Road Trip from Anna Maria Island to Sarasota, FL

Taking a road trip through Florida is one of the best ways to experience the Sunshine State. Since so many of the state’s major destinations are within a quick drive of each other, you’ll be able to see several incredible cities all in just one day! One of the best Florida road trips to consider is a drive from Anna Maria Island to Sarasota. 

Traveling to Sarasota

When you want to get from Anna Maria Island to Sarasota, there are several options for getting there. Suppose you have to fly into the area for your vacation. In that case, chances are that you’ll fly right into Sarasota anyway since the convenient Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport is the closest major airport to AMI. You can either rent a car at this point or hire a car service to get you to Anna Maria Island.

However, when you’re coming into Sarasota for fun, you’re going to want to head to downtown Sarasota, which doesn’t take you down the same route as traveling to and from the airport. 

How Far Away is Sarasota from Anna Maria Island?

car in movement driving to anna maria island

To get from Anna Maria Island to Sarasota, the journey is only about 21 miles, which typically takes about 40 minutes to drive. You can make it to Sarasota early in the morning, grab a delicious breakfast, spend the whole day exploring the sites, and still make it back home to Anna Maria Island by dinner!

Starting in Anna Maria Island, you’ll want to make your way east on 50th Street toward 2nd Avenue. You’ll then make your way onto FL-64 E/Manatee Avenue and stay on this road for 4.6 miles. Turn right onto 75th Street W and continue for 3.3 miles. At the traffic circle, take the first exit onto El Conquistador Parkway. You’ll come to another traffic circle after 1.8 miles, where you’ll want to take the second exit to stay on El Conquistador Parkway for another 1.4 miles.

Continue onto Bayshore Gardens Parkway for 1.3 miles before turning right onto US-41 S. Stay on this road for 5.9 miles, then at the traffic circle, take the second exit onto N Tamiami Trail. You’ll reach yet another traffic circle in 0.4 miles, where you’ll take the third exit onto 10th Street. Then, just turn right onto N Washington Boulevard and left onto Main Street in Sarasota!

Things to Do in Sarasota

Now that you’ve made it to Sarasota, you’re going to want to check out all the best things to do in town. There’s a little something for everyone here, from nature sites and historical museums to beaches, family activities, tours, and more. This list is just the beginning of some of the most exciting things to do in Sarasota!

To get up close and personal with some of the most fascinating wildlife, make your way to Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary. (Note that this is not the Big Cat Rescue associated with Carole Baskin of Tiger King; that facility is located in Tampa.) Big Cat Habitat was founded in 1987 by Kay Rosaire and her family and has faithfully served the area. Here, you’ll find more than 150 incredible species of both domestic and exotic animals. You can observe from afar or get up close and personal with their awesome animal encounters! Big Cat Habitat is open Wednesday through Sunday from 12 noon to 4 p.m.

tiger at big cat habitat in sarasota

Sarasota is also home to The Ringling, a vast estate home of circus legend John Ringling and his wife, Mable. While there are several different portions of this establishment, the Museum of Art is one piece you certainly don’t want to miss! The gallery first opened in 1930 and has since housed 21 stunning artwork galleries from Ringling’s permanent collection. Several galleries are currently being restored, but there is still plenty to see for a fun afternoon excursion.

What would a vacation to Sarasota be like without spending some time at the beach? Out of all the fantastic stretches of shoreline here, we definitely recommend you spend some time at South Lido Beach. You’ll find 100 acres of coastal habitats throughout South Lido Park, and you’ll always have beautiful views of the Gulf of Mexico and Sarasota Bay. Whether you want to sunbathe, splash around in the water, or watch the beautiful local birds as they fly by, you can do it all right here at South Lido Beach. 

Places to Eat

raw tuna on a plate

While you’re in town, you’re sure to get hungry! Whether you’re searching for a classic American breakfast, a quick seafood lunch, a delicious global dinner, or a sweet treat for dessert, you can find it all here in Sarasota. There are countless local restaurants in Sarasota to suit every palate or budget. Still, these are a few of our stand-out options.

Big Water Fish Market might just sound like a place where you can grab some fish to prepare for dinner, but you can actually enjoy a great meal right here! They only serve the freshest local seafood, and you can taste the difference right there on the plate. Big Water Fish Market has about every variety of seafood imaginable, from shrimp and crab to scallops, grouper, oysters, tuna, pompano, snapper, cobia, and so much more! They also have delicious specials every day of the week for a truly memorable meal.

If you’re searching for something a bit more upscale to have a romantic dinner or celebrate a special occasion, look no further than Michael’s on East. They’ve been serving locals and visitors to Sarasota since 1987 and offer mouthwatering dishes in a simply breathtaking setting. The menus change every month to take advantage of the freshest ingredients. Still, you can always rest assured that the dishes will be globally inspired and thoughtfully prepared. Be sure to ask your wait staff for a recommendation on the best wine to complement your meal!

Finally, for all the most delicious seafood in a more casual setting, you can’t go wrong with a trip to Antoine’s. Antoine’s was established back in 1840, making it the oldest family-run restaurant in the country! Today, this establishment is still serving up the Creole classics that guests have come to love, from Creole shrimp and classic fish amandine to pompano pontchartrain and more. Don’t miss out on some of Antoine’s bread pudding or jubilee cheesecake for dessert!

Where to Stay

Sarasota is a truly stunning destination, and with so many fun activities and attractions, you might find that you need more than one day to explore it all! You don’t have to stay right in Sarasota to experience everything, though. Staying in one of our Anna Maria Island vacation rentals is the perfect way to grant yourself some relaxation and privacy while still being just a short drive away from Sarasota. There’s also plenty to see and do on AMI, from the gorgeous beaches and delicious restaurants to unique shopping and exciting history. Suppose you’re wanting a vacation where you can truly leave your worries behind and simply unwind with your loved ones. In that case, Anna Maria Island is the place to be! Contact us today to learn more about our vacation rentals on AMI!