How to Spend 48 Hours in Sarasota, Florida

If you want to explore the incredible city of Sarasota, Florida,
you don’t need a huge, week-long vacation.
In fact, you can fit in many of the best sites in the area in just 48 hours!

Does it sound impossible? With a little bit of careful planning, you can have the full area experience and hit several major attractions. Here’s your complete Sarasota vacation guide for when you’re on a tight schedule.

Your Luxury Lido Key Accommodations

First, come down and check in to your Lido Key beach house. Lido Key is just moments away from Sarasota. It provides luxurious accommodations without the hustle and bustle of the city. A property manager will greet you when you arrive to show you all the awesome features of your home, such as the elevator and the heated pool. While you’re staying with us, just remember to be respectful of your neighbors in other Lido Key rentals! 

Day 1 – Morning

Head into town to start your first day with a delicious breakfast at the Blue Dolphin Café. They serve breakfast as early as 7 a.m. and offer up all kinds of classic favorites, like oatmeal, eggs any way you like, pancakes, French toast, waffles, and more. Best of all, almost every single breakfast option is less than $10, so you can eat well without spending a ton of money! The staff is friendly, and the atmosphere is casual, making for the perfect start to your Sarasota adventure. 

Once 10:00 rolls around, make your way to Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. This stunning attraction in downtown Sarasota has all kinds of gorgeous nature. Since you’re visiting first thing in the morning, you’ll get the best weather and the smallest crowds. Stroll through the gardens at your leisure to take in the breathtaking flowers and feel the breeze from the Bay, or check out one of their ever-rotating exhibits for something exceptional.

Day 1 – Afternoon

When it’s time for lunch, head over to Duval’s, where the tagline says everything you need to know: “Fresh. Local. Seafood.” Duval’s has been voted as Sarasota’s best seafood restaurant for five years running, so a trip to the city just isn’t complete without coming here! They’ve got any kind of seafood you might want, from clam chowder and lobster bisque to fish and chips or pan-roasted salmon. If you’re not in the mood for seafood, that’s okay; they have plenty of land options as well.

After lunch, relax on the shores of Lido Key Beach or cool off from the hot day with a dip in the water. Lido Key Beach is an amazing destination any time of year and is truly the epitome of relaxation. You can lay in the sun and get started on your newest read, splash around in the water with your family, or simply stroll along the shoreline and let the waves lap at your feet. Vacation should be about relaxing, and there’s no better place to do it than on Lido Key Beach!

Day 1 – Evening

Ready for dinner? Treat yourself to a meal at Mediterraneo. Consistently voted among the city’s top restaurants, Mediterraneo has been serving up authentic contemporary Italian cuisine since 1996. You’ll immediately be struck by how friendly the staff is and how warm and friendly the entire environment is. On the menu, indulge in dishes like spaghetti alla carbonara, pizza, or flatbread, and don’t forget to finish your evening with a classic dessert!

Finally, end the night at St. Armands Circle. This immaculate shopping destination has been an area staple since 1926. It is the perfect place to find a new piece for your wardrobe or a new item to remember your travels by. Shop local or get something from one of your favorite national brands, then stroll through the Circus Ring of Fame to see statues of John Ringling and other circus moguls.

Day 2 – Morning

Ready for day 2? Grab breakfast at C’est la Vie. This eatery is located right in downtown Sarasota, but you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a café in Paris! Get something quick like an espresso and a croissant, or settle in for a full meal with an omelet or a sweet or savory crepe. You can dine inside the quaint café or outside on the comforting patio.

Once you’re finished eating, head over to Sarasota Jungle Gardens to see some of the most incredible wildlife in the area. This isn’t just your average zoo! This attraction lets you get up close and personal with all kinds of amazing creatures, from alligators and flamingos to ring-tailed lemurs and more. The Jungle Gardens are especially great for kids but are definitely fun for all ages!

Day 2 – Afternoon

Starting to get hungry? Visit Lila for lunch to get a mouthwatering meal that’s also good for you and good for the environment! This eatery focuses on healthy meals that are eco-friendly and use the freshest, most sustainable local ingredients. If anyone in your group is vegetarian or vegan or has other dietary restrictions, this is the place to be! A few menu favorites include the mushroom burger, vegetable stir fry, and broccoli soup.

Next, you’re in for one of the most popular Sarasota things to do: the Ringling Museum. John and Mable Ringling had a huge impact on this city, and the Ringling is the perfect place to learn more about them. You can visit the Ringling Museum of Art, the Circus Museum, the Bayfront Gardens, and Ca’ d’Zan for an entire afternoon of fun at this incredible attraction.

Day 2 – Evening 

As your time in Sarasota is coming to a close, you’ll have to experience dinner at The Bijou Café. This fine dining experience brings the best modern European cuisine using the best local ingredients. Enjoy delicious menu options like l’escargot, lamb shank, trout almondine, or sweet corn agnolotti. Finish with dessert or a signature cocktail to complete your meal. 

The Bijou Café is located in the Theatre and Arts District downtown, so while you’re in the area, finish your time in Sarasota by watching a show at the Sarasota Opera House. Whether you get to see a regular show or a performance from the Sarasota Youth Opera, you’re in for an unforgettable experience! The shows performed here vary throughout the year, but there’s simply no such thing as a bad performance. There’s simply no better way to finish your quick trip to Sarasota!

Be Our Guest

See? You can do so much in just 48 hours in Sarasota! Of course, this itinerary is by no means all-inclusive. There are so many other fun activities to experience in Sarasota and near Lido Key that you’ll just have to come back to experience it all! Luckily, we’ve got luxurious Lido Key vacation rentals all year long, so you can plan another weekend getaway whenever you please! No matter how many people are in your group, we have the perfect rental with enough room for everyone. Contact us today to learn more and to get started planning your quick trip to Sarasota and Lido Key!