Sarasota is known as “Florida’s Cultural Coast” because of the plethora of cultural activities that occur year round. The Sarasota Opera, Florida West Coast Symphony, Sarasota Ballet of Florida, Florida String Quartet and the Florida Symphonic Band as well as five theatre companies, vocal ensembles, music groups and actors perform on the many stages, including a major performance art center, found throughout the city. The city annually hosts two music festivals, two film festivals and one of the largest wine festivals in the country. There are also dozens of art galleries and excellent museums. Add the stunning beaches, fabulous weather and the relaxed but sophisticated attitude of the city and it is easy to see why Sarasota is one of the best places in the country to call home.
The 35 miles of sandy beaches in Sarasota include those of Casey Key, Lido Key, Longboat Key, Siesta Key and St. Armands Key. Siesta Key holds the honor of having the whitest and most powdery sand in the world, as selected repeatedly by independent judges in the annual Great International White Sand Challenge. Siesta Village is filled with shops and restaurants. Skaters, bicyclists and walkers share the sidewalk with outdoor sitting at the many cafes. A trolley takes visitors on tours of the island. Lido Key is home to the European-inspired St. Armands Circle. More than 145 exclusive boutiques offer top quality treasures from Mondi, Tiffany & Co. and Tommy Bahama. Fine dining establishments and ice cream parlors are also located around the circle. A horse-drawn carriage is an excellent way to take in the sights.
The 10-acre Sarasota Jungle Gardens offer visitors the opportunity to follow trails through palms, shrubs and unusual plants. Exotic animals such as leopards, alligators, wallagies, lemurs, monkeys, cockatoos, and macaws are seen along the paths. Flamingo Lagoon is home to flamingos, swans, and native water birds. Five wildlife shows are offered daily. The Selby Gallery, on the campus of the Ringling School of Art and Design, features works by national and international artists.
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