Staycation Days

Airbnb 'Experiences' Offer Less Traditional Vacation Activities

Check out these Sarasota locals who host experiences anyone can book online, tourist or not.

By Kim Doleatto June 30, 2021

Diane Desenberg hosts guests on a tasting and learning tour of her backyard food forest where she and her dog Sadie pick ripe figs.

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens and Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium are cherished, must-visit local attractions—but what if you want a true local experience?

We checked out highly-rated, unique activities designed and hosted by locals featured in Sarasota’s Airbnb Experiences section to bring you some top must-dos you won't find on the visitor's brochure. Hosted by locals, Airbnb Experiences are in-person or online activities that go beyond typical tourist attractions and activities by immersing guests in a host’s unique area of expertise. Users can browse and book them online.

Tour/Graze Backyard Food Forest

For foodies, Florida may be known mostly for its citrus goodness, but at Diane Desenberg's house on North Lido, visitors are invited to try summer greens “you won’t see in the supermarket,” she says. Malabar spinach, Okinawa spinach, edible hibiscus, katuk and sweet potato leaves make for memorable salads and “expand peoples’ knowledge of what's edible,” she says. Mangoes, pineapples, papayas, bananas and figs (ripening now) are also on her food roster. And don't forget the herb and root section featuring rosemary and oregano, African blue basil, common basil, chives, dill, fennel, ginger and turmeric, making this quarter-acre food forest a year-round wondrous kind of treat.

Cost: $34 per person

Duration: 1.5 hours

Number of guests: Up to eight people

Learn to build a pro-level sandcastle on Siesta Key.

Learn to Build a Bigger Sandcastle

No matter your age or skill set, let award-winning sand sculptor Mitch Guerrero teach you how to make the finest sand castle on Siesta Key. And the best part may be immortalizing it. Instead of losing your sand creation to the wind and surf, he can recreate a smaller model of it using 3D printing for a keepsake souvenir of your amazing beach day. Just the other week, he carved a 7-foot-wide, 4-foot-tall marriage proposal in the sand, and turned it into a 7-inch-wide by 4-inch-tall replica model for the couple to keep.

Cost: $65 per person 

Duration: 2.5 hours

Number of guests: Two to five people

Take a sound journey in a vintage Airstream for relaxation.

Unique Vintage Airstream Sound Journey

A certified sound therapist and touring musician, Lucy Tight welcomes you to her 1961 vintage Bambi Airstream travel trailer nestled in a private courtyard in historic Laurel Park. Covered in blue sky and fluffy white cloud paintings, and stocked with different instruments from around the world, a sound journey in the Airstream makes “the sound quality feel like it comes from everywhere,” she says. She uses Tibetan bowls, gongs, chimes, a crystal harp, rain sticks and more to guide guests into a peaceful state of mind, body and spirit.

“Sometimes if you try to meditate it's hard to turn off a busy mind. But sound enables you to go there and find a place to rest it and let go of the stress, allowing you to heal,” she says.

As an added bonus, Lucy also hosts outdoor sound journeys on walks through the wooded parts of Lido Key.

Cost: $80 (may fluctuate depending on time of year)

Duration: 1 hour

Number of guests: One or two

Paint to the sound of the waves on Lido Key.

Painting on the Beach

Let your creative juices flow to the sound of the waves in the shade of the pines at Ted Sperling Park on South Lido Beach. Keffie Lancaster, a Sarasota interior designer, guides painters as they bring beach themes to life on canvas. From sea turtles and palms to flamingos and sunsets, people of all ages and abilities are welcome. “It's not formal. It's meant to be light and fun. It's about being with your friends and family, and meeting new people along the way,” Lancaster says.

Cost: $45 per person

Duration: 1.5 hours

Number of people: Up to eight

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