Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

A complete itinerary to keep you and your guests happy this season

Want to be the host with the most? Fill your guests with holiday cheer with this short list of Lakewood Ranch experiences.

The holidays are alive in many Lakewood Ranch venues, including Waterside Place.
The holidays are alive in many Lakewood Ranch venues, including Waterside Place.
Courtesy image
  • Arts + Entertainment
  • Things To Do
  • Share

The holidays are here. So are your out-of-town guests. 

No worries, we’ve got you covered. 

There’s a lot going on in Lakewood Ranch. Want to keep them busy over a long weekend without straying too far? Here’s a plan. Consider it our holiday gift to you.


8 a.m.: Get Juiced

At Crop at Waterside Place, enticing aromas of coffee and donuts fill the air. Resist temptation and raise a glass of cold-pressed juice instead. Crop’s “Blast Off” is true rocket fuel; a locally grown “Tokyo Bekana” cabbage is its power source. Astronauts on the International Space Station also hope to send it to Mars one day. This homegrown cabbage just might go where no cabbage has gone before.

9 a.m.: Get Pumped

Now that you’re vitamin-fortified, take a 30-second stroll to 3Form Fitness for a power workout. Options include group classes and one-on-one training. Call before you go to set up your custom power hour. 

10:30 a.m.: Lickety-Split
Bethany Woughter at Paint Nail Bar at Waterside Place.
Courtesy image

Treat your guests to a “Lickety-Split” mani/pedi at Paint Nail Bar, also at Waterside. Fun fact: Pedicures not only prettify your feet; they’re also good for your health and can improve circulation, prevent infection and, yes, make you look fabulous. Or try this: Males in your entourage might prefer the Mancave, where they can enjoy a cut, color, shave, facials, massage, beard trimming and more. Did we mention there’s beer?

12:30 p.m.: Fresh Fish 

Head to Lucky Pelican Bistro for a taste of Florida’s famous fresh fish. Enjoy a taste of the gulf with fresh oysters (or get them fried for those who are squeamish about downing them raw), get your appetite revved up with smoked fish spread and some scallop “poppers” before diving into a lunchtime salad topped with your choice of grilled or blackened fish. 

2:30 p.m.: Walk in the Park
Meander the trails at Heron’s Nest Park.
Photo by Nancy Guth

It’s time for a walk or bike trek at Heron’s Nest Nature Park, a 110-acre nature retreat. Meander the pristine trails or bring your pole and go fishing at one of the sparkling lakes. Birdwatchers will also enjoy spotting their fine feathered friends in this avian habitat.

4 p.m.: Say Ahhhh….

If your walk in the park made your muscles complain, pop into Sirius Day Spa for serious pampering. Its Amma massage is a synthesis of traditional healing techniques from Japan and China — a blissful mix of pressing, stroking, stretching and adjusting of the body’s acupressure points. 

6 p.m.: Fabulous Fungi
Atria’s owners Jim and Weyli Angus invite you to taste their sourdough pizza creations.
Courtesy image

In the daytime, Atria Café offers artisanal sourdough bread and pastries, specialty coffees, salads and sandwiches. When night falls, it’s all about pizza. Its pizza crust is made in-house from fermented sourdough. The crusty result is delicious — and easy on the tummy. Try the “Fun Guy” pizza. It’s made with, you guessed it, fabulous fungi.

6-9 p.m.: Move to the Music

On the first Friday of every month, Music on Main is the main attraction. Lakewood Main Street becomes a block party, replete with live music, food trucks, drink vendors, vendor booths, kids’ activities and canine companions all having fun. 


7 a.m.: Go Birding
Celery Fields is a mecca for birders and other nature lovers.
Photo by Nancy Guth

The Celery Fields is a mecca for birders. A host of species make their home in its 400-plus acres of wetlands. You can also hike trails that wind through open marshlands, ponds and canals. And don’t miss the Sarasota Audubon Nature Center, an ornithological oasis.

9 a.m.: Dine with Santa

If your younger guests believe in Santa, they’re in luck because they can meet him in person at Remy’s On Main (Dec. 2; 9-11 a.m.); Grove (Dec. 9; 9-11 a.m.); McGrath’s (Dec. 16; 11 a.m.-2 p.m.); Forked (Dec. 16; 9-11 a.m.); and Good Liquid Brewing Co. (Dec. 23; noon-2 p.m.).  A photo op with St. Nicholas is always jolly. Along with abundant holiday spirit, each restaurant offers a variety of hearty breakfast and brunch fare.

10:30 a.m.: Shop Local
Main Street Market brings dozens of local vendors and small businesses to Lakewood Main Street.
Courtesy image

On Dec. 16, more than 70 vendors share their creations with you at the Main Street Small Business Market (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.). Their wares include art, handmade jewelry, food, plants, and more. Stroll the street and meet the makers and biz owners who created it all. (And maybe pick up a gift for your hosts; wink, wink, nudge, nudge.)

Noon: Solomon’s Castle

Howard Solomon was a sculptor, painter, author and fanciful humorist. Such dreamers often build castles in the sky. Solomon built a literal castle in Ona, about an hour from Lakewood Ranch. His daughter, Alane Solomon, grew up in that aluminum-clad dreamworld — a treasure house of her father’s exuberant stained glass windows and whimsical metal sculptures. Today, she keeps her father’s memory alive and leads tours through this kingdom of the imagination. 

4 p.m.: Jazzercise at Waterside Place

Ready to move and groove for 60 minutes? These free Jazzercise sessions at Waterside Place combine dance, Pilates, yoga and kickboxing for a full-body workout that burns up to 800 calories an hour. You’ll definitely work up an appetite if dining out tonight is part of your plan.

6 p.m.: Dinner at Korê or Osteria 500
If you’re seeking the best in Korean cuisine, you’ll find it at Korê Steakhouse.
Courtesy image

If you’re seeking authentic Korean barbecue and other traditional dishes, you’ll find it at Korê Steakhouse. You can feast on N.Y. strip, ribeye, or pork collar grilled at your table or dig into a bowl of hearty bibimbap. Feeling more like pasta? Osteria 500 is the real deal. Its menu offers wood-fired Neapolitan pizza, fresh pasta, seafood and an inspired selection of Italian wines. Fill your glass and raise a toast to the magic all around you.

7:30-9:30 p.m.: Let There Be Light!
The Mall at University Town Center lights up the holidays — and your spirits.
Courtesy image

The Festival of Lights illuminates the Mall at University Town Center from early December to Jan. 3 with light shows every half hour. Guests seeking gifts for their hosts are also in luck. The UTC district has more than 250 shops. 

10 p.m.: Nightcap

Top off the night with a nightcap at Good Liquid Brewery and Distilling Co., where the alcohols and liqueurs are distilled on-site. Cool off with a Watermelon Crush (vodka, orange liqueur and watermelon juice) or a Beet the Heat (agave spirit, fresh citrus, honey and beet juice) and enjoy the water views and good vibes.


9 a.m.: Sunday in the Park
Even your dog can practice downward facing dog at Yoga in the Park at Waterside Place.
Courtesy image

Practice your downward facing dog and other poses at the free Yoga in the Park at Waterside Place’s Island Cove Terrace. Yoga Shack Florida hosts these free entry-level classes every Sunday morning. It’s an energizing way to start any day! 

10 a.m.: Meet at the Market

More than 100 vendors bring their bounty to Waterside Place’s award-winning Farmers Market. Their fare includes farm-fresh produce, prepared foods, and a spectrum of goodies and gifts. Cajun specialties, baked goods, cigars, teas, candies, jewelry, honey, empanadas and bagels are just some of what you’ll find.

Noon: Brunch at Grove
Rhiannan Mahon offers up a refreshing brunch libation at Grove.
Photo by Lori Sax

Grove’s brunches are legendary; their endless Veuve mimosas are, too. Foodie faves include the grouper artichoke gratin, powdered beignets (don’t forget to dip ’em in the fresh berry coulis), shrimp and grits, croque madame, cheese blintzes and the smoked salmon omelet. 

2 p.m.: Back at the Park
If you’re there at the right time you might even spot a model sailboat race at Nathan Benderson Park.
Courtesy image

Enjoyed your power brunch at Grove? A power workout at Nathan Benderson Park is the ideal follow-up. This 600-acre park includes a lake for rowing, kayaking and paddle-boarding, and its seven miles of trails are ideal for running, walking or cycling. If you feel like watching other folks work up a sweat, the park also hosts rowing regattas, races and other water sports competitions. There’s also a shaded children’s playground and canopied picnic areas. Relax or burn calories — this park offers myriad options either way. 

4 p.m.: Showtime!

You’ve pleased body, mind and soul. Now sneak away to the movies and please your inner cinephile. Sarasota Film Society (SFS), a member-supported nonprofit, showcases critically acclaimed American and foreign films at its two area movie theaters. The one in downtown Sarasota specializes in lesser-known gems. The one in Lakewood Ranch always has plenty of blockbusters in a range of genres. With six screens to choose from, there’ll be a flick for everyone’s tastes. 

6:30 p.m.: Peruvian Fare

It’s your guests’ final night. Treat them to a Peruvian-themed feast at Inkawasi Peruvian Restaurant on Main Street. Its menu boasts such Peruvian perennials as lomo saltado (seared beef stir-fried with veggies and served over rice), ceviche, chupe de camarones (shrimp chowder), empanadas and fried yucca. 

8 p.m.: Miniature golf, anyone?
Enjoy 18 holes of pure fun at The Fish Hole on LWR Main Street.
Courtesy image

The Fish Hole on LWR Main Street offers up 18 holes of pure fun, with turtle and Koi ponds along the way. But don’t forget this whimsical sport’s serious history. Miniature golf originated in the late 1800s in Scotland, because women had been banned from playing the “manly” sport of golf. To get around it, the Ladies Putting Club of St. Andrews built the first-ever mini-golf course. Their invention lives on at the Ranch today. 



Marty Fugate

Marty Fugate is a writer, cartoonist and voiceover actor whose passions include art, architecture, performance, film, literature, politics and technology. As a freelance writer, he contributes to a variety of area publications, including the Observer, Sarasota Magazine and The Herald Tribune. His fiction includes sketch comedy, short stories and screenplays. “Cosmic Debris,” his latest anthology of short stories, is available on Amazon.


Su Byron

Su Byron has worked in the regional arts and cultural world for the past 25 years as a writer, an editor, and a public relations and marketing specialist. For 12 of those years, she was the co-publisher of the Sarasota Arts Review, a monthly arts and entertainment newspaper. Su is a freelance writer whose regular columns and articles appear in a host of regional and national publications.

Latest News