If you're planning a Sarasota vacation and you want information
on area sights, entertainment and Sarasota hotels and resorts
as low as $39, you've come to the right place.
has long been known as the cultural capital of Florida.
The reputation is well deserved. A beautiful Italian Renaissance
villa turned art museum, the John and Mable Ringling Museum
of Art houses a superb collection of Baroque paintings,
plus exquisite 17th-century tapestries. Next door, the Ringling
residence, Ca' d' Zan (House of John), a 30- room mansion
set on scenic Sarasota Bay, is an architectural showcase,
modeled after a Venetian palace. The Circus Museum on the
Ringling grounds contains memorabilia from the "Big Top"
-- parade wagons, photographs, costumes, and colorful posters.
The Asolo Center for the Performing Arts is a superb
regional theater, as well as a teaching conservatory providing
film and theater training. Honored by the state of Florida
for its high quality of artistic production and performance,
the Sarasota Opera Association presents four operas in February
and March, and occasional concerts. A prestigious, bi-county
orchestra, the Florida West Coast Symphony presents concerts
with a variety of internationally known guest artists. Sarasota's
bayfront is the site of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
which showcases a variety of performing arts. The Sarasota
Ballet makes its home downtown in the Sarasota Opera House.
Horticulture buffs and anyone who delights in nature's miraculous
wonders must visit Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. This peaceful
place specializes in exquisite orchids and colorful bromeliads.
Displays at the Mote Marine Aquarium are a means to explain
the work of Mote scientists to visitors and to encourage
an understanding and appreciation of the aquatic environment.
The lab is world renowned for its scientific research, particularly
research on sharks and the assessment of environmental pollutants.
The Aquarium offers visitors an informative and close-up
look at the sea life that inhabits nearby coastal waters.
Siesta Key, connected to the Sarasota mainland by two bridges,
is best known for its powdery white sand beach, the widest
and most popular in the county. Since the 1987 "Great International
White Sand Challenge," the sugar fine sand here has been
officially top-rated. Independent judges selected Siesta
Key's sand over 29 other entries, including the Bahamas
and Grand Cayman, as the whitest and most powdery sand in
the world. Siesta Village, located mid-key, is a vibrant
area filled with beachwear shops, art galleries and eateries.
Bright umbrellas adorn the outdoor cafés that exhibit a
sit-and-relax atmosphere. Board one of the Siesta Key trolleys
for an overview of this beautiful barrier island.
St. Armands Circle alone is worth a trip to the area.
Here more than 145 elite shops and boutiques carry quality
merchandise from accessories by top designers to distinctive
T-shirts. Several fine restaurants and fun ice cream parlors
also line the Circle. Most shops close during the evening,
but offer magnificent displays for window shoppers! Also
in the evening, you can enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride
around the Circle.
For the more active visitor, Sarasota has much to offer.
Besides watersports, fishing, and tennis, Sarasota is home
to many fine golf courses. A municipal baseball stadium
is used for spring training by the Cincinnati Reds. Nearby,
greyhounds race at the Sarasota Kennel Club from December
through June. To hike, canoe, bike-ride or freshwater fish,
travel to Myakka State Park, Florida's largest. So just
kick back, relax and let your cares dissolve in Florida's
number-one west coast paradise. Sarasota -- the relaxing
side of Florida.