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52 miles S of Tampa; 150 miles SW of Orlando; 225 miles NW of Miami
Far enough away from Tampa Bay to have an identity of its own, Sarasota is one of Florida's cultural centers. In fact, many retirees spend their winters here because there's so much to keep them entertained and stimulated, including the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, home of the annual Asolo Theatre Festival. Sarasota also has an extensive array of first-class resorts, restaurants, and boutiques.
Offshore, more than 40 miles of white beaches fringe a chain of long, narrow barrier islands stretching from Tampa Bay to Sarasota. To the south, Siesta Key is a residential enclave popular with artisans and writers, and is home to Siesta Village, this area's funky, laid-back, and often noisy beach hangout. Shielded from the Gulf by Lido Key, which has a string of affordable hotels attractive to families, St. Armands Key sports a quaint and lively shopping and dining district, while adjacent Longboat Key is one of the country's swankiest islands.
Browse American Airlines flights to Sarasota and picture the entire family enjoying a fun Florida vacation! This Gulf Coast destination truly offers something for everyone, from gorgeous beaches where you can simply relax to fine art museums (and even a circus museum). Here are a few suggestions for things to do in Sarasota that will help you plan a memorable getaway.
Of all the activities in Sarasota, the most popular has to be doing nothing while relaxing on a pretty beach. There are six islands along the coastline and each offers a different vibe. Siesta Key, for example, boasts miles of white sand and calm waters. It's the perfect place to build sandcastles, wade into the water or go for a long walk. Little ones might enjoy hunting for shells on the island's Turtle Beach. On Lido Key, you'll find not only gorgeous beaches but also nature trails that lead into a pine forest, which is ideal if you want a shady break. Adventurers will love visiting Venice Beach, which is dotted with shark's teeth (and no, they're not waiting for you in the water; the teeth naturally wash up here thanks to the current). Looking for a secluded spot? Try Manasota Beach on Manasota Key. Or even more deserted: Blind Pass Beach on the same island.
If, however, you're looking for other things to do in Sarasota beyond putting your toes in the sand, you won't be disappointed. Sarasota has a thriving arts community. The Ringling Museum of Art is a great place to start. Built by John Ringling to hold his personal collection, today it houses works by many Old Masters, including Rubens, Titian, El Greco, van Dyck, Tintoretto and more. Beyond the traditional fine arts, Sarasota also has a treasure trove of unexpected delights. One of which is the Ca d'Zan (which translates to House of John). It was the home of John and Mable Ringling and is considered an excellent example of Venetian Gothic architecture. Its 41 rooms, 15 bathrooms, and 81-foot-tall tower are quite impressive. The young ones in your group (and the young at heart) will simply love the Ringling Circus Museum, built in 1948. It was the first in the country dedicated to preserving the history of the American circus. On view are sideshow banners, parade wagons, costumes and more. Its Tibbals Learning Center even has the world's largest miniature circus!
Another of our favorite activities in Sarasota is exploring the historic neighborhoods near downtown. Towles Court is full of vibrant galleries, shops and eateries, making it a fun place to spend a leisurely afternoon. But if getting in touch with nature is more your speed, plan to trek into Myakka River State Park. It features hiking trails and a tower that lets you see the wildlife from a bird's-eye point of view.
If it's all starting to sound like a trip your family would enjoy, fly to Sarasota with American Airlines so you can relax and savor the memories.
Prices shown are round-trip fares, including taxes and carrier-imposed fees. Advertised travel may be operated by an American Eagle or an American Connection carrier. American Eagle® service is operated by American Eagle Airlines, Inc., SkyWest Airlines, Inc., ExpressJet Airlines, Inc., or Republic Airline Inc. American Connection® service is operated by Chautauqua Airlines, Inc.
|Sarasota Jazz Festival||Mar 2014 (annual)||Sarasota|
|Giving Hunger the Blues||Mar 2014 (annual)||Southside Village|
|Annual Super Power Boat Grand Prix||Jun - Jul 2014 (annual)||Sarasota|
|Sarasota Blues Fest||Sep 2014 (annual)||Ed Smith Complex|
|Ringling International Arts Festival||Oct 2014 (annual)||Sarasota|
|Cine World Film Festival||Nov 2014 (annual)||Burns Court Cinemas|
|Blasé Café||International||Siesta Key||2||3|
|Café L'Europe||Continental||St. Armands Key||4||4|
|Derek's Culinary Casual||American||Downtown||2||4|
|Euphemia Haye/The Haye Loft||International||Longboat Key||3||4|
|Hillview Grill||Eclectic||Southside Village||2||2|
|Libby's Café & Bar||American||Southside Village||3||4|
|Main Street Oyster Bar||Seafood||Downtown||2||2|
|Mattison's City Grille||Italian||Downtown||2||3|
|Michael's on East||American||Downtown||3||3|
|Moore's Stone Crab||Seafood||Longboat Key||3||1|
|Pacific Rim||Asian/Pac Rim||Southside Village||2||2|
|Sun Garden Cafe||Breakfast/Lunch||Siesta Key||2||3|
|Art Center Sarasota||Gallery||1|
|DeSoto National Memorial||Historic Site||1|
|FSU Ringling Center for the Cultural Arts||Museum||4|
|Gamble Plantation||Historic Site||2|
|Marie Selby Botanical Gardens||Park/Garden||3|
|Robinson Preserve||Historic Site||4|
|Sarasota Classic Car Museum||Museum||1|
|South Florida Museum, Bishop Planetarium & Parker Manatee Aquarium||Zoo/Aquarium||1|
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