It is believed that the name “Sarasota” comes from the Spanish word for “a place of dancing,” which is fitting for this city located on Florida’s Gulf Coast just south of the Tampa Bay area. Sarasota attracts newcomers with its thriving arts community, beautiful beaches, and expanding economic hub. If that describes you and you’re considering relocating to Sarasota, keep reading to find out more about life in the city.
Let’s take a quick look of Sarasota’s downtown and beaches before we get into the nitty-gritty of life in Sarasota, Florida.
SARASOTA FLORIDA IN A NUTSHELL
Located roughly an hour’s drive south of Tampa, Sarasota is a metropolis that sprawls across about 15 square miles of territory in Sarasota County and sits on the Gulf of Mexico. With a population of around 55,000, it is a part of the larger metro region that includes Sarasota, Bradenton and North Port which is home to nearly 860,000 people
SARASOTA IS HOME TO SOME OF THE WORLD’S MOST STUNNING BEACHES
While there are many beautiful beaches along the whole Gulf Coast, some of the best may be found in Sarasota, which has more than 35 miles of coastline. There are six keys (barrier islands) off the shore, and while they all share the same pristine beaches and stunning sunsets, they all have their own unique personalities. Also, when the snowbirds leave in the late spring, the keys in Sarasota become noticeably less busy, as is the case in many Florida beach communities.
Resorts, beach cottages, and seaside hotels dot the island’s 12 miles of land, and there are also residential neighborhoods with gorgeous homes lining the island’s Intracoastal canals, which provide access to the Gulf of Mexico. You can hear the hum of activity from the many stores, cafes, and bars in the downtown area.
North Lido Beach
Located just a short drive from Sarasota’s downtown, the barrier island of Lido Key is home to three distinct beaches. Since there is no parking and no facilities at North Lido Beach, it is slightly out of the way. Tourists and locals alike go to Lido Beach for its lively atmosphere, convenient facilities, including a public pool, and an array of food and drink options. South Lido Park is located at the end of Lido Key and features a nature trail, a picnic area, and stunning views of downtown Sarasota and the Gulf of Mexico.
Siesta Key Beach
Siesta Key is 8 miles long, has two bridges leading to the mainland, and has a bustling commercial district in its town center. How about all three of Siesta Key’s stunning beaches? They consistently receive high marks and are considered to be among the best in the United States and the entire world. Parks, tennis courts, and a playground for the kids may all be found in Siesta Beach. There are tidal pools and coral reefs at Crescent Beach, and climbers love to explore the area near the Point of Rocks. Turtle Beach is a great place to take the kids because there are boat docks and picnic tables.
Visitors to Venice Beach who keep their eyes peeled may discover a fossil layer 30 feet deep and full of preserved sharks’ teeth. Aside from these historical artifacts, Venice Beach also features picnic tables under covered pavilions and a waterfront cafe. Brohard Paw Park, located nearby, is the only dog-friendly beach in the county.
Casey Key is a small island located between Sarasota and Venice in Florida. Nokomis Beach is Sarasota County’s oldest public beach and home to some of the region’s priciest real estate. Many famous people live on this private island. Birdwatching, fishing, hiking, and picnicking are just some of the activities you can enjoy at North Jetty Beach Park. You can also see a breathtaking sunset from the cemented rocks that extend into the Gulf of Mexico.
Located 11 miles off the coast of Florida, Manasota Key is the epitome of a hidden gem. Manasota Beach, Blind Pass Beach, Stump Pass Beach, and Englewood Beach are the four most popular beaches in the area, and they all feature beautiful mangroves and sand dunes. Stump Pass Beach is a state park with hiking routes that are worth exploring. Picnicking and beach volleyball are two of the most popular activities at Englewood Beach.
You should check out Lakewood Ranch, Venice, and downtown Sarasota if you are planning to move to Sarasota, Florida.
The influx of new residents is increasing competitiveness and housing costs in Sarasota. These costs could seem reasonable if you’re relocating from a northern city like New York or Boston, but they might seem excessive to someone who has always lived in Florida.
Of course, costs will range widely depending on your preferred area of residence. However, while the aforementioned coastal areas are often regarded as some of the nicest places to live in Sarasota, FL, they also command extremely high prices.
Some of the best neighborhoods in Florida are located on the mainland, but if you’re looking for variety and a lower price tag, you can add these three to your list (among others):
Sarasota’s central business district is surrounded by areas that can be reached on foot, some of which feature classic bungalows and others modern condos with breathtaking bay views. While being so close to all the great restaurants and shops downtown has its perks, it also comes with a price.
Recognized by Coastal Living as one of the best coastal communities in the United States, Venice provides a laid-back beachy lifestyle with a touch of elegance. Many of the city’s original residences from the 1920s have been restored to its former grandeur, along with all the contemporary conveniences that came with the city’s design as a master-planned community. A short walk from Venice’s beaches will take you to Venice Avenue, where you’ll find a wide variety of shops and restaurants.
Florida’s Venice is a lot more affordable than its namesake in Italy, but its housing prices are on a level with those of Sarasota.
Lakewood Ranch is one of the best-planned communities in America, and its twenty or so unique villages make it easy for families to find their perfect fit. The world-famous Sarasota Polo Club can be found here, along with numerous other establishments of interest.
SARASOTA HAS LOTS OF FUN ACTIVITIES TO OFFER (BESIDES GOING TO THE BEACH)
Golfing is a close second to the area’s stunning beaches as a reason people travel to the Sarasota region. When the summer heat and humidity become unbearable, though, the inhabitants seek for pursuits that are less dependent on the weather. A few of our recommended activities in Sarasota are as follows.
The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
You guessed it; it was the Ringlings. In 1927, the Museum opened as a tribute to John and Mable’s lifelong hobby of collecting works of art. The museum features more than just paintings and sculptures, though; it also regularly shows films, presents lectures, and more.
Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium
A coastal Florida town is bound to have some water-based activities on any recommended list. Established in 1955, Mote is now one of Florida’s most prestigious marine research facilities.
From manatees to sea turtles, and even a virtual reality experience, the aquarium has it all. Moreover, it is accessible every day of the year, making it a great option for those who are bored with the same old things and are wondering “what to do in Sarasota.”
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
Make a U-turn at the end of Fruitville Road and head toward the angular, lavender structure on the right. Concerts, comedies, musicals, dramas, and dances can be seen at the Van Wezel on a regular basis all through the year.
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
The botanical gardens span two locations; the main one is in downtown Sarasota, while the other is near Osprey and is a part of the Historic Spanish Point. The gardens are rich in plant life, historical significance, pathways, and opportunities for social interaction.
St. Armands Circle
Yet another invention by Ringling! On the island of St. Armands Key may be found the opulent shopping district known as St. Armands Circle. It is the ideal location to have a margarita or three while watching the sun go down because it is adorned with statues, has an abundance of palm trees, and has a multitude of patios.
Sarasota Jungle Gardens
Add this to your itinerary of family-friendly activities in Sarasota. Do you long for an up-close and personal encounter with a flamingo? Well, this is your spot to enjoy. Kids will love the daily animal displays and petting zoos, and adults can enjoy the balmy weather and scenic walk in the tropical setting.
UTC Shopping Center
If you’re in the market for some serious retail therapy, the Mall at University Town Center is where you need to be. The massive property is easily accessible from Interstate 75 and is situated within easy walking distance of Lakewood Ranch. What’s even better? It would take you weeks to explore all 4 million square feet of the University Town Center.
THE SCHOOLS IN SARASOTA ARE FIRST-RATE
Sarasota County Schools, which has almost 43,000 pupils, consistently ranks in the top two in the state on Niche’s list of best school systems. Great Schools has given a number of its campuses perfect scores of 10, and many of those same campuses have been named “United States News and World Report Best Schools in America.”
U.S. News and World Report rank Pine View School as the top high school in Sarasota County and the second best in Florida.
Source/reference link: https://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/national-rankings
Niche ranks Sarasota Middle School, which has about 1,200 kids, as the third best in the county because of its academic focus and a lower-than-average student-teacher ratio of 16:1.
Built in Sarasota’s early days, Southside Elementary School and Bay Haven Elementary are two of the city’s ancient schools that are still in use today. A National School of Merit (Blue Ribbon School) and a “Five Star School” (for 19 years! ), Bay Haven is now known as Bay Haven School of Basics Plus. The Panthers’ motto at Southside is “whatever it takes to learn, to dream, to laugh, and to love every child every day.”
SARASOTA IS THE PLACE TO REGAIN YOUR YOUTHFUL VIBRANCE
The weather, beaches, and abundance of activities in Sarasota, Florida, may make anyone feel youthful at heart. Yet, the city has a greater median age than the rest of the country. Sarasota has a substantially higher median age than the rest of the country (mean age 37) and the rest of Florida (mean age 41).
In addition to the numerous retirees who call Sarasota home year-round, the city also attracts many “snowbirds,” or those who spend the winters in warmer climates and return north when the weather cools down.
Not surprisingly, a Sarasota property developer constructed the first golf course in Florida. J.H. Gillespie, also known as the “Father of Sarasota,” was a Scotsman dispatched to lead a struggling colony of around 60 Scottish families.
While Gillespie laid the groundwork for the city in 1886 by constructing its first roadways, launching its first railroad service, and opening its first hotel, he also built the city’s first two holes of golf. In 1906, he formally introduced golfers to the course.
Hundreds of top-tier golf courses, including The Highlands and the tough public course The Groves, are available to golfers in and around Sarasota today.
SARASOTA IS A WONDERFUL PLACE FOR RETIREES AND FAMILIES
With its stunning coastline, pleasant year-round climate, and abundance of desirable recreational and cultural opportunities, Sarasota regularly appears on the “best of” lists almost every year. U.S. News & World Report recognized Sarasota as one of the greatest places to retire in the United States, citing the city’s excellent selection of restaurants as a major reason for the award. The city of Sarasota is not limited to the elderly. As a matter of fact, it is the best location to live in Florida for people of all ages, ranking higher than both posh Naples to the south and busy Tampa Bay to the north and even in the top 10 of the best places to live in the entire country.
THE CITY OF SARASOTA IS A MAJOR CULTURAL HUB
In addition to its pleasant climate, Sarasota’s thriving cultural community is attracting an increasing number of visitors. The Sarasota Opera House, the Sarasota Ballet, the Asolo Repertory Theatre, Sarasota Contemporary Dance, the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School, the Circus Arts Conservatory, and the world-famous Sarasota Film Festival are just a few examples of the city’s commitment to the arts.
Also, it’s not restricted to just intellectual pursuits. Towles Court Artist Colony, a downtown section of bungalows on brick-lined lanes, was established in the 1990s as a live-work refuge for artists and is now one of Sarasota’s most interesting districts.
There are now numerous art spaces, salons, cafes, art therapists, educators, and more located in the community. Open studio nights are a great opportunity for first-timers to explore the area.
SARASOTA WAS ONCE THE HOME OF THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH
It’s impossible to think of Sarasota without thinking of the Ringlings. To begin, the Ringling College of Art and Design, established in 1931, is highly regarded for its art and liberal arts programs as well as its world-famous animation department.
John Ringling and his four brothers founded the circus that would become known as the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey and also founded the Ringling Bros. School of Circus Arts.
The magnificent collection of baroque masterpieces that John and Mable amassed on their annual European trips to scout circus performers is now on display at Ringling, the State Art Museum of Florida.
Ca’ d’Zan, their five-story, 41-room Venetian Gothic mansion, overlooks Sarasota Bay and sits next to the museum. The name is a Venetian dialect rendering of “House of John,” but the owner, Mable, was so enamored with Italy that she wanted her Florida mansion to match the splendor she had seen there that she probably should have given it her name instead. There was a $35,000 Napoleon-style bedroom suite that contributed to the home’s final cost of $1.65 million when it was finished in 1926.
Before its 2002 renovation, the house had fallen into ruin. Restoration work totaling $15 million brought the mansion back to its former glory, and it is now part of the Ringling Museum and available for tours and events.
SARASOTA’S NEIGHBORS ARE FANTASTIC
There are several amazing destinations within an hour’s drive of Sarasota, complementing the city’s many attractions. White sand beaches and dolphin-viewing cruises are hallmarks of Clearwater and St. Petersburg, while Tampa is a hub for nightlife and sporting activities.
Busch Gardens and Adventure Island may both be found in Tampa and can satisfy your need for thrills. Enjoy fishing a lot? Clearwater, or any of these other locations, is a great starting point for a charter boat excursion on the high “Gulf.” The Dal Museum, located in St. Petersburg, is a must-see for museum-goers who appreciate the fine arts and historical artifacts.
TOURISM INDUSTRY IS THE ECONOMIC DRIVER IN SARASOTA
Sarasota is home to many different types of businesses, although the healthcare sector, grocery stores, and government offices are among the largest. In 1947, an Italian immigrant who arrived in America with $25 to his name launched Tropicana in Bradenton, and the company is still going strong today.
During the last decade, Sarasota has also been recognized for its success in the business world with a number of awards. The city has received numerous accolades, including being named one of Yelp’s Top 100 Florida Restaurants, the top city in the United States for growth in 2021 and 2022, and the top relocation destination.
Wrapping It Up
In 2023 Sarasota, Florida, will continue to grow as a vibrant city with plenty of attractions and businesses. The city is home to many famous beaches, and its downtown area is full of cultural attractions. With more people moving to the city, Sarasota, Florida will continue to thrive.