Living on an arts and cultural coast has its advantages.

The New College campus can be tons of fun, but it’s nice to get out and take advantage of all that Sarasota and Bradenton have to offer.

The New College campus can be tons of fun, but it’s nice to get out and take advantage of all that Sarasota and Bradenton have to offer. Check out what’s happening at one of the many performing arts venues in town.

Many of the area’s cultural attractions offer student discounts, and New College students ride the bus for free with their ID, so there are no excuses not to experience Sarasota!

Beautiful Beaches

Lido Key offers quiet North Lido Beach, the popular Lido Beach with parking and restrooms, and South Lido Beach, which has BBQ grills and picnic tables under Australian Pines. Boutique stores and restaurants can be found on St. Armands Circle.

Siesta Key Beach, named America’s #1 beach and known for its powdery white sand, has volleyball nets, tennis courts and picnic area. Every Sunday at sunset there’s a drum circle. Siesta Village offers restaurants and nightlife. Turtle Beach, on the southern end of the island, is quieter with coarser sand and beach dunes.

Or head up north to Anna Maria Island for a change of scenery. There are many restaurants and funky shops along the beautiful beaches. Check out the island’s annual Bayfest, too.

Performing Arts and Entertainment

Asolo Repertory Theatre
Florida Studio Theatre
Key Chorale
McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre
New Music New College
The Players Theatre
Sarasota Ballet
Sarasota Opera
Sarasota Orchestra
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
West Coast Black Theatre Troupe
Most venues offer student rush tickets for under $20.

Visual Arts

Art Center Sarasota
Art Center Manatee
Burns Court Cinema
John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art

Palm Avenue First Friday Art Walks
S/Art/Q
Selby Gallery
Towles Court Art District

History, Science and Nature

Crowley Museum & Nature Center
Historic Spanish Point
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium
Myakka River State Park
South Florida Museum and Bishop Planetarium

Fairs and Festivals

Ringling International Arts Festival (October): Organized by the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art and the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York, the Ringling International Arts Festival brings cutting-edge dance, music and theater performances to Sarasota.

Sarasota Medieval Fair (November): The Sarasota Medieval Fair takes place over two weekends in November and features jousts, shows, human chess tournaments, rides, games and Celtic music as well as an artisan marketplace with more than 100 shops, food and snack booths.

Siesta Key Crystal Classic Sand Sculpture Contest (November): Sculptors from around the country create masterpieces out of Siesta Key sand to benefit Mote Marine Laboratory’s Sea Turtle Conservation & Research Program.

Bradenton Blues Festival (December): In nearby Bradenton, FL, a blues-filled weekend.

Atomic Holiday Bazaar (December): Shop for unique handmade gifts at Sarasota’s original indie crafts show.

Greek Glendi (February): The annual Greek Glendi offers authentic Greek food, dancing, live bands, a Greek marketplace and raffle prizes.

La Musica (April): La Musica brings outstanding European and American chamber musicians together in Sarasota to present exciting programs of familiar and seldom-heard chamber music. Festival includes  open rehearsals, pre-concert lectures, youth activities and five concerts performed at the historic Sarasota Opera House.

Sarasota Film Festival (April): The Sarasota Film Festival is an international film festival offering film screenings, talks with filmmakers and various events.

Local Event Calendars

Arts & Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County
Sarasota City Calendar
Visit Sarasota
This Week in Sarasota