Welcome To Sarasota

BEACHES

Sarasota has over 35 miles of beaches, including the most famous: Siesta Key Beach, consistently voted the best beach in the world, its white powdery sand is 99% pure quartz and always cool underfoot.  North of Siesta Key across Big Pass is Lido Key with several popular beaches.South Lido is a popular boating and fishing spot. North along the Gulf of Mexico is the main public beach with a large public swimming pool and Lido Public Beach. Just off Lido in the Gulf of Mexico the annual Suncoast Offshore Grand Prix boat race is run in July. In south Sarasota County are the towns of Osprey and Nokomis. While most of Casey Key's beaches are not accessible to the public, at the southern tip of Casey Key are Nokomis Beachand North Jetty Park, which are popular fishing spots. South of Osprey and Nokomis, FL is the City of Venice, Florida. Venice has several beaches including Brohard Park, which is the only beach to allow dogs.

RESTAURANTS

Dining next to the beaches watching a sunset or in the many national chains or in the many locally-owned breakfast spots and bistros that pop up all the time visitors and residents are spoiled for choice. When the sun goes down in Sarasota, the music starts and dancing begins in many Sarasota area nightclubs.

SHOPPING

From the many consignment shops to the glitz of St. Armand’s Circle to the downtown area with its art galleries and boutiques and the many shopping malls,Sarasota, Florida offers shoppers many choices.

SPORTS

With its balmy winter climate sporting activities and sports abound in Sarasota. From Major League Baseball spring training facilities - the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium and nearby Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton- to an abundance of public tennis courts, golf courses and water sports such as sailing and kayaking, a vacation in Sarasota can be as active as you want. Throughout the year there are also a number of sports tournaments and events held in Sarasota such as the annual AAU amateur baseball tournament, to beach volleyball and the Suncoast Offshore Grand Prix powerboat race.Nathan Benderson Park is located in Sarasota,Florida. It is slated to become North America’s premier 2,000-meter rowing sprint course and regatta center by 2014. Over $40 million is committed to the facility’s future development, including 2,200 meter racing lanes and straight shorelines by 2013, coaching lanes. The Park will also be home to numerous other paddle sport competitions, from dragon boats to canoe and kayak races, as well as triathlon and cross country events. And to top it all off, the Park is located immediately adjacent to University Town Center–Southwest Florida’s premier shopping, dining and entertainment destination opening in October 2014!

MOVIES

There are ten movie theaters in and around Sarasota from deluxe cinema complexes to an Indie Art House – the Burns Court Theater.

CULTURAL ACTIVITIES

Sarasota is known as Florida's "cultural coast" and is home to the State Museum of Florida, the Ringling Museum. Along with the Ringling,Sarasota is home to many theaters, art galleries and the area is home to many internationally known artists.

The Art Center Sarasota presents the community with a broad spectrum of workshops, exhibits, classes, and arts education programming in the visual arts, led by respected and nationally known professionals, and emphasizing the work of living artists.

The Englewood Art Center is dedicated to promoting the knowledge and appreciation of the arts through demonstrations, critiques, exhibits, and classes. Featuring the Annual Fine Art Show in March. Art classes and workshops for all age groups are scheduled year around in a variety of media. Classes are taught by prominent artists renowned for their instruction capabilities. We strive to offer the best! We offer many open studio opportunities. The Main Gallery features regularly scheduled exhibitions throughout the year.

Longboat Key Center for the Arts was established in 1952 and supports and encourages visual arts in the Sarasota/Longboat Key community. The 3-acre, 4-building campus offers a variety of activities including: Art classes for all ages and skill levels, beginner to advanced, exhibitions in three unique galleries, concerts, lectures, and other special events.

The Museum of Asian Art is dedicated to enhancing awareness and understanding of the arts and cultures of Asia through exhibition, education and research programs. The museum is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays,

The Players is a Florida not-for-profit organization There are six major Broadway shows in a year from late Sept. - April; up to 13 special events during the season such as big band, jazz evening, opera and cultural exchange; and up to 10 concerts.

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is set on a 66-acre estate on Sarasota Bay It was established in 1927 as the legacy of John Ringling (1866-1936) and his wife, Mable (1875 to 1929). Recognized as the official State Art Museum of Florida, the Museum of Art offers 21 galleries of European paintings as well as Cypriot antiquities, Asian Art, American paintings, and contemporary art.

The Sarasota Ballet of Florida performs a blend of classical and contemporary styles from September through April. The Sarasota Ballet also maintains the Sarasota Ballet Academy, offering dance training for talent of different ages. Also under the aegis of the Sarasota Ballet are Dance: The Next Generation, an award-winning, seven-year, full-scholarship program for youth at risk, as well as an International Summer School and an active school outreach program.

Sarasota Opera presents concerts year-round and is home to one of the finest youth opera programs in the country. English translations simultaneously projected above the stage. The company purchased the former A.B.Edwards Theater in downtown Sarasota in 1979. Renovations began in 1982 and the theater, now on the National Register of Historic Places, opened in 1984 as the Sarasota Opera House.

Ringling College's Selby Gallery is Sarasota's premier gallery for contemporary visual arts. It is a professional on-campus exhibition space that serves as both a center of learning and hub of extracurricular activity. The 3,000-square-foot Gallery presents major exhibitions by nationally and internationally celebrated artists, designers, illustrators and photographers from diverse cultural backgrounds and eras. In addition, the world-renowned Ringling College faculty, as well as the students they teach, present their creative skills in the yearly faculty show and Best of Ringling annual Ringling College juried student exhibition.

The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall right on Sarasota Bay hosts national and international performances of Broadway musicals, songs, dances and world-class orchestras. Their mission is to present a broad spectrum of the world's finest performing artists in order to meet the diverse cultural needs of all of Southwest Florida's residents and visitors; to bring visiting artists into the community for meaningful education and outreach programs that help develop new audiences and provide a quality home for other local cultural organizations.

The Venice Little Theater Nationally is an acclaimed community theater which offers shows year round in two theatrer. Broadway musicals, classic and contemporary dramas, comedic plays, cabarets and concerts featuring name performers.

The Howard Bros. Circus, the largest miniature circus in the world, is on permanent display in the Ringling Circus Museum’s new Tibbals Learning Center at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Philanthropist and master model builder, Howard C. Tibbals, built the ¾-to-the-inch model, with its 55 railroad cars, 8 circus tents, 130 circus wagons, 200-animal menagerie and 1,500 artists and workers, to be an authentic replica of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus during the late 1930s. 

OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

The clean air, warm temperatures, white beaches, pristine rivers and wooded areas of Sarasota County and the City of Sarasota have led to hundreds of public parks being built, many of which include lighted tennis courts. In addition to the miles of beaches, there are jogging paths, recreation trails, kayak launches and miles of bicycle trails and paths. Myakka River State Park is a multiple route trail located near Sarasota,Florida. The trail is good for all skill levels and primarily used for mountain biking & off road driving. The recently completed Legacy Trail attracts bikers and hikers year round. Boating and canoeing is permitted in several county parks. There is also a kayak launch at Phillippi Estate Park on South Tamiami Trail with plenty of parking, although you may need a cart to carry your kayak down the path from the parking to the launch.Blackburn Point Park on Blackburn Point Rd.in Osprey as the easiest kayak launch access as you can drive your car down the ramp to unload your kayak.

Tennis is a popular activity year round. Some public park sites offer hard surface courts with lighted courts for nighttime play and with no fee charged for usage. Payne Park tennis facility has nine, lighted professional Har-Tru court surfaces. Annual, monthly and daily memberships are available for families and individuals.

Boating

Away from the commercial marine traffic and urban bustle of Florida’s Tampa Bay is the easygoing amble of Sarasota, just a few nautical miles south along the state’s central west coast. But in and around Sarasota is as much about her barrier islands as it is the city proper. And when you talk about the “Sister Keys” as they’re called, then you’re really talking laid back. The Gulf of Mexico offers normally placid waters near shore and the keys provide easy line-of-sight navigation. But beware your draft as many of these areas are shallow and shoal easily. Also keep in mind that this region marks the southern end of the world’s largest manatee population. At certain times of the year sea cows are everywhere and there are posted speed zones enforced year round.Marinas abound. From the high end to more modest, any water enthusiast can find what they need.

Golf. 

Mention golf and Sarasota comes to mind. The first golf course ever built in the USA was built in Sarasota. Now there are literally dozens of golf course here. Many are public, many more private and some of the clubs are semi-private, allowing some limited public play. Some are rated five stars such as the University Golf and Country Club. Some have been designed by the likes of Arnold Palmer and Arthur Hills.

EVENTS

Sarasota offers a variety of events throughout the year put on by a number of non-profit and for profit organizations. From rodeo to wine tasting, and musical events ranging from the latest rock to classical can be found at venues here. The Annual Black and White Ball benefits the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The Sarasota Film Festival has been held annually since 1999 in April and has become one of the top ten independent film festivals in North America.The Cine-World International Film Festival is held each year by the Film Society in November. The Florida Wine Fest, Empty Bowls, Giving Hunger the Blues, the Great Teddy Bear Run (Harley Bikers) for charity,  the Holiday Parade, the Suncoast Offshore Parade of power boats, the Play Reading Festival, the Comedy Festival the Blues Festival, the Reading Festival, the Medieval Fair, the Scottish Highland Games, the Suncoast Wine Festival, Sarasota Chalk Festival a Taste of Sarasota, A Taste of the Suncoast, Thunder by the Bay with Harley Bikers, and of course the Suncoast Offshore Power Boat Grand Prix are amongst the most prominent events that raise large amounts of money for charities.

ATTRACTIONS

Circus Sarasota - Sarasota's own resident circus. Circus Sarasota presents exciting professional family entertainment in winter performances under the big-top and special events and classes throughout the year.

Crowley Museum and Nature Center- The self-guided nature trail winds through the property from dry pine flatwoods, shady oak hammocks, over the Maple Branch swamp, and out to the edge of Tatum Sawgrass Marsh along the Myakka River. The wide trails offer easy and pleasant walking conditions that are enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. The Museum exhibits a variety of historic objects, household furnishings and tools.

Florida Gulf Coast Railroad Museum- The Museum offers one of the most unique museum experiences in the world. Here you "Ride the Exhibits!" The Museum operates weekend excursions year-round from the Train Station in Parrish,Florida.

Historic Spanish Point - Historic Spanish Point is a 30-acre historical, archaeological and environmental museum. Here you can walk through the history of the area from the region's earliest people and their shell mounds to the inhabitants of the early 1900s.

John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art - The Museum of Art, built by John Ringling to house his personal collection of masterpieces, today features paintings and sculptures by the great Old Masters including Rubens, van Dyck, Velázquez, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, El Greco, Gainsborough and more. In addition you can tour the Cà d'Zan Mansion, the Ringlings' dazzling palatial mansion with its 56 furnished rooms, a tribute to the American Dream which reflects the splendor and romance of Italy. Also housed on the grounds is the famous Circus Museum celebrating the American circus and its history.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens - The 9.5-acre bayfront Selby Gardens property is an open-air and under-glass museum of more than 20,000 colorful plants. The gardens specialize in tropical plants, especially epiphytes (plants that grow on other plants).Selby Gardens is perhaps best known for its living collection of more than 6,000 orchids.

Mote Mariner Laboratory - At Mote Aquarium, you can explore the secrets of the sea through touch pools, viewable-working labs and high-tech interactive exhibits that showcase the world-renowned research of Mote Marine Laboratory. See sharks, dolphins, manatees and sea turtles, along with more than 100 other species of marine life.

Myakka River State Park - One of the largest parks in Florida, Myakka features some of the most diverse natural areas. The Myakka River flows through 58 square miles of wetlands, prairies, hammocks, and pine lands. Enjoy the wildlife from a boardwalk that stretches out over the Upper Myakka Lake or take a walk along the canopy walkway. You can also enjoy boating on the park's river and two lakes, hike along trails that cross dry prairie, or take a lake tour on the world's two largest air boats. Full-facility campgrounds and primitive campsites are available.

Sarasota Classic Car Museum- The Sarasota Classic Car Museum is recognized as one of the Nation's oldest continuously operating antique car museums. The museum has rotating exhibits throughout the year featuring antique, exotic, European and one-of-a-kind car classics.

Sarasota Jungle Gardens-Sarasota Jungle Gardens features 10 acres of tropical vegetation, winding trails and entertaining, educational bird and reptile shows. Also featured are the American Flamingos that will eat out of the palm of your hand.

Save Our Seabirds - SOS is a group dedicated to working with injured and disabled seabirds. View their facility and see the many birds they are rehabilitating. They are directly across from the Mote Marine Laboratory so it is easy to enjoy both the same day.

Siesta Key Public Beach - One of the world's best beaches for its power white sand that is soft and cool on the feet as well as its breath-taking sunsets, easy-going waves. Best of all, it's free. This is an absolute must see if you come toS arasota.

South Florida Museum, Parker Manatee Aquarium and Bishop Planetarium are in nearby Bradenton. Three great attractions in one stop. The South Florida Museum shows the region from the prehistoric to the present with life-size dioramas and exhibits based on its extensive collections of anthropological artifacts. The Manatee Aquarium is a second stage rehabilitation facility for manatees that will be released back into the wild. It is also the permanent home to Manatee County's most famous resident and official mascot, ‘Snooty’, the manatee. Bishop Planetarium is a domed theater, boasting one of the most advanced all-digital projection systems in the world. The planetarium is a remarkable astronomy education resource, allowing visitors to explore their universe through traditional live star talks and virtual journeys to the far reaches of the universe.