Sarasota — Florida’s Swanky Cultural Coast
by Scott Kauffman
If pristine beaches, high culture, and swanky settings are your scene, then add Sarasota to your list.
Portrait of an Ideal Town
The city of Sarasota boasts high-end shops, lavish spas, exceptional restaurants, and a pristine Gulf Coast setting. Breathtaking barrier islands and beaches flank the city on all sides. Pristine natural surroundings tame an inherent extravagance and flamboyance creating the perfect balance.
In large part, the famous Armands Circle, is the heartbeat of Sarasota. It hosts more than 140 upscale boutiques, specialty shops, galleries, and restaurants. Altogether, 33 historic statues constitute St. Armands Statue Walk. Most of the statues were purchased by circus king, John Ringling,
Overall, Sarasota owes its arts legacy to Ringling. He introduced and successfully embedded the circus arts culture into the city. Ringling’s vast art collection is now housed at the Ringling Museum of Art.
Equally important to Sarasota’s arts and culture scene are the Sarasota Ballet Company and the Sarasota Symphony.
Ready to see Sarasota for yourself? The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, is an idyllic Gulf Coast retreat that affords easy access to the city. Spend the day at the Beach Club at Lido Key with an equally spectacular of the city before you dive into Sarasota’s bustling restaurant and nightlife scene.
- Blue Dolphin Café is an old-school diner on Longboat Key. They not only serve the best pancakes but also offers peacock sightings on lucky mornings.
- The Broken Egg is a local favorite that tends to have a wait.
- The Chart House is similarly popular, but in a league of its own. Adjacent to AAA Four-Diamond Resort at Longboat Key Club, it is known for exquisitely-prepared seafood, and an award-winning wine list.
- The Columbia Restaurant has been serving Florida since 1905. The Spanish alfresco restaurant is in the heart of St. Armands Circle and is known as the “Gem of Spanish Restaurants.”
- Dry Dock Waterfront Grill invites you to pull up in your boat for a casual seafood experience at this newly expanded family-friendly restaurant and marina.
Top Things To Do
• John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art Ca d’Zan is the entertainment mogul’s 32-room Venetian-Gothic mansion on the bay. It’s home to one of the finest collections of art in Florida.
• Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is a haven for kids. They can freely explore rope bridges, caves and even a 12-foot waterfall, all in a mock tropical rainforest environment.
• Mote Marine Aquarium is a must. Similarly spectacular, the aquarium features more than 100 species of marine life, touch pools, a 135,000-gallon shark habitat.
• Sarasota Jungle Gardens is a tropical 10-acre garden and zoological sanctuary, and a family favorite. Children can hand-feed free-roaming flamingos!
• Venice Beach: Just south of Sarasota, Venice Beach is the “Shark Tooth Capital of the World.”