Fun things to do indoors in Sarasota and Manatee counties
We've updated our list of fun indoor activities in Sarasota and Manatee counties to include the area's new inflatable park, which includes a "zip rail roller coaster." So, there's that. Plus 20 more options for a rainy day, or when the Florida heat is simply too much!
Play like a kid at Livingston's
Regardless if you're teen or a grandparent, you will find something fun to do at Livingston's Amusement Center. The 50,000 square-foot space features go-karts, bumper cars, arcade, billiards, and a full bar with pub grub. 5947 Clark Center Ave., Sarasota; 941-925-7665; livingstonsamusements.com
Go on a laser tag mission at Armageddon
Looking for some real-life action similar to video games like "Call of Duty"? Here's your place. Armageddon is an indoor tactical laser tag facility that will simulate combat mission scenarios. 8201 South Tamiami Trail, Suite #91; Sarasota; 941-876-3338; armageddonlasertag.com
Ice skate at Ellenton Ice
Escape the rain, or beat the summer heat, by spending time on the ice right here in tropical Southwest Florida. Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex features two NHL-sized rinks plus an indoor soccer/football field, fitness center, video game room, concessions area, birthday party rooms, pro shop and massage therapy. There are public skate sessions throughout the week with other options including joining a hockey league or figure skating. The venue is also home to the Bradentucky Bombers flat track derby team. 5309 29th St. E., Ellenton; 941-723-3663; ellentonice.com
Admire an antique at the Classic Car Museum
One of the oldest antique car museums in the country dating back to 1953 as “Horns’ Cars of Yesterday,” Sarasota Classic Car Museum features over 75 automobiles including Alfa Romeo, Bentley, Cadillac, DeLorean, Edsel and Ferrari. 5500 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota; 941-355-6228; sarasotacarmuseum.org
Roller skate at Astro Skate
Family owned and operated in Florida for nearly four decades, Astro Skate’s Bradenton roller skating rink also contains bounce houses, a cafe and arcade games. 3611 Third St. W., Bradenton; 941-747-8602; astroskatingcenter.com
Explore outer space and more at The Bishop
The largest natural and cultural history museum on the state’s Gulf Coast, Bishop Museum of Science and Nature (formerly South Florida Museum) offers permanent and temporary exhibits as well as engaging educational programs for children of all ages. The museum also includes the all-digital Planetarium for outer space explorations and more as well as the The Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat. 201 10th St. W., Bradenton; 941-746-4131; bishopscience.org
Learn about our circus culture and more at The Ringling
Sarasota's most iconic attraction, The Ringling has a museum filled with galleries of works by old masters, contemporary art and exhibitions from around the world. Although the Circus Museum is closed for renovations, visitors can still enjoy interactive galleries and the impressive Howard Bros. Circus Model, which recreates the vintage big top experience with over 44,000-pieces, at the Tibbals Learning Center. Pro tip: Every Monday the Museum of Art is free to the public. Regular admission pricing applies, though, if you wish to visit the Ca’d’Zan. 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota; 941-359-5700; ringling.org
Shop, dine and people watch at Red Barn
Bradenton’s Red Barn is definitely not your typical flea market, with plaza shops, food courts, bar (yes, you can walk around with that cold beer) and live entertainment in the 80,000 square-foot air-conditioned indoor area. 1707 First St., Bradenton; 941-747-3794; redbarnfleamarket.com
Jump for joy at a trampoline park
Feeling cooped up? Jump around, play dodge ball(!) and much more at the local trampoline park. There’s the recently opened DEFY location at 7385 52nd Place E., Bradenton (941-900-4484 or visit defy.com/bradenton) and their parent company, CircusTrix, is also the parent company of Sky Zone Trampoline Park, which has a location at 6180 Edgelake Drive, Sarasota. (941-363-6359; skyzone.com/sarasota also).
Jump for joy at an inflatable park
Locally owned and operated Jumpin Fun Sports (7321 Trade Court in Lakewood Ranch;941-388-5867; jfipark.com) has reopened as Jumpin Fun Inflata Park, billed as "the largest inflatable adventure park in the U.S.A., including 15 interactive elements of excitement covering 15,000 square feet. JFI Park also features a 250' Zip Rail Coaster."
Gamble, legally, at One Eyed Jack's
Housed inside the Sarasota Kennel Club that no longer hosts dog racing, features 35 poker tables with live action cash games and tournaments offered daily. Plus there's a restaurant, bar and perks such as table-side beverage service and table-side massages. 5400 Bradenton Road, Sarasota; 941-355-7744; sarasotakennelclub.com
Take a trolley ride with Discover Sarasota
Discover Sarasota Tours offers daily tours in an air-conditioned trolley featuring intriguing events from Sarasota’s rich past including tiki trivia, circus tours and an “infamous Sarasota” happy hour tour. DST Trolley Depot, 1825 Fourth St. Sarasota. Info: 941-260-9818 or discoversarasotatours.com
Tour Siesta Key Rum’s distillery
Siesta Key Rum, one of the most acclaimed distilleries in the country and producer of the delicious Siesta Key Coffee Rum being released April 27, offers free tours that take about 45 to 55 minutes depending on the number of questions and — here’s the best part — at the end of the tour they pour free samples, with Siesta Key Rum available for purchase by the bottle in the gift shop. Siesta Key Rum is at 2212 Industrial Blvd. in Sarasota. For more information on taking a tour call 941-702-8143 or visit siestakeyrum.com/tours.
Learn about Cortezians at Florida Maritime Museum
Nestled in the in the historic fishing village of Cortez, The Florida Maritime Museum (4415 119th St. W., Cortez; 941-708-6120; floridamaritimemuseum.org) does an outstanding job of preserving the state's fishing heritage right by where commercial fishing boats continue to unload their fresh fish, which can be eaten dockside at Star Fish Co. (12306 46th Ave. W., 941-794-1243; starfishcompany.com)
Try to bowl 100
OK, even if you can't bowl triple digits, there's plenty of fun to be had. For instance, the newly revamped and rebranded Bowlero Bradenton (4208 Cortez Road W. ) offers signature blacklight bowling, an interactive arcade as well as many food and beverage options. The same company operates Gulf Gate Lanes at 7221 S. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota as well as AMF Venice Lanes at 1100 U.S. 41 Bypass S., Venice. There’s also the family-owned Sarasota Lanes at 2250 Fruitville Road, just east of downtown Sarasota.
See a blockbuster in style at CineBistro
There are many nice local theaters showing new movies but CineBistro offers the only luxury experience. Sip craft cocktails and nibble on high-end appetizers at the bar and tables before the show and then eat a steak or other fine-dining entrees and dessert while inside the theater, seated in a ridiculously comfortable recliner, sipping, say a fine glass of pinot noir. 3501 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota; 941-361-2456; cinebistro.com/sarasota
Catch an art film at Burns Court Cinemas
If you're looking for an indie flick not playing elsewhere, the next Oscar contender for best foreign language film or an enlightening documentary, then Burn Court Cinemas is your spot, with three auditoriums right in downtown Sarasota.
Escape an escape room
You know the drill. Have some fun with family, friends or complete strangers using your collective critical thinking skills to break free of the themed room in less than an hour (typically). There are now several escape rooms in the area following the success of Escape Countdown, which opened a few years ago. 6526 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota; 941-202-5288; escapecountdown.com
Have an underwater adventure at Mote Marine
Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, the research institution founded in 1955, recently unveiled virtual reality pods that transport guests out to sea to swim with humpback whales or travel through a shark-infested shipwreck in the Bahamas. Also while at Mote, don't forget to do some real life stuff like seeing the sharks, manatees and sea turtles, and touching the stingrays. 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota; 941-388-4441; mote.org
Shop, dine and people watch at UTC
The Mall at University Town Center offers top-shelf fashion, dining and, yes, people watching at places like anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue, home to its own swanky restaurant and lounge Sophie's. 140 University Town Center Drive, Sarasota; mallatutc.com
Day drink at a local brewery
There are about a dozen breweries spread across Sarasota and Manatee counties, all worth Ubering to for an afternoon of IPAs, porters and perhaps some beautiful beer geek conversations.