A Travel Price Comparison for Florida Jacksonville vs. Sarasota for Families, Attractions, Food, and Nightlife

Should you visit Jacksonville or Sarasota?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the activities as well as the prices of travel for Jacksonville and Sarasota. We'll break down costs for accommodation, food, transportation and more to help you learn more about these two destinations. Then, you can figure out if either of these two places are accessible based on your travel budget, schedule, and interests. So, let's dig into it.

Jacksonville

Jacksonville is a youthful, fun, and vibrant city. It's a large city, so you'll find plenty of things to do around town. Visitors also love the food, beaches, and shopping.

Sarasota

Sarasota is a entertaining, underrated, and relaxing city. It's also popular because of the food, beaches, and shopping.

Jacksonville and Sarasota: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
Things to Consider
  • Less family-friendly
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Nice resorts
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers


Is there more to do in Jacksonville or Sarasota?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Jacksonville than Sarasota, as it is bigger with more sights, attractions, and activities for visitors. Jacksonville is more popular for its food, nightlife, beaches, shopping, and big city activities, while Sarasota is known for its resorts. Sarasota is more touristy than Jacksonville and is known for its sandy beaches and its fun activities. Jacksonville is popular for its beautiful beaches and lively downtown area. It is also home to Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens.

How is Jacksonville different from Sarasota?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Sarasota and Jacksonville. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Jacksonville or Sarasota?

Jacksonville
Sarasota

You'll find a number of excellent museums and attractions in both Sarasota and Jacksonville.

Visitors can fill many days exploring the museums and attractions around Jacksonville. The city has a number of museums that range from art museums to science or kid-friendly museums. Some favorites are the Museum of Science and History, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Mandarin Museum and Historical Society, and Kingsley Plantation.

Sarasota offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. There are some decent museums in town such as the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the Sarasota Classic Car Museum, and the Ca' da'Zan. Another highlight is the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium.


Is the Food Better in Jacksonville or Sarasota? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Jacksonville
Sarasota

Jacksonville is great for its local flavors and cuisine. Also, Sarasota is not as popular, but is still a nice city for its local cuisine and restaurants.

Jacksonville has a huge number of terrific restaurants. Local cuisine has its own identity. Unique dishes around town include garlic crabs, seafood boil, gumbo, and shrimp and grits. The local cuisine is similar to Lowcountry dishes with a lot of Cajun influence. If you want something different from seafood, you should try the barbecue.

There are many up and coming restaurants in the Sarasota area. You'll find plenty of seafood around town, but there are also international restaurants and quirky local joints.

Is Jacksonville or Sarasota Better for Nightlife?

Jacksonville
Sarasota

Jacksonville is great for nightlife and partying. Also, Sarasota is not as popular, but is still a nice city for its evening party scene.

Many people head to Jacksonville for the nightlife scene. The young population brings out the nightlife scene. There's a great concentration of bars and clubs in the area known as The Elbow, which is at the intersection of N. Ocean and E. Bay Street. You'll find plenty of cocktail bars, lounges, and clubs around town that make for a fun night out.

There's a variety of activities in the evening in Sarasota. You'll find beach clubs, live entertainment such as drum circles, and plenty of bars around town. There are also evening cruises and late night parties.

Is Jacksonville or Sarasota Better for Resorts?

Jacksonville
Sarasota

Sarasota is a good destination for its luxury resorts. However, Jacksonville is not a resort destination.

Sarasota has a few great resort options. You'll find beachfront resorts with pools and nice views.

Jacksonville is not a resort destination.


Is Jacksonville or Sarasota Better for Beaches?

Jacksonville
Sarasota

Jacksonville is great for the beache. Also, Sarasota is not as popular, but is still a nice city for the beach.

Many people visit Jacksonville for it's beautiful beaches. There are a number of beaches that are just a short distance from the city. Some have a historic vibe while others are more lively. Atlantic Beach is about a half hour drive from the city. For a laid back vibe head to Neptune Beach and the most popular beach in the area is Jacksonville Beach.

Sarasota is a good option for a beach vacation. There's no shortage of beaches in the area where you can spend a relaxing day playing the water and lounging in the sun. Siesta Key, Sarasota Gay Beach, Crescent Beach, and Coquina Beach are some of the favorites.

Is the Shopping Better in Jacksonville or Sarasota?

Jacksonville
Sarasota

Jacksonville is great for its shopping opportunities. Also, Sarasota is not as popular, but is still a nice city for its shopping areas.

Jacksonville is well-known for its shopping. There are countless malls and shopping districts around town. Some of the best shopping is found at St. John's Center, Five Points, and Avondale.

Many visitors go to Sarasota to go shopping. Upscale shopping can be found at St. Armand's Circle. There's also Sarasota Square Mall and the Mall at University Town Center. If you want to pick up some local items you can check out Sarasota Farmers Market.

Is Jacksonville or Sarasota Better for Families?

Jacksonville
Sarasota

Sarasota is renowned for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Jacksonville is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its family-friendly activities.

With a huge array of activities for kids, Sarasota is very family-friendly. There's a huge number of hands on activities for kids and families in the area. Many families enjoy a visit to Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. There are also botanical gardens, science museums, and outdoor adventure centers. Animal lovers will appreciate a visit to Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary. The city also has many performing arts and entertainment options for kids. And make sure you check out the museum dedicated to the Ringling Brothers Circus.

You'll find plenty of kid-friendly things to do in Jacksonville. It's filled with adventure parks, zoos, animal farms, nature centers, and gardens. Adults will have as much fun as kids exploring the city and all of its family-friendly attractions.


Is Jacksonville or Sarasota Better for Couples?

Jacksonville
Sarasota

Jacksonville and Sarasota both good destinations for a couple.

Jacksonville is a good city for couples to visit. It's a young city that's near nature and has plenty of adventurous activities. There's sailing, botanical gardens, restaurants, and plenty of bars around town.

Sarasota is a nice destination for couples. A night out at St. Armands Circle is a fun way to spend the evening. There are also sunset cruises, nice restaurants, comedy clubs, and more.

Is Jacksonville or Sarasota Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Jacksonville
Sarasota

Jacksonville is a good destination for backpackers and budget travelers. However, Sarasota is not a good destination for backpackers.

Plenty of backpackers visit Jacksonville. There are a few hostels in town as well as affordable motels. The city has a young population with plenty to do. Although it's often overlooked by tourists, there's a surprising and underrated appeal to the backpacker crowd.

Sarasota is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. There are budget friendly places to stay, but there isn't a large backpacker or young crowd hanging around.

Is Jacksonville or Sarasota Better for Students?

Jacksonville
Sarasota

Jacksonville is a good destination for its student-friendly activities. However, Sarasota is not popular with students.

It's common for students to visit Jacksonville. There are a few colleges and universities in town. The city's population is also very young, making it a great place to study.

Sarasota is not popular with students.


Is Jacksonville or Sarasota Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Jacksonville
Sarasota

Jacksonville is a good destination for times when you don't have a car. However, Sarasota is not a good destination for its public transit.

While Jacksonville offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. The public transportation system includes trolleys, the Skyway, buses, water taxis, and the ferry.

Public transit is generally limited in Sarasota. There's a bus system around town but most visitors depend on their own car for transportation.

Is Jacksonville or Sarasota a more walkable city?

Jacksonville
Sarasota

Jacksonville is a good destination for its high level of walkability. However, Sarasota is not a good destination for its ease of walking around.

Jacksonville is a somewhat walkable place. Downtown Jacksonville is the most walkable part of the city.

Sarasota is generally not very walkable. While the downtown has some walkable parts, you'll need a car to access most things around town.

For even more information, also check out Is Jacksonville Worth Visiting? and Is Sarasota Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Sarasota or Jacksonville?

How long in Jacksonville or Sarasota?

In either Jacksonville or Sarasota, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. Most visitors tend to spend more time in Sarasota than Jacksonville because of the overall number of sights and activities. Usually, 2-3 days is a good amount of time for Jacksonville, and 2-5 days is enough time in Sarasota.

Families should spend more time in Sarasota than Jacksonville. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Sarasota, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Jacksonville than Sarasota. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Jacksonville that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Jacksonville than Sarasota if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Jacksonville.


  • How many days in Jacksonville or Sarasota? Ideal Length of Stay
    Jacksonville 2-3 
    Sarasota 2-5

One day in Jacksonville or Sarasota?

The city of Jacksonville offers food and shopping. Most people come for the beaches. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

In Sarasota, many people enjoy the food and shopping that this entertaining city offers. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything.


A weekend in Jacksonville or Sarasota?

Jacksonville is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have a weekend, this city makes for a great vacation. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Jacksonville, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

Sarasota is a fun place to experience. If you have a weekend, this is a great place to go. It will give you the chance to have new experiences. So, a weekend is just the right amount of time to spend here.

Five days in Jacksonville or Sarasota?

Jacksonville is a popular choice for travelers. Five days is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

In Sarasota, many people enjoy the museums and nightlife that this entertaining destination offers. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. Plenty of people spend five days in the area when traveling. So, five days is just the right amount of time to spend here.

A week in Jacksonville or Sarasota?

Jacksonville is a great place to explore. It's also a great beach destination, too. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. This city offers something for everyone.

Sarasota is a popular place to visit. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Polar Tours & Cruises in United States of America, The Best Walking Tours in United States of America, The Best Tours Under $1000 in United States of America, and The Best Luxury Tours to United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Sarasota or Jacksonville?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Jacksonville is $220, while the average daily cost in Sarasota is $249. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Jacksonville and Sarasota in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Jacksonville $92
    Sarasota $108
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Jacksonville $184
    Sarasota $216
Compare Hotels in Jacksonville and Sarasota

Looking for a hotel in Jacksonville or Sarasota? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Jacksonville


Hotels in Sarasota


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Jacksonville Hotel Prices and Sarasota Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Jacksonville $53
    Sarasota -

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Jacksonville

Also for Jacksonville, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Carnival Cruise Port Transfer to Jacksonville: $340
  • JAX Airport Transfer to Amelia Island: $195
  • JAX Airport Transfer to Hyatt Place/ St. Johns Town Center: $164
  • JAX Airport Transfer to Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront: $147
  • Carnival Cruise Port Jacksonville to Jacksonville - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $127
  • Jacksonville Airport (JAX) to Jacksonville City - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $122
  • Carnival Cruise Port Jacksonville to Jacksonville, FL - Arrival Private Transfer: $63
  • Jacksonville Airport (JAX) to Jacksonville City - Arrival Private Transfer: $61
  • Jacksonville Airport (JAX) to Jacksonville Cruise Port -Arrival Private Transfer: $55

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Sarasota

Also for Sarasota, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Sarasota–Bradenton Intl. Airport (SRQ) to Sarasota - Arrival Private Transfer: $48
  • Sarasota–Bradenton Airport (SRQ) to Sarasota Round-Trip Transfer: $97
  • Sarasota to Sarasota–Bradenton Intl. Airport (SRQ) - Departure Private Transfer: $48

Is it cheaper to fly into Jacksonville or Sarasota?

Prices for flights to both Sarasota and Jacksonville change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Jacksonville $96
    Sarasota $137

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Sarasota

For Sarasota, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Sarasota Street Food Tour: $85
  • Taste of Downtown Food Tour: $105
  • Downtown Walking Food Tour in Sarasota: $110

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Jacksonville $20
    Sarasota $11

Tours and Activities in Jacksonville

For Jacksonville, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Jacksonville Ghosts and Ghouls Tour By US Ghost Adventures: $30
  • 2-Flights Indoor Skydiving Experience in Jacksonville: $91
  • 20 Minutes Chocolate & Candy Factory Tour in Jacksonville: $6.00
  • 90 Minute Self-Guided Arcimoto FUV Adventure: $125
  • Amelia Island Area Kayak Rental on Lofton Creek with Adventures Up The Creek: $36
  • Amelia Island Guided Kayak Tour of Lofton Creek : $60
  • Big Talbot Island Self Guided Tour with Smart Helmets: $115
  • CraigCat Boat Tour from Fernandina Beach: $145
  • Downtown Fernandina Historical Walking Tour: $30
  • Eight Flags Road Tour: $50
  • Electric Bike Art and Architecture Guided Tour in Jacksonville : $60
  • Electric Bike Tours in Amelia Island: $115

Tours and Activities in Sarasota

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Sarasota.

  • Lido Key Pedal Kayak Tour in Sarasota: $75
  • Parasailing Adventure above the Gulf of Mexico: $95
  • 2 Hour Guided Stand Up Paddle Board Tour along Upper Manatee River: $65
  • 2 Hour Jet ski Rental Fast And Fun Adventure Florida Thrill : $240
  • 2 Hour Sunset Cabaret Tour in Sarasota: $68
  • 2 Hours Guided Robinson Preserve Mangrove Tour: $55
  • 90 minute South Florida Jet Ski Adventure Fun Thrilling : $195
  • 90-Minute Parasailing Adventure Above Anna Maria Island, FL: $75
  • Amish Experience: Bridges to Understanding: $68
  • Anna Maria Island Paddleboard Tours: $65
  • Bradenton: Guided Pedal Kayak Tour: $999
  • City Sightseeing Trolley Tour of Sarasota: $69

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Jacksonville $20
    Sarasota -

Sample the Local Flavors in Jacksonville

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Jacksonville:

  • Jax Brewery Tour (Drinks Included): $135


When comparing the travel costs between Jacksonville and Sarasota, we can see that Sarasota is more expensive. However, the two cities are actually relatively comparable in price, as the difference is somewhat minimal. Generally, this means that you could travel with generally the same travel style and level of luxury in each place. Since both cities are in North America, it's no surprise that their costs are relatively close, as many destinations here have somewhat similar travel prices overall.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Jacksonville Expensive? and Is Sarasota Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Jacksonville or Sarasota?

Jacksonville has a larger population, and is about 10 times larger than the population of Sarasota. When comparing the sizes of Jacksonville and Sarasota, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.


When is the best time to visit Jacksonville or Sarasota?

Both destinations experience a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. And since both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Jacksonville or Sarasota in the Summer?

The summer attracts plenty of travelers to both Jacksonville and Sarasota. The summer months attract visitors to Jacksonville because of the beaches, the city activities, and the family-friendly experiences. Furthermore, the beaches and the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Sarasota this time of year.

In July, Jacksonville is generally around the same temperature as Sarasota. Daily temperatures in Jacksonville average around 82°F (28°C), and Sarasota fluctuates around 82°F (28°C).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Sarasota this time of the year. In Jacksonville, it's very sunny this time of the year. Jacksonville usually receives more sunshine than Sarasota during summer. Jacksonville gets 286 hours of sunny skies, while Sarasota receives 265 hours of full sun in the summer.

Sarasota receives a lot of rain in the summer. Jacksonville gets a good bit of rain this time of year. In July, Jacksonville usually receives less rain than Sarasota. Jacksonville gets 5.4 inches (137 mm) of rain, while Sarasota receives 8.4 inches (214 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Jacksonville 82°F (28°C) 
    Sarasota 82°F (28°C)

Should I visit Jacksonville or Sarasota in the Autumn?

The autumn brings many poeple to Jacksonville as well as Sarasota. The city's sights and attractions and the shopping scene are the main draw to Jacksonville this time of year. Additionally, many travelers come to Sarasota for the shopping scene.

Jacksonville is cooler than Sarasota in the autumn. The daily temperature in Jacksonville averages around 70°F (21°C) in October, and Sarasota fluctuates around 76°F (24°C).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Sarasota. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Jacksonville this time of the year. In the autumn, Jacksonville often gets less sunshine than Sarasota. Jacksonville gets 214 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Sarasota receives 234 hours of full sun.

Jacksonville usually gets more rain in October than Sarasota. Jacksonville gets 2.9 inches (73 mm) of rain, while Sarasota receives 2.6 inches (65 mm) of rain this time of the year. Keep in mind that June to November is the hurricane season in Jacksonville. Keep in mind that June to November is the hurricane season in Sarasota.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Jacksonville 70°F (21°C) 
    Sarasota 76°F (24°C)

Should I visit Jacksonville or Sarasota in the Winter?

Both Sarasota and Jacksonville are popular destinations to visit in the winter with plenty of activities. Many travelers come to Jacksonville for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Also, many visitors come to Sarasota in the winter for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

In the winter, Jacksonville is cooler than Sarasota. Typically, the winter temperatures in Jacksonville in January average around 53°F (12°C), and Sarasota averages at about 59°F (15°C).

It's quite sunny in Sarasota. Jacksonville usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Sarasota during winter. Jacksonville gets 191 hours of sunny skies, while Sarasota receives 200 hours of full sun in the winter.

In January, Jacksonville usually receives more rain than Sarasota. Jacksonville gets 3.3 inches (83 mm) of rain, while Sarasota receives 2.3 inches (59 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Jacksonville 53°F (12°C) 
    Sarasota 59°F (15°C)

Should I visit Jacksonville or Sarasota in the Spring?

Both Sarasota and Jacksonville during the spring are popular places to visit. Many visitors come to Jacksonville in the spring for the beaches and the activities around the city. Also, most visitors come to Sarasota for the beaches during these months.

In April, Jacksonville is generally cooler than Sarasota. Daily temperatures in Jacksonville average around 68°F (20°C), and Sarasota fluctuates around 73°F (23°C).

In Sarasota, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Jacksonville. In the spring, Jacksonville often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Sarasota. Jacksonville gets 285 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Sarasota receives 299 hours of full sun.

Jacksonville usually gets more rain in April than Sarasota. Jacksonville gets 2.8 inches (72 mm) of rain, while Sarasota receives 2.1 inches (53 mm) of rain this time of the year. Also, June to November in Jacksonville is the hurricane season. Also, June to November in Sarasota is the hurricane season.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Jacksonville 68°F (20°C) 
    Sarasota 73°F (23°C)

Typical Weather for Sarasota and Jacksonville

Jacksonville Sarasota
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 53°F (12°C) 3.3 inches (83 mm) 59°F (15°C) 2.3 inches (59 mm)
Feb 56°F (13°C) 3.9 inches (100 mm) 62°F (17°C) 2.9 inches (73 mm)
Mar 62°F (17°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm) 67°F (20°C) 3.9 inches (99 mm)
Apr 68°F (20°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm) 73°F (23°C) 2.1 inches (53 mm)
May 74°F (24°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm) 78°F (25°C) 2.4 inches (61 mm)
Jun 80°F (27°C) 5.7 inches (146 mm) 82°F (28°C) 6.5 inches (165 mm)
Jul 82°F (28°C) 5.4 inches (137 mm) 82°F (28°C) 8.4 inches (214 mm)
Aug 82°F (28°C) 7.8 inches (199 mm) 82°F (28°C) 8 inches (203 mm)
Sep 79°F (26°C) 7.1 inches (180 mm) 81°F (27°C) 6.3 inches (161 mm)
Oct 70°F (21°C) 2.9 inches (73 mm) 76°F (24°C) 2.6 inches (65 mm)
Nov 62°F (17°C) 2.2 inches (55 mm) 69°F (20°C) 1.8 inches (45 mm)
Dec 56°F (13°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm) 62°F (17°C) 2.2 inches (56 mm)