Sarasota vs. Naples: How the two Florida cities compare

Published Date: August 25, 2022

Sarasota skyline
There’s so much to love about Sarasota and Naples, two sunny cities on the southwestern coast of Florida. When you’re looking for warm Gulf of Mexico waters, white-sand beaches and incredible sunsets, both offer them in spades. But how do you decide where to visit or even buy a second home? Here’s our quick comparison of these two Florida dream destinations. 

Beaches 

Winner: Sarasota Both cities have incredible stretches of public beaches and world-class sunsets, but if you’re a classic beachcomber, looking for wide stretches of sand on which to relax, play and wander, Sarasota is the clear winner. The area is home to Siesta Key Beach, which is a regular winner on best beaches list from TripAdvisor, the Travel Channel and Dr. Beach, who lauds Siesta Key’s fine sand, clear water and outdoor recreational options.  

Outdoor activities 

Winner: Naples Naples and Sarasota offer a range of recreational activities, thanks to ample days of sunshine and waterfront locations. However, Naples has the edge in outdoor recreation, starting with its huge sportfishing scene — the 1,000-foot-long Naples Pier is the first clue as to the fishing scene in this city! On any sunny day, you’ll also find locals and visitors alike exploring mangrove estuaries, barrier islands and wildlife refuges by kayak. Plus, there are loads of hiking and walking trails, bike trails, golf courses and public parks. 

Luxury living 

Winner: Naples It’s no surprise that these two waterfront cities appeal to those looking to live in luxury. Both cities have gorgeous waterfront homes, chic condos and yacht clubs, but Naples is the clear winner in luxury living, with a higher median home price. The city has a stylish vibe and is simply brimming with designer boutiques, upscale eateries, art galleries and impeccably groomed pedestrian paths. 

Family activities 

Winner: Sarasota   For a beach-loving family, either destination fits the bill. But overall, Sarasota offers more family-friendly activities than Naples, which tends to cater more to a retiree crowd. On any given day in Sarasota, families can discover native and exotic plants and animals at the Sarasota Jungle Gardens, hunt for fossilized shark teeth on Venice Beach, attend a family-friendly festival at Mixon Fruit Farms and splash in the children’s fountain at Bayfront Park. 

Cultural activities 

Winner: Sarasota With almost triple the population of Naples, Sarasota is simply a bigger city, and with that comes more opportunities for cultural enrichment. Sarasota boasts a vibrant bayfront downtown, which serves as the area’s civic and cultural hub. A day spent exploring downtown will uncover the Sarasota Opera House, the Florida Studio Theatre, the Burns Court Cinemas and the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, which produces performances celebrating the Black experience. 

Dining

Winner: Naples Fresh seafood is always on the menu in Southwest Florida, with catches coming in around the clock from the Gulf of Mexico. But Naples has the edge as far as the dining scene goes, with an incredible 700 restaurants. Naples has an awesome selection of epic brunch restaurants, plus everything from food trucks to fine dining later in the day. Best of all, many of the city’s best dining establishments also boast incredible water views. 

Nightlife

Winner: Sarasota   Naples offers a quieter scene, with restaurants and entertainment venues closing earlier. That makes Sarasota the winner as far as nightlife goes. Throughout town, you’ll find great happy hours, live music, bars, dance clubs and comedy venues. Did we mention the tiki bars? There’s nothing like ending your day with your toes in the sand and an umbrella in your drink. 

You can’t go wrong in Naples or Sarasota 

No matter which city you choose, there’s so much to explore — much more than you can do in just a weekend. Become a Florida local when you co-own a Pacaso second home. Every time you arrive, simply unpack and start exploring — we take care of the rest. 

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Jen Lyons


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