A Sarasota visitor’s bucket list
This Visitor’s Annual is filled with stories about what to do, see and enjoy here, with a special focus on our world-famous beaches, those 35 magical miles of dazzling white sand and sun-kissed surf, as well as comprehensive insider’s guides to shopping, recreation, attractions, entertainment and more. If you didn’t already know that
But what if you don’t have a lifetime—or even two weeks—to explore and enjoy our city?
Not to worry—we editors, who collectively have accumulated more than a century of
We started with notebooks full of ideas but decided we’d omit the obvious (“go to the beach”) and the ubiquitous (most resorts have good shopping) to focus on experiences that could only happen in
Walk on the beach when the moon is full. One night a few years ago, an enormous moon hung low in the sky, and I decided I’d take my dog down to the beach. (You’re not supposed to do that, but at 10 p.m., I figured there’d be nobody there to see.) But as we walked down from Point of Rocks towards
Ride on the Gator Gal. Every
Stroll through the treetops at Myakka River State Park. After your airboat ride, take a short walk off the main road to the Canopy Walk, a narrow pathway through the tops of cabbage palms that gives you a bird’s-eye-view of the ecology up there. The walk ends with a climb up an observation tower to a heartstopping 360-degree view. Everywhere you look, high above the hawks riding the air currents, you see green forest, the blue curves of the river, and the primeval splendor of a
Take the Private Places Tour of Cà d’Zan. Every visitor can see the spectacular public areas of the Venetian-style bayfront mansion of John and Mable Ringling, but touring the upper floors gives you a wonderful sense of how this rich and famous couple lived during the Roaring ‘20s. You can almost see guests like Will Rogers waking up in the ornately furnished guest bedrooms and marveling at the warm winter sunshine streaming through the jewel-colored window panes. The game room on the third floor is a showstopper, with its strange and wonderful ceiling paintings by Willy Pogany, and the view from the
Cruise on LeBarge. Yes, it’s the ultimate touristy thing to do, but there’s a reason everybody takes a sunset cruise on LeBarge, the double-decker boat with the giant palm trees moored at downtown’s Marina Jack’s. The two-hour trip is a wonderful way to mellow out with a drink and live music and see
Go to a spring training game. I’m not a baseball fan, but even I can get into the spirit of the game on a balmy March day at cozy Ed Smith Stadium. People relax in the sunshine, chat about the season past and upcoming, and get closer to the players than they possibly could up North. Our contributing editor (and baseball fanatic) David Grimes explains the allure of spring training this way: “Often the game itself is an afterthought. What matters is the green field, the blue sky and the sight of grown men hitting, throwing and catching a ball. Baseball is back and hope springs eternal. If you don’t believe it, just asks Cubs fans.”
Marvel at the orchids in the Tropical Display House at Selby Gardens. We have the world’s best collections of orchids at the 10-acre
Eat some pie at Yoder’s.
Watch the sharks get fed at Mote Aquarium. Mote is a world leader in shark research, and you can come face-to-face with these mysterious and often misunderstood predators at the 135,000-gallon shark tank. The best time to visit is during the daily shark feeding. This is not a crowded Sea World spectacle but an intimate look at scientific work in progress, as volunteers feed and observe the sharks, which are trained to come to certain spots for their food. The tank is in a spacious, shaded outdoor area with other informative exhibits. Afterwards, head to the Shark Attack Theater to watch a 12-minute movie that helps you feel what it’s like to be a shark.
Find the Fun
Cincinnati Reds spring training, Ed Smith Stadium,
Le Barge, 2
Ringling Museum of Art and Cà d’Zan,