Surrounded by 35 miles of beach front on Florida’s Gulf of Mexico, Sarasota is part of a string of little tropical islands called “keys”. They include Longboat Key, Sarasota Bay, Manasota Key, Lido Key, Heron Lagoon, and Little Sarasota Bay.
From cozy villas to luxury resorts, downtown accommodations include The Cypress - A Bed & Breakfast Inn, Gulfcoast Holiday Homes, Hibiscus Suite Inn, the Hyatt Sarasota, Wellesley Inn, and the Ritz Carlton Sarasota. Places to stay along by the Gulf or Longboat Key are Arbors by the Sea Ranch Resort, Beach Castle Resort, Cedars East Tennis Resort, the Hilton Beachfront, and Longboat Key Club.
Where to eat? Popular options include the Crow’s Nest Marina Restaurant, the Colony Dining Room, Bijou Café, Fleming’s Prime Steak House, Hemingway’s, Mediterraneo, Golden Apple Dinner Theatre, Marina Jack, Crab & Fin, Sam Snead Tavern, Yacht Starship Dining Cruises, or the Marine Seafood Company.
Attractions and historic places to visit include the Ringling Circus Museum, Cà d’Zan Mansion, Sarasota Jungle Gardens, Jungle Walk at Historic Spanish Point, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Mote Aquarium and Mantee Exhibit, John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Crowley Museum and Nature Center, the Saturday Morning Farmers’ Market on Pineapple Avenue, and the Venice Fishing Pier at Sharky’s Restaurant, to name a few.
Outdoor venues and nature parks are the Ed Smith Stadium, Youth Athletic Complex, Whitaker Gateway Park, Centennial Park, Sarasota Memorial Park, Island Park, Ken Thompson Park, North Lido Public Beach, Siesta Key Beach, Myakka River State Park, and Oscar Scherer State Park. The best time to see wildlife is at sunrise or sunset.
Golf is big in Sarasota; a few of the over 30 golf courses include Village Green Golf Club, Forest Lakes Club, Laurel Oak Country Club, Bent Tree Country Club, Stoneybrook Golf & Country Club, Bobby Jones golf Complex, and Foxfire Golf Club.
For shopping, try the Gulf Gate Mall, Sarasota Square Shopping Centre, the Plaza at Palmer Ranch, Artisans World Marketplace, and St. Armands Circle.
Annual events include Sarasota Highland Games and Festival, Thunderbay Motorcycle Festival, the Sarasota Reading Festival, and the Ringling Festival.
Written by: Natasha Lawrence