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About Sarasota in West Central Florida

Information for Vacations in Sarasota, Florida.

Located on the central west coast of the Florida Peninsula, Sarasota and Siesta Key offer beautiful, white sand beaches and a climate that has attracted the well-to-do of America for over a centrury. Sarasota Bay is the region's greatest natural asset, touted it as being as beautiful as the bay of Naples. The name probably originates from the Indian word Zarazote, "Place of the Dance".


Sarasota offers a nature oriented getaway with a variety of condos, vacation homes, hotels, and resorts. Choose a vacation near any of Sarasota's local attractions that offers quiet comfort while making the most of the beautiful beaches at affordably priced rates.

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Sarasota, with its active downtown and arts and theater district, still has a small town feel. Luxurious Longboat Key's manicured beach resorts and condos also offer world-class tennis, golf and dining. Laid-back Siesta Key has the feel of a tropical island, with sugar white sand officially designated "the whitest, finest beach sand in the world." Sarasota is also home to many museums, with the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art being the most popular.


The ten day Sarasota Film Festival held in April is becoming popular on the worldwide festival scene, with a hand-picked program of 150 independent, international and short films in competition. The Festivals of Flavor celebration feature three ethnic food festivals held in February that feature Greek, Jewish, and Italian foods. Each December, the Sarasota area celebrates the holidays with colorful boat parades. The communities of Sarasota, Venice and Englewood each host parades, so visitors to the area have a choice.

Water Sports

The beautiful beaches of Sarasota are perfect for swimming or catching up on you tan. You can also find powerboat and sailboat rentals, as well as jetski rentals. The warm Gulf waters are inviting for snorkelling and scuba diving.


Shortly after immigrating to America in 1885, John Hamilton Gillespie, a Scottish aristocrat and member of the Queen's Bodyguard for Scotland, built what is believed to be America's first golf course in Sarasota. Others have continued to build courses in the time since, and today Sarasota County has many courses of varying difficulties to choose from.


Originally more than 100 miles from the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, Sarasota Bay and the beaches were formed about 5000 years ago when melting waters from the last Ice Age raised the water level of the Gulf 350 feet. The first recorded visit by Europeans took place in 1513 by Spanish explorers. The native Indians had met Spaniards before and were able to insult the explorers in Spanish and then attacked them.

William Whitaker is the first documented pioneer of European descent in what now is Sarasota, eventually starting a cattle ranch in 1847. Sarasota county was not established until 1921, when it was split from Manatee county, which was itself originally a part of Hillsborough county to its north. In 1919, the Ringling family established Sarasota as the winter home of the Ringling Brothers Circus and were instrumental in the growth of the area.

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