Free Activities for Broke College Students
Eileen Caub/Catalyst The Selby Public Library at night.

Free Activities for Broke College Students

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Eileen Caub/Catalyst
The Selby Public Library at night.

The city of Sarasota, a well-to-do or “bougie” retirement and tourist destination, doesn’t exactly cater to low-budget college students. However, there are plenty of activities, besides going to the beach, that won’t break the bank. Thanks to suggestions from Sarasotans, seasoned New College students and the forum, this list is available at one’s leisure. Check out these fun activities one can enjoy for the sweet price of absolutely nothing.


        When classes are done for the day, head over to the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art or one of Sarasota’s many galleries and peruse works of art. Sarasota is not lacking in artistic offerings, several of which one can access free of charge. The Ringling Museum is free for New College students with I.D. and conveniently located right next door. With a collection of over 28,000 works, including paintings by prominent Baroque artist Peter Paul Rubens, Florida’s official state art museum is definitely worth a visit. After seeing an exhibit or performance at the Ringling, don’t be afraid to step into an art gallery downtown and speak with a local artist about their work. Grace Howl and Meg Krakowiak showcase contemporary art in their home studios and galleries in the Rosemary District and on Palm Avenue, respectively.

Eileen Caub/Catalyst
A cozy armchair at Bookstore1Sarasota.


        Find a fascinating new read at Bookstore1Sarasota, a cozy independent bookstore, which spotlights books recommended by staff and customers. The bookstore also hosts events such as author visits and book signings. Just a short walk away is the Selby Public Library, where one can spend a quiet afternoon flipping through the pages of a novel or exploring the Sarasota Music Archive, located on the second floor. This iconic library was established in 1907 and renovated just last year. Be sure to walk under the children’s aquarium arch and greet the bamboo sharks. If one is more interested in comic books and games than literature, take a trip to The Dark Side, a specialty store for “all things Geek.”


        Despite the bougie atmosphere and intimidating high-end shops, The Mall at University Town Center (UTC) is pleasant to walk through, with its towering palm trees and wonderful air conditioning. Ogle at the sleek autos in Tesla Motors, sniff scents at Yankee Candle Company or play with technology at the Microsoft Store. Downtown Sarasota’s historic district also has some unique shops, such as Karavan Treasures From Turkey. If one wants to stay closer to campus, trek or bike to the Goodwill on North Tamiami Trail and have fun trying on clothes.


Stroll around one of Sarasota’s many public parks or delve deeper into nature at a national park or reserve. Located right by UTC, Nathan Benderson Park features a 400-acre lake, running and biking trails and picnic areas. Other green spaces include Bayfront Park and Marina, Pinecraft Park on Phillippi Creek, Five Points Park, Payne Park, Urfer Family Park and Arlington Park. At the Celery Fields, the county’s wetland stormwater facility, one can hike up to the observation mound and observe wildlife. The marshes of the 487-acre Robinson Preserve, located in northern Bradenton, are approximately a 30-minute drive from campus.

Eileen Caub/Catalyst
The red bridge at Nathan Benderson Park.

Enjoy the View

        For a great end to the day, jog or take a peaceful nighttime walk across the John Ringling Causeway. The 60-foot-tall bridge provides a scenic view of the Sarasota skyline and Sarasota Bay. Take a break from exercising at Bird Key Park and relax by the water.

          Take a weekend to de-stress, get off-campus with a couple friends and explore what this city has to offer, without worrying about the cost. If transportation is an issue, take advantage of the public bus system, free for New College students, or share a ride with a friend. Life is more than college and many opportunities are accessible to all. This semester, discover a fun, free activity in Sarasota.

Eileen Caub/Catalyst
The Celery Fields hiking trail.

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