The Sarasota Area

Sarasota and Her Keys - Florida's Culture Coast

It is not unusual to hear German, Italian, and French spoken in Sarasota's shopping and tourist areas. That's because the region is a vacation destination with an international following.  Visitors to Sarasota (and residents) enjoy an abundance of beaches and marine activities across Longboat, Lido, St. Armands, Manasota, Casey, and Siesta Keys. They may come to Sarasota for the sugar-white sands of Siesta Key and colorful Gulf sunsets, but visitors will also find an unexpected variety of cultural activities to experience, from exploring the history of the circus at the Ringling Campus, to the acoustic acclaims of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, or kayaking at the Jim Neville Marine Preserve.  On the page below you will find links to Sarasota's cultural institutions, eco-venues, family friendly educational opportunities, regional festivals, and (of course) golf courses.

Visitors to Sarasota can enjoy beach-side living just minutes from cultural amenities expected of a major metropolitan center. Some of the most notable are listed below. 

Eco-venues abound in the region. Mangroves, Myakka and Mineral Springs are three of the more prominent.  Visitors can rent kayaks and explore the mangrove tunnels of South Lido, or traverse North America's first canopy trail in Myakka River State Park.  Popular eco-venues in the region include:

Historic Spanish Point is an excellent place to learn about the lives of Florida Pioneers. Guided walking tours include not only insights into pioneer lives, but feature an  archaeological dig that spans centuries of native American life on the shores of Little Sarasota Bay.  Children (and their parents) will especially enjoy visits with sharks, sea turtles and manatees at Mote Aquarium.  Educational opportunities include:

The Selby Memorial Library in downtown Sarasota is a "must see" for small children.  They will enjoy the library's children's collection and be intrigued by its walk through aquarium.  Internet connected PCs are available.  Bring your laptop, the library (and much of downtown) is covered by wireless.

Downtown Sarasota, especially the area around "five points", is very walkable.  Most buildings are one and two stories; many are early 20th century, some are art deco.  Interesting boutiques and restaurants abound.  Most downtown restaurants are Zagat-rated; many offer a sidewalk dining experience.

Sarasota is home to many festivals and celebration events during the year, not the least of which is The Sarasota Film Festival. How many cities have a "cricket festival"?..... Sarasota does!  Many events are listed in the table below.  The "*" indicates additional related events in different months are listed on the linked website:




 January  *   St.Armands Circle Art Festival
 February  *  Venice Italian Festival
 February  *  Downtown Sarasota Festival of the Arts
 March  *  Sarasota Film Festival
 March  *  Sarasota Jazz Festival
 March    Sarasota Folk Festival
 March  *  All Florida Championship Rodeo
 April  *  Siesta Fiesta 
 May    Festival on the Bay on the Van Wezel
 June  *  St.Armands Circle Craft Festival
 July    July 4th Fireworks (Siesta Key's Public Beach)
 July    Vinyl Music Festival
 October    Sarasota Blues Festival
 October    Hispanic Latino Festival
 October  *  St. Armands Art Festival
 October  *  Downtown Sarasota Art & Craft Festival
 November    International 6-a-side Cricket Festival
 December    Pearlman Music Program - Winter Residency Sarasota
 December    New Years Eve Celebration (Downtown Sarasota) 

Golf?  Many of Sarasota's founding residents were Scots.  The large number of golf courses in the area is their cultural legacy.  There are 56 courses in Sarasota County alone.  Locations, telephone numbers and links to current club information are available on the Herald Tribune's excellent website.

All this and Sarasota still holds its own as a financial, business, transportation, and government center.  Small manufacturing operations and distribution centers are to be found on the city's North Side, farming and ranching continue to be important to the east.  A vibrant city in paradise, worth a visit anytime.


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