Aerial View of Sarasota Florida Mangroves and Intercoastal Waterways
Why visit Sarasota Florida?
You will want to visit Sarasota Florida this Winter for the white sand beaches, turquoise waters and amazing weather. As an added bonus, you will enjoy; Fresh local gulf coast cuisine, gorgeous hotels, boating, water sports, a burgeoning arts district, live theatre, a charming downtown, nature, wildlife and so much more!Sarasota Florida, an understated Southwest gulf coast town has been a secret gem for many years. It is quickly being discovered by the rest of the country & the World……including West Coasters like me!
Where exactly is Sarasota Florida?
Sarasota is located approximately 1 hour Southwest of Tampa, Florida, just over 2 hours (without traffic) from Orlando, 1 hour 20 minutes Northwest of Fort Myers Florida, and 35 minutes Southeast of Bradenton Florida. You can fly into Tampa or Orlando for international flights and Sarasota (SRQ) for regional flights.
The Ringling Museum
Where to go for culture & history in Sarasota Florida
There are not many tropical locations where you can spend a morning on the white sand beaches and later an afternoon visiting a state of the art museum like The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.
Located in the Northern part of Sarasota, The John and Mable Ringling Museum was established in 1927 as the legacy of Mable Burton Ringling and John Ringling (Circus Family). It is a place of
art, architecture, and circus in an environment that inspires, educates, and entertains according to the website.
During your visit you can also visit CA’ D’ Zan Mansion
and the Circus Museum
located on the same grounds.
Spanish Point Chapel
In Southern Sarasota, you can spend an afternoon learning about the early history of Florida. Listen to stories about the Webb family pioneers, homesteading and the very different lifestyle residents of Southwest Florida experienced in the 1800’s. Early settlers braved the heat, humidity, insects, illness, fires, and risk of hurricanes to settle and build up the gulf coast region. Spanish Point
includes 30-acres of nature and gardens, and historic buildings.
Where to go for live theatre in Sarasota Florida?
Florida Studio Theatre – Downtown Sarasota
Theatre is plentiful in Sarasota Florida! Located in charming downtown Sarasota is my favorite option FST or Florida Studio Theatre
. It is a contemporary regional theatre offering a village of theatres – the historic Keating and Gompertz Theatres, the Parisian-style Goldstein and John C. Court Cabarets, and Bowne’s Lab Theatre.The Theatre offers 6 major programs: the Mainstage Series, the Cabaret Series, the Stage III series, WRITE A PLAY, Education, and New Play Development. It has the 3rd largest subscription in the nation!
Other close by theatrical opportunities include The Asolo Repetory Theatre. The Asolo is Florida’s premier professional theatre. It stages up to fifteen productions every season. The Asolo Rep has a partnership with the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training, ranked among the top ten actor training programs in the country. The Van Wezel Theatre offers more than 100 events, Presenting spectacular Broadway musicals, top national and international performers, popular comedians, world-class symphony orchestras and a mix of classical, modern and ethnic dance. The Players Theatre is Sarasota’s Community theatre offering. Their motto is “Entertain, educate and engage the community through high quality live theatre”.
Where to go for the art scene in Sarasota Florida?
Towles Court Artist Colony
There are many opportunities to explore the art scene in Sarasota all year long. During season Towles Court Artist Colony
offers an art walk every third Friday October through May from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m
. This off the beaten path collection of bungalow style homes from the 1920’s was converted into an experimental artist community in the mid 90’s to preserve the homes, and to bring artists together in a live-work, studio-driven neighborhood.Looking to score an original by an artist before they become famous?! Check out the galleries at the Ringling School of Art & Design
open Monday through Friday 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Ringling is a private art school founded in 1931 in collaboration with John and Mable Ringling.
Where to explore cool neighborhoods in Sarasota?
Other artsy neighborhoods include Gillespie Park
and The Rosemary District downtown Sarasota.
Both communities are embracing the same eclectic artsy community vibe as Towels Court. These burgeoning neighborhoods share boundaries, but Gillespie Park’s vibe includes cute bungalow style homes situated on nice-size lots near a beautiful city park. The Rosemary District is more of an urban (kind of gritty) hipster scene combining amenity filled modern apartment buildings with very little green space. Burns Court Square Neighborhood is home to the Sarasota Film Society and Burns Court Cinema
. Sarasota Film Festival
is held annually in the Spring where over 100 features & themed shorts are screened as well as parties and events.
Just outside the boundary of downtown is The Laurel Park neighborhood with coffee shops, boutiques and quaint renovated Florida bungalows with hefty price tags.
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Where to explore nature in Sarasota Florida?
Did you know that Siesta Key beach is consistently ranked at the top of the list for best beaches in the United States and the World? You need to find out why! They are kind of perfect. In addition to the gorgeous beaches, you have Selby Gardens, Mote Marine Aquarium and laboratory, Myakka State Park, kayaking & SUPing, boating, fishing, snorkeling and diving just to name a few. The flora and fauna is amazing and can be experienced without making an effort. It is not uncommon for manatees to swim in canals near houses and American bald eagles to be soaring overhead at any given moment. It is a nature lover’s paradise.
Life Guard Station Siesta Key Beach
Siesta Key Beach Sunset
Where to go to the beach in Sarasota Florida?
The Gulf beaches located on barrier islands off of Sarasota Florida include Siesta Key, Long Boat Key and Casey Key. They are all spectacular beaches, but each one has its own vibe.
Siesta Key has a low key Parrot Head vibe with tiki hut bars, local shops and 8 miles of award winning beaches of white quartz sand that feels like baby powder. Siesta Key also offers a recently renovated bathhouse and public beach that is outstanding.
Long Boat Key has a more manicured feel and less public beach access. Long Boat offers St. Armand’s Circle which offers upscale boutiques and elevated restaurants and cafes.
Casey Key has very few public beaches and offers some of the most expensive Gulf front real estate in the county. Make sure to visit each of these beaches to see which one is your favorite! They all share the same magical sunset show that can’t be missed while visiting the region!
What State Parks to visit in Sarasota Florida?
Before the high-rise condos and strip malls there was Myakka River State Park.
Witness arching palm trees and live oaks reflecting on a winding tea-colored stream. Cries of osprey pierce the air while alligators and turtles sun lazily on logs and riverbanks. Boat rides, camping, biking, a swinging tree hammock walk and birding are activities for the nature lovers who visit this pristine state park. Oscar Sherer State Park
is another state park to visit especially for those visitors into birding. The endangered scrub jay is a resident of this park.
You may have heard of red tide? Red tide has been an ominous threat to the Southwest Florida region in recent years. Although it is a naturally occurring phenomenon, it is thought to be exasperated by fertilizers and polluted waters. Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium is studying this challenge to the Gulf of Mexico and working hard to solve the problem. They also study marine life in the region such as the “threatened” manatee or sea cow. These adorable herbivorous marine mammals live in the warm waters of the Sarasota area during the winter. They can also be seen swimming in the Gulf, sometimes you will see Mothers with their offspring and it is the cutest thing ever!
Manatee with offspring
Gardens to visit in Sarasota Florida?
Marie Selby Gardens Koi Pond
The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is a 15-acre botanical garden located on the bay in Sarasota. It is
is a living museum and world-class center for education, research and conservation. The highlights include gigantic Banyan trees, orchids and a spectacular views of the bay.
Where to stay in Sarasota?
Sarasota Florida has a wide variety of accommodations. Luxury hotels, moderately priced hotels, Mom & Pop motels, homestays and everything in between. Here are several recommendations in different price ranges. These rates are based on a December stay. Keep in mind during season (January through April) prices are higher and availability is limited.
Hotel options in Sarasota Florida
The Ritz Carlton
The Ritz Carlton Sarasota – Casual Seaside Luxury The Ritz is luxurious! The Sarasota Ritz is located downtown Sarasota and offers everything you need plus more when visiting Sarasota. They offer beach and golf club access to their guests. The rates range from $500 to over $1000. You will be right downtown with a Sarasota Bay view.
The Westin Sarasota
Homestay options in Sarasota Florida
1920’s Renovated Florida Bungalow
Lido Key Beach Sarasota
A returning resident touting the benefits of this Southwest Gulf Coast city!
This is a great city to visit, reside or to spend Winters away from Cold temperatures. If you are interested in Real Estate pricing for a second home or primary residence you can contact my better half & husband who is a real estate broker with 25 years real estate experience and runs a Sarasota real estate company. Mark Hughes – President Nook Real Estate
941-312-1708. Feel free to ask any me any other questions about the area!