Smart phones and social media have made everyone a photographer. Not that I’m complaining! The endless stream of Insta photos gives me both curated and candid views of places all around the globe – some already on my bucket list, others I hadn’t considered, and even more I didn’t know existed!
Honestly, though, certain spots are just more Instagrammable than others. And that begs the question: If it’s not Insta-worthy, is it worth a taking a photo? While I hope your answer to that is YES (for the memories!) I do personally delete most of my shots that don’t make it to either Instagram or Facebook, because, let’s face it, who has that much storage space on their phones?! Amiright?
But that whole #ilivewhereyouvacation thing, that was kinda my life for over 5 years when I lived in Florida. During that time, I took LOTS of photos of sights I think are pretty Insta-worthy. Here are my top places to take photos in Sarasota, FL (the place I used to call home). And—bonus!—they’re (mostly) free!
It would be grossly irresponsible of me not to include Siesta Beach on this list. It was named this year’s #1 beach in the U.S. after all! Naturally, this does make Siesta quite crowded… err, popular… with locals and tourists alike – especially during snowbird and spring break seasons! However, I will vouch that this beach is absolutely worth the hype. From frequent sailboat sightings, to pier ruins, to miles of soft, white, quartz sand (that won’t burn your bare feet!) you’ll be snap happy for the duration of your time in this paradise. Best time? There’s really no bad time, but I’m totally Team Sunset.
Extra perk: Parking at all Sarasota County beaches is FREE. Just remind yourself of this as you troll for an open space during peak times.
Lido may not have the prestige of Siesta Beach, but that’s honestly part of its appeal. There’s far less competition for a parking spot and more open sand on the beach, whether you’re looking to spread out your towel or take a long stroll. I fall into the latter group, and enjoy exploring the more secluded shores of North Lido – void of hotels, condos, and private homes. So, if you prefer few to no strangers in your beach shots, North Lido is for you.
Best time? Anytime! It’s the beach!
Though not technically in Sarasota, Beer Can Island is worth the drive up Longboat Key. If the tide is high, prepare to wade through the waves. Your shorts might be splashed, but #yolo. It’s a small price to pay for the views. Essentially, Beer Can Island is a non-island graveyard of dead and fallen trees, right on the Gulf. Intrigued? You should be.
Best time? Arrive pre-sunset and stay after dark. And, if the night is clear, you won’t be sorry for lugging that DSLR around your neck. Two words: star trails.
Marina Jacks / Ringling Causeway
Moving a bit inland, downtown Sarasota itself is quite Insta-worthy – the gems being the marina and Ringling Causeway. Sailboats, yachts, bayfront parks, a fishing pier, and the iconic Unconditional Surrender sculpture offer a little something for every IGer. And, even if you think it’s kitschy, take a photo with the statue. It may be too basic or cliche for your main gallery, but that’s what Insta stories are for, right?
Best time: All day, every day.
Just north of the city, and adjacent to the bay, The Ringling estate is a must-see (and shoot). While there is an entrance fee, it makes my list because on Mondays it’s FREE. Visit the State Art Museum of Florida and Ca’ d’Zan, built by John Ringling of Ringling Circus fame. (Yes, that Ringling.) This marvelous mansion by the bay will give you all the heart eyes, with its vibrantly detailed exterior and exquisite grounds. You’ll leave with far too many photos to choose from. So hey. Perfect for an Insta slideshow post!
Further inland, Nathan Benderson Park is a must for any serious Instagrammer. For me, NBP is all about the water. Playing host to international rowing championships (including the 2016 Olympic Trials!) it’s quite the lake. And, with a 3.5 mile walking path around the perimeter, it’s my go-to spot for a non-beach sunset walk.
Best time? Twilight.
And, last but not least, 9 miles east of I-75 lies the lush, natural beauty of Myakka. This state park is home to gators galore, a canopy walk with a bird’s eye view, and (speaking of birds) lots of flocks of feathered friends for all you #birdsofinstagram fans. Oh, and trees dripping with Spanish moss. It’s quite possible that I only go for the Spanish moss. And, at only $6 per vehicle – or $4 if you go it alone – it’s basically free, so let your inner nature photographer run wild from 8 a.m. to sunset.
Whether you live nearby or plan to visit Sarasota soon, I hope you find my list helpful! And please do share your favorite Instagrammable spots in Sarasota. I’ve no doubt left out a few!