Sarasota or Naples for Vacation? An Honest Comparison to Help You Choose

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Sarasota or Naples for vacation?🏖 If you are planning a family, spring break or a romantic vacation to these amazing beach paradises of the Sunshine State for the first time,then you are bound to have this question.

Both Sarasota and Naples feature amongst the best beach vacation destinations in the Us owing to their spectacular white sandy beaches, rich wildlife, picturesque landscapes, exotic seafood, adventure activities and rich history and cultural attractions. So, which destination is best amongst the two?

Sarasota is an ideal beach vacation destination for families with children or couples looking for a laid-back atmosphere with plenty of beach activities, nature trails, and fine arts and theatre culture. If you want livelier beaches with luxurious beachfront resorts, fine dining options, magnificent golf courses, high-end shopping malls, and a vibrant nightlife, Naples is the place to be.

ParametersSarasotaNaples
Cost of a7-day Trip$3908 (For a couple)$2471 (For a couple)
Known forPristine beaches, Ringling Art museum, Fine arts and theater culture, Exotic Keys, nature trails, Cultural heritagesPristine beaches, Luxurious beachfront hotels & resorts, beautiful sunsets, fine dining, world-class golf courses, upscale shopping malls, Museums
BeachesUnspoilt to moderately commercialized family friendly beaches with tranquil vibesHighly commercialized beaches with luxurious hotels and beach activities and a livelier vibe
ActivitiesHiking, Snorkeling, Canoeing, Kayaking, shelling, Cultural and Historical tours Golfing, Hiking, Surfing, paddleboarding, Fishing, Snorkeling, Eco tour
Popular Tourist AttractionsRingling Art museum, Marie Selby Botanical Garden, Siesta key beach, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, Sarasota opera houseNaples Pier, Lowdermilk Park, 5th Avenue South, Naples Zoo, Naples Depot Museum, Naples Botanical Garden
Best Place to StayDowntown, Rosemary District, Lido Key, Longboat Key, and Siesta KeyOld Naples, Fifth Avenue South, Coquina sands, Pelican bay, Naples sands

Sarasota or Naples for vacation: Which is better?

What is Sarasota known for?

One of the best beach destinations in Southwest Florida, Sarasota is located between Tampa Bay to the north and St. Petersburg to the south on the Gulf of Mexico and is known for its stunning Keys, white sand beaches, turquoise blue-green waters, exotic seafood, cultural and environmental amenities and the world’s largest circus museum.

What is Naples Florida known for?

Naples, also known as the Jewel of Florida’s paradise coast in the southwest, is known for its spectacular white sandy beaches, beautiful sunsets, luxurious beachfront resorts, fine dining options, upscale shopping malls, world-class golf courses, and is one of the wealthiest and best cities in the United States for senior citizens.

⛱ Related article: Is Naples Florida Worth Visiting? 10 Good Reasons why you must visit?

Sarasota vs Naples: Beaches🏖

Both Sarasota and Naples have miles of spectacular coastlines with some of the world’s best beaches, with white powdery sands that disappear into the azure blue-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Although both of these beach destinations are on the Gulf of Mexico on Florida’s southwest coast, they are distinct in their own right and offer a diverse range of experiences for all types of travellers.

Sarasota

If you’re looking for a relaxed and laid-back family-friendly or romantic beach experience with plenty of activities like nature trails, eco tours, and wildlife spotting and plenty of amenities, Sarasota’s beaches are a great place to visit.

Sarasota, which is surrounded by six magnificent Keys on the Gulf of Mexico, is home to some of the most spectacular beaches, catering to the desires of every type of traveller, from solo travellers to family vacationers to couples seeking a romantic getaway.

Each Key on the Sarasota coast is distinct in its own right, offering a diverse range of experiences ranging from laid-back beaches to livelier ones.

Best beaches in Sarasota
Siesta Key
Siesta Key Beach
Image by Mickey Luigi Logitmark via Wikimedia Commons

The Siesta Key beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, known for its soft sugary white sand and turquoise blue-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

A stroll along the beach is all it takes to be captivated by its breathtaking beauty, stunning sunsets, and picturesque setting of the Siesta Key beach.

Lido Key
Lido Key
Image by Fred Hsu via Wikimedia Commons

Lido Beach, located on Lido Key, is one of Sarasota’s most interesting and diverse waterfront destinations. The beach at Lido is divided into three sections, each with its own distinct feature.

North Lido beach is a good place to look for seashells and sand dollars, while Lido beach is great for swimming and has lifeguards on duty all year round.

South Lido beach has an excellent picnic area shaded by picnic trees, a walking trail, and a canoe launching spot, making it ideal for families with children.

Turtle beach
Turtle beach

Turtle Beach is the place to be if you want to spend some relaxing and tranquil time under the sun while admiring the magnificent views of the Gulf of Mexico.

The beach got its name from the thousands of sea turtles that come to lay their eggs on the beach at certain times of the year.

Turtle Beach also has amenities such as a campground where you can park your RV or pitch a tent, restrooms, a beach volleyball pit, and a kayak launch.

Nokomis beach
Nokomis beach

The Nokomis beach on Casey Key is a great place to spend a day soaking up some Vitamin D while enjoying spectacular sea views.

The beach also has a boardwalk along the back end for those who want to enjoy the beauty of the waves rolling on the beach without getting their feet dirty.

Venice beach
Venice Beach

Venice Beach, located on Venice Island, is one of the smallest beaches in Sarasota, with a snack bar, restrooms, and a picnic area, and is a great place to spend time with your family.

Naples

Naples is an excellent beach vacation destination if you’re looking for vibrant beaches with party vibes and luxurious beachfront accommodations, stunning sunsets, thrilling beach activities, golf, exquisite dining options, high-end shopping, and plenty of sightseeing opportunities and opportunities to explore Naples’ rich history and culture.

Best beaches in Naples Florida
Naples Pier
Naples Pier

A visit to Naples would be incomplete without taking in the breathtaking sunset on the Naples Pier. Naples Pier is an exquisite synthesis of well-preserved history and natural beauty. It was constructed in 1888 to serve as a freight passenger dock.

Naples Pier extends more than a mile into the pristine Gulf of Mexico and is renowned for its spectacular sunset views. Naples Pier’s sunset scene is one of the best in the world.

Additionally, the Pier is a popular spot for fishing, watching dolphins swim close to the shore, and taking in the Gulf of Mexico’s beauty with your partner or family.

If you become hungry after all the beach activities, head straight to one of the numerous food establishments that line the Naples Pier for a mouth-watering plate of freshly caught seafood.

Delnor-Wiggins State Park
delnor wiggins state park

This beach is great for couples and families who want to escape the Naples Pier’s hubbub. The fine white sand beach of Delnor is ideal for sunbathing, fishing, and snorkelling alike.

Nature lovers will delight in the park’s nature trail, which showcases a variety of native and exotic bird species that frequent the area’s state parks.

Vanderbilt beach
Vanderbilt beach

For a stunning sunset and soft sugary sand with turquoise waters, head to Naples’ Vanderbilt beach along the coast. Vanderbilt beach is a great place to go for a walk on the beach, go shelling, or just watch the beautiful birds that come to the beach every morning.

Keewaydin island beach
Keewaydin island beach

Keewaydin Island, located between Naples and Marco Island, is only accessible by boat due to its remote location deep in the Gulf of Mexico. Keewaydin beach is one of Naples’ undeveloped beaches, which appeals to tourists who appreciate beaches that remain untouched by human intervention and are more in tune with nature.

Dog beach park
dog beach park

The Dog Beach Park is a haven for both dogs and their owners. The beach is meticulously maintained to ensure that our four-legged friends have the best beach experience possible.

The beach’s shallow waters make it safe for both older and smaller dogs to swim alongside their owners. You are required to clean up after your dogs, and the beach also provides doggy showers and poop bags.

Sarasota vs Naples: Accomodation options🏨

Both Sarasota and Naples offer fantastic beachfront accommodations and neighbourhoods with an abundance of cultural and historical attractions as well as mouth-watering seafood.

If you’re visiting these incredible beach destinations for the first time, it can be overwhelming to choose the best place to stay among the hundreds of options.

Sarasota

If you’re visiting Sarasota for the first time, Downtown Sarasota is the best place to stay because it provides access to the entire Sarasota area, which includes hiking trails, cultural attractions, and numerous outdoor activities.

Siesta Key is the best destination for families with children because it is a major tourist attraction in Sarasota and is home to numerous beachfront hotels and resorts that are family-friendly and offer amenities such as dog parks, nature trails, beach showers, cafes, and beautiful beaches with lifeguards.

If you are an adventurous type who enjoys the beach, Lido Key and Longboat Keys offer some of the best lodging options in the area, with thrilling beach activities just minutes from your room.

Naples

Old Naples is without a doubt the best place to stay for first-time visitors to Naples. Old Naples is Naples’ most popular tourist district, owing to its proximity to the iconic Naples Pier and its abundance of accommodation options ranging from budget to luxury apartments.

If you’re travelling with children, Coquina Sands offers some of Naples’ most family-friendly accommodations. Coquina Sands is surrounded by family-friendly parks, beaches, and museums, and is just minutes from Naples Zoo.

For couples seeking the ultimate romantic experience, Pelican Bay and Naples Park are two of Naples’ most upscale neighbourhoods, where you can spend your entire day in utmost luxury and be pampered by exceptional hospitality. They are also home to the city’s most upscale shopping malls.

Accomodation typeSarasotaNaples
Budget $105$83
Mid-range $215$190
Luxury$333$367

Sarasota vs Naples: Food🍤

Food Sarasota or Naples for vacation

Your trip to these beautiful beach destinations would be incomplete if you did not sample the freshly caught mouth-watering seafood cuisines straight from the Gulf of Mexico.

Given their locations on Florida’s Southwest coast, it’s no surprise that both of these destinations are known for having some of the best seafood cuisines in the country.

Fine dining options abound in both Sarasota and Naples, ranging from authentic Floridian seafood dishes to Italian and Asian cuisine. While both have a similar culinary culture, Naples has more diverse restaurants, cafes, bistros, and hotels that offer a wider range of cuisines from budget eateries to fine dining establishments.

Comparison of average cost of food💵

Food itemsSarasotaNaples
Meal (Inexpensive restaurant)$18$16
Meal for two (Mid-range restaurant)$65$85
Beer$4.5-$6$4-$6
Cappuccino$4.76$4.25

Sarasota or Naples for family vacation?👨‍👩‍👧‍👦

Family vacation Sarasota or Naples

I’m sure many of you would be completely perplexed as to where to go on a family vacation. If you find yourself in this situation, you are not alone.

Many people planning a family vacation find it difficult to choose between the two because both offer pristine beaches, beautiful sunsets, rich wildlife tours, adventure activities, excellent dining options, and plenty of cultural and sightseeing opportunities for tourists.

So, which is preferable for a family vacation?

In comparison to Naples, Sarasota is unquestionably a great family vacation destination. Sarasota is known as Florida’s arts and culture capital, and it is home to some of the world’s best arts and cultural museums. There are also more family-friendly beaches with plenty of activities for you and your children.

Naples, without a doubt, has some of the best golfing, shopping, and dining options in Florida, but the title of most wealthy city in the US’ and safest city for retirees’ has made it one of the most expensive vacation destinations in the world, catering more to adults seeking a more vibrant atmosphere.

👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Related article: Destin vs Panama City Beach for Family Vacation? An Honest comparison to Help you Decide!!

Sarasota or Naples for Honeymoon?👩🏻‍❤️‍💋‍👨🏼

Honeymoon Sarasota or Naples

Naples is unquestionably a superior honeymoon destination to Sarasota. Naples, as one of the wealthiest cities in the United States and a playground for the super-rich, is home to some of the best secluded pristine beaches, luxurious beachfront hotels, restaurants, world-class golf courses, adventure activities, and the best wildlife tours in Florida.

Naples is close to the Marco and Captiva islands, which have been dubbed the most desired honeymoon destinations in the United States. For couples seeking the ultimate in romantic beach experiences and luxury, a honeymoon on Marco island will be one of the most memorable experiences of their lives.

💘Related article: Sanibel Island vs Marco Island: An Honest Comparison to Help You Choose

Things to do in Sarasota🏛

Ringling Art Museum🎪

John and Mable Ringling Art Museum Courtyard Aerial

Aside from its spectacular Keys, pristine beaches, and abundant wildlife, the magnificent Ringling Art Museum is what has truly put Sarasota on the map.

It would not be an exaggeration to call the Ringling Art Museum the “World’s Greatest Circus Museum.” The Ringling Museum is named after the Ringling Brothers, the founders of the iconic Circus dubbed “The Greatest Show on Earth,” and the museum itself bears witness to this.

The museum has 21 art galleries filled with American art, Asian art, contemporary art, European paintings, and ancient artefacts donated by Mable and especially John Ringling, who donated the majority of his personal art collection to the museum.

The Ringling Museum has a total of 10,000 objects, including a Circus museum with the most Circus memorabilia and art anywhere, Greek and Roman baroque, decorative arts, paintings, rare photographs, and a world-renowned collection of Rubens paintings.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens🌸

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens Sarasota,Florida

The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, located in the Hudson Bayou neighbourhood of Sarasota, is one of the city’s most popular attractions.

This magnificent garden is located on the grounds of Marie and William Selby’s former home, who began this magnificent task of preserving 20,000 plants representing 6000 species.

The garden is especially dedicated to collecting and preserving epiphytes such as Bromeliads and orchids, and it has the world’s most diverse collection of Bromeliads.

If you are a nature lover, learning about the local flora and fauna will be a real treat for you.

Ca d’Zan Mansion🏡

Cà_d'Zan_bayside_façade

 This magnificent mansion was once home to John and Mable Ringling, the founders of the iconic world famous circus ‘The Greatest Show on Earth.’

The Ca d’Zan mansion is a work of art in its own right, with Venetian Gothic architecture and elegant interiors. The magnificent mansion, which features 16th century style roofs, artwork, and a waterfront location, represents the Ringlings’ love for Venice, Italy’s “Canal City.”

Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium🐠

Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium
Image by Will Pittenger on Wikimedia Commons

The Mote Marine Laboratory is a wonderful treat for your family’s budding biologists and true animal lovers. The Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, part research facility, part aquarium, is home to 100 marine species such as sea turtles, otters, and manatees.

There are nine exhibits in the Laboratory, including two interactive areas and a 135,000 gallon shark tank.

If this isn’t enough, there’s also a tenth exhibit with American crocodiles, alligators, and Caimans.

Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary🐅

Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary

Who wouldn’t want to get a close look at these majestic and ferocious big cats? At Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary, you will not only be able to see lions, tigers, bears, and chimps, but you will also be able to feed them with your own hands and learn about these magnificent species from experts.

If you’re travelling with children, stop by the petting zoo, where they can feed goats and Llamas and learn about the importance of wildlife conservation.

Manatee Village Historical Park🏘

Manatee Village Historical Park

The Manatee Village Historical Park transports you to 19th century Sarasota, right past a 1913 locomotive affectionately known as “Old Cabbage Head” by locals.

The park includes a pre-Civil War courthouse, an 1887 church, a one-room schoolhouse, an old Florida wooden house, and the Sugarcane Mill and Smoke house.

The Park contains 14 landmarks in total, each of which bears witness to a time when Florida was one of America’s new frontiers.

Things to do in Naples

Cruise on the Gulf – ‘Tiki Style’🛥

Tiki-style cruise Naples

Imagine sitting in your bar stool and taking in the beauty of Naples Bay and Bonito Island Bay. Yes, and you won’t have to give up your favorite beverage either.

Tiki-style cruises allow you to do the same thing while chatting with your friends or family while relaxing on your bar stool. With their ability to sail the seas and offer breathtaking views of Naples Bay, tiki-style cruises are like floating bars on the water.

Enjoy a round of Golf🏌🏻‍♂️

Golf Naples

Naples is truly deserving of the moniker “Golf Capital of the World,” with its hundreds of immaculately maintained golf courses featuring contoured greens and strategically placed hazards. The magnificent Gulf views serve as a backdrop to these golf courses, elevating your golfing experience to new heights.

With over 90 immaculately maintained golf courses located throughout the city, Naples truly is a ‘Golfers Paradise.’

Best Golf Courses⛳ in Naples, Florida-

  1. Hammock Bay Golf Course
  2. Glen Eagle Golf and Country Club
  3. Heritage Bay Golf and Country Club
  4. Bonita Bay
  5. Riviera Golf Club
  6. Cedar Hammock Golf and Country Club

Naples Holocaust Museum🏛

Naples-Holocaust-museum1

The Naples Holocaust Museum is dedicated to exhibiting and preserving one-of-a-kind works of art from the Holocaust era, illuminating one of humanity’s darkest periods. The museums provide a glimpse into the times and lives of the people during World War II through restored photographs, paintings, and artifacts from the concentration camps.

Naples Depot Museum🚂

Depot_Museum(1)

If you enjoy trains and enjoy nerding out about train trivia in front of your friends and family, the Naples Depot museum is a great place to spend a day exploring vintage train models and decommissioned engines that were once a part of the city’s early transportation system.

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary🐊

Corkscrew-Swamp-Sanctuary

The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary serves as the entrance to one of the world’s largest wetlands, The Everglades National Park. The sanctuary spans 13000 acres and is home to magnificent wetlands, pine Flatwoods, sawgrass prairies, and a freshwater slough that draws water south from Lake Okeechobee.

The sanctuary protects the endangered Virgin Bald Cypress Forest (700 acres), which was once home to the endangered Wood Stork’s nesting colony. Apart from birds, the Corkscrew sanctuary is home to several endangered species of animals, including the Florida panther, American alligator, gopher tortoise, Florida sandhill crane, Roseate spoonbill, and Florida bear.

The sanctuary’s best feature is the 2.25-mile boardwalk that leads directly into the heart of the sanctuary, which is surrounded by beautiful pinewood trees, wet prairie, and North America’s largest old-growth bald cypress forest.

The best shopping experience on the Paradise Coast🛍

Naples-shopping

Shopping in Naples, Florida is unlike any other experience. Naples is home to the most upscale shopping malls and boutiques on the Paradise Coast, a reflection of the city’s wealth.

Naples has the highest concentration of millionaires of any city in Florida, as it is home to some of the wealthiest people in America. As a result, it’s unsurprising that Naples’ shopping scene is so upscale and glamorous.

If you’re looking to shop for everything from high-end clothing to locally made jewellery, head straight to Downtown Naples, the city’s primary shopping destination. If you enjoy antiques and unique items, pay a visit to the incredible pawn shops and antique stores on Third Street South in Naples.

If you enjoy outdoor shopping and are willing to stretch your budget, head straight to the prestigious shopping malls in The Waterside Shops, The Village Shops on Venetian Bay, or Mercato, which will satisfy your every desire.

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About the author
Aditya Bhosale
Hello there. For the past five years, I have worked as a travel blogger, photographer, and digital marketer. I packed my backpack, pulled up my socks, and have been wandering around the world wherever the roads lead me since quitting my mundane 9 to 5 job.

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