“I love where I live!” This declaration has been repeated so many times, it has become a catch-phrase in our family. It is usually exclaimed as a view of Sarasota Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, or any other water vista appears during our daily sojourns. The sugar sanded Siesta Beach, the graceful arc of the Ringling Bridge, the wide expanse of the Manatee River, the magical realm of mangrove tunnels; mine is a landscape rich in the beauty of Florida at her very best. The breath-taking panoramas of Sarasota, Florida, even after my fifteen years of constant exposure to them, never cease to inspire a sense of awe in me.
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Siesta Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and an absolute must on your list of Sarasota experiences. In 2011, Dr. Stephen Leatherman, director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University, a.k.a “Dr. Beach”, ranked Siesta Beach number one on his annual list of the Top Ten Beaches in America. The sand is unlike any you have ever touched: super soft, pure white sparkling crystals so fine it seems almost confectionary. The warm Gulf waters are clear and the surf gentle enough for safe family swimming. Free parking, picnic facilities, beach volleyball courts, playground, bathrooms, and concession stand all add to the perfect beach experience. At the end of the day, you will be mesmerized by the stunning canvas of a Gulf sunset. If you are really lucky, you might experience the rare “Green Flash” that can happen just as the sun disappears below the horizon.
Want to explore the wild side of Sarasota up close and personal? A kayak trip through the primordial mangrove tunnels of Lido Key will add natural adventure to your visit. Gliding under a canopy of over-arching mangrove branches, you will be surrounded by a quiet world inhabited by egrets, herons, ospreys, and roseate spoonbills. The mangrove roots and branches are studded with countless scurrying small crabs. They stare passively at you while you float by, gently propelled by the tidal currents. This magical enclave, mere paddle strokes from the popular beaches, hotels, condos, restaurants, and shops of Lido Key, is actually worlds away from the civilized tourist haunts.
To reach Lido Key, you will need to traverse the stunning Ringling Bridge. This structure is not just a passage between downtown Sarasota and the barrier islands; it is a destination all on its own. The bridge is one of the most popular walking and jogging tracts in the city. People of all ages and athletic ability take advantage of the half mile incline to challenge their workouts. At the apex of the bridge, a sweeping vista of Sarasota Bay is the perfect excuse to stop and catch your breath. Under the bridge, there are parks, fishing piers, and a bait and supplies store. At anytime during the day or night, locals and visitors can be found here testing their angler skills. The Ringling Bridge is a landmark that is both functional and beautiful; a graceful arch that provides much more than a connection from point A to point B.
Sarasota is a fantastic vacation destination. It is a city renowned for its love of the arts and all things cultural. World-class cuisine, lodging, museums, festivals, and entertainment provide endless options for residents and visitors alike. But it is the natural wonders of my city that make Sarasota the best choice for a holiday. The sun, the water, the sand, and all the combinations of those elements are the true beauty of Sarasota.
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