If you want your Florida sun with more than a hint of sophistication then you should soak up the sights on the pretty beaches of cultured Sarasota. It is known for its vibrant arts community, excellent restaurants, unique shopping and the respectful development of its beautiful beaches. The Asolo Theater, Florida West Coast Symphony, Sarasota Opera, the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall all help to give Sarasota a distinctly civilized air, and there are frequent art shows that would not be out of place in Florida’s larger metropolitan centres. Sarasota is also home to the Ringling Museum of Art and the Selby Botanical Gardens which mean there is plenty to see and do alongside the usual beach and water-based activities of a Florida resort.
Areas & Neighbourhoods in and around Sarasota
Saint Armands Key – Here you will find Saint Armands Circle, an upscale outdoor shopping area, with several cafes and restaurants to enjoy too. Designed in a charming circular pattern, and set amongst a flourishing landscape, this makes for a breathtaking shopping experience.
Longboat Key — Home to the Longboat Key Club, that includes two golf courses, tennis and many other resort facilities.
Siesta Key Beach - The beaches are a major draw to the area. Siesta Key Beach is consistently ranked as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and, gazing over its soft white sands, azure waters and tasteful development, it’s easy to see why. The sand here has a unique sugary texture due to its origins as quartz, rather than pulverized coral as is more usually the case. Crescent Beach, Turtle Beach and Lido Beach are all equally beautiful and accessible.
Anna Maria Island – Tantalisingly close to Sarasota is the attractive Anna Maria Island which offers ramshackle beach cottages, seaside snack stands and beachside bars. Head for Anna Maria Bayfront Park, at the island’s northern tip, for fantastic views and the chance to watch pelicans feeding as the day’s sun sets.
Things to See in Sarasota
Aside from the natural beauty of the beaches, Sarasota offers many cultural pleasures to take in. Sarasota Jungle Gardens are perfectly sculpted and stocked with exotic plants and the exotic animal or two as well. The Ringling Estate features 66 acres of lush grounds and landscaping, historic buildings and a number of must-see attractions. These include the collection of Old Masters in the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the fascinating cultural history of the Circus Museum, the Venetian and Gothic splendour of the Cà d’Zan Mansion and the Historic Asolo Theater, which is an 18th century treasure hosting the best 21st century performance art.
Things to Do in Sarasota
To help you really relax on the beaches a visit to Siesta Key Rum may be in order, where you can sample the wares and kiss away your cares. At the beach itself there is parasailing, scuba diving, snorkelling, boat trips, fishing and an athletic area equipped with volleyball courts. Watch the sun set and join in with the local drummers as they see out the day to a compelling rhythm. A visit to Historic Spanish Point helps you learn about the past 5,000 years of history in Southwest Florida through interactive exhibits and visual displays. If you are looking for a little adventure you can find it just beyond the beaches in a vast wilderness area of more than 100,000 acres that flanks the Myakka River. Here you can explore by horse, mountain bike, kayak or on foot along the many miles of trails.