Florida is famous for its many attractions, some of which are right here in Sarasota. Sarasota Jungle Gardens with 10 acres of tropical plants, birds and reptiles. The Mote Marine Aquarium which has touch tanks and a coral reef exhibit. You can also come face to face with sharks in the shark tank. Hugh and Buffet the resident manatees will be delighted to see you. For the gardeners amongst you, the Marie Selby Botanical gardens. Or how about a day at the Polo? Airboat rides in Myakka whilst watching alligators in their natural habitat.
From January to April you can visit the world famous Lipizzaner horses and watch them perform at their winter home on Singletary Road in Myakka City: a breathtaking sight - it's free but donations are welcome. Boat trips out in the bay where dolphins swim alongside and you may see a manatee! But to really experience swimming with manatees go to Crystal River in October where you can swim with these magnificent creatures.
For shopping where to start! from malls to bargains galore. The stores are generally open from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm daily, except Sundays when opening hours are 11:00 am until 6:00 pm. Malls offer the best of everything, with usually four anchor stores (department) including Macy’s, Sears, Dillard’s and J.C.Penney. For the cost-conscious and bargain hunters looking for famous names at cut prices, try Marshalls, TJ MAXX and Ross Dress For Less. There are new deliveries every day of merchandise including labels like Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Quicksilver and Hannah Montana, to name but a few. You just have to search.
If nothing in any of these stores catches your eye then it’s off to the Prime Outlet Mall at Ellenton which is just 5 junctions North on the I-75: here you will find Nike, Adidas, Saks, Liz Claiborne, Ralph Lauren, Banana Republic, Gap and many more (see the Links page).
Restaurants are in abundance and good value for money. Early bird specials are a particular favourite with the locals, where it’s eat all you can for around $8-$10. Whatever your taste, pick from American, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Cuban, Mexican. From fresh fish to great steaks try something different every night. For vegetarians the choice is not always obvious – ask your server (waiter/waitress) who will only be too happy to get the Chef to make up something special. So the choice is endless – and your only limitation is time.
St Armand’s Circle with its wonderful range of restaurants and upmarket shops is approximately 15 minutes from the house, passing the Marina where it is lovely to walk. Sit outside O'Leary's here on a Friday and listen to the music. Or enjoy the smarter Marina Jack's and watch the boats come and go. To the South about 30 minutes down the I-75 is Venice's old town with lovely shops and places to eat.
Siesta Key is a barrier island eight miles long and parallel to the city of Sarasota on the mainland. It lies 55 miles south of Tampa and 255 miles north west of Miami. Two bridges link the island to the mainland. The north bridge, Siesta Drive, provides convenient access to the city of Sarasota while the south bridge, Stickney Point Road, provides access to South Sarasota and Interstate Route 75.
Renowned for it’s powdery white sand, Crescent Beach was entered in the World Sand challenge in 1987 and was awarded for having the world’s finest and whitest sand. From the parking area, cross over sea oats and sea grapes by wooden footbridges and view wild rabbits enjoying a morning feast. The facilities include sheltered picnic areas, restrooms, concession stands, lifeguards, volleyball courts, tennis courts, a softball field, playground and fitness trail.
Along Midnight Pass Road to the south and along Beach Road to the north of Crescent Beach are several public beach accesses but minimal parking. At the southern end of the key is Turtle Beach; the sand is less impressive but the beach is not as crowded and has a great abundance of seashells. South of Turtle Beach is Palmer Point Beach, a remote stretch of sand and sea oats.
Water sports abound on Siesta Key: you’ll find excellent sail boarding, fishing, snorkeling or how about parasailing? Or maybe all you want to do is sunbathe and people watch. But don’t forget to come back (in the evening) and watch those magnificent sunsets. Then wander off into Siesta village where there are good restaurants, bars and music.
Many thanks for our stay in beautiful Sarasota and your lovely property. Stuart and Shirley