White sands and breathtaking sunsets are just the beginning, but there’s so much more to discover in Sarasota and its Islands: Family festivals and activities; arts, music and film; romantic, gourmet dinners; golf, sailing and fishing; and world-class shopping.
Sarasota, the center of the theater and arts district, offers a world of experiences, including art festivals, restaurants, and the ever-popular Saturday morning Farmers Market. Discover fine art galleries, antique and retro collectible shops and the picturesque Sarasota Bayfront. Naturalists will love nearby Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, adorned in tropical plants from bamboo to colorful bromeliads to exotic orchids.
Longboat Key is a quiet 10-mile retreat of island luxury that is the perfect seaside setting for the Stone Crab Seafood Festival. Framed in vivid floral colors are world-class resorts, charming cottages, garden parks and secret bayous where manatees laze. And the miles of white sandy beaches sprinkled in golden sea oats? You'll have them practically all to yourself.
Siesta Key’s quartz-crystal white sands have been officially ranked as the "finest, whitest sand beach in the world." Just steps away is Siesta Village, a spirited medley of different sides of Sarasota, from candlelit dining to beach boutiques and cool daiquiris. Be sure to experience the Siesta Key Drum Circle, held most Sunday evenings. Visitors become one of the family as the spontaneous rhythm of drums, bongos and maracas fill the evening air.
Just to the south of Siesta Key lies Casey Key. This is "old Florida" at its best. Covered in a canopy of tropical trees, the winding gulf-front streets will make for an unforgettable Sunday drive or bike ride among luxurious homes.
Venice is a cozy, seaside town that has taken great strides to preserve its architectural heritage. Venice beaches are scoured by world travelers "stooping and scooping" with "Florida snow shovels" for shiny black fossilized teeth of prehistoric sharks. The best spot for specimens is Caspersen Beach, a naturalist's dream of an unspoiled, windswept beach where a nature trail leads through saltwater marshes and tidal flats.