The small city of Sarasota in Florida is often overlooked by travellers in favour of more popular nearby towns. Rookie mistake. This city is not one to be missed.

Just one hour south of Tampa, you will find Sarasota sparkling away on the Gulf Coast. The city offers an amazing coastline, lots of cultural attractions, and delicious places to eat. It is glamorous, relaxing, and tranquil, making for the ideal destination for a weekend break (or longer!)

Your days in Sarasota will be filled with beaches, family attractions, soaking in the arts and culture and eating some fine assss food.

Sarasota isn’t a mainstream destination, which (in my opinion) makes it even more attractive. However, it also means there isn’t all too much information about it online. As a result, deciding exactly where to stay in Sarasota can be difficult.

But never fear! I am here to the rescue. I’ve created this guide on the best places to stay in Sarasota, categorised by interest or budget. I’ve included my top accommodation and activity picks in each, so you can find the best area for your travel style and budget.

So, let’s dive in and find the best place in Sarasota for you.

Where to Stay in Sarasota

Check out our top recommendations for places to stay in Sarasota.

Sarasota Siesta Key

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Casa Verde Sarasota Retreat | Best Airbnb in Sarasota

Casa Verde Sarasota Retreat

If you like spending time in outdoor spaces, then you’ll love this private retreat. It sleeps up to nine guests across three bedrooms and is beautifully furnished both outside and in. Relax in the private heated pool or on a lanai and make the most of Florida’s sunshine.

Magnolia Pointe | Best Hotel in Sarasota

Magnolia Pointe

Sometimes, hotels are just convenient. This one’s got everything covered – comfy rooms, modern furnishings, free wifi, and a great location. On top of that, guests can enjoy a pool, fitness centre, and lounge, as well as an American breakfast served on-site daily.

A Little Piece of Paradise | Best Luxury Airbnb in Sarasota

A Little Piece of Paradise

This home sits in the heart of the downtown area. It sleeps four guests, making it ideal for families. It’s super luxurious, boasting a pool, firepit, outdoor kitchen, and everything else you could want during your relaxing holiday.

Sarasota Neighborhood Guide – Places to Stay in Sarasota

FIRST TIME IN SARASOTA
North Trail Sarasota
FIRST TIME IN SARASOTA

North Trail

North Trail is a strangely shaped neighborhood. It’s long and thin, running down along Highway 41, and contains lots of hotels, eateries, and low-key cocktail bars. In fact, despite its size, this is one of the most popular neighborhoods in Sarasota among travelers.

ON A BUDGET
Downtown Sarasota
ON A BUDGET

Downtown

Sarasota’s Downtown area is a little less popular with tourists than other parts of the city. This is due to the fact that it’s further away from the beach and those famous sunset views. However, if you’re looking for the best places in Sarasota to stay if you’re on a budget, then the Downtown is a good choice.

FOR FAMILIES
Indian Beach Sarasota
FOR FAMILIES

Indian Beach

The Indian Beach area is also known as Sapphire Shores and it’s a leafy, local area home to museums and close to the beach. This makes it a great choice when you’re deciding where to stay in Sarasota with kids.

Sarasota is becoming an increasingly popular destination in Florida, great for families, romantic holidays, or getaways with friends. It’s a worthy place to visit, whether you’re staying for a two-week vacation or looking for a quick road trip stopover.

If you’re visiting Sarasota for the first time, we recommend staying in North Trail. This narrow sliver of a neighborhood offers easy access to the beach, as well as local clubs and great eateries. It’s the best place to be to get a feel for what Sarasota’s all about, and offers that quintessential beach retreat.

The second place to look at is Sarasota’s Downtown. This area offers a mix of history, easy access to restaurants, and shops, and is easily walkable. It’s a great alternative to North Trail if you’re travelling in the USA on a budget.

Families planning a vacation in Florida should check out Sarasota’s Indian Beach, also known as Sapphire Shores. There’s loooads of accommodation to choose from here-including some great Florida Airbnbs–as well as great restaurants and activities to keep everyone happy.

Sarasota’s 3 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in

Read on for more information on each of these popular areas in Sarasota, as well as the best accommodation in each!

1. North Trail – Where to Stay in Sarasota for your First Visit

Where to stay in North Trail Sarasota
  • COOLEST Thing to Do in North Trail – Check out the farmers’ market on Friday and Saturday at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park.
  • BEST Place to Visit in North Trail – Centennial Park for picnics, a fishing pier, and a boat ramp in case you want to get out on the water.

North Trail is a strangely shaped neighborhood. It’s long and thin, running down along Highway 41, and contains lots of hotels, eateries, and low-key cocktail bars. Despite its size, this is one of the most popular areas in Sarasota among travellers.

This is where you stay when you want to be close to the beach and to enjoy as much of the ocean as possible. There are also lots of great attractions in the area making it one of the coolest places to stay in Sarasota if you want to see all of the city’s favourite sites. Its proximity to the Highway also makes it ideal for Florida roadtrippers.

Luxury Pool Home near Downtown | Best Luxury Airbnb in North Trail

Luxury Pool Home near Downtown

With an on-site pool and the beach just three blocks away, this house is the perfect base for your vacation. It’s been recently renovated and thoughtfully decorated throughout, creating a comfortable home for up to eight guests.

La Quinta by Wyndham | Best Hotel in North Trail

La Quinta by Wyndham

You can’t go wrong staying at a Wyndham hotel. This one offers comfortable rooms with ensuite bathrooms and workspaces, as well. as a daily breakfast, a fitness centre, and an on-site pool. It’s a stone’s throw from the coast and close to attractions like the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.

The Gate House | Cosy Airbnb in North Trail

The Gate House

This home may be small, but it’s bright, cheerful, and beautifully furnished. It’s an updated cathedral home with high ceilings, a spacious floor plan, a full kitchen, and lots of charm. Sleeping two guests, it’s perfect for couples visiting Sarasota for the first time.

Things to See and Do in North Trail:

TTD in North Trail Sarasota
  1. Check out the Sarasota Classic Car Museum to see vehicles ranging from 1800s classics to modern day motors.
  2. Pack your beach bag and head to Indian Beach Park.
  3. Try some of the local food at Antojitos Cuban Cuisine, Leaf and Lentil, or Huanchaco Grill Peruvian Cuisine.
  4. Have a drink with friends at the Shamrock Pub or the Bistro.
  5. Get out on the ocean for kayaking, swimming, or fishing.
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2. Downtown – Where to Stay in Sarasota on a Budget

Where to stay in Downtown Sarasota
At least the beach is always free!
  • COOLEST Thing to Do in Downtown – Take a boat trip out onto the ocean.
  • BEST Place to Visit in Downtown – The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens Downtown Sarasota campus to see thousands of beautiful plants.

Sarasota’s Downtown area is a little less popular with tourists than other parts of the city, probably because it’s further away from the beach and those famous sunset views. This is great news for the budget backpackers amongst you, as fewer tourists mean less touristy prices.

Other than being cheap, Sarasota’s Downtown is a great destination in its own right. It’s filled with history and culture, is very walkable, and has some great shops, restaurants, and hotels. Plus, because this city is fairly small, it’s really not that far from the beach (sshh, don’t tell the others). You can easily get there on foot or via the city’s public transport system!

Cozy Downtown Studio Apartment | Awesome Airbnb in Downtown

Cozy Downtown Studio Apartment

This city getaway is perfect for two guests and is great value for money. The unit has its own private balcony and is located in one of the most charming and historic neighborhoods in the city, making it easy to get out and explore.

Villa & Garden in Downtown | Best Luxury Airbnb in Downtown

Villa & Garden in Downtown

When split between six guests, this is the perfect place to stay in Sarasota for a group of friends. It’s a five-minute drive from local beaches and a short walk from the Downtown, putting you in one of the best locations overall! It’s stunningly furnished throughout and offers plenty of outdoor spaces.

America’s Best Value Inn | Best Hotel in Downtown

America’s Best Value Inn

America’s Best Value Inn is fast becoming one of the most popular budget hotel brands in the US, so you already know you’ve got yourself a good deal. This branch boasts a superb location close to shops and restaurants, as well as public transport for exploring further afield. Each room is equipped with a fridge and microwave, and, as you can see, there’s a huge pool on-site.

Things to See and Do in Sarasota’s Downtown:

TTD in Downtown Sarasota
Photo: Daderot (WikiCommons)
  1. Head over to Lido Key Beach for a real island experience.
  2. Check out the city’s creative heart at the Art Center Sarasota or the Towles Court Artist Colony.
  3. Have a meal at Hamlet’s Eatery, the Shamrock Pub, or the Café in the Park.
  4. Practice your swing at the Palms Golf Club at Forest Lakes.
  5. Enjoy the views of the ocean, the shops, and the people watching at the Bayfront Park.
  6. Play a round of tennis, try the skateboard park, or test yourself on the fitness trail at Payne Park.

3. Indian Beach – Best Neighborhood in Sarasota for Families

road to beach sarasota Florida
  • COOLEST Thing to Do in Indian Beach – Take the kids to explore the Children’s Garden.
  • BEST Place to Visit in Indian Beach – Sarasota Jungle Gardens for animals and animal shows in a tropical setting.

The Indian Beach area (also known as Sapphire Shores) is a leafy, local area close to the beach. It’s full of things to explore but is quieter than other parts of town, making it a great choice when you’re deciding where to stay in Sarasota with kids.

With lots of attractions close by as well as a wide variety of accommodation choices, this area will keep even the most restless member of your family busy and active. It’s also really close to the beach, so you can enjoy those famous sunset views!

Private Charming Cottage | Family-Friendly Airbnb in Indian Beach

Private Charming Cottage

Sleeping up to four guests, this place is perfect for small families. It sits on one acre of private land and offers a fully stocked kitchen and laundry facilities. The beach is easy to reach from here, as are downtown amenities.

Hampton Inn & Suites | Best Hotel in Indian Beach

Hampton Inn & Suites

This hotel is bright, colourful, and just minutes from the beach. It offers a pool, free parking, a free hot breakfast every morning, giving you one less thing to worry about each day!

New Pool Oasis | Best Luxury Airbnb in Indian Beach

New Pool Oasis

This two-bedroom, two-bathroom home sleeps up to six guests and is all about the outdoor space. It has a great pool and lanai with an outdoor grill so you can sit out on warm nights and enjoy the weather. It also has a fully stocked kitchen, laundry facilities, and is within walking distance to a neighborhood park on the water.

Things to See and Do in Indian Beach:

TTD in Indian Beach Sarasota
Day 14… they still haven’t noticed me
Photo: Daderot (WikiCommons)
  1. Learn more about the ocean at the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium.
  2. Wander through the former home of the Ringlings, Ca’ d’Zan.
  3. Have a meal at Captain Brian’s Seafood Market & Restaurant.
  4. Go fishing or just watch the sunset and look for dolphins off E_RocK Pointe.
  5. Head out to the Palm Aire Country Club for a round of golf.
  6. Learn about the history of the famous circus folk at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.
  7. Have a drink at the Mable Bar & Grill or Memories Lounge.
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FAQs About Finding a Place to Stay in Sarasota

Here’s what people usually ask me about the areas of Sarasota and where to stay.

What To Pack For Sarasota

Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.

Product
Description
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!

Ear Plugs

Snoring dorm-mates can ruin your nights rest and seriously damage the hostel experience. This is why I always travel with a pack of decent ear plugs.

Keep your laundry organized and stink free
Keep your laundry organized and stink free

Hanging Laundry Bag

Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.

Stay Dry With a Micro Towel
Stay Dry With a Micro Towel

Sea To Summit Micro Towel

Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.

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Make Some New Buddies…

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Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!
Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!

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Check out my definitive Hotel Packing list for even more top packing tips!

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance for Sarasota

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Final Thoughts on the Best Places to Stay in Sarasota

There’s something for everyone in Sarasota. Whether you’re the type to enjoy outdoor activities, innovative art, or just enjoy relaxing on the beach, Sarasota will delight and enthral you. No matter what you plan to do, you’ll find charming B&Bs, luxury hotels, and everything in between to make your stay as epic as possible.

If you’re still not sure where to stay in Sarasota, we recommend North Trail. It’s by the beach, full of shops and restaurants, and has some of the best accommodation in Sarasota overall.

Once you’ve decided on your accommodation, it’s a good idea to consider getting travel insurance. The USA is safe to visit, but it’s always best to have a backup in case things don’t go to plan.

Looking for more info on travelling to Sarasota and USA?