Sarasota is famous for its beautiful Gulf beaches, plethora of arts and cultural institutions, and year-round warm weather. Located an hour south of Tampa and St. Pete on Florida’s cultural coast, Sarasota is regularly ranked among the best places to live in the U.S.
Lido Key offers the popular Lido Beach with parking and restrooms, quiet North Lido Beach, 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, which has been named America’s No. 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 of AMI. Check out the island’s annual Bayfest, too.
The Ringling Museum
Next door to New College campus is the 60-acre estate of John Ringling, now the State Art Museum of Florida. Be amazed by the art collection, as well as the Circus Museum and Ca' d'Zan mansion from the 1920s. Students get in free with ID and on the first Thursday of the month Novos flock to Ringling Underground, a free live music and art event for students from the four local colleges.
Sarasota has tons of great restaurants for every palate and budget, from fresh seafood to vegan and vegetarian delights, brunch, bars and breweries, food trucks and waterfront dining.
Explore history, science and nature.
The local area is home to an aquarium, botanical gardens, and history and science museums.
The Bishop Museum, the largest natural and cultural history museum on Florida’s Gulf Coast, features fossil evidence of Florida’s earliest animal inhabitants, prehistoric archeological artifacts, and the Environmental Hall focusing on Florida’s ecology and biodiversity.
The majestic Myakka River flows through 58 square miles of one of Florida’s oldest and largest parks. Boating, fishing, canoeing and kayaking are popular activities on the water while hikers and bicyclists explore miles of trails and backroads surrounded by wildlife.
The Mote Aquarium, which features aquaria and habitats for sharks, manatees, sea turtles, fishes, crustaceans, jellyfish, otters, crocodiles, alligators and lizards, is also a world-class marine science research center.
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, which encompass 45 acres of bayfront sanctuaries that feature orchids, bromeliads, gesneriads, ferns and other tropical plants, is also a research center dedicated to botany, horticulture, and the natural environment.