The Top 5 Places for First-Time Visitors to Stay in Sarasota, Florida in 2024

The places for first-time visitors to stay in Sarasota, Florida, are often overlooked in favor of Orlando and Miami. However, sitting on the Gulf of Mexico, this charming city boasts expansive white sand beaches and breathtaking views of the surrounding waters. Here, you may have a fantastic beach vacation away from the throngs of tourists found in more well-known Florida cities.

Travelers looking to do more than just relax on the beach or spend their evenings golfing may find Sarasota to be a suitable option. In Sarasota, you won’t need anything thanks to the opulent resorts, top-notch dining options, and plethora of stores.

This list of the Places for first-time visitors to stay in Sarasota may help you decide where to stay in the city. Find out all you need to choose the best hotels in Sarasota, from affordable accommodations near the airport to beachside resorts on Siesta Key!

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Where To Stay In Sarasota, Florida

Your purpose for visiting Sarasota will determine which part of town is best for you to base yourself in. The ideal area to stay if you’re planning a beach holiday is on one of the islands with miles and miles of fine sandy beaches. However, if you’re just visiting for a quick trip, you should stay closer to the center of town to make it easy to go to the tourist sites.

Either way, I’ve put together a thorough rundown of Sarasota’s greatest neighborhoods and hotels. Now let’s explore Places for first-time visitors to stay in Sarasota every section of the city.

Downtown Sarasota

Downtown Sarasota

For first-time tourists, the central city neighborhood of downtown Sarasota is one of the best places for first-time visitors to stay in Sarasota. There are lots of tourist attractions there, such as museums, historical sites, and stores. Staying here offers beautiful waterfront views and quick walking access to some of central Sarasota’s top attractions.
 Tall condos and opulent hotels coexist with some of Sarasota’s oldest buildings in this district. If you want to visit the traditional Sarasota sites and don’t mind making a longer trip to the beach, this is a great place to stay.

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The Best Things About Staying in Downtown Sarasota

For landmarks and tourist attractions, downtown Sarasota is the ideal area of the city. Visit this location to see the most well-known Sarasota attractions, take a tour of the city’s top museums, and view the oldest structures in the area.

  • Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is among the top attractions in the city. The waterfront gardens have intriguing sculptures, ponds, and tropical flora. The garden is decorated differently for each season, but my favorites are the ones that are put up around Christmas.
  • The best thing to do whilst on vacation in this area is to take a walking tour of Downtown Sarasota. This is the city’s oldest area, featuring charming public parks, picturesque views, and attractive architecture. Enroll in a guided tour to independently stroll the streets and stop by any stores or eateries that grab your attention.
  • Enjoy the expansive views, strange statues, fountains, and leisurely strolling routes at Bayfront Park. Enjoy the expansive views, strange statues, fountains, and leisurely strolling routes at Bayfront Park. The park offers a children’s playground, a quaint bar, and a grill. Savor a delectable meal while taking in the sunset from one of Sarasota’s beautiful locations.
  • Take a quick stroll through Downtown Sarasota in the dark, and you’ll notice the Sarasota Opera House. The structure was originally a theater in 1926. While spending a night at the opera is a wonderful way to cap off a holiday day, the building’s magnificence may be appreciated simply by strolling by.

Best Places To Stay In Downtown Sarasota

Most of the hotels in downtown Sarasota are upscale and luxurious. It’s ideal for tourists who wish to stay in five-star hotels with quick access to well-known tourist destinations on foot. However, this core city location is not cheap, so you may need to explore elsewhere if you’re looking for cheap accommodations.

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Embassy Suites By Hilton Sarasota

A four-star hotel located in the heart of the city is the Embassy Suites By Hilton is one of the best places for first-time visitors to stay in Sarasota. Its suites are spacious and well-kept, with separate living areas and bedrooms in each. You may feel at home in the hotel because each room has a desk, a TV, and a suite bathroom.

A fitness facility and a heated outdoor pool with breathtaking views of the Sarasota skyline are available to guests staying at this Hilton hotel. To enjoy views of the ocean from the comfort of your bed, get a suite that faces Sarasota Bay. These suites cost $600, whereas a regular room with no views of the ocean costs about $550.

The Sarasota Modern

In the heart of Sarasota, the Sarasota Modern, one of the ideal places for first-time visitors to stay in Sarasota, is a pleasant mid-range hotel. It features large rooms with modern furnishings and wonderful city views from its balconies. Although the hotel rooms are a bit too beige for my taste, at least stains are more difficult to conceal when everything is so pale.

Each room features a flat-screen TV, an ensuite bathroom, and a coffee machine. Free WiFi is available to all visitors, and there’s an outdoor pool with loungers, cabanas, and a bar. Slightly more than $620 per night (including breakfast), this is one of the top four-star properties in the area.

The Westin Sarasota

A three-star hotel located in the historic city district is the Westin Sarasota. It’s hardly inexpensive or even mid-range, though, just because it has three stars. With a breathtaking rooftop pool and some of the best city views, this is practically a luxury hotel.

There’s a bar along the pool where you can have drinks in the evening and take in the sunset over Sarasota. The rooms have modern furnishings and are clean and roomy. In addition, free bicycle rentals, a fitness facility, and a spa are available to visitors. At this hotel, a nightly rate begins at $750.

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Whitfield & Sapphire Shores: The Cheapest Value Accommodations

Whitfield & Sapphire Shores

Two residential areas close to Sarasota Bradenton International Airport are Whitfield and Sapphire Shores. Stay here for easy access to the airport and beaches if you’re only visiting the area briefly.

When considering places for first-time visitors to stay in Sarasota, two areas stand out. Sapphire Shores, with its numerous first-rate resorts and miles of sandy beaches, is an excellent choice if you’re visiting Sarasota for a short while and want to spend most of your time relaxing on the beach.

On the other hand, Whitfield is a great option if you’re searching for reasonably priced lodging and convenient walking access to well-known museums and attractions. These areas offer a balance of relaxation and cultural exploration, making them ideal for first-time visitors to Sarasota.

Whitfield and Sapphire Shores’ Top Activities

Some of Sarasota’s greatest museums are located in Whitfield & Sapphire Shores. With its museum, gardens, and the old home of the legendary circus performer, the Ringling complex is one of the most visited places in the city.

  • The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, one of Sarasota’s most visited museums, was founded by the legendary circus performer John Ringling. With 31 galleries, it is housed in a pink Renaissance palace. Paintings, sculptures, and other artwork from antiquity to the present day are all part of the museum’s collection.
  • Being a bit of an auto enthusiast, I always search for distinctive auto museums in any place I go to. I found the Sarasota Classic Car Museum in Florida, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. With vintage vehicles, vintage cars, and some of the first cars ever produced, the museum is a must-visit for auto enthusiasts of all ages.
  • Sarasota Jungle Gardens is a large garden-style animal park located on Sarasota Bay. The grounds are open for wildlife, including flamingos, to graze freely. The park is well landscaped, with a large variety of tropical flowers and plants.

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Top Accommodation Options In Whitfield & Sapphire Shores

If you want great hotels at cheaper nightly prices, stay at Whitfield or Sapphire Shores. With convenient access to the beach and lots of things to do in your free time, the majority of the hotels here are at least half the price of those in the downtown area.

Courtyard by Marriott Sarasota Bradenton Airport

One of the best places for first-time visitors to stay in Sarasota is the pleasant three-star Courtyard by Marriott Sarasota Bradenton Airport, which has a reasonable nightly fee. The Mariott is a great choice if you’re just in Sarasota temporarily and you want to be close to the airport.

The hotel offers free WiFi, large family rooms, and an outdoor pool. For three guests, the nightly rent starts at about $300, which is a great price for Sarasota. Additionally, the Classic Car Museum and the Ringling Art Museum are all about ten and five minutes walk from this hotel, respectively.

Ramada by Wyndham Sarasota Waterfront

The reasonably priced two-star Ramada by Wyndham Sarasota Waterfront Hotel is located in Whitefield. It is not to be confused with the Days Inn by Wyndham Sarasota Bay, which is located in a separate area and provides noticeably worse service.

The hotel on Sarasota’s waterfront has an outdoor pool with views of the marina. The Sara Bay Country Golf Club is conveniently located near the hotel, making it an excellent choice for any visiting golfers. The hotel rooms are large and immaculate, and the basic nightly fee for two people is about $240. Included in that pricing range is breakfast.

Hilton Garden Inn Sarasota-Bradenton Airport

Close to the airport, the Hilton Garden Inn is a pleasant three-star hotel. It features a fitness center, roomy accommodations, and an outdoor pool. Each of the rooms has a desk space, a TV, and an ensuite bathroom.

This hotel’s complimentary shuttle to the airport is a nice feature. You can simply explore the neighborhood because the shuttle service will take you anywhere within an 8-kilometer radius for free. It is also considered one of the places for first-time visitors to stay in Sarasota.

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Siesta Key: Best Beaches In Sarasota

Tropical Beach Resorts

With some of the best beaches in the nation, Siesta Key is among the places for first-time visitors to stay in Sarasota, a well-liked destination for beach lovers, particularly because a lot of the area’s businesses are right on the shore and provide guests with private access.

This stunning island features vast stretches of beaches with fine sand as well as a busy center district filled with shops, restaurants, and cafes. It won’t take you more than fifteen minutes by automobile to reach the city’s attractions from downtown Sarasota.

The Best Things to Do While Visiting Siesta Key

The best beach in the city may be found on Siesta Key, which makes up for its lack of other tourist attractions.

  • Go to the Drum Circle in Siesta Key. Every Sunday night, dancers and artists converge on Siesta Beach to perform live music. The gathering, which takes place on one of Sarasota’s greatest beaches, attracts both visitors and locals and is a great way to cap off a day in the area.
  • Siesta Key Beach is the main attraction of most visits to Siesta Key. One of Sarasota’s biggest beaches, with white sand, is accessible to anyone. It has beach volleyball courts, a children’s playground, and a beach pavilion. While a portion of the beach is exclusive to hotel visitors, the majority is available to everyone.
  • For coffee in the morning or ice cream in the evening, visit Siesta Key Village. The island’s center for dining, shopping, and cafes is this busy area. Evening strolls along Ocean Boulevard, which is surrounded by trees, are ideal.

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Top Hotels in Siesta Key

There are a ton of beachfront hotel resorts and condo buildings on Siesta Key. You will enjoy your stay on this island if you wish to be close to the water.

Tropical Beach Resorts

If you’re seeking inexpensive lodging in Siesta Key, reserve a suite at the Tropical Beach Resorts. With a nightly fee of $350, the three-star hotel is reasonably priced for this area of Sarasota, particularly considering that it is only five minutes from the beach.

Tropical Beach Resort is among the places for first-time visitors to stay in Sarasota, the rooms are fairly furnished with furniture that is a little old. The key thing is that everything is immaculately clean and each room has its private bathroom.

Siesta Key Beach Resort and Suites

In the island’s north, the Siesta Key Beach Resort and Suites is a nice middle-of-the-road choice. Since it’s on Ocean Boulevard, Siesta Key Village is only a short stroll away. It will only take you a few minutes to reach the beach if you walk in the opposite way.

Despite only having two ratings, the hotel is one of the places for first-time visitors to stay in Sarasota. It offers a three-star appearance and atmosphere. Although the rooms are small, they provide all the amenities you might want, such as a kitchenette and a private bathroom. As soon as you step outside the accommodation, you may access the outdoor pool with loungers.

The Residences on Siesta Key Beach

One of the places for first-time visitors to stay in Sarasota with groups and families is the Residences on Siesta Key Beach. Every unit is a separate apartment with space for up to eight guests. Each unit has a full-sized kitchen, a separate bathroom, and a dishwasher. Larger flats are also available, but the majority have two bedrooms and can accommodate up to six people.

Since this is a Hyatt residential hotel, there are a ton of other amenities to be mentioned. The fitness center, hot tubs, outdoor lounging spaces, and outdoor pool are available to guests. This hotel starts at about $965 per night, which is more than affordable for six adults.

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Longboat Key: Best For Families

The biggest island off the coast of Sarasota is called Longboat Key, and it’s among the places for first-time visitors to stay in Sarasota known for its wide sandy beaches, upscale hotels, and golf courses. Even though there aren’t many attractions in this area of Sarasota, visitors can pass the time by participating in enjoyable outdoor activities.

Swimming, kayaking, hiking, biking, and golfing are just a few of the best activities available at Longboat Key. If you want to take a relaxing vacation and take in the sun and sea, stay in this area of Sarasota.

The Best Things to Do While Visiting Longboat Key

Since Longboat Key offers the best activities for energetic travelers, it’s a great place for outdoor adventures and sports.

  • Charter a yacht and enjoy complete seclusion while exploring the Gulf of Mexico. Visit other coastal villages or anchor in the middle of the sea for the day and enjoy some swimming and fun.
  • In the afternoon, take the family to the Joan M. Durante Community Park for some entertainment. Located close to the middle of Longboat Key island, this public park has playgrounds, piers, and walking trails.
  • Golfing is among the most enjoyable ways to keep occupied on Longboat Key. There are a ton of options for an afternoon of golf on the island, as there are numerous courses. Select the course with the greatest views, and make an effort not to let the picturesque seaside scenery deter you.
  • Kayak rental is accessible from several locations on Longboat Key. Should fortune favor you, a trip around the mangrove islands close to Bayfront Park may yield sightings of dolphins. Renting kayaks is usually accompanied by the ability to rent paddleboards, canoes, and other gear.

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Best Places To Stay In Longboat Key

There are lots of condo buildings in Longboat Key for visitors. This is one of Sarasota’s greatest neighborhoods if you choose to stay in private flats. Although they are somewhat more costly than apartments, standard hotel resorts are nevertheless an option.

Longboat Bay Club

On the island, Longboat Bay Club is among the places for first-time visitors to stay in Sarasota with families. There are individual apartments on the property that may house up to six people. It’s only a short stroll to the beach. Each apartment has a private bathroom, a full-sized kitchen, and two bedrooms.

All visitors can utilize the outdoor pool, which is open year-round. On the grounds of the Longboat Bay Club, there is a playground for kids. The cost of an apartment at this resort is approximately $500 per night. That works out to about $60 per person when divided among six adults, which is a fantastic steal for Sarasota.

Zota Beach Resort

In the northern section of Longboat Key sits the four-star Zota Beach Resort. The resort is modern and has well-kept, stylish accommodations. There is a desk, an attached toilet, and a flat-screen TV in each hotel room. All visitors are welcome to utilize the resort’s spacious outdoor pool.

A business center, a fitness facility, and even a private beach are available. Although there’s a restaurant on the resort grounds, you should venture outside to visit this charming town. The starting rate for two persons at this resort is $425 per night.

Resort at Longboat Key Club

For those who enjoy luxury, The Resort at Longboat Key Club is one of the places for first-time visitors to stay in Sarasota, a four-star hotel that offers great accommodations. Select this resort if you enjoy spacious accommodations with cozy mattresses, separate bathrooms, and in-room dishwashers.

You won’t even need to venture outside of the resort area if you so choose thanks to the five on-site restaurants. All visitors have access to a secluded section of Longboat Key Beach and an outdoor pool. This resort has an average nightly charge of $650; it’s pricey, but you won’t find much cheaper accommodations with this caliber of service.

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Lido Key: The Best For A Variety Of Tourist Attractions And Beaches

Lido Key

Lido Key, the smallest key off the coast of Sarasota’s mainland, is one of the ideal places for first-time visitors to stay in Sarasota. Its strategic location, connected to Downtown Sarasota by a bridge, places all tourist attractions within close proximity. Additionally, a serene white sand beach is just a few minutes away.

If you’re a first-time visitor looking to experience a bit of everything in Sarasota, Lido Key is the perfect choice. It offers the vibrant restaurants and stores of St. Armands Circle, bustling public parks with hiking paths, and tranquil beaches, making it a comprehensive destination for first-time visitors to Sarasota.

The Best Things to Do While Visiting Lido Key

Lido Key has a lot of natural attractions but not many touristic landmarks. It’s also very near to Downtown.

  • South Lido County Park is situated on this small island’s southernmost portion. It provides kayaking, hiking routes, and Hamsen Bayou birdwatching opportunities. A smaller portion of the park is made up of beaches, while the majority is made up of a more varied natural habitat with an abundance of animals.
  • St. Armands Key is virtually surrounded by Lido Key. It resembles the city core of this little island, with highways leading to Lido Key and Sarasota on the mainland. The St. Armands Circle retail district sits in the middle and is encircled by eateries and other stores.
  • Lido Beach is what makes staying on Lido Key so great. The sandy beach is the epitome of a tranquil getaway a tiny piece of paradise. Swim, unwind in the sand, and see birds in their natural habitat by coming here.

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Best Places To Stay In Lido Key

One of the tiny islands off the coast of Sarasota, the mainland is Lido Key. It’s the ideal location for visitors who wish to be close to all that matters in the city because it’s connected to Downtown Sarasota via a bridge.

Lido Beach Resort

A three-star resort on the beach, Lido Beach Resort has two outdoor pools. The hotel features three hot tubs, a fitness facility, and a private beach with a beach bar. This is one of Sarasota’s greatest hotels for a laid-back vacation that includes swimming and tanning.

Furthermore, Lido Key is the closest to the city center, making it simple to visit Downtown Sarasota’s well-known tourist sites for an enjoyable evening. This hotel starts at about $350 per night for two or three persons.

Casa Limonada Boutique Motel

Casa Limonada Boutique Motel, a property styled as a motel, is one of the recommended places for first-time visitors to stay in Sarasota. Unlike typical motels, each unit here is a modest apartment, making it a terrific alternative for families who prefer staying in flats with a full kitchen.

This unique feature, coupled with its comfortable ambiance, makes Casa Limonada Boutique Motel a great choice for first-time visitors to Sarasota. Even though it’s only a two-star motel, visitors give it very high ratings. All of the rooms have wide, comfy mattresses and are modern and tidy. The flats can accommodate up to five people, and the nightly rent is roughly $300 for two individuals.

Holiday Inn Sarasota – Lido Beach

If being extremely close to Lido Beach is important to you, Holiday Inn Sarasota is a terrific choice. One of the nicest views in Lido Key may be seen from the hotel’s half-dozen rooms, which front the Gulf of Mexico.

For those considering places for first-time visitors to stay in Sarasota, it’s important to note that this hotel, despite its great location and satisfactory services, is currently undergoing much-needed repairs. Previously, the rooms were quite old and the toilets were dilapidated. However, when they reopen for business, these issues should be resolved, potentially making it a more appealing option for first-time visitors to Sarasota.

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FAQ’s about Places for First-Time Visitors to Stay in Sarasota

1. Which Is Better: Staying in Sarasota or on Siesta Key?

If beaches are your main reason for visiting, Siesta Key, which is a portion of Sarasota, is the ideal location. If you’re more interested in tourist destinations and well-known sites, stay in central Sarasota.

2. Which Sarasota Accommodation Is The Best?

The greatest area to stay in Sarasota is in the downtown area. It’s the area with the greatest concentration of landmarks and tourist attractions.

3. Which Sarasota Beach Resorts Are the Best?

Lido Beach Resort, The Residences on Siesta Key Beach, and the Resort at Longboat Key Club are the top beach resorts in Sarasota. Every resort is located on a separate Sarasota, Florida island, or “Key.”

4. Which Sarasota Luxury Hotels Are the Best?

The Art Ovation Hotel, Sarasota Modern, and Ritz-Carlton are Sarasota’s top luxury accommodations. All are located in Downtown Sarasota, the city’s hub.


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