2 In Lifestyle

A Day at Bayfront Park

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.

Bayfront Park Sarasota Arch

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.

Run: A loop around Bayfront Park (1) is a must for anyone who likes to run along the water. This route starts on the sidewalk just south of Bayfront Park, winds through the park and continues north past Marina Jacks over the Ringling Bridge. I usually turn around at the Bird Key stop light (2) which is about a two mile run. If the endorphins are flowing and you must go on, continue straight to St. Armand’s Circle (3) for another mile or so. Enjoy a cold drink at the Starbucks on the Circle before heading back.

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.

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  • Reply
    Denise Duquette
    August 6, 2020 at 9:04 pm

    I love this park. The cool breeze and large open area are great for doing yoga, Qigong and Tai Chi. Sometimes people will set up aerial yoga swings. After all this was the circus town at one time, and the energy still prevails.

    • Reply
      Raeanne Malone
      September 14, 2020 at 6:51 pm

      I agree 100%!I love starting a walk at the park and then heading over the bridge.

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