By  Mike Miller  Updated December 31, 2022

Sarasota, Florida Things To Do, Lodging, Dining, & Real Estate At End Of Article

Sarasota, Florida is on the Gulf of Mexico in Southwest Florida about 60 miles south of Tampa.  It's population is nearly 60,000.

The major highways entering Sarasota are US-41 and I-75 from the north and State Road 72 from the east. 

Sarasota Aerial Marina JackDowntown Sarasota and Marina Jack


Sarasota, like many places in the state, was originally the home of native Americans who began settling in the area about 10,000 years ago.

John Ringling ResidenceJohn Ringling Residence

The first Europeans to discover the area were the Spanish, who landed at Charlotte Harbor to the south in 1513.  Sarasota Bay is large and sheltered from the Gulf of Mexico by barrier islands. 

The bay became a seasonal place for fishing and trading by Americans and Cubans in the years leading up to Florida becoming a United States territory in 1821.

The people who made it a unique place include a circus tycoon and a wealthy Chicago heiress.

Read More About the History of Sarasota, Florida


The downtown area of Sarasota is loaded with theaters, art galleries, restaurants, and parks.

The focal point of downtown is Bayfront Drive, a curved boulevard along the shoreline of Sarasota Bay. 

View of Marina Jack in Downtown SarasotaView of Marina Jack in Downtown Sarasota
Flickr/Roger W

Even though the east side of this thoroughfare is lined with high rise condominiums, you still have an unobstructed view of the bay to the west.

The John Ringling Causeway leads across the bay from downtown Sarasota to St. Armand's, a circular neighborhood of shops, galleries, and restaurants.

From that point on Lido Key, you can drive north to some of the most beautiful beaches in Florida on Longboat Key and up to Anna Maria Island on the north. 

The opera, theaters, ballet performances, museums, art museums and schools were all grown from the seeds planted by the early visionaries.

The Florida West Coast Symphony, Ringling School of Art, Asolo Theatre Company were all or in part gifts of wealthy benefactors.

Asolo Repertory TheaterAsolo Repertory Theater

The combination of cultural amenities and natural attractions make Sarasota a great place to live. 

Boating is popular from the many marinas including downtown's Marina Jack. 

The tropical landscaping, shell collecting, bird watching, balmy winter weather and well designed golf courses add to Sarasota's charm.

Sarasota's Unconditional Surrender Statue

Unconditional Surrender Statue, Downtown SarasotaUnconditional Surrender Statue, Downtown Sarasota

An interesting feature in downtown Sarasota was the statue "Unconditional Surrender." 

The sculpture is based on a iconic photograph taken in Times Square when it was announced World War Two was over.

The 25 foot tall statue is located in Bayfront between O'Leary's Tiki Bar and Grill and Marina Jack. 

Probably more than any other place in Florida, the blue green waters of the Gulf of Mexico against the backdrop of sparkling white beaches make you feel like you are in a tropical paradise.

Nearby Siesta Key is a favorite tourist destination.

The Community of Lakewood Ranch in Sarasota

Sarasota and Sarasota County have seen tremendous growth in the recent decades. 

Much of this growth has been in several large developments east of town that were created after I-75 was completed.

Sign at Lakewood RanchSign at Lakewood Ranch

The largest of these is Lakewood Ranch that comprises 31,000 acres in both Manatee County and Sarasota County.  The land was formerly a large cattle ranch.

It is a master planned community that was created in the late 1980s and has quickly grown to a totally "new town" of about 43,000 people living in 18,000 homes.  

People can not only live there, but work, shop, dine, and generally be self sufficient in their own community with numerous shopping centers and office complexes.


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