Florida vacationers who want to take in some culture while hitting the beaches will find the city of Sarasota does not disappoint. Combining the best of Florida’s coastal landscape with some incredible arts and shopping opportunities, Sarasota has been considered the state’s “cultural center” since the 1920s and remains so today.
Although relatively small compared to cities such as Tampa, Miami and Orlando, Sarasota is home to the Florida West Coast Symphony, the Sarasota Music Festival, the Sarasota Ballet and the Sarasota Opera. Plus, there are many more artistic outlets in this little city on the Gulf of Mexico. It’s almost impossible to visit Sarasota without being able to view a live performance of something.
Sarasota’s romance with the arts began in the 1920s. It was A.B. Edwards who built the city’s first vaudeville/movie house and then John Ringling of circus fame created the John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art on their estate. The Ringling museum began as an Italian theater, the Asolo, which Ringling bought and had dismantled and shipped, piece by piece, to Sarasota.
The Ringling estate is open for guests on most days and is one of the most incredible architectural destinations in the state. The art collection inside, too, is mind boggling to behold.
The city’s crowing jewel, however, was created by the Van Wezels in the 1960s. The performing arts center was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin team under the watchful eye of his wife, Olga Hinzenburg. The center plays host to a number of performances around the year.
In addition to some incredible arts and architecture, visitors to Sarasota will find a number of historic sites and some really neat day stops, as well.
Things to see in Sarasota include:
* The Mote Marine Laboratory – this is a research facility that’s open to the public for viewing.
* The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. With its unbelievable orchid collection, the gardens are a favorite stop for tourists.
* G-Wiz Museum. This is a hands-on science museum for kids of any age.
Nearby to Sarasota, visitors will find the city of Ft. Myers to the south and Tampa to the north. Many Florida vacationers make Sarasota their “home base” and travel to see a lot of the sights of the West Coast while enjoying their stay.
With a plethora of things to see and do, plus some incredible water action nearby, Sarasota is a fantastic spot for Florida vacationers to stay for a day or an entire vacation. If cultural experiences are desired, this is the place to be.