Beach time and bay kayaking arent the only things to do when visiting Sarasota, Fla. The city is also known for its circus heritage, shopping and support infrastructure for families traveling with children, grandparents and even pets.
SUPPORT Speaking of dogs, the community has a fair amount of canine infrastructure available to support those traveling with four-legged friends. At Yoders restaurant, we opted to dine outside on the patio near the sturdy pole fence where we could secure our pooch. While my husband and I enjoyed a slice of homemade rhubarb pie, a dish of hard vanilla ice cream kept our overly-rambunctious Labrador entertained long enough for us to eat in peace. Similarly, at OLearys bar we experienced a casual waterfront meal with Maggie in tow by opting to sit at one of the outdoor picnic tables. An extra order of fries, fed to her one at a time, distracted her while we listened to live tunes over veggie burgers and iced tea.
Hotel Indigo provides a boutique atmosphere and pet-friendly hospitality with a dog wing thats just steps away from the wine bar, bistro and fitness center. This proximity to the venues amenities allowed us to make major progress with our dogs separation anxiety and actually enjoy cocktails together as a couple. While we normally have to tag team any time we spend away from the room when we travel with her, by the end of our visit she was comfortable being on her own for up to 35 minutes. If she got nervous and started to bark, we could literally be back to the room in seconds, avoiding any true disruption for other guests. While the $85 pet deposit is a tad steep for those staying only one night, the cost per day feels a bit more incidental when staying for a longer period of time.
ACTIVITIES When exploring activities where pet participation may not be appropriate, doggie day care is available at Bayside Pet Resort for $20 per day, with half-day rates ringing in at $12. Fun family outings in Sarasota include dolphin cruises, the science museum and an afternoon at the Mote Aquarium. Not to be missed is a day of circus history at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. The venue is well-suited to traveling with the grandparents as well, with plenty of rest benches, bathrooms and a tram that runs between the museums three main attractions. Highlights include the miniature circus exhibit, a collection of vintage costumes, the ornate Ringling mansion and the familys private train residence known as the Wisconsin Car. Its pure steampunk on steroids. Also on display is the miniature clown car used by the legendary Lou Jacobs himself.