Sarasota, Florida, USA
The Sarasota area not only offers miles of glorious sandy beaches, there's also a wealth of cultural activities and attractions, numerous shops and boutiques, and plenty of restaurants and bars to enjoy.
There are several islands, known as keys or barrier islands, separating Sarasota Bay from the gulf, these include Lido Key, St Armands Key, Otter Key, Coon Key, Bird Key, Siesta Key and Longboat Key.
Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport is only a few minutes away, while Orlando is around 2 hours drive, Tampa 1 hour and Miami 4 hours.
The beaches in the Sarasota area are found on the Gulf Coast side of its Keys; Lido Key which features the north Lido beach, the Lido public beach with snack pavilion, playground and picnic tables, and the south Lido park with picnic area. Siesta Key with its wide award-winning Siesta Beach which offers good facilities including lifeguards and playground, the quieter Crescent Beach and Turtle Beach with playground, picnic areas and horseshoe pit.
Longboat Key has over ten miles of quiet white sandy shoreline, much of which is privately held for residents of the beachfront condominiums and resorts. However there are three beaches with public access; Whitney Beach, Longboat Key Beach and Beer Can Island. Beer Can Island Beach at the northern tip of the island is a small beach accessible only by boat at Longboat Pass; Whitney Beach a quiet beach with no conveniences; and Longboat Key Beach where amenities simply include picnic tables and public parking area.
Beach volleyball is a popular activity throughout Florida, and while most area beaches have at least one court, Siesta Key has multiple courts and plays host to numerous tournaments throughout the year.
Things to Do
There's plenty to do in the Sarasota area both on land and on water; golfing, hiking, fishing and boating, snorkelling and diving, jet skis, kayaking, kite-boarding and parasailing are all popular activities in the area. Also the Legacy Trail is one of the top 10 bicycle trails in the state of Florida, this 10.8 mile scenic trail stretches from the north of Sarasota all the way south to Venice.
The Mote Marine Aquarium and Research Centre is a small aquarium with a good variety of marine life to view. The aquarium features touch tanks, a shark tank, manatees and sea turtles.
Situated on the Sarasota Bay, the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is an urban oasis boasting a living collection of rare and beautiful tropical plants.
Sarasota Jungle Gardens is more than just a park, it%u2019s home to over 150 native and exotic animals including birds of prey, alligators and other reptiles, parrots and flamingos. With daily bird and reptile shows that are as educational as they are entertaining.
Out and About
There are plenty of shopping and dining opportunities to be found around the Sarasota area; a good choice of which can be found in St Armands Circle, situated on St Armands Key; on Main Street in downtown Sarasota; and on Siesta Key at either the Siesta Key Village or the Siesta South shopping area.
Sarasota Bay covers a large area, where having a car is highly recommended. However there is a wide network of buses which operate around the town of Sarasota and a seasonal free trolley service which runs the length of Siesta Key.
There are plenty of attractions to discover in the surrounding area, such as the popular Busch Gardens Theme Park and the Florida Aquarium, both of which are located in Tampa (approx 70km away).
The South Florida Museum found in Bradenton (approx 15km) offers three attractions in one; a museum, a manatee aquarium and a planetarium.
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