This is a city where residents still enjoy sitting outside to eat their breakfast with a nice cup of coffee and a newspaper; a city where you can take a walk among the lavish beauty of nature, go paddle boarding in the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and still catch a spellbinding opera or a spectacular ballet in one of the many performing arts centers. This is also a city where you feel a sense of camaraderie with your neighbors and know they feel just as lucky as you do to have found the place they can truly call home.
Why do the residents of Sarasota, Florida know they have found the perfect place to live, and why do guests continue to come back year after year to enjoy everything the city has to offer? Sarasota is a place "Where Urban Amenities Meet Small-Town Living,” bringing together the best of both worlds in a breathtaking setting of sunshine, sand, and style. It’s why Livability. com ranked Sarasota #2 in the best places to retire list and how, according to the 2014 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton area received the highest Well-Being Index score across the 100 most populous communities in the U.S.
Discover the many reasons our residents love calling Sarasota Florida their home and why you’ll be hard-pressed to find another place quite like this one.
It will only take a short visit to our part of the Sunshine State for you to begin your love affair with Sarasota. Our relaxing lifestyle and peaceful existence starts with gorgeous weather and colorful nature and continues with fine and casual dining, boutique shopping, and a multitude of arts and entertainment options.
Most of us have seen the weather reports where forecasters jokingly mention that Florida is the only state not participating in winter. When the northern states are wrapping themselves in puffy coats and topping themselves off with hats, gloves, and scarves, Floridians are more than likely putting on a pair of shorts and flip flops to take a breezy walk on the beach. We’d be bold enough to say that it is one of the main reasons our northern friends find their way down south to spend some time with us during the winter months. You won’t find snow, ice, or slush in Florida, but you will find days filled with sunshine and, if we’re being honest, some days filled with rain melodically drumming on your roof and cascading down your windows. Annual temperatures from the U.S. Climate Date range from 64 degrees Fahrenheit to 82 degrees Fahrenheit, and peak at about 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer months. Of course, on average, you’ll find Sarasota weather to be an extremely comfortable 73 degrees Fahrenheit.
When we say we have some of the best beaches in the country, we’re not just saying it because we live here, but because it’s true. Coastal expert Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, Dr. Beach and Director of Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research, named Siesta Key Beach the #1 beach in the U.S. in a poll of the top 10 beaches of the USA because of its powdery sand and clean and clear blue-colored water, as well as its topographical characteristics and beach activities. Siesta Key was also awarded TripAdvisor’s Best Beach Award in 2015, referencing reviews from beach-going residents and visitors that spent their days lounging on our soft sand soaking up the sun and water, as well as taking part in the many events hosted on the Sarasota beaches all year round. We also draw animal lovers with our dolphin sightings, bird watching, and the turtle nesting season that begins in May and continues through September.
Gather some intel on a few of our many gorgeous beaches (in alphabetical order) and discover the piece of sand that draws you in for your next visit to Sarasota Florida:
If you’re looking for the longest stretch of beach on Anna Maria Island, then you should head to Coquina Beach, where the white sand stretches for a mile and is sprinkled with sea oats and grasses for a relaxing beach setting. Sea turtles love this beach and you may find some guarded nests during the turtle nesting season.
Families will enjoy this beach as it is located near Anna Maria Park and features a paved walking/bike path, picnic tables, grills, showers, and restrooms.
Lido Key is made up of three beaches in one, beginning with North Lido Beach, heading to Lido Beach, and ending with South Lido Park. North Lido Beach lies one quarter of a mile northwest of St. Armands Circle, and is a more private beach with swift currents, so be careful if you are bringing young ones to this beach. Lido Beach is located one half mile from St. Armands Circle and is the beach to go if you are looking for restrooms, concession stands, a playground, and cabana beach rentals. South Lido Park offers a variety of swimming options, as it is bordered by four bodies of water: The Gulf of Mexico, Big Pass, Sarasota Bay, and Brushy Bayou. You will also find a picnic area, restrooms, grills, a playground, volleyball court, and nature trails, and canoe trails.
Find a parking spot on Longboat Key and you’ll appreciate the 10 miles of white sandy beach and the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico with very little in the way of crowding. Pick your favorite spot and lay out under the sun, take a peek at some turtle nests, do a bit of bird watching, or take a refreshing swim in the Gulf. It’s important to note, however, that there are not many restrooms available along the beach, so choose your spot carefully if you will be needing the facilities. Plan your parking in advance to spend a carefree day at Longboat Key.
Home to the Siesta Public Beach, named #1 beach in the United States by “Dr. Beach,” Siesta Key is the perfect place to make the most out of your Florida lifestyle. This eight-mile long, crescent-shaped barrier island features everything from days filled with sand sculpting competitions and yoga on the beach to nights enchanted with live music and delectable seaside dining. You will also find public areas for grilling, bathing, playing, and parking, but the smoke-free designation keeps this busy beach clean and enjoyable for everyone.
No city in Florida can go without top golf courses to enjoy our beautiful year-round weather (don’t forget to read our tips for playing golf in the heat!), and Sarasota delivers with 32 golf courses in the area, and an additional 20 golf courses should you choose to venture to nearby Lakewood Ranch, Bradenton, and Venice, Florida. Avid golfers should consider investing in a private golf membership so they can enjoy a round of golf whenever they please, as well as the many benefits that come along with taking part in this sport.
Golfers that spend a few more days on the course can get a jumpstart on their health and wellness. Neil Wolkodoff, director of the Rose Center for Health and Sports Sciences in Denver, was featured in a NYTimes article discussing a golf study that answered some burning golf questions. One of the items addressed in his study was the numbers of calories burned while playing nine holes of golf. On average, a golfer burns 721 calories carrying a bag, 718 calories pushing a cart, 613 calories using a caddie, and 411 calories riding in a cart. This added activity also helps your heart pump, thereby increasing blood flow for overall heart health, all while doing something you love.
Having a private golf membership will also help ensure you are getting enough practice to hone your skills since that membership will more than likely come with the use of practice facilities and the help of a golf professional that can share tips to improve your game. Take a swing in the practice facilities under the guidance of a golf professional and then venture out to the course to play as many rounds as you please, since a private club has more availability and fewer people on the course.
When you move to a new area, it is always nice to be able to make friends immediately and create valuable friendships with people that share your interests. A private golf membership will facilitate that process, allowing you to establish connections with other members in a hassle-free environment. Having golf friends will also allow you to learn from their techniques and have a ready-made team for the tournaments, scrabbles, and clinics hosted by the club.
Of course, if you are planning to move to Sarasota, Florida, then you will always benefit from the perks of living in a golf community. Beautiful golf course homes, luxury amenities, a clubhouse with a full calendar of social events, and the picturesque setting of a well-maintained landscape can all be yours when you find the right Sarasota luxury community in which to live.
Dining out in Sarasota can range from a casual get-together with friends over coffee and a breakfast sandwich to an elegant evening filled with culinary delicacies of every flavor. You can dine indoors with a gorgeous natural backdrop framing the windows or you can venture out to a sun-kissed patio overlooking the beach for an unspoiled view of your surroundings. Regardless of where you dine, you’ll satisfy your craving with some of the best food and service in the area.
Too late for breakfast, but too early for lunch? Sarasota features delicious brunch restaurants serving everything from exotic cuisine and specialty mimosas to comfort food and handcrafted favorites.
Lolita Tartine is located in the Rosemary District in Downtown Sarasota and features an eclectic mix of small plates and hearty meals with French and Moroccan influences. This little sweet spot offers French pastries, Belgium waffles, mimosas, and a newly expanded selection of croissants and crepes.
Homemade strawberry butter, breads and muffins from scratch, and bagels shipped regularly from New York; that’s what you’ll find when you visit the Fresh Start Cafe on South Orange Ave. It’s also the place you’ll find many regulars, locals who enjoy the classic simplicity in the restaurant’s design, as well as the unique spread of delicious food using fresh ingredients, astonishing flavor combinations, and healthy cooking methods.
Buttermilk Handcrafted Food is the newbie on this list. The owners like to say that this isn’t so much a restaurant as a place to gather with friends and get a delicious treat with some coffee. Those treats can be summed up into four categories: biscuits, toast, grits, and dessert, but details are scarce due to the fact that their menu changes frequently and with the seasons. Don’t underestimate this newfound brunch spot though, folks are already salivating over the biscuits filled with cheese, egg, bacon, gravy, and anything else you order from the menu. Make sure you leave with a bakery box filled with goodies too.
Luxury living in Sarasota comes with award-winning restaurants that offer a taste for every palate, and you’ll be satisfied with every bite taken. Choose from one of our favorites to get started before you venture out on your own to find the most delicious restaurant option for you.
Cafe L’Europe is a favorite among residents because of its mission for outstanding food, impeccable service, and the ultimate dining experience. The restaurant was first opened in 1973 after originally being the real estate office of John Ringling (Yes, of the Ringling Bros) and aimed to bring classic Europe influence with old world charm to the area. With its convenient location on St. Armands Circle, Cafe L’Europe is a popular destination for fresh Continental delights in a warm and inviting atmosphere.
Michael’s on East, Sarasota’s only AAA Four Diamond Award restaurant, is celebrating 30 years of award-winning cuisine and outstanding service this year. Their 1940s supper club atmosphere and dedication to superior quality cuisine has allowed them to be continually recognized for excellence, being one of only ten restaurants in the nation to be inducted into the 2009 Nation’s Restaurant News Fine Dining Hall of Fame, considered the Oscars of the restaurant industry, along with their 24th consecutive AAA Four-Diamond Award. Head over to 1212 East Avenue South in Midtown Plaza and delight in culinary art and relax with a drink in their chic piano lounge. This is a restaurant you do not want to miss.
Another noteworthy restaurant in Sarasota is Selva Grill, where you can dine on delicious Nuevo Latino food in a chic and elegant environment. The Selva Grill, located at 1345 Main Street, has received accolades from New York Times, which said Selva is “serving possibly the best food in Sarasota” and that “everything on the menu is worth trying.” Their food is a combination of Peruvian favorites fused with American style, which is then thoughtfully served and presented as works of art. This isn’t just dining, it’s a true experience.
Residents and visitors alike can always enjoy some retail therapy and Sarasota delivers with a shopping district for every trend and a mall for every style. Boutiques, malls, shops, and galleries offer something for everyone, whether you’re looking for the latest fashion, the finest home decor, the perfect painting, or the most comfortable souvenir t-shirt to commemorate your visit. Here are two of our favorite shopping destinations:
The newest mall in Sarasota features more than 100 stores and restaurants in its 880,000 square feet of retail space. The Mall at University Town Center (UTC) features stores like Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Kate Spade, Anthropologie, Apple, Michael Kors, and many more of the world’s premier retailers. If that’s not enough for your shopping in Sarasota pleasure, the Mall at UTC is also nestled between two shopping districts. The District East and The District West can be found on the either side of the mall with The District West including retailers such as Super Target, Best Buy, and Old Navy. The District East will feature more shopping, hotels, and a movie theater, but it is still under development.
If you want to expand on your Downtown Sarasota shopping, hop over to St. Armands Circle using the two bridges that cross over Sarasota Bay, where you’ll find exclusive shops, galleries, and exotic boutiques that will awaken your inner fashionista and art lover. St. Armands Circle is closer to the beach, so it attracts more vacationers, but it has more than 130 merchants so it is well worth the visit. Visitors have touted their visit to St. Armands as “a very relaxing and luxurious experience.” If you’re a first-time visitor, make sure you go on the St. Armands Statue Walk, which encompasses a collection of 33 statues. These status belonged to John Ringley and were purchased on his travels to the Renaissance cities of Italy in the 1920’s.
City life is often devoid of any true natural beauty, but Sarasota isn’t like any other city. Our residents can take a walk along the beach, hike in one of our parks, take part in water and land sports, and hear the peaceful sounds of the wildlife that also calls Sarasota its home.
Our nature attractions include the Mote Marine Laboratory (a marine rescue, research facility, and aquarium), the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, and the Sarasota Jungle Gardens, as well as other nature-inspired attractions that will allow you to relish the beauty found in our surroundings and provide a leisure afternoon of fun-filled events, like the Garden Music Series at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.
Myakka State Park, one of Florida’s oldest and largest parks, offers many adventures in the form of hiking, bicycling, bird watching, boat tours, and camping. Take a break from your adventure to gaze upon the wetlands, prairies, hammocks, and pinelands, and find yourself sharing the park with limpkins, osprey, turtles, and other wildlife.
Nathan Benderson Park is another wonderful option for exploring the outdoors with a 400-acre lake among its 600 acres. This park offers kayaking, rowing, paddle boarding, nature trails, birdwatching, and much more. It is also one of only a handful of sites in North America identified as having all of the natural attributes that make up a premiere rowing facility, with a world-class, permanent, FISA Class A 2,000-meter sprint rowing and training course.
Work up a sweat and enjoy the beauty of nature when you paddleboard or kayak through the mangroves with iKayak Sarasota. This is one of the many companies in Sarasota, Florida that allows you to take a guided tour of the area and bask in its natural beauty. You may even see some dolphins, manatees, native birds, stingrays, and other water-friendly wildlife bring your adventure.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall, you can always find something to do in our big little city that has nothing to do with our gorgeous beaches or breathtaking natural surroundings. In fact, Sarasota is known for being a culturally rich area with an abundance of arts and entertainment options, including including the Sarasota Orchestra founded in 1949 and the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art founded in the early 1950’s. Since the beginning, our visitors and residents have seen the potential of this city, and throughout the years, have added many culturally entertaining venues and organizations, like the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, the Sarasota Ballet, Sarasota Opera House, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, the Sarasota Players, and many more.
Sarasota, and the wonderful cities surrounding it, also takes an interest in America’s favorite pastime by hosting many Major League Baseball teams during their spring training schedules, like the Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates, Minnesota Twins, Tampa Bay Rays, and Philadelphia Phillies. If you feel you can handle it, Florida also hosts the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, thankfully not in the same city.
Festivals and shows also play a big role in Sarasota entertainment, with a celebration for just about everything. Events like the Downtown Sarasota Spring Fest Arts and Crafts Show at Five Points Park, the annual St. Armands Fine Art Festival, the Beer, Boats, and Bacon Fest at Nathan Benderson Park, the Annual Ringling International Arts Festival, and many more.
The story of Sarasota starts much like every other story in North America; we begin with natives. Our area of Florida was used as a resting place for natives dating back more than ten thousand years when people were hunting and gathering to find food and water sources provided the best opportunities to find game. It wasn’t until 1539 that Spanish conquistador, Hernando de Soto found the area south of Tampa and called it Zarasota, which translates to Radiance of Soto (Zara is the Arabic word for Radiance).
After that, fishermen and traders came to the area to establish their trades. This simple way of life continued until the 1800’s when William H. Whitaker came to the area and became the first permanent settler/pioneer of European descent.
John Webb was the next person of record to establish himself in Sarasota and opened the first “manufacturing plant” to refine sugar and produce syrup.
Once the Swampland Act was created in the early 1870’s, about 700,000 acres of land were sold to wealthy land speculators, who saw the potential of the area and knew they could make a profit reselling the property at a future date. John W. Gillespie, a manager of The Florida Mortgage & Investment Co., Ltd., decided to invest further in the area and built the DeSota Hotel to attract other like-minded visitors. He also developed what some say was the first practice golf course in America.
Once Sarasota got incorporated as a town in 1902, other people that would turn out to be key players in Sarasota’s growth came to visit. Mrs. Bertha Honore Palmer visited Sarasota and liked it so much, she bought between 80,000 and 90,000 acres of land. She was the region’s largest landholder, rancher, and developer.
Sisters - Katherine McClellan and Daisietta McClellan - became real estate developers and created one of the most significant and successful residential neighborhoods south of Downtown Sarasota , which is still in existence today.
In 1911, Mable and John Ringling spent their winter in Sarasota, staying at the home of Charles N. Thompson. Ringling bought a parcel of land from Thompson and several other members of the Ringling family followed suit.
The area grew rapidly after these families took up residence in the area and Sarasota was incorporated as a city in 1913, followed by the establishment of Manatee County and Sarasota County in 1923. The Great Depression slowed growth, but many of the historical and cultural venues still in operation today were established during the years that followed. The Sarasota Orchestra was founded in 1949 by Ruth Cotton Butler and in the early 1950’s, the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art purchased a historic Italian theater, the Asolo - now the Historic Asolo Theater.
From the 1950’s to now, Sarasota has continually grown in popularity due to its rich and diverse history, beautiful natural scenery, and abundance of culture, arts, and entertainment.
Take a deeper, historical look at Sarasota, FL.
Choosing the right community for you in a neighborhood that suits your needs is an important part of acquiring the lifestyle you deserve.
Get started on your research by downloading The Founders Club brochure with everything you need to know about our boutique-style, luxury home community. Still not sure of the community in which you would like to live? Here are some examples of the community options in Sarasota.
If you require the privacy and safety that can only be achieved by controlled access, higher security, and slower vehicle speeds, or you thrive living by a beautifully sculpted golf course that you can enjoy whenever you please, a gated and/or golf community is right for you. These communities often have well-maintained landscape and a common architectural and design theme that exude luxury and a clean aesthetic, as well as luxury amenities that will keep you entertained and active every day. Play a round of golf or tennis to start your day, or increase your heart rate at the fitness center for your workout. Then, enjoy a delicious meal at the clubhouse, a massage at the spa, or take part in the many activities offered in the clubhouse. When you live in a gated/golf community, you may find yourself enjoying days and nights with friends and neighbors without needing to step foot outside the gates of your community.
One of the many benefits of living in Florida is that you can escape to the gulf or bay whenever the mood strikes you or enjoy the enchanting scenery of a lush landscape or calming waters just by looking out of your window. Sarasota facilitates that vision with breathtaking waterfront homes in exquisite communities and luxury high-rise condominiums that offer sunset views over sparkling waters as your evening backdrop. Residents can also have waterfront views in luxury home communities with glistening lakes.
You’ve worked your entire life to get to where you are and, when the time comes to retire, you’ll want a community that enhances your retirement lifestyle while offering key benefits for your health and wellness. The Sarasota lifestyle offers just that with the beauty of nature, the wonder of art, culture, and entertainment, and a carefree way of living that earned us the top spot on WalletHub’s list of the Best Places to Retire. Our beautiful city also ranked #2 on the Best Places to Retire list from Livability. com and were reported to have the highest Well-Being Index score across the 100 most populous communities in the U.S. in the 2014 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.
You can find the perfect home for your new lifestyle in one of our master-planned golf, retirement, and active adult communities in Sarasota, FL. If you need a bit of additional care, assisted living facilities in Sarasota are available to help you or your loved ones enjoy a healthier and happier Florida lifestyle.
Find yourself at the center of our big little city’s many activities, festivals, and cultural events when you find a home in or near downtown. This lifestyle is more about being able to walk, or take a very short drive, to your destination to enjoy superb dining options, a variety of shops, waterfront views, and a multitude of entertaining diversions. Downtown areas are typically set up to be pedestrian-friendly, with wide sidewalks, curb ramps, streetscaping, etc., so you can safely enjoy your walk.
If your Florida lifestyle means you don’t want to live in the city, but still want to be able to enjoy everything city living offers, then living in a suburban area is a better option. Suburbs exist directly outside of a city and offer a quieter existence while still being close to the activity of city life. This lifestyle is often chosen by families who want plenty of recreational activities and top-rated schools from which to choose, but also want to be able to maintain a decent housing budget in a bigger home.
Moving to Florida means you’re ready to enjoy a carefree and dynamic lifestyle and that shouldn’t just apply to your daily activities. Your home in Sarasota can complement that lifestyle with unique design and architectural details for luxury living.
Our gorgeous weather makes you want to pull back the curtains and open your windows to take it all in. While we have many architectural styles across our coast, you’ll find that a West Indies home offers a casual and open feel and allows homeowners to soak up the rich tropical sunshine and refreshing coastal breezes we experience year round. This is achieved through large transom windows that let in natural light, cupolas and louvers that allow indirect sunshine and warm breezes, while blocking out rain, direct sunlight, and exterior noise.
Homes in Florida are not complete without an outdoor living space to entertain al fresco. Outdoor living and dining areas, an outdoor kitchen, a sparkling pool and spa, water features, and even a fireplace offer a lovely respite from daily life and allow you to soak up the sun with ease.
The interior design of your home can also pay homage to the Florida lifestyle with a carefully constructed design featuring a classy and casual coastal design. Soft blues and tans reminiscent of the water and sand on our Gulf of Mexico beaches or the use of neutral colors like white, beige, cream, and browns, as well as pale blues and greens can all achieve a beachy look. You should also play with different textures for your coastal design, including natural fibers, light weathered wood, and crisp clean fabrics. Think cotton rugs, sheers, and linen with wood floors reminiscent of a boardwalk. Sheer or light curtains are great for allowing natural light into the home, a key element in a beach-inspired design. If you’re feeling fun, you can also incorporate nautical-inspired details like anchors or knots, or even include a jar full of seashells or a decorative glass starfish on a shelf. Just be careful and don’t go overboard with the accessories.
The Founders Club in Sarasota, FL welcomes its residents and guests with more than 700 acres of natural, lush landscape punctuated by curved streets wrapped around tree lined vistas. Step into the Sarasota luxury community and you are instantly captivated by the serene, boutique style setting and a comforting sense that you have arrived home. But more than just a tranquil setting, The Founders Club is conveniently located minutes from I-75, a vibrant downtown area, and world-class beaches, is rich with a growing list of amenities, enlivened by camaraderie among its members and residents, and decorated with luxury Sarasota real estate.
The Founders Golf Club ensures its members have a timeless experience of sport, family, and camaraderie with a growing list of luxury amenities and a gracious ambience. Members enjoy the friendships created with like-minded, kind people that will make you feel at home from the moment you walk through the doors.
Once inside, The Founders Golf Club members take part in a variety of social activities in the 24,000-square-foot Golf Hall utilizing the full calendar of social, sport, and wellness activities managed by the friendly and professional staff at the club. They feature Bingo Nights and Trivia Nights (matched up with a fun-filled themed dinner), wine tastings, gourmet kitchen and cooking classes, luxury auto and boating showcases, monthly mixers, and many other activities.
With an encouraging social scene, The Founders Golf Club thrives off of the friendships formed within its walls and you’ll find that having a quiet dinner for two may change to a family-style banquet table for eight when you see your friends in the club. The club offers an elegant setting for a luxurious dining experience in its fine dining room and a casual atmosphere for lunch in the bar and grille and outdoor verandah overlooking an oak hammock and the 18th green. Each dining experience comes with the freshest and finest food available to our culinary team with a goal of creating great, memorable dishes for our residents.
Residents also find that they enjoy taking advantage of the fitness facility with state-of-the-art equipment as well as a variety of fitness classes like yoga, dance classes, or Pilates. Residents can also spend their days on the Har-Tru tennis courts, the basketball courts, the sand volleyball courts, or on the boardwalks. Of course, our luxury golf community wouldn’t be complete without our pristine Robert Trent Jones, Jr.-designed 18-hole golf course. The Founders Club’s golf program allows members to spend their days taking advantage of the area’s only traditional caddie program, two putting greens, a recently enlarged driving range and remodeled short game area, men’s, women’s, and couples’ golf events, and state-of-the-art TrackMan radar technology offered through Florida Golf Performance Center. The Founders Club Learning Center is also equipped with FlightScope for custom fitting and best quality instruction by our PGA Professionals. Since membership is limited to just 275 people, members can enjoy year-round golf with no tee-times required.
Hear from our residents and club members to find out just how much they enjoy living and playing in our boutique-style community, then schedule your tour to discover The Founders Club for yourself.