Life of the Party

14 Party Venues with Pizzazz

Our area is full of places to host your gathering.

By Ilene Denton January 25, 2019 Published in the February 2019 issue of Sarasota Magazine

Historic Spanish Point

From tried-and-true event venues like Marie Selby Botanical Gardens and John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art to unexpected party spots (Sailing Squadron, anyone?), the area is full of places to host your gathering. Here are 14. Remember, many restaurants—too many to list here—have private rooms, too. 

Hot Spots

Powel Crosley Estate

The enchanting Mediterranean Revival bayfront estate built by inventor Powel Crosley in 1929 is a lovely site for all kinds of private parties, with a Great Room right out of a movie set and a bayfront lawn that leads to a pavilion perfect for your wedding ceremony. One Seagate Drive; 8374 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota

Historic Spanish Point

From the beautifully restored pioneer-era Mary’s Chapel to the White Cottage Lawn and sunken garden and even the rustic packing house, this 30-acre outdoor museum has unusual spaces galore for your special day. 337 N. Tamiami Trail, Osprey

Michael’s On East Ballroom 

This venerable party space, so popular that it often hosts three events a day, got a bright facelift last summer. But the consistently excellent food and service are why party givers keep coming back. For more intimate gatherings, check out the adjacent Michael’s Wine Cellar. 1212 East Ave. S., Sarasota

The Ringling Museum

Wedding receptions and other milestone events on the Cá d’Zan Terrace or in the museum courtyard are true works of art. Or consider the Circus Museum’s Tibbals Learning Center; cocktails outdoors under the Big Top tent, and your guests can slip in to tour the amazing miniature circus. 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota

Selby Gardens

The almost-too-beautiful-to-be-true tropical garden on Sarasota Bay has been a coveted party spot for decades, but it really upped its game a couple of years ago when the Michael’s On East team took over its activities center and transformed it into a sophisticated event venue. 900 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota

The Sarasota Modern Hotel


Art Ovation Hotel

Applause, applause for this contemporary new downtown hotel, its lobby full of ever-changing art exhibits. Choose the grand ballroom if you’re planning a party for hundreds, or the rooftop bar for an intimate gathering. (Like your engagement party, perhaps?) 1255 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota 

Hyatt Regency Sarasota

The granddaddy of downtown hotels, the Hyatt Regency has a fresh contemporary look in tropical tones thanks to a stylish top-to-bottom renovation. For small gatherings, check out the Boathouse that’s part of the hotel’s 32-slip marina. For blow-out weddings, bar mitzvahs and other special parties, the ballroom is your best bet. 1000 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota

Embassy Suites by Hilton Sarasota

The brand-new North Tamiami Trail hotel boasts boardrooms, atriums and event spaces for all sizes and types of functions, but the star space is the ninth-floor ballroom with bay views. 202 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota

Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota

The name alone conjures up elegance and impeccable service. If you’re planning a wedding for a princess, you’ve found the spot. 1111 Ritz-Carlton Drive, Sarasota

Sarasota Modern Hotel

Modern is its middle name, so you can expect bright, clean spaces at this newest addition to the Rosemary District. Three choices for your soirée: a poolside event space with built-in bar, a private dining room or the fifth-floor terrace with downtown views. 1290 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota

The Westin Sarasota

With Gulf and bay views that go on forever, the region’s first rooftop bar caused quite a stir when The Westin debuted last year. Event spaces are available large—very large, if you’re considering the ballroom—and small. 100 Marina View Drive, Sarasota

The Newest

Highgarden at Sage

The former Ceviche (and 100 years ago the Sarasota Times) has been reimagined as a restaurant and rooftop bar called Sage, with a private event space they’re calling Highgarden, for you Game of Thrones fans. Executive chef is Christopher Covelli, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute of New York. It is set to open sometime this month. 1216 First St., Sarasota

And don’t forget...

Sarasota Sailing Squadron

The membership-based boating organization rents out its open-air bayfront pavilion to nonmembers for parties from May through August (the rest of the year is its busy regatta season). Be forewarned: It’s not air-conditioned, so you might want to aim for a May event. Booking is appreciated three to four months in advance; call (941) 388-2355.

Siesta Beach Pavilions

Those modern new pavilions at Siesta Key Public Beach make great parties. The three large pavilions—Sea Turtle, Sunset and Gulf Waves—can be reserved for four hours at $160, or all day at $320; they hold 75 people. The eight smaller shelters, with a 20-person capacity, can be reserved for $75 for four hours or $150 all
day. Call Sarasota County central reservations at (941) 861-7275. (Special events open to the public need additional permitting.)

Filed under
Show Comments