The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens were voted #1 of the top ten things to do in Sarasota by Sarasota Magazine. Of course, I love gardens, so it stands to reason I'd agree with them. Best known for the collection of over 6,000 species of orchids (a nice selection of which can be purchased in the well-stocked gift shop), Selby covers 9.5 acres fronting on Sarasota Bay. It has a number of greenhouses, as well as trails which lead you through a marvelous banyan grove, a canopy walkway which is ADA-accessible, an immense stand of bamboo (listen to the tall stalks click together in the wind), mangroves, hibiscus, a butterfly garden, palm grove, a fragrance garden, and a building devoted to "wild things" -- principally posion dart frogs whose colorful bodies seem to belie their deadly character. I'm told that a determined and uninterested visitor can cover the ground in about twenty minutes. Our two-hour visit felt just about right to me, though we could have visited the Christy Payne mansion (now a museum) and the Selby House, or grabbed a snack at the Cafe. Selby Gardens also features a variety of events, horticultural and cultural, as well as classes in gardening, conservation, nature painting and photography, foral design, and other nautral history subjects. Don't forget your camera -- and try not to park under any trees with large red flowers, because those "flowers" are actually heavy seed pods which will leave stains on your car!
Mixon's Fruit Farms is a wonderful place to visit, especially if you are a city person from a northern country where oranges, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits cannot be picked in your backyard. There is a tram which will take you for a jaunt through the trees, but my favorite part of the experience comes when you're invited to drink your fill of freshly-squeezed juices. Mixon's also makes a wonderful sorbet with their oranges which is delightful on a hot day. There is, frankly, a lot of junk mixed in with the good stuff in the store. Limit yourself to the variety of freshly-made things (all of which are available for tasting), send home a bushel or two of fruit, have a superb salad in the snack bar, and be sure to send a postcard to everyone freezing back home in the snow!
South Florida Museum, Parker Manatee Aquarium
and Bishop Planetarium
the largest natural and cultural history museum on Florida's Gulf Coast and a small aquarium and a planetarium
Seniors (60+): $11.75
Children (4-12): $8.75
Under 4: Free (w/adult)
Click here to regester for a coupon - http://sarasota.com/linker/linker.cgi?LOCATION=http://southfloridamuseum.org/
January through April and the month of July: Open 7 days a week.
Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sundays from 12 noon to 5 p.m.
All other months: Open 6 days a week.
Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sundays from 12 noon to 5 p.m.
Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day & New Year's Day.
The Museum is closed for annual maintenance the last two weeks in August, re-opening the first day after Labor Day.
One of our first stops was at the SARASOTA VISITOR INFORMATION CENTER. We needed some maps of the area and brochures on what to see and do in the area. Well, got lots of info as this was one huge information center. The ladies there were so helpful. I even bought some post cards there as they were 4 / $1.00
lido beach is a beautiful white sand beach on the gulf of mexico. the water of the gulf is relatively warm year round and the gulf's gentle waves make it an excellent place for bathing. this public beach is just a couple of blocks from st. armands circle. limited parking is free.
Thanks to the Ringley (as in Ringley Brothers Barnum Bailey Circus) families infusion of money into the local community Sarasota has a wonderful array of art and culture available for such a small town. So much so that Sarasota is known as Floridia's Cultural Coast including:
Professional symphony, ballet and opera
More than 10 theaters and 30 art galleries
The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art is Florida's State Museum
Incredible - this has it's on tip
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, known for its architecture and great acoustics, seats 1,700
Sarasota Opera house - one of the top rated opera houses in the US - If you have never been to an opera this is a wonderful place to see your first.
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
777 N. Tamiami Trail Sarasota, FL 34236
(941) 955-7676 | (941) 953-3368
Sarasota Ballet of Florida
5555 N. Tamiami Trail Sarasota, FL 34243
(941) 359-0099 | (866) 722-5538
Sarasota Opera House
61 North Pineapple Ave.
Sarasota, FL 34236
Featuring a broad spectrum of workshops, exhibits, classes and arts eduction programming in the visual arts, ART CENTER SARASOTA is led by respected and nationally known professionals. Their goal is to increase awareness and appreciation of art in all its forms. Artists featured are from the local community.
Tuesday to Saturday
10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
This house was the winter home to John and Mabel Ringling. Built in the 1920s, it was recently restored and opened to the public. Mrs. Ringling was very active in the design and patterned it after her favorite Venetian hotels (hence the Venetian name, C' d'Zan). The house is mega-impressive and full of history and art. Also, the view from the back of the house onto the bay is unforgettable.
The public is not allowed to roam freely through the house, though. You must be part of a very long guided tour. In my opinion, this is not a suitable activity for children.
To borrow directly from Wikipedia a much more comprehensive description than I could possibly write, "The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is the state art museum of Florida. Florida State University assumed governance of the Museum in 2000.
"The institution offers twenty-one galleries of European paintings as well as Cypriot antiquities and Asian, American, and contemporary art. The museum's art collection currently consists of more than 10,000 objects that include a wide variety of paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, photographs, and decorative arts from ancient through contemporary periods and from around the world. The collection of Peter Paul Rubens paintings is world-renowned.
"In January 2007, a $76-million expansion and renovation of the Museum of Art was finished. The new Arthur F. and Ulla R. Searing Wing was the final component of a five-year master plan that has transformed the museum from a decaying facility to the sixteenth largest in the United States.
"In all, more than 150,000 square feet have been added to the campus, which includes the art museum, circus museum, and Cà d'Zan, the Ringlings' mansion, which has been restored, along with the historic Asolo Theater. Entirely new are the Visitor Pavilion, the Education and Conservation Complex, the Tibbals Learning Center, and Miniature Circus.
"Cà d'Zan, (Venetian for "House of John"), is the waterfront residence built for Mable and John Ringling. The mansion was designed by architect Dwight James Baum with assistance from the Ringlings, built by Owen Burns, and was completed in 1926. It is designed in Venetian Gothic style. Overlooking Sarasota Bay, the mansion became the center for cultural life in Sarasota for several years. The residence was restored in 2002.
"Mable Ringling’s rose garden was completed in 1913 while she and John were living in another house on the property. The rose garden is located near the original Mary Louise and Charles N. Thompson residence within the beautifully landscaped grounds overlooking Sarasota Bay. John and Mable are both buried in this garden.
"The Ringling Museum of the American Circus, established in 1948, is the first museum of its kind to document the history of the circus. The museum has a colletion of handbills, posters and art prints, circus paper, business records, wardrobe, performing props, circus equipment, and parade wagons. The museum also contains the Howard Bros. Circus model, a ¾-inch-to-the-foot scale replica of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus from 1919–1938, called the world's largest miniature circus."
I like fancy houses, rose gardens, and art museums, but the Circus Museum was the best!
pictured is the entrance to ringling home and museums. just to the right of the visitor center and ticket office is the historic aoslo theatre. originally the aoslo was a 17 th century italian theatre that was acquired by john and mable ringling and was shipped to sarasota as part of their collection of italian art. the aoslo has evolved into a complex of three theatres, the modern cook theatre, the 1905 mertz theatre, an opera house imported from dunfermile scotland, and the aoslo. the aoslo repertory company was founded by the faculty of florida state university and began performing plays under the name of the aoslo theatre festival. today fsu students perform at the aoslo as well as professional theatre companies. for lovers of theatre this is a must do spot when in the sarasota area. check out their website for performances and dates.
A delightful artist colony that includes working studios and art shops of over 30 artists. Well worth a visit. Its a wonderful area to walk around and look at and even buy art.
Its opened Tuesday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 or 5 p.m., however the best time to go is during the Gallery Art Walks which are the Third Friday of every month from 6 to 10 PM.
If your interested in trying something new the gallery area also has a wonderful Bosnian restaurant
Directions: Fruitville rd to 301,
South on 301 about 3 blocks
Rt on Adams Lane
One of the prettiest bridge spans anywhere. Take a drive over it and enjoy the sunset
For a great view stop at the rest stop by the bridge - its a beautiful little reststop and great for a picnic.
The bridge also has a pier on both ends that is part of the old bridge. It is a wonderful place to fish. The pier is part of the national park system. I believe its $3 to enter.
Arts College that has a wonderful art gallery. Gallery has a large selection of local art at reasonable prices.
Hours of operation change by month and year so see the website or call first.
Always open Monday to Thursday 9 AM to 4 PM but during season weekend hours are available too. Center closed the entire month of August
Going parasailng in Siesta Key near Sarasota if beautiful and actually a great value. You take a cruise out the intercoastal to the beach area and fly out in the gulf. So relaxing and fun and super easy. You take off and land on the back of the boat so you don't even have to get wet if you don't want to. The water is beautiful and the parasail crew are really cool and professional. Great for anyone and good memories!
located just a couple of blocks north of downtown sarasota is the van wezel performing arts hall. built in 1968 some consider this modernistic building an eye sore. however, the hall is the cultural center of sarasota. the van wezel hosts world class symphonies, both modern and classical dance companies, and broadway road shows. for those interested in music and dance this is a must do place to visit. check out their website for performances and dates.
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