Where is the best nightlife in Sarasota?

Answers from Our Experts (1)

Jessi Smith

Whether you’d prefer to venture out on a craft-beer pub crawl, enjoy tapas and cocktails in the moonlight from an urban rooftop bar, settle down with a tropical daiquiri on a beach deck bar or dance the night away — Sarasota has a splash of exciting nightlife for everyone.  

Sarasota has a collection of various “nightlife districts,” the primary of which is located at the heart of downtown, the city’s urban core. After the sun retires for the evening, the nightlife scene springs to life along downtown Sarasota’s Main Street, where restaurants and bars with sidewalk seating line the pedestrian-friendly street and local bands provide outdoor entertainment.

Grab dinner at one of the numerous pizzerias, cafes, sushi bars or upscale international cuisine restaurants downtown before catching a show at one of the theaters within walking distance, like the Florida Studio Theatre or Burns Court Cinema, an intimate theater that specializes in art house flicks and foreign films. If a performance isn’t your fancy, head straight to one of the local beer joints, The Tavern on Main or Shamrock Pub, for a pint of craft beer and mingle with the local musicians who frequent the stage and the bar. Alternatively, you could jazz up your night at the Peruvian restaurant and lounge, Ceviche, where the rooftop bar provides a view of the city that is as delicious as the tapas and cocktails you’ll drink as you dance the night away.

Moving away from downtown and toward the beaches is Siesta Key Village, a secluded entertainment district where sandals and casual beachwear is always in fashion, day or night, at deck bars that specialize in frozen tropical cocktails, and where the Jimmy Buffet tunes are plentiful. In the Village, every moment feels like a vacation — for tourists and locals alike. Throughout the day and well into the evening, Siesta Village provides a family-friendly atmosphere with a broad selection of restaurants, gift shops and ice cream parlors in an easy-to-navigate, walkable area. After midnight, bars and clubs take over the Village, and the strip transforms into a popping social scene that tempers the Jimmy Buffet crowd with danceable top-40 jams and club beats.

The Gulf Gate area in south Sarasota is somewhat secluded, but home to several of the area’s longest-standing popular nightlife establishments. The compact business district features a diverse selection of bars and restaurants, ranging from the Queen Anne British Pub that specializes in authentic British cuisine and draughts to Monk’s Steamer Bar, frequently hailed as one of Sarasota’s best raw oyster bars — high praise in a culinary-minded beach town. With bars and restaurants literally packed side by side throughout the strip, bar hopping is never easier than it is in Gulf Gate — and you’ll definitely want to bar hop in order to experience the variety of live music that fills the area each night. If you find yourself out too late with a grumbling tummy, worry not — Munchies 4:20 Café serves food to the bar crowd until 4:20 a.m.

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