Take a Day Trip to Sarasota on Your Anna Maria Island Vacation

While there is much to do during your stay on Anna Maria Island, it is always fun to branch out and explore more of the area around you when you are on vacation.  Sarasota is a wonderful day trip from Anna Maria Island that offers tons of activities and unique experiences.  

museum in sarasota

Where is Sarasota?

Sarasota is a city on the southwestern coast of Florida. From Anna Maria Island, it takes a little over thirty minutes to get to Sarasota.  

How to Get There

ami trolley on the road

You can easily drive to Sarasota, but that is not your only option.  The Anna Maria Island Trolley runs the entire length of the island- and it’s free!

 No matter where you are staying on Anna Maria Island, you can easily access the trolley, as there are stops roughly every two to three miles along the island. Once you get on the trolley, take it all the way to the end of the line at Coquina Beach.  There, you can easily switch to the Long Boat Key Trolley for only seventy-five cents, and it will take you all the way to Sarasota.  The bonus of this mode of travel is the killer views of the Gulf and quaint Anna Maria cottages along the way. 

Things to Do

One of the best attractions for the whole family on Sarasota is the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. In addition to conducting important marine research, this Aquarium is home to hundreds of marine species. The habitats include 135,000 gallon shark exhibit, manatees and sea turtles, and fascinating coral reefs. Check the aquarium website ahead of your visit to learn about the special exhibits. 

little kid looking at shark tank

Additionally, you can head to Myakka River State Park for some nature time. This state park is known for its birding.  It has many areas that are specifically for viewing the areas species, although you can easily spot any birds on the walking paths if you are quiet enough. In Myakka River State Park, you can see herons, white pelicans, spoonbills, and many more interesting birds unique to Sarasota.  While birding or hiking, you can also see some other wildlife, like alligators!

If you’re looking for a bite to eat during the day, visit the Sarasota classic, The Old Salty Dog. This casual dining place has been around since 1985 and has been a local favorite ever since. The menu features some bar and grill favorites, like Coconut Shrimp and Crispy Calamari, while also offering some more interesting options, like the Asian Infusion Salad and Snow Crab Clusters. When dining by the ocean, seafood is always on the menu, and The Old Salty Dog is no different. They also offer a wide variety of fresh seafood options, like Steamed Mussels, Fish and Chips, and a Lobster Roll.

fried shrimp and fries

Ophelia’s on the Bay is a wonderful option for those looking for a more upscale dining experience.  Head Chef Daniel Olson has a menu that changes daily based on the fresh seafood and produce he can acquire.  The preparations that finish each seafood dish are inspired and unique.  For example, a recent menu featured Faroe Island Salmon, with Black Truffle Dijon Glaze, Fresh Dill, and Champagne Beurre Fondue, Fried Capers, and Jasmine Rice. 

The items listed above are only a few of the options available to you during your day at Sarasota.  There are many more Sarasota things to do, places to shop and eat, and secret stops to explore.  Do some research and make an itinerary for your day that fits your interests and needs as an individual or as a group.  You will not be disappointed!