My Friends Are Coming To Town, Now What?

beach sandI’m psyched.

My friends are coming down to Sarasota in a few weeks with their kids for a vacation, and they asked me to spec out the attractions and all the fun things they can do as a family. I have homework to do.

They already have made reservations for the Hyatt Siesta Key Beach.

What’s not to like about this luxury resort. One week there and you will not want to go home. Multi-bedroom condo-style residences, valet parking, daily light breakfast, personalized grocery delivery, poolside cabanas, beachfront fire pit and on-site spa services. That’s just for starters.

As the name implies, the hotel is located on a beach named 2015 Trip Advisor Best Beach, not a Top 10 Beach, but Best Beach. The kids are going to love the seashore here with its 99% pure quartz sand. No need for sandals. This beach doesn’t scorch your feet.

Siesta Key Beach is family-friendly with picnic tables and shaded playgrounds for the kids. Let’s not forget the Gulf of Mexico. They better bring a lot of sun screen.

The surf and sand is a great home base for the family, but the hotel also is perfectly situated just a short distance from the cultural and art center of Sarasota.

They can brunch on Main Street, visit the John and Mable Ringling Ca d’Zan and the Ringling Museum and take a cruise with Siesta Key Watersports Dolphin Watch & Sunset Tours. Sarasota has everything for a family vacation.

For the kids, I’m recommending the following:

  • Mote Marine Aquarium
  • Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary
  • Sarasota Jungle Gardens
  • Evie’s Family Fun Center
  • Hunting for Shark Teeth
  • Florida Railroad Museum
  • The Ringling Circus Museum
  • South Florida Museum, Bishop Planetarium & Parker Manatee Aquarium

These recommendations are from my friends with kids who have been to these fun places.

My favorite place is the Mote Marine Aquarium, which I have visited. I’ve met Moonshine the Dolphin, Hugh and Buffett the manatees and sea turtles Caleb, Hang Tough, Harry, Shelley and Montego. The Mote has more than 100 species of marine life, as well two touch tanks and a 135,000-gallon shark habitat. As I always say, “Better to see the sharks at the Mote than watch Jaws!”

The planetarium is a perfect blend of awe, fun and education. The kids will be enthralled

with Perfect Little Planet, Passport to the Universe and Life: A Cosmic Story. My favorite is Passport which is an incredible journey from Earth and the Milky Way galaxy to the edge of the universe. Beam me up, Scott

My friends are lucky. Their oldest is 16 and can take care of the kids while Mom and Dad enjoy some cultural excursions, as well as quality time for themselves. They can choose from a plethora of choices:

  • Shopping at St. Armands Circle which also offers a diverse selection of dining options.
  • The Ringling Museum of Art which houses masterpieces by Rubens, van Dyck and Gainsborough.
  • Marina Jack II Cruises
  • The Dali Museum
  • Cassariano Italian Eatery for its award-winning contemporary Northern Italian cuisine.
  • Daiquiri Deck Raw Bar
  • Mattison’s City Grille
  • Siesta Key Oyster Bar
  • The Gator Club

Now, I have been to most of the dining, shopping and cultural places in Sarasota. There is nothing like a Spring evening eating and listening to live music at Mattison’s City Grille, I’ve also enjoyed sunset cruises on the Marina Jack II.

For Italian food, Cassariano Italian Eatery can’t be beat. Even if you are not an art lover, you will be impressed by the masterpieces at the Dali Museum and Ringling Museum of Art. Sundays at St. Armands Circle is a lovely way to end a weekend.

As a family, there are several day trips my friends and their three kids can take:

Key West, Orlando Theme Parks and Busch Gardens Tampa. Need I say more.

By the time my friends leave Sarasota they are going to need the proverbial vacation from their vacation. There are not many destination spots that offer such a variety of sun and sand, culture, attractions, nightlife, tours and family fun.

As always, I’ve made sure to print out all the discount tickets at, the Gulf Coasts premier visitor’s guide, has to offer. Mustdo also has an app for Android and Apple.

Now, when is their plane landing.