Couple biking on the beach at Siesta Key
Lifeguards keeping watch over swimmers at Siesta Key
Cà d'Zan, the former winter home of circus founder John Ringling
Dancers in the Sarasota Ballet
Kayaking in the morning mist
Aerial view of downtown Sarasota's waterfront
Otters at Crowley Museum and Nature Center
A dolphin leaps out of Sarasota Bay
See Yourself in Sarasota
For exquisite clothing and exclusive gifts, visitors can stroll around St. Armands Circle or peruse one-of-a-kind specialty shops in charming Venice. Malls and outlets for major retail shopping await.
While out on the “Circle,” enjoy outdoor dining and fresh local seafood at one of Sarasota’s independent restaurants, or travel to one of the keys for waterfront dining at Ophelia’s on the Bay. Enjoy laid-back nightlife at popular local venues such as Siesta Key Oyster Bar and Blue Rooster for live music.
The area is known as Florida’s Cultural Coast – be sure not to miss a show at performing arts venues including the Sarasota Opera, Florida Studio Theatre, Asolo Rep Theatre and the Sarasota Ballet, to name a few. Art enthusiasts can also enjoy artwork in local galleries downtown.
Sarasota County is also renowned as the historical winter home for the Ringling Bros. Circus. Check out The Ringling Circus Museum, and for live circus entertainment head to Circus Sarasota and Sailor Circus performances in February.
Plan a visit during one of Sarasota County’s popular festivals. Celebrate culture during Sarasota’s Greek Glendi in February, or enjoy independent films at the Sarasota Film Festival in April. Don’t miss amazing artistic displays during the Sarasota Chalk Festival and the Crystal Classic sand-sculpting competition in November.
With so much activity, don’t forget to take a break and search for pre-historic sharks’ teeth on Venice Beach. Rent a bike and ride down the Sarasota County Legacy Trail, or explore Myakka River State Park via canopy walk. Bring fishing gear, rent some or hire a guide.
Sarasota County offers eclectic attractions such as manatees and other sea life at Mote Aquarium, blooming flowers at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens and rescued exotic animals at Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary. Finally, check out local farmers’ markets or visit one of the area’s U-pick farms.
From traditional sports including golf and tennis to more adventurous sports such as stand-up paddleboarding and ropes courses, a range of leisure sports await those looking to mix a little activity into their vacation.
And to add to the list of accolades, Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota County, the only International Rowing Federation-approved course in North America, will host the World Rowing Championships in 2017 – the first U.S. destination to host the event since 1994.
With accommodations ranging from beachfront bungalows to upscale resorts and a variety of special events year round, Sarasota County offers travelers an ideal destination for romance, business, family fun and exploration.