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Sarasota-4 - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Days Out

When planning your visit to Florida do not forget the coast along the Gulf of Mexico. Many places of interest are easily reached from Orlando and perhaps an overnight stop will give you more time to enjoy the slower, laid-back lifestyle.

Sarasota, around 60 miles south of Tampa is a cultural city of 55, 000 with theatre, ballet, Symphony Orchestra and very large concert hall by the name of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall which attracts world famous names.

The main city lines Sarasota Bay, a haven for pleasure yachts, both large and small, the depth of the Bay rarely reaches more than eight feet in depth. A pleasure boat runs most days throughout the year during the afternoon from which you can enjoy not only the wildlife of the area but also the magnificent homes of the rich and famous – Jerry Springer’s residence (quite a modest affair) is part of the tour. Sunset cruises are particularly popular. Only 2% of the homes are actually lived in year-round the rest are purely vacation homes of residents in far flung states of the continent. Few homes are valued below $12 million.

The high value of the homes, not only in Sarasota itself but in Sarasota County therefore produces a high income in Property Taxes (Council Tax as we know it) which allows for areas to be kept in pristine condition.

As with most American towns and cities Sarasota does not have a centre as such but Downtown Sarasota is fairly compact with Main Street, Palm Avenue and Pineapple Avenue being the hub of the area.

Centennial Park alongside the bay is an attractive area for a stroll, a wonderful play area for children, seats just in the right position to finish those last few chapters of your book and a view of the boats, both large and small in the marina.

Apart from the cultural side already mentioned there seems to be an endless amount to see in Sarasota; Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, right in the heart of the city offers over 9 carefully tended acres of rare orchids, bromeliads and tropical plants.

Further north along the 41 towards Sarasota Airport do not miss the Ringling Museum set up by John and Mable Ringling as the winter home of their circus. The estate includes the Ca` d’Zan mansion, beautiful grounds and gardens.

Need a rest from the heat? You could do worse than to visit the splendid Sarasota Library, once again named after Marie Selby who bequeathed funds for its running. At the top of Main Street take a slight left turn and across the road will be a welcoming cool environment to while away the hottest part of the day.

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