Tag: Sarasota Florida

Sarasota, Florida

A- Overview:
It may not be a big-name Florida city like Miami, Tampa, St. Petersburg or Orlando, but Sarasota, on Florida’s southwest coast, is the place to go for all the conveniences of a big city in a small package.

Located about 40 miles south of the Tampa Bay area, Sarasota has a variety of attractions and events that attract the arts-minded tourist who’s interested in more than just riding some gussied-up roller coasters.

Sarasota is known as the “Circus Town.” The city was once the winter quarters of the “Greatest Show on Earth,” hence, the moniker.The work and contributions of John Ringling, of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, have made the city a cultural capital. John and his wife Mable built a mansion on Sarasota Bay and set out to collect art by Peter Paul Reubens and other Flemish and Italian masters of the 17th century. That collection today is called the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Ringling’s name is also immortalized as an avenue in downtown Sarasota.

Downtown Sarasota is in the midst of a building boom, with condos, office buildings and shopping either in place, under construction or planned. In addition, urban renewal projects are working to make a better life for the city’s less-fortunate citizens. As befits a cultural capital, it’s the small galleries by artists in various media that make the arts scene vibrant. Galleries are scattered throughout the city and surrounding area, and even amateur artists take their crafts seriously.

Other Sarasota attractions include the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, the Pelican Man Sanctuary, Selby Gardens and Jungle Gardens. Arts and cultural events are presented at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Asolo Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre and Sarasota Opera House. The city hosts an annual book fair and film festival, too.

To the east, Myakka River State Park offers one of Florida’s largest and most diverse natural areas. It was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934 and some of the original buildings are still in use. It offers a scenic drive, dirt roads, hiking trails and more.

When you’ve had enough exploring in Sarasota, it’s time to hit the beaches. Sarasota features 35 miles of sand and several beautiful keys on the Gulf of Mexico that are well-known to sun-and-fun lovers, including St. Armands Key, Longboat Key, Lido Key, Bird Key, Siesta Key (considered by some to have the whitest and finest sand in the world), Casey Key, Venice Beach, Anna Maria Island and Bradenton Beach.

Sarasota’s weather is mild, especially compared to some other places in the winter. Sarasota is well-connected to the northern parts of West and Central Florida by Interstate 75 and Interstate 275. Traveling south, Interstate 75 offers a reasonably fast ride, but U.S. 41 (the legendary Tamiami Trail of years gone by) is presently used only for local travel due to road construction, congestion and its many traffic lights.

State Road 70 provides access to the eastern part of the state. The road is a two-lane divided highway across Florida, and there are several areas now under construction, which can cause delays. Some who visit Sarasota fly to Tampa International Airport and then drive south, but Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport has service from Delta Air Lines, mainly to and from Atlanta for connections; ATA Airlines, which is establishing a code-sharing arrangement with Southwest for flights to Chicago-Midway; and AirTran Airways, which offers direct service to and from Baltimore, Chicago-Midway and Atlanta, and has connections to other cities.

There is so much to see and do in Sarasota that more than one visit may be required!

B- City Information:
Population: 52,715

Elevation: 27 feet above sea level

Land Area: 14.9 square miles

Location: Located on Florida’s west coast, on the Gulf of Mexico, between Tampa to the north and Ft. Myers to the south.

Time Zone: Eastern Time Zone (when it’s noon in Sarasota, it’s 11am in Chicago and 9am in Los Angeles). Sarasota observes Daylight Savings Time from April – October

Weather:

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Average temp. (°F)
61.8
63.2
67.4
70.9
76.6
80.7
82.0
82.2
80.9
75.2
69.3
63.7

High temperature (°F)
72.6
74.0
78.0
82.2
87.7
90.5
91.5
91.4
90.0
85.4
79.9
74.4

Low temperature (°F)
50.9
52.4
56.8
59.6
65.5
70.8
72.5
72.9
71.8
64.9
58.7
52.9

Precipitation (in)
2.9
2.6
3.4
1.9
2.8
7.5
8.6
9.3
7.4
2.9
2.3
2.4

Climate:

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Days with precipitation
7
7
7
5
6
13
16
16
14
7
5
6

Wind speed (mph)
8.6
9.1
9.4
9.1
8.5
7.8
7.0
6.9
7.6
8.3
8.2
8.2

Morning humidity (%)
87
86
87
86
86
87
88
90
91
89
88
88

Afternoon humidity (%)
59
56
54
51
52
60
63
64
63
58
58
59

Sunshine (%)
63
65
71
75
75
67
62
61
61
65
64
61

Local Seasons:

Sarasota is beautiful at any time of year. The seasons change on Florida’s west coast. In the winter, there are a few days when the heat goes on in the house, but outdoors the sun and cloudless blue sky more than compensate for the slight chill in the air. Visitors from the north are accustomed to 70F water temperatures for their summer swimming, and have no hesitation in plunging into the Gulf for a winter swim. The locals smile at these brave tourists and wait for spring and summer to swim in water that reaches the mid-80s.

How to Get There

By Air

Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (code SRQ)
6000 Airport Cir.
Sarasota, FL 34243
941-359-2770
SRQ is the closest international airport to the Gulf Islands resort area. Located on the Manatee and Sarasota county line, the airport is three miles to downtown Sarasota and is served by some of the nationally recognized airlines as well as certain local and regional carriers.

Tampa International Airport

5503 West Spruce Street
Tampa, Florida 33607

813-870-8794

Located approximate 70 miles north of Sarasota, the airport is served by many of the national and international airlines as well as certain local and regional carriers.

Ground Transportation:

Most of the major car rental companies as well as taxi, limousine, and shuttle bus services are available at the airports.

By Car

The city is easily accessible via Interstate Highway 75 from both the north and south.

By Train

Amtrak

1993 Main Street
US 301 and Main the East Bound Side
Sarasota, FL 34231

800-USA-RAIL

Call for additional information

By Bus

Greyhound

575 N Washington Blvd.
Sarasota, FL 34236

941-955-5735

How to Get Around:

With so many sites to see and things to do both in Sarasota as well as throughout the entire area, the best way to get around is by either personal or rental car. Bus transportation (SCAT) is available and quite convenient in reaching downtown attractions and entertainment.

National Holidays:

New Year’s Day: Jan. 1

Martin Luther King, Jr., Day: 3rd Mon. in Jan.

President’s Day: 3rd Mon. in Feb.

Memorial Day: last Mon. in May

Independence Day: July 4

Labor Day: 1st Mon. in Sept.

Thanksgiving Day: 4th Thurs. in Nov.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day: Dec. 24 and 25

New Year’s Eve: Dec. 31

C- Attractions/Things To Do:
The Sarasota Trolley travels around downtown Sarasota and a scenic route out to attractions such as St. Armands Circle, Lido Beach, Mote Marine and the Pelican Man’s Bird Sanctuary on City Island. The Trolley runs Monday – Saturday with both a Main Street route and the scenic route.

G Wiz (Gulf Coast Wonder & Imagination Zone)
1001 Boulevard of the Arts
Sarasota, FL 34236
941-309-4949

This is a hands-on science and technology center downtown on Sarasota’s beautiful bay front. However, it is not simply a museum! It offers an array of interactive, hands-on exhibits, as well as educational programs for the community. It is a place filled with new ideas and experiences, a world where science comes alive.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
811 South Palm Ave
Sarasota, FL 34236
941-366-5731

Explore the world’s most spectacular display of rare orchids and bromeliads in this 8.5 acre tropical oasis on the shores of Sarasota Bay. Selby Gardens is best known for its living collection of more than 6,000 orchids. Selby’s 11 bay-front acres are an open-air and under-glass museum of more than 20,000 colorful plants, many collected in the wild on nearly 100 scientific expeditions to tropical rainforests by the Selby Gardens’ research staff.

Mote Aquarium
1600 Ken Thompson Parkway
Sarasota, FL 34232
941-388-2451

Explore the soner of Mote Aquarium, 135,000 gallon shark exhibit, touch pools and much more.

Myakka River State Park
13207 State Road 72
Sarasota, FL 34241
941-365-0100

Florida’s unspoiled wilderness is yours to enjoy aboard Myakka Wildlife Tours special Tram Safari.

Pelican Man’s Bird Sanctuary
1708 Ken Thompson Parkway
Sarasota, FL 34236
941-388-4444

Florida’s largest wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center. Walking tours are available.

Ringling Museum of Art
5401 Bay Shore Rd
Sarasota, FL 34243
941-358-3180

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is home to three spectacular attractions. Overlooking the beautiful waters of Sarasota Bay, the 66-acre estate is the legacy of John Ringling.

Sarasota Jungle Gardens
3701 Bay Shore Road
Sarasota, FL 34234
941-355-5305

Sarasota Jungle Gardens attractions include: Bird and Reptile Shows, Jungle Animals, Kiddie Jungle, Gardens of Christ, Shell Museum and a Gift Shop. Also, acres of beautiful gardens and nature trails.

South Florida Museum
201 10th St. West
Bradenton, FL 34205
941-746-4131

The South Florida Museum is dedicated to educating the community and visitors of all ages about the past, present and future of South Florida.

Art Center Sarasota

707 N. Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, FL
941-365-2032

Arts education programs and exhibitions in the visual arts are the primary functions of Art Center Sarasota. The Exhibition Committee, composed 100 percent of practicing artists, plans an annual program of exhibits that will both meet our members’ needs as well as have broad appeal to the general community. Our goal is to increase awareness and appreciation of art in all its forms. Artists featured in our exhibits are from the local community as well as from outside the area. Exhibition jurors are selected for their scope of knowledge and experience in the art world

The Lieberman Gallery
1991 Main Street, Suite 244
Sarasota, FL
388-1530
The Lieberman Gallery is a non-profit art “viewing” center dedicated to exhibiting contemporary and challenging works by artists living and working in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Don’t miss the monthly artists’ receptions, which are known to be fun and informative. Lieberman Gallery hours: 9AM to 9PM daily. Free

Beaches

Lido Key

Lido Beach
Lido Beach is located on Lido Key, one half mile southwest of St. Armand’s Circle, on Ben Franklin Drive.

South Lido Park is located on Ben Franklin Drive at the southern tip of Lido Key. The park is bordered by four bodies of water; The Gulf of Mexico, Big Pass, Sarasota Bay, and Brushy Bayou. At a separate facility at the north end of the park, visitors can enjoy a nature trail which includes scenic overlooks and boardwalks.
The southern beach portion of the park offers views of the skyline of downtown Sarasota and the Gulf. It features a picnic area shaded by Australian Pines. Lido Beach also provides special needs visitors help via these free beach “wheelchairs.” Be sure to look for one near the main guard tower.

Siesta Key

Siesta Beach

Sarasota’s Siesta Key beach is known for having the whitest and finest sand in the world. Click on any of the local beaches in the map or the list on the right for more information.

Turtle Beach

Turtle Beach has no lifeguards, but there is free parking, picnic tables, playground, showers and restrooms. It’s not as popular as Siesta Beach, but the locals know that if you can’t find a parking space at Siesta Beach, Turtle Beach will have plenty of space available.
Boaters can launch their boats into the lagoon and park their trailers while they enjoy a day on the water.

Palmer Point Beach
Palmer Point Beach begins at the southern tip of Siesta Key and continues onto the north end of Casey Key. The northern part of the beach was the former home of Mote Marine Laboratory. Since the closing of Midnight Pass in 1984, the beach allows uninterrupted walking all the way down Casey Key. The beach is a popular spot for boaters and people who walk there from Turtle Beach seeking some privacy. There are no lifeguards and no facilities.

Longboat Key

Longboat Key has no public beach. However, if you are staying at one of the resorts on the Key, you can enjoy soft white sand and shelling.

Spring Training

941-954-4464

Ed Smith Stadium

Although not in downtown, Ed Smith Stadium is just a short ride from any downtown location.. The minor league Boston Red Sox team plays summer baseball at Ed Smith Stadium as the Sarasota Red Sox.

Baseball is a Sarasota tradition dating back to 1924, when the New York Giants arrived. They were followed by the Red Sox and then the White Sox. Now, the Cincinnati Reds take the field annually with games at Sarasota’s Ed Smith Stadium. Pitchers and catchers report to the City of Sarasota Sports Complex in February. The Reds take on the Devil Rays for their Grapefruit League home opener March 4. Other highlights of the home schedule include visits by the Red Sox, Indians, and Yankees.

D- Family Fun Attractions:
G Wiz (Gulf Coast Wonder & Imagination Zone)
1001 Boulevard of the Arts
Sarasota, FL 34236
941-309-4949

This is a hands-on science and technology center downtown on Sarasota’s beautiful bay front. However, it is not simply a museum! It offers an array of interactive, hands-on exhibits, as well as educational programs for the community. It is a place filled with new ideas and experiences, a world where science comes alive.

Mote Aquarium
1600 Ken Thompson Parkway
Sarasota, FL 34232
941-388-2451

Explore the sonar of Mote Aquarium, 135,000 gallon shark exhibit, touch pools and much more.

Myakka River State Park
13207 State Road 72
Sarasota, FL 34241
941-365-0100

Florida’s unspoiled wilderness is yours to enjoy aboard Myakka Wildlife Tours special Tram Safari.

Pelican Man’s Bird Sanctuary
1708 Ken Thompson Parkway
Sarasota, FL 34236
941-388-4444

Florida’s largest wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center. Walking tours are available.

Sarasota Jungle Gardens
3701 Bay Shore Road
Sarasota, FL 34234
941-355-5305

Sarasota Jungle Gardens attractions include: Bird and Reptile Shows, Jungle Animals, Kiddie Jungle, Gardens of Christ, Shell Museum and a Gift Shop. Also, acres of beautiful gardens and nature trails.

South Florida Museum
201 10th St. West
Bradenton, FL 34205
941-746-4131

The South Florida Museum is dedicated to educating the community and visitors of all ages about the past, present and future of South Florida.

Beaches

Lido Key

Lido Beach
Lido Beach is located on Lido Key, one half mile southwest of St. Armand’s Circle, on Ben Franklin Drive.

South Lido Park is located on Ben Franklin Drive at the southern tip of Lido Key. The park is bordered by four bodies of water; The Gulf of Mexico, Big Pass, Sarasota Bay, and Brushy Bayou. At a separate facility at the north end of the park, visitors can enjoy a nature trail which includes scenic overlooks and boardwalks.
The southern beach portion of the park offers views of the skyline of downtown Sarasota and the Gulf. It features a picnic area shaded by Australian Pines. Lido Beach also provides special needs visitors help via these free beach “wheelchairs.” Be sure to look for one near the main guard tower.

Siesta Key

Siesta Beach

Sarasota’s Siesta Key beach is known for having the whitest and finest sand in the world. Click on any of the local beaches in the map or the list on the right for more information.

Spring Training

941-954-4464

Ed Smith Stadium

Although not in downtown, Ed Smith Stadium is just a short ride from any downtown location.. The minor league Boston Red Sox team plays summer baseball at Ed Smith Stadium as the Sarasota Red Sox.

Baseball is a Sarasota tradition dating back to 1924, when the New York Giants arrived. They were followed by the Red Sox and then the White Sox. Now, the Cincinnati Reds take the field annually with games at Sarasota’s Ed Smith Stadium. Pitchers and catchers report to the City of Sarasota Sports Complex in February. The Reds take on the Devil Rays for their Grapefruit League home opener March 4. Other highlights of the home schedule include visits by the Red Sox, Indians, and Yankees.

E- Events & Entertainment:
Events & Entertainment

January

West Florida Spring Home & Garden Show

Held in late January

Sarasota Bradenton Int’l Convention Center

941-355-9161

Call for additional information

March

Annual Sarasota Jazz Festival

Held in late March

Location: Varies in Sarasota

941-316-9207

Featuring a variety of performances

Italian American Music Festival

Held in mid March

Location: Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

941-953-3368

Call for additional information

April

Florida Winefest & Auction

Held in late April

Location: Ritz-Carlton Sarasota

941-952-1109

Call for additional information

Exceptional four day celebration that combines wine and food aficionados, premier chefs, vintners and world-class winemakers.

May

Classic Corvette Show

Held in early May

Location: St. Armands Circle
941-388-1554

Call for additional information
Stroll through the fantastic cars on display while enjoying the shops and restaurants of St. Armands.

June

Annual Suncoast Offshore Grand Prix Boat Race

Held in late June – early July

Location: Victory Circle in Van Wezel Parking Lot

941-371-2827

Call for additional information

Boat races and festival

Craft Festival and Sidewalk Sale

Held in mid June

Location: Downtown Sarasota

941-388-1554

Call for additional information

Popular festival and summer sidewalk sale with live entertainment.

Sarasota Music Festival

Held in early – mid June

Location: Holley Hall and Van Wezel

941-953-4252

Call for additional information

Annual music festival

July

Annual Suncoast Offshore Grand Prix Boat Race

Held in late June – early July

Location: Victory Circle in Van Wezel Parking Lot

941-371-2827

Call for additional information

Boat races and festival

Fireworks Celebration

Held on July 4

Location: Downtown Sarasota

941-954-4102

Call for additional information

August

Ringling Bridge Run

Held in late August

Location: Van Wezel Performing Arts Center

941-952-9533

Call for additional information

Back to School Bash

Held in late August

Location: Jungle Gardens

941-355 5305

Call for additional information
Annual Back-to-School Bash – be a champion – medals & ribbons to all participants – cash giveaways – free hotdogs & popsicles to all kids.

Christmas in August

Held in early August

Location: Sarasota Bradenton International Convention Center

386-860-0092

Call for additional information
Art & Craft Fair with nationwide exhibitors in air conditioned comfort.

October

Annual Morton’s Firehouse Chili Cook-Off

Held in mid October

Location: Osprey Ave between Hyde Park St and Hillview Ave.
941-954-0609

Call for additional information

Over a dozen of Sarasota Fire Houses compete. Food, educational booths.

Downtown Sarasota Fall Festival

Held in mid October

Location: Downtown Sarasota
941-366-5969
Call for additional information

Octoberfest Suncoast

Held in early October

Location: Sarasota Fairgrounds

941-708-3456

Call for additional information

Experience the flavor & fun of Germany on Florida’s West Coast. Continuous live entertainment, authentic German food, imported beer, children’s activities, antique Volkswagen auto show, cooking demonstrations.

Oktoberfest – Ringling Museum

Held in late October

Location: Museum Estate

941-358-3180

Call for additional information

Celebrate the culture and heritage of the Ringling family’s native country – Germany. This festival is fun for the entire family with a variety of activities for all ages, German food, and German inspired entertainment.

Sarasota Folk Music Festival

Held in early October

Location: Crowley Museum & Nature Center

941-322-1000

Call for additional information
Sarasota Folk Club with 20+ of the area’s most celebrated folk and acoustic musicians on 2 stages.

St. Armands Art Festival & Annual Fall Sidewalk Festival

Held in mid October

Location: St. Armands Circle

941-388-1554
Call for additional information

Over 170 artists’ booths with original works of art.

Annual Stone Crab Seafood & Wine Festival

Held in late October

Location: The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort, Longboat Key

941-383-6464

Call for additional information

Celebrate the start of the stone crab season at this acclaimed culinary event! Don’t miss out on the fun and epicurean excitement at the Tasting on the Beach or the Chef’s Collaboration Gala.

November

Annual Sound Advice Sarasota Blues Festival

Held in early November

Location: Sarasota Fairgrounds

941-377-3279

Call for additional information

Art Fest – Venice

Held in early November

Location: The Island Avenues in downtown Venice

964-472-3755
Art and craft show

Sarasota Reading Festival

Held in early November

Location: Five Points Park, Downtown Sarasota

941-957-5109

Call for additional information

A free event for the whole family featuring great authors, storytellers, booksellers, book signings, free books for kids, food and more!

Super Surreal Family Festival

Held in mid November

Location: Museum Estate

941-358-3180

Call for additional information
The whole family gets into the act when images of fanciful critters, dreamy landscapes, and morphing portraits spark everyone’s imagination.

Entertainment:

Asola Theatre Company

5555 N Tamiami Trail

Sarasota, FL 34243

941-351-8000

Call for performance schedule and additional information

The Players Theatre

838 N. Tamiami Trail

Sarasota, FL 34236

941-365-2494

Call for performance schedule and additional information

Banyon Theatre

636 Indian Beach Lane

Sarasota, FL 34234

941-358-5330

Call for performance schedule and additional information

The Banyan Theater Company’s mission is to produce theater in the summer. This venue showcases outstanding actors performing in plays of high literary merit. Works by playwrights such as G.B. Shaw, Chekhov, Ibsen, Pinter and Stoppard are featured to provide the community with a unique theater experience.

Florida Studio Theatre

1241 North Palm Avenue
Sarasota, FL 34236

941- 366-9000

Call for additional information

FST produces world premieres and contemporary works which have been produced on or off-Broadway within the last five years. By focusing on the works of contemporary writers, FST has been able to offer plays to its audiences that are not normally produced by other area theatres. FST is comprised of five main programs: Keating Mainstage, Cabaret, Touring (In the schools), Education and New play development.

Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

777 North Tamiami Trail

Sarasota, Florida 34236

941-953-3368

Call for performance schedule and additional information

Set along Sarasota’s beautiful bayfront, the landmark Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall has been entertaining audiences with a variety of music, dance, theater and comedy for generations.

Soulspeak – Sarasota Poetry Theatre

535 Columbia Court

Sarasota, FL 34236

941-966-3416

Call for reading schedule and additional information

Soulspeak/Sarasota Poetry Theatre was founded in 1992 for the purpose of promoting expression through all forms of poetry and making contemporary poetry more accessible to the public. It features both local and nationally known poets, singers and musicians, and presents poetry in the form of highly original collaborations.

Sarasota Opera

61 North Pineapple Avenue
Sarasota, FL 34236
941-366-8450

Call for performance schedule and additional information

Sarasota Ballet of Florida

5555 N Tamiami Trail

Sarasota, FL 34243

941-552-1032

Call for performance schedule and additional information

The Ballet has the unique distinction of being voted Sarasota’s Best Performing Arts Group for consecutive years and has gained in stature and regional prominence over the course of its long history.