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Enjoying Sarasota Without Breaking the Bank

Enjoying Sarasota Without Breaking the Bank

| Sande Caplin |

When searching for budget-friendly activities to entertain your family or visiting friends, the task can seem daunting. Living in an area ripe with expensive attractions, amusement parks, and pricey restaurants doesn’t mean you have to be left out of the fun if your budget is short on cash. By just using a little imagination and exploring places you may overlook every day on your drive to work, you can find yourself basking in the splendor of our area and you can leave your wallet at home.

The Mall at University Town Center offers a number of amenities to visitors that do not require you to purchase a thing. For starters, this gorgeous and also mammoth size structure offers a safe, bright and cool place to start your new exercise plan with ease. Their mall walking program runs Monday through Saturday at 8:00 A.M., and on Sundays at 9:00 A.M. Everybody there has the same goal in mind at that hour, so you’re not stuck behind storefront gawkers. Entrances are only located on the upper level near Macy’s or Dillard’s. While you’re at the mall, you can also enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the common areas. A nice kid’s area works well for parents whose children can burn off some steam in a safe and controlled environment. If you have visitors coming into town, UTC offers hotel shuttle service, foreign currency exchange, special discounts and more. Throughout the year, select retailers offer free activities as well, such as product exchanges, programs for kids, and computer classes. Visit for more information.

Sarasota Art Center

If you’re in need of another budget-friendly inspiration, just look to the stars! An educational and fun program, Sidewalk Astronomy, is presented by a local group, the Deep Sky Observers. Once a month in different locations around Sarasota such as Riverview High School and Lakewood Ranch, the group sets up their telescopes so attendees can view whatever is visible in the night sky on that particular evening. It’s a great way to introduce astronomy to children as well as brush up on your star-spotting skills. In addition, Deep Sky Observers also sets up for special happenings like lunar eclipses. What a wonderful way to enjoy the pleasant weather, under a star-filled Sarasota sky. For more information on their free events or membership into the group, please visit

Immerse yourself in the vibrant arts scene that Sarasota offers, and don’t worry, you don’t have to attend pricey art galas or pay visitor rates for entry to amazing art museums and galleries. Visit the galleries at Sarasota Art Center, free of charge, and absorb the inspiration that fills the air. Innovative exhibitions are waiting for visitors’ interpretations. New events this year provide interactive experiences where visitors can add their expertise to chalk creations. This is a great venue to check out local, new, and seasoned artists, and an outlet to stay on top of what’s hip and new in the art world. Sarasota Art Center relies on membership and volunteerism to continue to serve the community. For more information on the facility, classes, and upcoming events, please visit

The Sarasota Celery Fields offer a unique perspective on Florida’s agricultural history, but the best aspects of this area that is set aside for water testing and recreational use by the public, are the hundreds of varieties of birds, wildlife and native plants that can be viewed there. Whereas, celery did once grow on the fields that are near Interstate 75, now the Celery Fields are prominently known for their location on the Great Florida Birding Trail. This place offers an amazing venue for an enjoyable day of bird-watching and communing with nature. Or, plug in the earbuds, crank up the tunes and get your cardio on. Don’t expect big crowds or an overload of activities, it’s just a beautiful spot of nature, where a sandwich and a good book make the perfect company on a sunny day if you’re not looking to walk or bird watch.

Don’t forget about Mondays at Ringling which are free and always a nice way to begin the work week, when you don’t have to work that is! If you have visitors in town, this is a great opportunity to introduce them to one of Sarasota’s finest attractions without considering budgets. Free Mondays at Ringling include admission to the Museum of Art, and to special exhibits.

You need not look far for dollar-stretching adventures that lie around every corner. It just takes a little ingenuity to find amazing venues to visit and new places to explore that won’t break the bank. Here’s your mission for this week: Try one or two of the inexpensive activities we’ve listed below and if there are other free or nearly free events that you enjoy around town, please let us know!

Things to do in Sarasota

Photos: Ringling Museum, Sarasota, FL courtesy of Rictor Norton and David Allen on Flickr, commercial use allowed
Blue winged teal Sarasota Celery Fields Feb, courtesy of Russ on Flickr, commercial use allowed
Sarasota Art Center courtesy of Clyde Robinson on Flickr, commercial use allowed

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