One of the great things about Southwest Florida is that you can take a drive in any direction and get to another part of the area that is ripe with places to see and things to do. Sarasota, FL is one of those places and, located less than two hours north of Naples, FL, this bustling city makes for a great day or weekend getaway.
Known for being a city "Where Urban Amenities Meet Small-Town Living,” Sarasota, FL features an eclectic mix of natural amenities, like award-winning beaches and breathtaking gardens, to culture-rich attractions, like the Sarasota Orchestra and Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. It can offer activities that rival other cities and still maintain the friendliness and hospitality typically found in small towns where everyone knows each other’s name.
Getting to Sarasota is as easy as hopping on the nearest I-75 exit and heading north or south, depending on the city from which you are driving. If you are coming from Naples, then you’ll be heading north until you reach exit 205, 207, 210, or 213. Once there, you can take part in the many amenities offered by the city ranked #2 by Livability. com for the best places to retire.
If it’s a beautiful, sunny day, which it more than likely is in Florida, you can head to Siesta Key Beach, named the #1 beach in the U.S. by the Director of Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research, Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman (or Dr. Beach as he’s well-known) This beach’s powdery sand and clean and clear blue-colored water will make you never want to leave and its long list of events will keep you entertained all day long. If you visit between May and September, watch out for turtles as this is their nesting season.
If you want to keep up with the outdoor activities, you can always check out the area’s nature attractions, including the Mote Marine Laboratory (a marine rescue, research facility, and aquarium), the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, and the Sarasota Jungle Gardens. All of these nature-inspired attractions will allow you to relish the beauty found in Sarasota’s surroundings and provide a leisure afternoon of fun-filled events, like the Garden Music Series at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.
If sports is where your heart is, then visit in the spring when Major League Baseball teams like the Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates, Minnesota Twins, Tampa Bay Rays, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees, and Boston Red Sox head down south for spring training.
As the sun dips low over the ocean, you can enjoy a delicious meal in one of Sarasota’s many award-winning restaurants. Top restaurants include the Bijou Cafe at the heart of the theatre district; Michael’s on East, Sarasota’s only AAA Four Diamond Award restaurant; Selva Grill where you can dine on delicious Nuevo Latino food; Cafe L’Europe with its convenient location on St. Armands Circle; Beach Bistro where you can have award-winning waterfront dining; the Mozaic Restaurant with its western Mediterranean-inspired cuisine; and the Indigenous Restaurant where they feature a seasonal menu of American cuisine. Regardless of the restaurant you choose, you will be deliciously satisfied with the cuisine and ready for your evening of fun.
That fun starts with the many arts and culture venues in Sarasota, FL, like the Sarasota Orchestra, founded in 1949, and the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, founded in the early 1950’s. Throughout the years, the people of Sarasota have added a number of other culturally entertaining venues and organizations, like the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, the Sarasota Ballet, Sarasota Opera House, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, the Sarasota Players, the Banyan Theater Company, and many more.
Before you leave this vibrant yet quaint city, be sure to stop by some of their unique shopping destinations. Downtown Sarasota proffers the shopping pleasures of St. Armands Circle, where exclusive shops, galleries, and exotic boutiques will awaken your inner fashionista and art lover. Drive one exit north and you can indulge in quantity and quality with the Mall at University Town Center, the newest mall in Sarasota FL with more than 100 stores and restaurants in its 880,000 square feet of retail space. The Mall at UTC features stores like Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Kate Spade, Anthropologie, Apple, Michael Kors, and many more of the world’s premier retailers.
There is something for everyone in Sarasota and, if you come to visit, you may never want to leave. Discover the Sarasota lifestyle and, if you decide to stay, explore the many luxury home options available from London Bay Homes.