to impress me.
Nope, that's just the way the Ritz is.
Ritz Carlton Pool 3 of 15
The Ritz itself had two pools, maybe three? I couldn't ever get Addie out of this one. If we had five minutes at the hotel, four minutes was spent in the pool.
Ritz Club Level 4 of 15
The Ritz Club Level is the best kept secret of Ritz Carlton hotels. The menu changes throughout the day, and there are always treats and delicious beverages. Even if you don't book a room on club level, you can often upgrade for unlimited access for a fee. It's totally worth it.
Circus Museum 5 of 15
You can read about our entire experience at the circus museum here, I'll just paraphrase and say Sarasota has a rich circus history and being able to see it, experience it, hear it, and touch it first-hand is a really cool experience.
Cafe Gabbiano 6 of 15
Hello delicious Italian food and amazing wine in Florida, thy name is Cafe Gabbiano. You can read more about our dinner here.
Oscar Scherer State Park 7 of 15
This right here was by far my most favorite part of our entire trip, being completely surrounded by nature in Oscar Scherer state park on one of their canoes available for rent. You can read more about our visit to this park, as well as all of Florida's State Parks here.
Pop’s Sunset Grill 8 of 15
I thought this place was called Pop's because of some father figure called Pops. Turns out it's the sound the shrimp make off the dock located directly off the restaurant's back patio.
I didn't get to hear one.
But it's a cool story.
Fun restaurant atmosphere, be sure to sit outside. It's lovely.
Photo Credit/Learn more about Pop's here.
Tervis Tumbler Factory 9 of 15
Do you have a Tervis Tumbler? Did you know they were made in Sarasota and always have been? I know because I was able to see the operation first hand, we were even able to make our own tumblers.
While factory tours aren't open to the public (sorry!) there is a Tervis outlet in Sarasota.
There isn't much Tervis can't do when it comes to drink-ware, find out more here.
TreeUmph! 10 of 15
TreeUmph! adventures was so much fun. I wish we could have completed all 5 courses, each one gets gradually taller and more difficult, ending with a trip down a zipline with the final course being a 60' high and really long zipline. Addie had her own little kids course to herself, she really wanted to do the big one.
The courses have been built around and through existing trees, so it's a very natural and wild feeling.
If you go (which you should), plan on spending at least half the day, if not more, completing all the challenges.
Daiquiri Deck 11 of 15
Imagine an entire wall of Slurpee machines, now imagine them in all different flavors and already infused with liquor.
Congratulations, you just imagined Daiquiri Deck.
I was bummed I couldn't have a Red Bull Daiquiri (I don't drink), but I wholeheartedly support the idea of an adult 7-11.
The food was pretty good too.
Ritz Beach Club 12 of 15
The Ritz Carlton Sarasota isn't actually on the beach, rather they own an entire stretch of beach as well as a beach club just a short (free) shuttle ride from the hotel. We had lunch at the Beach Club Grill (yum) and spent the rest of the afternoon lounging in a cabana and swimming in the pool.
Club access is complimentary for hotel guests.
Ritz Kids 13 of 15
Addie was able to participate in the Ritz Kids beach Olympics, poor kid just wanted to be in the ocean but she managed to play a good game of "cup of water on your head to fill the bucket on the other person's head." The staff was amazing, there was warpaint involved and everyone had a lot of fun.
Siesta Key 14 of 15
The beaches in Sarasota are amazing, it's no wonder they're constantly ranked as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The water was warm, the waves were perfect and the sand was divine.
It was hard to pull Addie away from such beach perfection.
Nancy’s Bar-B-Q 15 of 15
Our last dinner was at Nancy's Bar-B-Q. I'll admit, I wasn't very excited about BBQ after a long day at the beach, but Nancy is a force to be reckoned with in the male-dominated world of smoked meat. She shared with us how she got started, why she keeps going and how much she loves feeding people good food.
There was even a salad on the menu that read "your wife wants this" after so many spouses kept coming in forgetting what their wife had wanted.
Nancy's is a MUST if you're in or around Sarasota.
Find more of Casey’s writing on her blog moosh in indy or her Babble Voices site Shutterlovely. She’s also available on twitter, facebook, flickr and Instagram. If you can’t find her any of those places? Check the couch, she’s probably taking a nap.
Disclosure: Accommodations and travel expenses were graciously covered for Addie and myself. All opinions are my own.