Before my dad moved to Sarasota from Chicago, he visited here often. I’d pick him up at Sarasota airport in the early afternoon and head south to Island Park/ Bayfront Park. We’d take a walk around the park before settling in at the O’Leary’s tiki bar for a beer and burger. It was always a great transition from the cold up North to sunny and warm Sarasota.
All Images from inhabitSarasota unless noted otherwise.
Bayfront Park is one of my favorite places in downtown Sarasota. It’s dotted with Oak trees, lined with yachts and has unparalleled views of the bay and skyline. The city of Sarasota hosts community events in the park like the Christmas Boat Parade, Easter Sunrise Service and Fourth of July fireworks. “But what else can I do?” you ask. Let’s take a look.
Boat: If a day on the water sounds good, you’re in luck! Sarasota Boat Rental offers half day or full day rentals of their skiffs, deck boats and center consoles. They also allow their boats on the Gulf, which other rentals prohibit. If jetskis are more your speed, head on over to Enticer Water Sports which is adjacent to O’Leary’s.
Play: Bayfront Park is a great place to take the kids. There is a large shaded play structure and a very popular splash park. When my two boys were young they’d play in the playground then climb the oak trees, ride their scooters and have rock skipping contests.
Chillax: Take a meander around the park and sit yourself down on a bench or swing. Watch the people in the park, and the boats with the people, or simply enjoy the view.
Eat: Super-casual O’Leary’s Tiki Bar and Grill is serving something up whenever you’re hungry. They’re open Friday and Saturday 8am-11pm, and Sunday-Thursday 8am-10pm. The menu offers typical bar food which is just ok, but the real attraction is its’ prime location on the water.
My dad lives here now, but our O’Leary’s tradition continues – bellies up to the bar, a couple of cold beers and burgers. It always feels like vacation.