Sarasota is a popular city on the Gulf Coast of Southwest Florida. It is known for its vibrant arts community, excellent restaurants, unique shopping, and beautiful beaches. Sarasota, although a mid-sized city, is considered to be the cultural center of West Central Florida. The city has a metropolitan flavor unique to cities of its size and to cities in Florida.


The Asolo Theater, Florida West Coast Symphony, Sarasota Opera, the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, and frequent art shows add to the cultural theme of the city, rivaling the facilities of Florida's largest cities. Sarasota is also home to the Ringling Museum of Art, the Selby Botanical Gardens, New College (Florida's public honors college), a USF branch, and the Ringling School of Art and Design.

Sarasota's downtown cityscape features office buildings and several upscale downtown condominiums. It is complemented by Saint Armands Circle, on Saint Armands Key, which is surrounded by Lido Key, across Sarasota Bay from downtown via the Ringling Causeway (with sweeping views of Sarasota Bay.) Saint Armands Circle is an upscale outdoor shopping area, with several cafes, reminiscent of Europe. The idea for Saint Armands was from John Ringling who also intended to build a Ritz hotel on Longboat Key. Today, Sarasota has a Ritz hotel downtown as well as the Longboat Key Club on Ringling's original site. The Longboat Key Club includes two golf courses, tennis, and all other resort facilities and is located just north of Saint Armands on Longboat Key.

The fine white-sand beaches are a major draw to the area. Siesta Key Beach is consistently ranked among the most beautiful beaches on Earth. (Siesta Key was also the site chosen for the marriage of Chrissy and Brian, of Home Today fame.) Crescent Beach, Turtle Beach, Lido Beach, and the beach running the 15-mile span of Longboat Key are equally beautiful and accessible. Indeed, much of Sarasota's charm comes from the fact that the beaches are so plentiful and accessible.

Get in

By plane

By car

Get around

The city includes the mainland downtown as well as three islands, called "keys." These are Longboat Key, Lido Key, and Siesta Key. Causeways to all these keys are free and very picturesque. Downtown Sarasota is very vibrant with a healthy mix of businesses, residences, and restaurants, as well as city services.


The garden of the Cà d'Zan mansion



Main Street in downtown also has several shops.




Stay safe

Sarasota is a rather safe city, although regular precautions should be taken just to be safe. The only real place a tourist should avoid is Newtown. Located right near downtown, Newtown is rather small and is normally fine to drive through during the day. However vigilance is required if traveling through Newtown at night.

There is a nice downtown park at the Five Points intersection of Main Street,Pineapple and Central Avenues. Some homeless people congregate there but there is a city ordinance against panhandling and sleeping outdoors.

The northern end of Tamiami Trail near University Parkway is also known for run-down motels and some prostitution arrests. However there are also college campuses nearby and several coffee shops and a comedy club so people do safely walk around the area.

Go next

Routes through Sarasota

Tampa Bradenton  N  S  Port Charlotte Miami
Tampa Bradenton  N  S  Port Charlotte Miami
END  W  E  Arcadia Fort Pierce via
Anna Maria Island Longboat Key  N  S  END

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