Like much of Florida, Sarasota is a bustling, beautiful beach town. But the interior of the town has a lot to offer, too. Take a break from catching rays to check out the town’s shopping scene. We’ve rounded up 10 of our favorite spots to get you started.
The great thing about beach towns is you can enter even in the finest establishments in casual dress. Sarasota is a happy medium between Miami fabulous and Daytona outlandish, so you’ll want to dress accordingly. Terra Nova, located in St. Armand’s Circle, has just the kind of bohemian styles that are perfect for a night on the town, whether you’re headed to the opera, theatre or ballet (Sarasota has professional companies of all three) or a fun jaunt clubbing with the girls. Here, you’ll find scarves, wraps, sandals, accessories, cute dresses and lovely, scented bath products. They also have an extensive selection of exquisite jewelry from Nature Bijoux, made with natural stones and materials like peridot, tagua and amethyst.
351 St. Armands Circle
The tagline on FantaSea’s website is “Life is better at the beach”–a sentiment that’s hard to argue with! When it’s time to shop for mementos from your beach trip, this is the perfect place to find gifts for hosts and hostesses, friends, family members, or even a special souvenir for yourself. One of the most popular items offered are sand dollars with hand-written calligraphy – perfect for a destination wedding or thank you present. FantaSea also stocks gorgeous home accessories, children’s items and jewelry. Bonus: 10 percent of every seashell sold in the shop goes to hearing research – a giveback from the owner, whose daughter was born with unilateral microtia (missing an ear).
378 St. Armands Circle
Tervis Outlet Store
Sometimes it’s the little things that matter: When you set up camp at the beach, icy cold drinks are a must. Tervis manufactures double-walled drinkware that’s designed to keep your hot beverages hot, and cool drinks cool, which means no more carting around multiple travel mugs. Their tumblers, water bottles, sippy cups and wine glasses (genius) are a perfect example of when to invest in quality goods instead of cheaping it out. They come in hundreds of fun designs, from pink flamingos to your favorite sports team logos, and you can even design custom creations with photos and text on their website – perfect for a family beach trip, birthday/graduation gift or pool party. All Tervis items are made in the USA and have a “made for life” guarantee. They’re durable, expressive and practical all at once.
319 John Ringling Blvd.
Artisans World Marketplace
If shopping with conscience is your thing, you’ll love Artisans World Marketplace. This non-profit retail outlet deals exclusively in fair trade goods, which helps empower low-income artisans and provides economic stability in poor and impoverished parts of the world. Among the colorful, well-stocked aisles, you’ll find gorgeous textiles, pottery, baskets, jewelry, apparel, candles, personal care products and much more. Prices are more than reasonable, and every item is handmade with care and attention to detail, not mass-produced in a dreary factory. Coffee connoisseurs will appreciate the wide variety of beans from Honduras, Mexico, Guatemala and Peru. In the 20 years since the shop’s been open, funds from purchases have been used to support many service projects, including earthquake relief in India, purchasing school supplies for kids in Haiti, scholarships for young girls in Nepal, and providing anti-venom for snake victims in Ecuador.
128 South Pineapple Ave.
Sarasota Architectural Salvage
When you arrive at the 10,000-square foot and 30-foot-tall building that houses Sarasota Architectural Salvage, you might think you’ve died and gone to Do It Yourself Heaven. The store owner, Jesse White, has a Masters degree in environmental science, and aims to keep as many historic and architecturally interesting items out of the landfill as possible. Think Home Depot meets American Pickers. White goes on regular buying trips around the southeast, where he’s salvaged everything from a 1930s engraver set that fits on a tabletop to a 20-foot-tall, 6-foot-wide sequoia tree that fell victim to a windstorm. The product mix is stimulating and the inventory always changing, so you never know what treasures await inside. This might not seem like a traveler-friendly setup, but the store has customers who return year after year while vacationing in Florida, and they’re experts in shipping large and unusual items. This is definitely one of the most unique and eco-friendly shopping experiences in Sarasota.
1093 Central Ave.
Brant’s is one of those bookstores you can get happily lost in. With more than 150,000 used books across every genre stocking its shelves, it’s one of Florida’s largest and most popular independent bookstores. Comfy chairs beckon visitors to sit and read a spell, and the resident bookstore dogs, Max and Elvis, make it feel like you’re visiting a beloved family member’s home. In addition to its gargantuan inventory, Brant’s has a buy and trade program as well. Book connoisseurs will appreciate the selection of rare, collectible and classic books, and Barbara, the owner, makes everyone feel like a VIP.
429 North Lime Ave.
As Good As It Gets
No self-respecting foodie should visit Sarasota without a visit to As Good As It Gets. If possible, make it your first stop while traveling, so you can stock up on delectable goodies to keep in your room for snacking. You’ll find a wide array of global eats: European cheeses, Russian caviar, charcuterie, coffee, teas, Swiss and Belgian chocolates, wine and champagne, oils and vinegars, and plenty of surprises and new finds you didn’t even know you needed. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and not shy with the samples. As Good As It Gets also has a delivery service, so if you’re unable to stop in personally, you can shop online and have gourmet foods delivered right to your door. Ask to sample the aged white balsamic vinegar – it’ll change your life!
49 South Palm Ave.
If you’ve ever had a hard time shopping for swimsuits, Swim City will be a welcome change. With hundreds of styles ranging from skimpy string bikinis to tankinis, one-pieces to suits with short skirts and ruffles, there’s something amazing here for every body type. Everything is displayed neatly on hanging racks and organized tables, so no worrying about digging through stuffed racks where everything is falling off the hangers. They also have a wide range of resort wear such as coverups, hats, sunglasses, towels and colorful sarongs. And Swim City isn’t just for ladies – check out the mens and children sections so your whole family can hit the beach, boat or pool in style.
50 North Tamiami Trail
The Crystal Cave
Into energy work, vibrations and manifestation? Then you’ll love The Crystal Cave. Sarasota is located close to a vortex; in neighboring Siesta Key, the sand is made of crushed quartz. At this cozy shop on Fruitville Road, you’ll find tons of crystals, gemstones, minerals, fossils and more. You can also shop for items like jewelry made with healing stones and crystals, books and Tibetan singing bowls. Be sure to check the events calendar on their website – they host fun and educational workshops like “Introduction to Tarot,” “Crystals and Chakras,” and “Healing Heart Sound Meditation.” On select Saturdays, they also have music on the patio. Owner Susan Moen has more than 25 years of experience working with crystals, and loves sharing her extensive knowledge with visitors.
1899 Fruitville Rd.
Antique lovers will find their nirvana at the upscale shop on South Palm Avenue. Think one-of-a-kind treasures like intricately-carved Chinese screens, art, handsome chests, and mahogany desks. Pieces come from all over the world, and the mix of cultural representations is impressive. But it’s not just home furnishings: Burke’s has an entire fashion collection that includes vintage designer clothing, handbags, watches, jewelry and accessories. Can’t make it to the store in person? No worries – you can also shop online.
12 South Palm Ave.