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Sarasota, Florida Information

Sarasota, Florida

Since the 1920s land boom, people around the country have recognized Sarasota, Florida for the unique jewel that it is. Besides being a naturally beautiful setting, nestled along the western coast of Florida, Sarasota boasts unique amenities born from a long history of arts and culture fostered by prominent historical figures. John and Mable Ringling, of circus fame, played particularly important roles. John Ringling had a penchant for art and for real estate development, focusing a great deal of his efforts on the barrier islands of Lido Key and Longboat Key. Ringling’s vision for St. Armand's Circle can still be seen today in a thriving area with more than 130 boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. Ringling also had a particular love for Mediterranean-style architecture, and his own home, the Ca’d Zan, set a tone for a style that is still being echoed in modern developments throughout Sarasota today.

Between the 40s and the mid-60s, the Sarasota School of Architecture, came to the fore as several architects, including world-renowned Paul Rudolph, began to design with light, climate, and terrain in mind. The style emphasized large windows or floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors, geometric shapes, floating staircases, creative block-style use of concrete and large walls of jalousie windows. Other well-known architects from this period, whose designs can still be seen in homes here, include Ralph Twitchell, Victory Lundy, Gene Leedy, and Tim Seibert.

As a town that has always depended on tourism for a substantial portion of its economy, Sarasota residents are sensitive to the need for thoughtful design. Several planned communities in the area reflect that sensitivity, such as The Meadows, Lakewood Ranch, and Palmer Ranch.  Older, historic areas also show evidence of a love for thoughtful preservation and aesthetics. The historic Laurel Park or McClellan Park are just two examples of areas where older homes have been lovingly preserved, and well-maintained common areas exemplify a love for beautiful landscaping and gardening.

Of course, the beaches are one of the biggest draws to the area, and there are plenty of options here for living on or near the water. Numerous bay-side neighborhoods offer thriving, well-established neighborhoods.  Along the waterfront, whether bay or island-side, you can find a plethora of housing options—everything from maintenance-free condominiums or town-homes to grand waterfront estates.

Besides the beaches, people are attracted to Sarasota because it has the feel of a smaller city while offering amenities that are not usually available in towns of the same size. The arts community thrives here and includes numerous professional theaters, along with the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center, which attracts internationally acclaimed artists and performing groups. The Asolo Rep, a regional professional theater, likewise offers season after season of world-class performances. Art lovers enjoy scads of galleries in the downtown area, especially on “First Fridays” when Palm Avenue hosts a gallery-to-gallery stroll that includes wine and appetizers. The Ringling Museum of Art is also home to an impressive collection of baroque pieces, along with outstanding traveling exhibits. 

For education, Sarasota offers K12 schools that are consistently among the top in the state, and the area is growing in post-secondary options. The State College of Florida offers campuses in neighboring Bradenton, along with a growing new campus in Lakewood Ranch in the east and Venice in the south. Numerous colleges and universities also operate satellite campuses here, including Eckerd College, Barry University, Kaiser, Webber, and more. And the University of South Florida has a beautiful new campus here, just adjacent to USF’s New College, the honors college of USF.

For those who love the outdoors, Sarasota is hard to beat. Whether you love cycling, golf, tennis, or water sports, you’ll find something for everyone here. Of course, Sarasota is a boater’s paradise, and fishing enthusiasts will also find they are right at home here. Rowers and kayakers also enjoy the many bay and inland waterways, not to mention the Gulf of Mexico.  In fact, a new international, Olympic-style training facility is underway for sculling teams in the University Parkway area.

Community life thrives in Sarasota, and you’ll find that there is never a lack of things to do on the weekends. Fairs and festivals abound, along with community events such as Arts Day or the annual speed boat races on the 4th of July weekend. Seasonal festivities, such as the Christmas Boat Parade or the Main Street Christmas Parade or the Palmer Ranch Easter Egg Hunt, are all examples of the many things that make Sarasota such an enjoyable place to live.

Sarasota Arts & Culture

Sarasota Publications

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Sarasota Resources

Sarasota, Florida Map

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