Sarasota County is a beautiful subtropical destination and cultural hot spot located on Florida’s Gulf Coast 80km south of Tampa. The city of Sarasota is on the mainland and the six beautiful barrier islands are easily reached by either a scenic walk or drive over Sarasota Bay, with properties located on or within a short walk to the beach and great shops and restaurants nearby. As Sarasota was voted America’s No. 1 small city for art, it is the perfect destination for lovers of art and culture; visitors can choose from performing arts, opera, ballet, internationally acclaimed festivals and discovering the area's unique circus heritage. Award-winning white sandy beaches, jewel blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico and an eclectic variety of cultural activities make Sarasota the perfect escape for couples and families.
There are an abundance of sugar white sand beaches to be found in Sarasota and the extensive coastline is lined by six islands, each revealing its own personality. Lido Key has a variety of beaches including the unspoilt and secluded North Lido Beach or the family friendly Lido Beach. Longboat Key is a more manicured area with exclusive beachfront communities. On the extreme southern end of Longboat Key is Quick Point Nature Reserve offering scenic bay beach views and excellent bird watching opportunities surrounded by beautiful lagoons. Venice Beach is famous for the prehistoric sharks’ teeth and beautiful shells that are found along the shore, great for beachcombers of all ages; divers also love this area for its stunning reef. Casperson Beach is best reserved for beachgoers wanting an unspoilt and secluded experience.
SIESTA BEACH, SARASOTA - THE #1 BEACH IN AMERICA 2017
Siesta Beach, Sarasota boasts that it has the finest, whitest sand in the world, which attracts sand collectors and beach lovers from all over. The clear, clean waters along this gently-sloping beach-face make for ideal swimming. The beach is hundreds of yards wide, attracting fitness fans and volleyball players. Siesta is a year-round beach that is very popular with snowbirds during the winter months. There are lifeguards along this crescent-shaped beach along with full amenities. Recent upgrades include expanded parking, while maintaining the beautiful natural environment, and a free trolley to transport beachgoers.
The Trip Advisor Choice Awards 2017 placed Siesta Key in the top five beaches in the world & Dr. Beach named Siesta Key as the number one beach in the US in 2017.
Art & Culture
Sarasota County is known as Florida’s Cultural Coast and offers an assortment of cultural activities. The crown jewel of the Sarasota cultural scene is The Ringling Museum, John and Mable Ringling brought the circus to Sarasota in 1927 and created a legacy that continues to this day. The Asian Art Wing of The Ringling Museum, which opened in January 2016 showcases a modern design in contrast to the rest of the estate. Visitors can also head to the 1926 art deco theatre to experience superb acoustics at the Sarasota Opera, or The Gulf Coast’s professional ballet company, Sarasota Ballet for both classics and modern works. Sarasota Ballet just celebrated its 25th anniversary in the 2015-16 season. Sarasota hosts a range of cultural and arts celebrations throughout the year such as the Greek Glendi and Venice’s Italian Feast & Carnival in February, the Sarasota Film Festival in April and the Sarasota Music Festival in June. The Ringling International Arts Festival is a four day event held annually in October showcasing a variety of dance, music and theatre from around the world.
Nathan Benderson Park opened in Spring 2012, the 400-acre lake has been transformed into a world class rowing facility that hosted the World Rowing Championships in 2017 and will host it again in September 2018. Events at Nathan Benderson Park will also include Triathlons, Canoe & Kayaking, Stand-up Paddleboarding, Dragon Boat Racing, Water Polo and 5k & 10k Runs. A playground and paths for walking and cycling add to the variety of entertainment in the park. Sarasota also offers over 30 exceptional golf courses at terrific values.
Outdoors & Nature
With year-round warmth and lush landscape Sarasota County is the perfect destination for exploring the great outdoors and connecting with nature. Visitors can head inland to Myakka River State Park – one of Florida’s oldest and largest state parks. The 148km of nature serve as popular hiking, fishing and camping destinations. Visitors can walk among the treetops on the Canopy Walkway or kayak in the Myakka Lake tributary and get up close to alligators. Paddle boarding along Lido Key or kayaking through the mangrove tunnels on Sarasota Bay allows visitors to see dolphins and manatees in their natural habitat. The Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium offers up-close experiences with turtles, manatees, sharks and over 100 species of marine life, including two touch pools, viewable working labs and high-tech interactive exhibits this is great day out for families. The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is a beautiful public garden with over 20,000 exotic plants, research and education centre offering a butterfly garden, banyan grove and a new Rainforest Garden exhibit, and plenty of room for little ones to stretch their legs. Visitors to the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium can learn first-hand from the biologists about the local marine life, you can even head out on the water on a research boat trip and help out on the surveys of local shark or sting-ray population.
Shopping & Dining
The colourful neighbourhoods of Sarasota offer visitors a variety of shopping and dining experiences. The Mall at University Town Centre, the area's newest shopping district, is a two-level enclosed shopping centre and features a Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's, along with over 100 other shops; it is one of the biggest developments in South West Florida. Downtown Sarasota is a vibrant area with scores of independently owned shops and St. Armands Circle has a wide variety of high-end boutiques, alternatively the trend hunters can head to Southside Village. Eight main shopping districts in the area can be found, along with unique artist colonies for shopping and browsing. Sarasota offers a wide range of dining options from casual beachside restaurants to world–class elegant resort dining, and has the highest concentration of zagat-rated restaurants than anywhere else in Florida.