Sarasota, Florida, may not be either Disney World or Miami, but it is home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, as well as serviceable art museums and a fascinating marine aquarium. It’s a great place to spend your next vacation. Siesta Key and Longboat Key, while pricey, have miles of award-winning beaches, along with plenty of beach activities: boating, dining, and playing. Every Saturday night, the drum circle occurs at Siesta Key. This is a gathering on the beach of musicians, poets, and drummers, and it’s famous in Sarasota – a great thing to go to for those looking for something to do “off the beaten path.”
At the intersection of 41 and University Parkway sits the Classic Car Museum, a treasure trove of antique automobiles and other Americana, such as arcade games and posters. This is a great place to spend a rainy day as it’s mostly inside. Practically across the street from the Classic Car Museum is the Ringling Museum of Art, an ever-growing museum complex funded by circus magnate John Ringling’s estate. His house, C’adz’an, has recently been restored and is pen to the public.
The museum is much bigger than it looks, and the rotating exhibits change several times a year – this is a Sarasota “must-see.” Down the street from the Ringling Museum lies the Sarasota Jungle Gardens, a botanical zoo in which one can feed pelicans and flamingoes, sit among exotic plants, or pose for a photo with several parrots perched on your shoulder. Further south along US 41, you will find the Mote Marine Laboratory, a marine aquarium. It’s more “scientific” than the nearby marine aquarium in Tampa, but it also manages to be quite family-friendly, and Snooty, the resident manatee- has been delighting visitors for decades.
Across the parking lot is the Pelican Man Bird Sanctuary, which takes in lost, injured, or abandoned birds and rehabilitates them. Any aspiring birdwatchers will find a visit to this small charity really heartwarming.
For a small city, Sarasota offers a surprising amount of ethnic restaurants. For example, Tropical Thai on Main Street offers lovely and decently-priced meals. Mickey’s on Pineapple Ave is another great choice, offering “fusion” American – Italian cuisine, a friendly staff, lots of vegetarian options, and live music on weekends.
Sarasota is a small city, but the possibilities are vast, and this article has only just begun to scratch the surface. Hopefully it will get you started and pointed in the right direction for your visit!