Artists, writers, musicians, entertainers – artsy types have flocked to Sarasota since the 1920s, with John Ringling leading the way. Today you can find cultural performances and arts venues – not to mention bookstores – all over town. The visitor bureau (941-957-1877, 800-522-9799; www.sarasotafl.org; 701 N Tamiami Trail; 10am-4pm Mon-Sat, noon-3pm Sun) has local information.
That big, fantastical purple building – some might say ‘obnoxious’ – is the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall (941-953-3368, 800-826-9303; www.vanwezel.org; 777 N Tamiami Trail), purveyor of symphony, dance and theater. The Sarasota County Arts Council (941-365-5118; www.sarasota-arts.org; 1226 N Tamiami Tr, Suite 300) has information about a variety of upcoming local performances.
Wander about a cluster of colorful galleries and studios at Towles Court Art District (www.towlescourt.com; 1938 Adams Lane; 11am-4pm Tue-Sat). Independent films screen at the Burns Court Cinema (941-955-3456; 506 Burns Ct); call or visit www.filmsociety.org for schedules. Gator Club (941-366-5969; www.thegatorclub.com; 1490 Main St) has live rock, blues or alternative music nightly.
Right over the Ringling Causeway (which circus elephants helped build) on Lido Key is St Armands Circle, a roundabout that serves as social hub with a proliferation of stylish shops and restaurants. Mote Aquarium (941-388-4441; www.mote.org; 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway; adult/child 4-12 $15/10; 10am-5pm), a research center and rehabilitation facility, has touch pools, a manatee habitat, the fun Shark Attack Theater and of course fish.
Many of the beautiful beaches are private. The best public-access beach is Siesta Key Beach, about 5 miles south of downtown on Siesta Key, with wide, white strips of sugary quartz sand for your sunning pleasure.
Last updated: Oct 3, 2008
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