The Sarasota area is more than just the city of Sarasota, as it includes many island communities as well. The locations of Longboat Key, Lido/St. Armands Circle and Siesta Key are some fabulous vacation destinations. They are culturally elegant, yet have adventure for those who seek it; however, at the same time, they are laid back and tranquil. Also rich in history, this sun-drenched island community offers the chance for you to make unlimited discoveries of natural treasures, starting with the 35 miles of white, silky beaches, and an unlimited number of trails, both in and out of the water. Plus there are many water birds, as well as land and water mammals to watch.
Things to do in Sarasota
Sarasota is a great place to plan a vacation; no matter what your ideal of paradise is, you can do it all here: Water sports, hiking trails, bird watching, canoeing, shopping
, the theatre, and beaches, beaches, beaches. So grab some suntan lotion and a comfortable pair of shoes because you’re about to experience the best of Florida's west coast in Sarasota.
Sarasota Bayfront and Marina Jack
There are many marinas and boat docks in the area; one such place is beautiful Marina Jack
and the Sarasota Bayfront, both located in the heart of Sarasota. Sarasota Bayfront is a great place to take a stroll and enjoy a view of the south end of Sarasota Bay, the boats in the marina and the downtown area, along the deep water harbor. It’s a nice park setting, with a place for kids to play and a beautiful fountain to enjoy. The trolley runs nearby, which is ready and able to get you to the numerous local attractions.
Marina Jack specializes in transient dockage and boating group accommodations with many full time slips. The marina has full amenities, including fuel dock, ship’s store and ground transportation, direct Gulf access, over 300 wet slips and berths up to 200', a launderette and showers. Marina Jack is host to Sarasota’s largest charter boat fleet, including fishing, diving, sailing, cruising, boat rentals and several great waterside dining restaurants. The dinning cruise, Marina Jack II, serves a buffet style lunch and dinner and offers banquet facilities. Sarasota Bayfront Pictures »
Siesta Key is famous for its jewel green waters, quartz-crystal white sands, breath-taking sunsets, light waves and amazing wildlife. The sand on Siesta Beach is tested 99% pure quartz, soft and cool on the feet, it's so nice that it is has been consistently ranked as the "finest, whitest sand beach in the world."
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Anna Maria Island
Anyone who has ever been there will tell you that Anna Marie Island is a great place to relax and getaway from it all. Each of the island's three cities give you access to spectacular beaches and fun in the sun while at the same time offering a unique selection of shops, restaurants, and recreational opportunities.
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Lido and Longboat Keys
Lido and Longboat Keys are beautiful little spots near Sarasota, Florida. In Lido Key you can shop in trendy St. Armands Circle, find fabulous Florida
seafood, go fishing
and boating, or if you choose, simply relax on the vast expanse of white sand beach. Longboat Key is south of Anna Maria Island, between Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, as well as being north of Lido Key.
More about Lido Key »
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Places to Stay in Sarasota
When you are looking for a place to stay in Sarasota keep in mind you have several islands you can stay on too. The Country Inn & Suites is less than 5 miles from Siesta Key Beach yet just over five miles from downtown Sarasota, the best of both worlds. The Helmsley Sandcastle in Sarasota is just a mile from St. Arman's Circle, all guestrooms have your choice of pool, gulf or courtyard views. The Holiday Inn on Lido Beach is just two blocks from St. Armands' Circle and rooms with either balconies or gulf views are available. Located in the Arts Haven of Sarasota, the Americinn Hotel & Suites is within ten miles of St. Armand Circle, Lido Beach and Siesta Key Beach. The Ritz-Carlton is close to Sarasota bay and half a mile from the Historic Spanish Point Museum. The beaches and the Ringling Center for the Cultural Arts are all within four miles of the hotel. The pretty little Hibiscus Suites Inn on Siesta Key is four blocks from Crescent Beach and Siesta Key village is nearby. If you get the feeling that no matter where you stay in Sarasota you're close to water shopping, interesting things to do see, you're right.
View Sarasota Hotels »
Beginnings and Background
This area was first explored by the Europeans, in the early 1500's, when a Spanish expedition landed just to the south of Charlotte Harbor, in 1513. That was the first recorded contact. In the mid-1700s Sarasota was identified on maps as Zara Zote; then in 1884, a petition for a new postal address was made. The post office has a federal regulation requiring the use of only one word for new addresses; that may be the reason how Zara Zota, or Sara Sota, became Sarasota.
Sarasota has had some very interesting and famous residents; for instance, there was John Hamilton Gillespie. He was a Scottish aristocrat who immigrated here, and is believed to be the builder of America's first golf course right there in Sarasota. In 1902, he was elected to be the first mayor of Sarasota, which was incorporated as a city in 1913. Then the circus came to town in the persona of John Ringling, of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. He and his wife built fabulous a Venetian-style mansion on Sarasota Bay. He was also a major developer in the area and used his elephants from the circus to help build the first bridge from the mainland to St. Armands Key; he then developed the key into a commercial and residential area. Then in 1927, he moved the circus' winter quarters toSarasota and the area became a "circus town." Today, Sarasota has grown to include the areas above, as well as Casey Key, Venice, Manasota Key, Englewood and North Port.
By Beverly Martinez-Collins – PlacesAroundFlorida.com