Best Places for Family Fun in Sarasota

Vacationing with kids can be challenging in some aspects but rewarding in many ways.  It is a time to bond and make memories with your children/grandchildren that will last for the rest of their lives.  The Greater Sarasota area has an abundance of places designed for families looking to experience togetherness in a fun wholesome way.  Here are the best places for family fun in Sarasota.

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

1600 Ken Thompson Parkway
Sarasota, FL 34236

Manatees, sharks, sea turtles, otters, and tropical fish are ready to meet your family.  A visit to Mote is educational and fun as visitors explore touch pools, hands-on exhibits, and windows into the science and conservation of the laboratory and aquarium.   The aquarium boasts a 135,000-gallon outdoor tank that is home to sharks and other marine species.  The attraction is large, spanning three buildings and an outdoor area.  The facilities are clean and well-maintained, plus the staff is very friendly and knowledgeable.  Open 365 days a year.

Bob’s Train

2211 Fruitville Rd. 
Sarasota FL, 34247

Eating out with kids can sometimes be a challenge because they get bored and restless before the meal is over.  That probably won’t happen if you take them to Bob’s Train, a restaurant located in four actual train cars.  The retired Ringling circus train cars are filled with circus photos and artifacts.  In fact, two of the cars serve as a museum-style exhibit for the history of the Ringling circus.  The menu is family-friendly, offering hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, salads, and more.

Open Monday through Friday for lunch from 11 am to 2 pm and for Sunday brunch from 10:30 am to 2 pm.

The Children’s Garden at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

1534 Mound Street
Sarasota, FL 34236

The Children’s Rainforest Garden at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is a tropical jungle environment where children of all ages can discover, explore, and play, making it a great place for family fun in Sarasota.  The rainforest area features a twelve-foot waterfall, swinging bridges, field research stations, caves for exploring, and an adventure trail.  There is also an Amazon village with an amphitheater.

The centerpiece is a 100-year-old Banyan tree that provides a perfect photographic background.  There is a single entry/exit so that no child can enter or exit without parental supervision.  Of course, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens isn’t just for kids.  The area also features an outdoor butterfly garden, bromeliad garden, bamboo garden, epiphyte garden, fern garden, a mangrove walkway, and a breathtaking tropical conservatory display garden with more than 6,000 orchids!  It has been described as one of the most beautiful areas in Florida.

Open every day except for Christmas.

Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary

7101 Palmer Blvd.

Sarasota, Florida 34232

You don’t have to drive to Busch Gardens in Tampa or Disney’s Animal Kingdom to see exotic animals.  The Big Cat Habitat is a 501c3 non-profit organization that provides safe, loving, and permanent homes for exotic and domestic animals in need.  Kids and adults alike enjoy coming face to face with lions and tigers and bears (oh my) plus primates and exotic birds.  There is even a petting zoo.

Open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 am to 4 pm.

Livingston’s Amusements

5947 Clark Center Ave
Sarasota, FL 34238

Sometimes you may need to take a break from the sun and the beach.  For those days, Livingston’s is a great place to check out.  The complex features 50,000 square feet of state-of-the-art entertainment for kids and adults.  Some of the activities include bumper cars, billiards, a go-kart race track, an arcade with a large prize center, plus a Bazooka Ball simulated combat game.  It is wholesome fun for the entire family.

Open seven days a week.

Circus Park in Payne Park

2010 Adams Lane
Sarasota, FL 34237

Payne Park

Sarasota is proud of its circus heritage and circus-inspired themes can be found everywhere.  In fact, there is a special area in beautiful Payne Park, called Circus Park, which is like no other playground anywhere.  If you have little ones, this place is a dream come true, featuring brightly painted clown cars and circus animals.  There is also a small splash area, rock climbing, slides, music makers, swings, and so much more.

Bring a picnic lunch and make it a day of family fun in Sarasota that your children will never forget.

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