What is Sarasota Known For? (15 Things It’s Known For)

Located on the Florida coast, Sarasota is a great little city for a visit. Those traveling down south should seriously consider stopping by this lovely town. Several things should catch people’s interest, especially the city’s exciting history. 

Sarasota is known for being the home of the Ringling Brothers Circus back when it was touring. The circus became a prominent part of the city that it has a museum dedicated to it. Besides the connection to the famous circus, Sarasota is a favorite vacation spot because of its beautiful location.

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art 

The biggest highlight is the Museum set up by the Ringling family of the Ringling Brothers Circus fame. Sarasota became the circus’ winter home back in the 20s until it finally stopped touring. Thanks to the massive earnings of the circus, the Ringling family had the chance to give back to the community. The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is the result. Interestingly, the Museum is not just one building. It is a 66-acre complex that includes the main Museum, the separate Circus museum, the gardens, and the glorious Ca’ D’zan Mansion, which was the family residence.

Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium

Like any coastal city in Florida, the seaside is a significant attraction. The animals and beautiful sights can be enchanting. What makes Sarasota different is the presence of the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. Founded in 1955, it mainly focuses on preservation and research into sea life. Its aquarium opened in 1980 and is its public outreach division. Over 100 species are on display, including sharks, manatees, and more. In addition, several special exhibits deserve a bit of attention. Visitors who want cute fun can visit the otters while the alligator is also popular.

The Beautiful Local Keys

Sarasota’s location is ideal for key formation, and it boasts several within easy reach. Keys are small sandy islands on coral reefs, and the ones in Sarasota are perfect examples of them. For example, there is Lido Key, which is an ideal ecotourism spot. Visitors can spend time on the beach or take a quick walk around the island. Both are great experiences and worth the day you spend there. There are also the other keys that each have their attraction. Some keys are not entirely in the Sarasota city area, but they are close enough.

Sarasota Orchestra’s Enchanting Sounds

The Sarasota Orchestra is still going strong after more than 50 years. Started by a Sarasota music teacher in 1948, the group’s original name was the Florida West Coast Symphony. It changed its name in the 60s as well as merged with other local music groups. The orchestra itself has been running regular concerts for half a century now. People who want to experience the orchestra at its best should visit during the yearly music festival. Besides hearing their skilled playing, visitors will also have the chance to listen to other artists and even attend lessons during the festival.

Sarasota Jungle Gardens

Florida’s tourism mainly focuses on the fact that it is on the coast. However, the state also is in a very tropical region, which means it is an excellent place for tropical plants. The Sarasota Jungle Gardens make it work. Established in the 1920s with just 10 acres of land, the Gardens expanded from only featuring plants over the decades. Nowadays, visitors will get a treat from the Exotic Bird Show, which features several of the animal residents of the gardens. However, that is only the beginning, as other tropical animals live in the large tropical park.

Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary

Located on Palmer Boulevard, the Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary is an animal sanctuary that deserves a visit. While other animals are living there like chimpanzees and bears, the real stars attractions are the big cats. The draw of these exotic animals is enough to make the Sanctuary one of the top ten tourist spots in the city. The place itself has three areas, each made to simulate the natural habitats of the various animals. Younger visitors can also have a nice treat by visiting the petting zoo section.

Interesting Local History 

Sarasota’s history is an interesting one. While many people know about the Ringling Brothers connection, few are aware of the city’s vacation spot history. While the first pioneers only saw a nice place to live, entrepreneurs in the late 19th century saw the location’s potential. They advertised it as the perfect winter getaway for Northern tourists who didn’t want to spend the winter months under the snow. Historic places like the Historic Spanish Point had a long history of being resorts before becoming historical sites. Visit them to get a taste of old Florida.

Mixon Fruit Farms’ Delicious Offerings

Sarasota also has some prime growing land, where visitors can find Mixon Fruit Farms. It can provide excellent family fun for everyone in a family. Children will delight in walking the orchards under the leaves and branches of the various fruit trees. The tropical weather makes the farms perfect for growing exotic offerings like mangoes and star fruit. The more common oranges and grapefruits are also available. These can be healthy treats for the young ones. For older visitors, these fruits are the basis for a variety of wines available to everyone.

Family Fun at St. Armand’s Circle

Another family-friendly place in Sarasota is St. Armand’s Circle. Established initially by Charles St. Armand in the 1800s, it was one of the Ringling Brothers who bought and refurbished it. The location is now a prime shopping area with shops and restaurants making their home there. What makes St. Armand’s unique is where visitors can find it. It is on St. Armand’s Key, a small and separate island. Visitors will have to cross a bridge to enjoy all that it offers.

Classic Vehicles at the Sarasota Car Museum

Car lovers will enjoy dropping by the Sarasota Car Museum. While the automobile is only a century old, its development is quite fast. Thousand car models exist, and visitors can see some of them in this Museum. The Museum has over 60,000 square feet of automobile history, and the Museum does its job well. Some star members of the exhibits include the Rolls Royce owned by the Ringling Brothers. Another fascinating showcase is the Italian Car Collection which has some of the most luxurious cars on the market. 

The Village of the Arts

Those who want to be unconventional with their trip can explore the Village of the Arts. This small village with 100 houses is the artistic heart of the city. It covers 40 acres full of workshops, galleries, studios, and more. Visitors who drop by can see artists working hard on their latest pieces. Those who want to bring home a unique souvenir should consider checking out what these artists offer.

The Pinecraft Amish Community

The surprising Amish community of Pinecraft is pretty small. It only has 3,000 people compared to its Northern counterparts. However, it is a tiny island of peace in modern Sarasota. Members of the community sell their wares in a small market, and visitors can taste some of their food at the restaurants they run. Yoder’s Amish Restaurant has a solid reputation for selling the best pies, while Der Dutchman Restaurant offers great comfort food.

Longboat Key Turtle Watch

An essential part of the sea turtle’s life cycle is when they lay eggs on safe beaches. So people can expect life to begin for these wonderful creatures from these humble beginnings. Sarasota has the privilege of having one of these special beaches on Longboat Key. Visitors can drop by and watch these turtles waddle to lay hundreds of eggs. It is an excellent way to spend an afternoon without spotting one of the sea turtles.

Food Delights not to Miss

Sarasota has its unique twists on Florida cuisine. Those who want to eat their way through the city should visit some essential spots. First, there is Made, the restaurant serves an excellent Nashville hot chicken sandwich. Next is the Mexican food served by The Spot Tacos & More shop. Owned by a well-loved local food operator, visitors can get a full and tasty meal for only 10 dollars. Finally, visit one of the city’s oldest restaurants, the Columbia. Founded in 1905, it still serves excellent meals to this day.

Natural Wonders on Land

The city has several parks that deserve a visit. Whether looking for a quiet place to have a picnic or somewhere more romantic, Sarasota has a place for it. For example, the Myakka River State Park has 37,000 acres of nature to explore. Whether you want to do some hiking or fishing, the eponymous river makes it possible. Those who want a more straightforward path should try the Legacy Trail, which starts from Sarasota to the nearby city of Venice Beach. The main attraction is a bike trail, making it an exciting trip.