The city of Sarasota (population of 53,326), has a lot going for it. Apart from its beaches that are renowned nationwide, it is also the home port of the “Ringling brothers” – arguably the most famous circus the world has ever known.
The city itself is the seat of Sarasota County and is located at the southern end of the Tampa Bay Area, which includes the famed Sarasota Bay area as well as several barrier islands located between the bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Indeed, these barrier islands (referred to in local parlance as ’Kays’) draw tourists from all over the world for the pristine whiteness of their sandy beaches.
Siesta Beach, FL
The most popular kays that separate the gulf of Mexico with Sarasota Bay are Lido and Siesta kay. The latter is so-called because tourists who visit that beach find the gentle sound of the sea washing on to the sand so soothing that it lulls them to sleep. In 2011 Dr. Beach (Dr. Stephen Leatherman) of the renowned ‘Dr. Beach’ evaluation website went so far as to award Siesta Key as the nation’s #1 beach.
Dr. Beach stated “Siesta Beach in Sarasota boasts that it has the finest and whitest sand in the world, and I cannot argue with this claim; the powdery sand is nearly pure quartz crystal. The beautiful blue-colored water is clean and clear, making it so inviting to bathers and swimmers.”
The Sarasota beach and bay areas have been inhabited since prehistory (around 15,000 years or so according to conservative estimates) and are rich with archeological digs and regularly draw both enthusiasts and scientists who pick through the large mounds of shells and fish bones our ancestors left behind, to understand the lives and times of that bygone era.
Among the things to do when you travel to Sarasota, quite unlike other Florida Beaches, is the opportunity to visit Sarasota’s own Circus. Indeed Sarasota has been associated with circuses since the 1800s when the famous Ringling family made it their home. Circus Sarasota not only performs exciting shows in the big ring but offers special classes at their Sailor Circus and Humor Academies to both young and old alike. So famous is Circus Sarasota that it will feature at the Smithsonian Folk life festival next year.
Crowley Natural Center
The Crowley Nature Center is a 190-acre farm established way back in the 1870s. You can take a trip through time there and get to see not only Florida’s natural flora and fauna but also pioneer buildings that depict life as the first American settlers lived it.
The Ringling Circus Museum
No visit to Sarasota can ever be complete without a visit to the monuments created by its most famous residents, The Ringlings. The Ringling Circus Museum was established in 1948 and has everything from the cannon that used to propel “Airwonders” to the posters and glitterati of those halcyon days.
Florida Jungle Gardens
One of Sarasota’s oldest attractions; these gardens were established back in 1939 and to this day they play host to almost 200 species of animals, birds, and reptiles, from macaws to unorthodox primates to full-sized alligators. If hand-feeding wild pink flamingos catches your imagination, don’t miss a trip to the Florida Jungle Gardens.
If it’s a relaxing vacation you are looking for, then Sarasota’s beaches, museums, and gardens should form a definite part of your travel itinerary.
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