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Sarasota, Florida

Local Details

Learn more about Sarasota, Florida using the City Guide below. Plan a trip, find local shopping centers, or just discover what makes Sarasota, Florida so great!

Current Temperature

  • 6:58 PM EST Nov. 17

City Guide

Sarasota is a popular city on the Gulf Coast of Florida. It is known for its vibrant arts community, excellent restaurants, unique shopping, and beautiful beaches. Sarasota, although a mid-sized city, is considered to be the cultural center of West Central Florida. The city has a metropolitan flavor unique to cities of its size and to cities in Florida.

The city includes the mainland downtown as well as three islands, called "keys." These are Longboat Key, Lido Key, and Siesta Key. Causeways to all these keys are free and very picturesque. Downtown Sarasota is very vibrant with a healthy mix of businesses, residences, and restaurants, as well as city services. Sarasota is the County Seat of Sarasota County.

The Asolo Theater, Florida West Coast Symphony, Sarasota Opera, the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, and frequent art shows add the the cultural theme of the city, rivaling the facilities of Florida's largest cities. Sarasota is also home to the Ringling Museum of Art, the Selby Botanical Gardens, New College (Florida's public honors college), a USF branch, and the Ringling School of Art and Design.

Sarasota's downtown comprises a true urban cityscape with offices and several upscale downtown condominiums. It is complemented by Saint Armands Circle, on Sait Armands Key, which is surrounded by Lido Key across Sarasota Bay. Saint Armands Circle is an upscale outdoor shopping area, with several cafes, reminiscent of Europe. The idea for Saint Armands was from John Ringling who also intended to build a Ritz hotel on Longboat Key. Today, Sarasota has a Ritz hotel downtown as well as the Longboat Key Club on Ringling's original sight. The Longboat Key Club includes two golf courses, tennis, and all other resort facilities and is located just north of Saint Armands on Longboat Key.

The biggest draw to the area remains the beaches. Siesta Key Beach is consistently ranked among the most beautiful beaches on Earth. Crescent Beach, Turtle Beach, Lido Beach, and the beach running the 15 mile span of Longboat Key are equally beautiful and accessible. Indeed, much of Sarasota's charm comes from the fact that the beaches are so plentiful and accessible.

Get In

By plane

  • Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport (SRQ), 6000 Airport Circle, Sarasota, Phone: 941-359-2777. Located on the border between Sarasota and Manatee counties.

By car

  • Sarasota has one primary expressway, Interstate 75, which runs north to south.
  • The major roads within Sarasota include the Tamiami Trail (which is the name given to US 41 between Tampa and Miami), US Route 301, Beneva Rd. and Cattleman Rd., all running north-to-south, and Clark Rd., Proctor Rd., Bee Ridge Rd., Fruitville Rd. and University Pkwy., all running east-to-west.

See

  • Sarasota Jungle Gardens, 3701 Bay Shore Road, Phone: 941-355-5305, Daily 9AM-5PM. There are 5 shows at the gardens in addition to the grounds themselves which are filled with many interesting plants. As with most early attractions, they offer some animal shows and a chance to see some rare plants, many of which are of extraordinary size. This attraction is a rare opportunity to see what Florida was like in the tourist boom of the early 1900's.
  • The Ringling Estate, 5401 Bay Shore Road, Phone: 941-359-5700, The Ringling Estate is the site of the the Ringling Museum of Art, the Ca d'Zan Mansion, the Circus Museum, and the Asolo Theater.
    • Ringling Museum of Art, The collection focuses primarily on pre-19th century European art.
    • Circus Museum, An impressive collection of circus art and memorabilia that documents the history of the American circus.
    • Ca d'Zan or Ringling Manion, John and Mable Ringling's manion.
  • Sarasota Classic Car Museum, 5500 North Tamiami Trail, Phone: 941-355-6228, Daily 9AM-6PM. Adults $9.50, Seniors $7.65, ages 13-17 $5.75, ages 6-12 $4.
  • The Mote Marine Lab Aquarium, Ken Thompson Pkwy, Phone: 941-388-4441, ext. 348. Daily 10AM-5PM. Adults $15, ages 4-12 $10.
  • Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 811 South Palm Avenue, Phone: 941-366-5731, Daily 10AM-5PM. Adults $12, Children 6-11 $6.

Do

  • Siesta Key Beach. Siesta Key Beach is among the first and foremost reasons for many visitors to come to Sarasota. The sand, which is 99% pure crystal quartz, is often cited as being the cleanest, whitest sand in the world. With an athletic area equipped with vollyball courts, a cookout area complete with grills (bring your own charcoal), and life guards on duty all day, Siesta Key Beach is a great place for famiies and spring breakers alike. On Sundays at sundown, there is a tourist-heavy drum circle where local hippies play and everyone dances.
  • Historic Spanish Point, 337 N. Tamiami Trail. Visit Historic Spanish Point and experience the past 5,000 years of history in Southwest Florida. Open to the general public from M-Sa, 9AM-5PM; Su noon to 5PM. Exhibits range from learning about the Florida Environment, Southwest Florida’s Maritime Heritage, Pioneer Homesteaders, Archaeology and the Bertha Palmer time period of growth in Southwest Florida. The 30 acres of land used as Historic Spanish Point was once the winter estate of Mrs. Palmer. Adults $7, ages 6-12 $3, and under 6 free.
  • St. Armands Circle - Removed from the intensity of downtown Sarasota, St. Armands Circle has an unbelievable selection of original shops, galleries and restaurants. Designed in a charming circular pattern amongst a flourishing landscape, this makes for a breathtaking shopping or afternoon strolling or evening dining experience. Take Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41) to SR 780 W to St. Armands Key, travel over the Ringling Causeway and Sarasota Bay and you will run right into lovely St. Armands Circle.
  • Ed Smith Stadium, 2700 12th Street. The spring training home of the Cincinnati Reds. If you are in the Venice area between February and March, catch a preseason game for between $5 and $12. From April to August the Class A minor-league affiliate team of the Cincinnati Reds, the Sarasota Reds play and tickets are only $5, so bring the entire family for an evening of baseball.
  • South Florida Museum and Parker Manatee Aquarium, 201 10th Street West, Bradenton, Phone: 941-746-4131. Open Jan-Apr and July M-Sa 10AM-5PM; Sun noon-5PM. Rest of the year Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM; Su noon-5PM. Home of the oldest manatee born in captivity and other wonderful aquatic animals and also includes a Native American collection and a Spanish courtyard containing replicas of 16th-century buildings. This is a great place to spend the day with the entire family. From U.S. 41 (Tamiami Trail) take Manatee Av. west to 10th St. W. and turn right. Admission is $9.50 adults, $7.50 seniors, $6 students with ID, $5 children 5-12, free for children 4 and under.
  • Marina Jack, Bayfront Dr. Marina Plaza on the waterfront, Phone:(941) 365-4232. Keep your feet on the land while dining at the Marina Jack Restaurant or take off for an evening around Sarasota Bay on the Marina Jack Dinner Boat. Located on Sarasota Bay, the restaurant offers theatre seating so that everyone can enjoy a view of the waterfront. There is also the Portside Patio Bar for light meals or a drink before dinner. The Dinner Boat is an hour and a half lunch cruise or a two-hour dinner cruise. Plenty of temporarily marina slips available.

Learn

  • University of South Florida at Sarasota, A regional branch of USF. It provides upper-level (junior, senior and graduate-level) courses.
  • New College of Florida, A small, public liberal arts college.
  • Ringling School of Arts and Design.

Buy

  • Westfield Sarasota Square (Formerly Sarasota Square Mall)
  • Westfield Shoppingtown Southgate (Formerly Southgate Mall)
  • Sarasota Pavilion
  • The Landings Shopping Center
  • St. Armands Circle

Eat

  • Esca, 1888 Main St, Phone: 941-365-3722
  • Historic Mel-o-Dee Restaurant, 4685 N Tamiami Trail, Phone: 941-355-5768.
  • Main Street Bar and Sandwich Shop, 1944 Main Street, Phone: 941-955-8733.
  • Sarasota Alehouse, 3800 Kenny Dr, Phone: 941-378-8888.
  • Empress Garden Chinese Restaurant, 6090 N Lockwood Ridge Rd, Phone: 941-359-3658.
  • Tasty Home Cookin', 3854 S Tuttle Ave, 941-921-4969.
  • Yoder's Restaurant, 3434 Bahia Vista St, Phone: 941-955-7771.
  • Sugar and Spice, 4000 Cattlemen Rd, Phone: 941-342-1649.
  • The Table, 1934 Hillview St, Phone: 941-365-4558.
  • Columbia Restaurant, 411 Saint Armands Cir, Phone: 941-388-3987.
  • Cafe Epicure, 1298 N Palm Ave, Phone: 941-366-5648.
  • Cafe Amici, 1371 Main St, Phone: 941-951-6896.
  • Caragiulo's, 69 S Palm Ave, Phone: 941-951-0866.
  • Stonewood Grill & Tavern, 1894 Stickney Point Rd., Phone: 941-927-3969. Fine dining.
  • Stoneybrook Golf and Country Club, 8801 Stoneybrook Blvd,

Phone: (941) 918-9595, lunch and dinner.

Drink

  • Esca Upstairs Bar & Live Music, 1888 Main St, Phone: 941-365-3722 .
  • Gator Club, 1490 Main St, Phone: 941-366-5969, Popular bar and nightclub with entertainment nightly.
  • The Cock & Bull Pub, 975 Cattlemen Road (between Bahia Vista & Palmer), Phone: 941-341-9785.
  • Shakespeare's English Pub, 3550 South Osprey Avenue.
  • G Spot Bar, 6582 Gateway Avenue, Phone: 941-922-7768.

Sleep

  • Best Western Golden Host Resort, 4675 North Tamiami Trail, Phone: (941) 355 5141. Set among five acres of palm trees, hibiscus and native tropical foliage, the Best Western Golden Host Resort is minutes from the beautiful Gulf beaches, Sarasota's Performing Arts and all area attractions.
  • The Ritz Carlton Sarasota. Complete with beach club on Lido Key, located on Tamiami Trail.
  • Hyatt Sarasota, on Sarasota Bay
  • Longboat Key Hilton, in the middle of gorgeous Longboat Key.
  • Longboat Key Club, spanning Longboat Key.

Get out

Sarasota is the place for three things: beaches; shopping; and dining. Siesta Key Beach has a large parking area that is free and open to the public. Westfield Southgate Mall is an upscale mall with a Saks, Macys, and Dillards. Sarasota Square Mall has a Macys, Dillards, JC Penny, and Sears. Saint Armands is a must see with fashion boutiques, restaurants, and beautiful scenery, located outdoors midway between Lido and Longboat Keys. Downtown Sarasota also has several excellent restaurants including C'est La Vie, Marina Jack's, and many others. Main Street in downtown also has several shops.

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