Sarasota is a spit-n-polish community of upscale homes, clean streets and a culturally savvy populous. Excellent theatrical facilities host such greats as the Sarasota Opera, Sarasota Ballet of Florida and the Florida String Quartet, while fine art finds well-curated wall space at the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art and at area art galleries; as outdoor compliment to this diverse clutch of attractions find within easy reach lovely beaches, picturesque parks and a long list of fishing charter companies sure to accommodate the avid anglers in your traveling troupe.
In 1927, Barnum and Bailey brought their circus to town. People flocked in from around the globe to join the show, and Sarasota became world famous. The big tents have moved on, but the legacy of the Ringlings remains one of this cities most important cultural attractions. Housing both the aforementioned Ringling Museum of Art, the Circus Museum and the sprawling former Ringling residence, Ca d'Zan, the Ringling Museum Complex is a 66-acre estate that merits at least a half-day's detour. Also of interest in the area is the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium (where you can safely spot sharks), the Classic Car Museum and the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.
Sarasota is mainland to four small islands. Together, they form one of American's most charming beachfront communities with 35 miles of shoreline. Water sports are very much a part of the lifestyle, whether it be windsurfing, parasailing, fishing, canoeing or kayaking. Myakka River State Park, nine miles east of Sarasota, offers an excellent view into aquatic life with over 200 species of birds, alligators and deer in the 28,000 acres of lakes, swamps and marshlands. The park also has 39 miles of hiking trails and 15 miles of equestrian paths, and offers boat tours and canoe-based forays.
Golf should really be Florida's state sport, and Sarasota doesn't drop the ball in the greens department. The Scotch brought the game to Sarasota in the 1800s; today, it remains a favorite in the region. There are about 30 different greens within a short drive of the city, four of which are in the "top 100" category within the state.
Sarasota, a charming upscale community whose glowing reputation is well deserved, is located off of I-75, 50 miles from Tampa.