as "Floridas 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 magnates legacy
is on display at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Given as a
gift to the people of Florida upon Ringlings death in 1936, the
palatial estate includes the art museum, Circus Museum, Asolo Theater
and Ringling mansion.
in a pink Italian Renaissance villa, the John and Mable Ringling Museum
of Art features one of the countrys 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, CadZan, the Ringlings 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 Floridas 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
for 35 miles from Longboat Key to Englewood, Sarasota Countys 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 "Floridas Cultural Coast," Sarasota is home to
Floridas 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 citys cultural offerings, couples
can explore St. Armands Key across Sarasota Bay. Considered west Floridas
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 islands 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
Sarasota, known as "Floridas 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.