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Sarasota - Attractions

SarasotaKnown as "Florida’s Cultural Coast," Sarasota offers world-class art and entertainment the entire family will enjoy. Kids will be thrilled to discover the city was once the winter home of John Ringling and his world-famous Ringling Bros. Circus. Today, the circus magnate’s legacy is on display at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Given as a gift to the people of Florida upon Ringling’s death in 1936, the palatial estate includes the art museum, Circus Museum, Asolo Theater and Ringling mansion.

Housed in a pink Italian Renaissance villa, the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art features one of the country’s largest and most celebrated collections of Baroque, Italian and Flemish Renaissance paintings as well as exquisite 17th-century tapestries. Also on the grounds is the Circus Museum, an assemblage of original circus art and artifacts, including elaborate costumes and carved circus wagons. Children will especially enjoy the Animated Miniature Circus, a scale model of the Ringling Bros. Circus as it appeared in the mid-1930s. Visitors will also marvel at the historic Asolo Theater, the only authentic 19th-century Italian theater in the United States. The rococo-style theater, with rising tiers of boxes and dazzling pastel and gold ornaments that reflect the glow of candles, is an exhibit-in-use. Visitors can enjoy the splendid decor while attending the concerts, lectures and art films still held in the theater. Situated on Sarasota Bay, Ca’d’Zan, the Ringling’s 30-room Venetian Gothic mansion, will dazzle visitors with its terra cotta balustrades, European tinted glass, whimsical carvings and painted ceilings.

Wandering down Sarasota County's shimmering Gulf Coast, travelers will find fragrant gardens and numerous small towns offering quiet and refreshing points of interest. Overlooking Sarasota Bay, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens fills nine tranquil acres with more than 20,000 colorful plants in 20 distinct garden areas. Renowned for its rain forest canopy research, the garden also features 6,000 orchids, a banyan grove, bamboo pavilion and butterfly garden. Nearby, Sarasota Jungle Gardens showcases lush tropical vegetation and exotic waterfowl as well as a petting zoo and shell museum.

Aboard airboats, visitors can explore Manatee County's inland bays where porpoises play and sea turtles paddle by or glide through narrow mangrove hammocks where sandhill cranes and wood storks nest. Adventurous paddlers can hop in a canoe and follow the Manatee River into Florida’s interior, where white sandbars suddenly appear around bends in the waterway and rich subtropical vegetation lines the riverbanks. Nature lovers can visit 15 manatee watch areas throughout the Bradenton area for glimpses of the county’s namesake.

Sarasota attractionsStretching for 35 miles from Longboat Key to Englewood, Sarasota County’s numerous public beaches offer powdery white sand full of shells, rock jetties with ideal fishing spots and calm Gulf waters popular for snorkeling. While in the area, vacationers can visit South Lido Park, a 100-acre public recreational area at the tip of Lido Key. Here, a variety of rich coastal Florida environments including bayous, lagoons and mangrove hammocks, can be explored along wooden walkways, nature trails and canoe trails. Great blue heron, tiny red fiddler crabs and pink shrimp are among the hundreds of species easily spotted throughout the park. Or visitors can go fossil hunting on Venice Beach, dubbed the "Fossilized Shark Tooth Capital of the World," for the sharp teeth routinely found along its shores. more

Known as "Florida’s Cultural Coast," Sarasota is home to Florida’s official state art museum and state theater as well as a host of international film festivals, jazz clubs, dance companies and art galleries. After sampling the city’s cultural offerings, couples can explore St. Armands Key across Sarasota Bay. Considered west Florida’s answer to Worth Avenue, St. Armands Circle features upscale shopping in a tropical park-like setting. Here, shoppers can wander through courtyards past antique Italian statuary to exclusive jewelry shops and gourmet restaurants. Or take horse-drawn carriage rides down palm-lined avenues leading to the island’s central park, which is decorated by the Circus Ring of Fame. On nearby Siesta Key Beach, couples can renew their wedding vows at the sunset "Say I Do Again" celebration held each year on Valentine’s Day.
Sarasota, known as "Florida’s Cultural Coast," offers business travelers a panorama of world-class film, music, theater and visual arts. From classical ballet and professional operas to foreign films and acclaimed symphonies, visitors can sample a rich variety of cultural treasures in this Central West Florida city. The downtown cultural district contains numerous theaters and night clubs, all within walking distance of excellent restaurants and superb art galleries.

Meeting facilities include the Sarasota Auditorium, Van Wezel performing Arts Hall, with its grand foyer seating 300 for dinner or 1,700 in the hall. Hyatt Sarasota, with 15,000 square feet of space, is doubling its space by 1999.

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