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Sarasota

Photo by Chelle Koster Walton

Sarasota Itineraries

Sarasota Deluxe

Sarasota Hidden & Offbeat

Culture and nature in balance

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Locals consider Sarasota the cultural heart and soul of Southwest Florida. And although the population consists of the usual fluctuation of winter snowbirds and a year-round retirement community, its artsy colleges keep it young.

Sarasota’s arts scene dates back to the early 1900s and the appearance of the Ringling family, who wintered their circus here. John Ringling in particular adopted the fledgling community, building an estate that survives as the city’s most celebrated attraction – The Ringling. It encompasses his Italianate mansion, a museum full of the European Baroque art he collected in Europe, two circus museums, a café, a historic opera house, and lovely bayside gardens and grounds.

In his wake, Ringling left a legacy of performing and visual arts. The Asolo Theatre occupies Ringling grounds. A college that bears his names nurtures young artists. Downtown Sarasota bursts at the seams with theaters and galleries.

On the skirts of the historic downtown scene, Marie Selby Garden occupies yet another historic bayside estate. It is famous for its orchid and its new elevated Children’s Rainforest Garden.


Sarasota Area Islands

Across the bay from downtown, Sarasota wears a necklace of island gems. Closest, Lido Key is home to powder beaches and the dizzying shopping and dining arena known as St. Armands Circle. Here one feels the enduring presence of the Big Top in the Circus Ring of Fame statuary at its heart.

To the north, City Island is home to Mote Marine – an important sea habitat research center that doubles as an aquarium attraction with an educational focus.

Island hopping to the north, motorists reach Longboat Key, an enclave for the well-to-do, and Anna Maria Island, which fronts Sarasota’s close-knit neighbor, Bradenton. Anna Maria boasts wonderfully white, island-casual beaches.

In downtown Bradenton, a renaissance has created a revived riverfront atmosphere. South Florida Museum and Manatee Performing Arts Center the big draws for visitors.

South of downtown Sarasota, the Southside neighborhood and the award-winning snow white beaches of Siesta Key are hot spots for diners, shoppers, sun-lovers, and night-lifers.

Sarasota County’s southernmost towns include charming Venice, which also claims strong ties to the circus. Like Sarasota, it is proud of a strong architectural tradition that takes cues from the Mediterranean styles Ringling loved and its own Sarasota School of Architecture.

Casey Key is the final punctuation mark in the stream of islands in the Sarasota area. Stephen King and a number of other literati and artists have homes on Casey Key, Siesta Key, and other regional islands. Proof that the Sarasota seaside vibe has an inspiring affect, but also that the standard of living in the area ranks at the high end of the Southwest Florida scale.


Sarasota: A City in Balance

But Sarasota is not just all about wealth and high-brow culture. In 2014 it was recognized by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index as America’s Top City for Wellbeing. Credit belongs to Sarasota’s year-round play-outdoors climate and its wealth of green space and playgrounds – from the beach to a world-class rowing competition facility.

All in all, its outdoor scene makes Sarasota one of Florida’s most balanced places to live and visit.


Check out Sarasota Itineraries:

Sarasota Deluxe … Explore Sarasota’s high-brow, high-end treasures
Sarasota Hidden & Offbeat … A circus and other quirky niches


What it Costs

Abstract Pricing at a Glance

Prices often fluctuate dynamically depending on capacity, seasonality and deals. We don’t want to lead you astray by quoting exact prices that quickly become wrong. To give you a rough idea for budgetary planning purposes, though, we have indicated general price ranges for all points of interest.

Price ranges are quoted in $US.

See & Do
N/A => Not applicable
Free
$ => Tickets less than $10 per person
$$ => Tickets $11-25 per person
$$$ => Tickets $26 per person

Sleep
$ => Rooms less than $100 for a double
$$ => Rooms $200 for a double
$$$ => Rooms $300 for a double

Eat
$ => $1-15 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
$ => $16-40 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
$$$ => $41 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)

Shop
N/A => Not applicable

Tours
$ => Tickets less than $10 per person
$$ => Tickets $11-25 per person
$$ => Tickets $26 per person

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