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Rating: 6 votes, 5.00 average.

What I love about Sarasota/Charlotte and Manatee county's

Posted 11-24-2010 at 03:40 PM by SoFLGal
Updated 04-21-2016 at 07:15 AM by SoFLGal

Siesta Key Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world with it's power white sand, which is nearly 100% quartz. I know some people would disagree but I'd much rather have powder white sand in the winter than powder white snow. No matter where you are in Florida you're never more than 2 hours or so from the beach. Siesta was just rated the #1 beach in America by Dr. Beach.

I love all the sunshine, warmth and bright sunny days. You know that the local paper used to give out free papers if the sun didn't shine. They didn't have to give out too many.

Check out Brohard Beach in Venice. It's a great beach to let your pooch romp in the sand and water.

If your dog doesn't like the beach there are still plenty of other options: http://www.scgov.net/ParksandRecreation/Parks/PawParks.asp

Florida is full of tropical foliage and is a great place for gardeners, year round. People can also enjoy outdoor sports all year long-hiking, biking, walking, kayaking, golfing, etc We have the huge Legacy Trail for walking and biking.

In southern Sarasota county there's Warm Mineral Springs and Little Salt Spring. Warm Mineral Springs is one of the oldest tourist attractions in FL and people come from all over the world to visit.

This area has a wonderful art community with Towles Court Artist Colony, the many art galleries around, every town has a local art center, there are art festivals going on almost weekly, Ringling School of Art & Design and many resources for artists.

For all you sports enthusiast Sarasota has Ed Smith Stadium: Ed Smith Stadium - Baltimore Orioles Spring Training and Charlotte Sports Park: Charlotte Sports Park - Tampa Bay Rays Spring Training

There are many cultural activities, festivals and music events in the area. Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Asolo Theater, The Sarasota Opera, Concerts, Ringling Museum (which I believe is free on Monday's), Golden Apple Dinner Theater, Circus Sarasota, Sarasota Ballet are some of the many venues and events. Siesta Key and Nokomis Beach both have drum circles on various nights in the evening. Sarasota county has free summer concerts in the park.

Punta Gorda has the Florida Airshow where the Blue Angles fly. The Hibiscus Festival, The Redfish Fish Tournament many craft shows. Every city has their own farmer's market.

Punta Gorda Farmers Market: http://www.puntagordashopping.com/farmersmarket.html
Sarasota Farmers Market: http://www.sarasotafarmersmarket.org/
Siesta Key Farmers Market: http://www.siestafarmersmarket.com/
Venice Farmers Market: http://venicefloridafarmersmarket.com/

Boca Grande has the world's richest Tarpon Tournament every year. With so much water everywhere there are tons of activities related. There are lots of fishing guides, kayak tours, etc

Here are some of the many festivals in the area:
JAN Southwest Florida Heritage Festival
JAN Sullivan Street Craft Festival
JAN Sarasota Native American Festival
JAN Manatee County Fair
JAN-FEB Sarasota Jazz Festival
FEB Kids Art Festival at Woodmere Park, Venice
FEB Annual Sarasota Festival of the Arts
FEB Annual Wine & Jazz Festival in Punta Gorda
FEB Bradenton Beer Festival
MAR Sarasota Fair
MAR Sarasota Folk Festival in Osprey
MAR Sarasota Shamrock Festival
MAR Peace River Celtic Festival
MAR Spring Fine Arts Festival in Englewood
MAR Peace River Seafood Festival and Redfish Tournament
MAR Englewood Music Festival
MAR Englewood Fine Arts Festival
MAR Manatee Heritage Days
MAR Florida International Air Show
MAR & DEC Anna Maria Islands Art League Winterfest & Springfest
APR Sarasota Film Festival
APR Annual Siesta Fiesta
APR Charlotte Harbor Kayak & Wildlife Festival
APR Venice Shark Tooth Festival
APR Charlotte County Nautical Flea Market and Seafood Festival
APR DeSoto Heritage Festival Seafood Fest in Bradenton
APR Florida Heritage Festival and Riverfest in Bradenton
APR The Kayak and Outdoor Festival
APR-MAY Sarasota Wine Festival
MAY Giving Hunger the Blues in Southside Village
JUNE International Theater Festival In Venice
JUNE Hibiscus Festival In Punta Gorda
JUNE Boca Grande Tarpon Tournament
JUNE-JULY Sarasota Offshore Grand Prix
JULY Fourth of July Freedom Swim in Festival in Punta Gorda
JULY Wildlife Awareness Festival
SEPT Englewood Pioneer Days
OCT Sarasota Blues Festival
OCT Sarasota Chalk Festival
OCT Hunsader Farms Pumpkin Festival
NOV Sarasota Medieval Fair
NOV Annual Downtown Venice Art Festival
NOV Festival Of Trees in Punta Gorda
NOV Family Music Fest in Osprey
Annual St. Armand's Art Festival Something nearly every month

There are many other festivals and fairs just a short drive away.

Oscar Scherer State Park in Osprey has canoeing, camping, hiking, birding, swimming. Myakkahatchee State Park in North Port has trails where you can bring your horses, you can hike along the trails. Myakka River State Park in Sarasota has tons of great FL wildlife, the Myakka Canopy Walk, which is a bridge that is suspended 25 feet off the ground. It extends 85 feet through the canopy and Myakka also has 38 miles of hiking trails. Manatee County has Little Manatee River State Park which runs right along the river. It has camping, hiking, canoeing, etc. Don Pedro State Park you can only get to by boat and is like a private beach. I happened to have the great pleasure of living right beside it as a kid. Venice has Brohard Park, one of the only dog friendly beaches around. Venice is also home to Woodmere Park a 36 acre park where you can let your pooch run and play under the big oak trees. These areas are a haven for photographers, bird watching and outdoor enthusiasts. Sarasota county has more than 200 parks, 109 athletic fields and 16 recreation and community centers.

Sarasota Parks: Parks and Recreation
Manatee County Parks: Manatee County Parks and Recreation - Manatee Chamber of Commerce
Charlotte County Parks: Community Services

Also for all the photographers and gardens, Selby Gardens is a must see. It has over 20,000 plants and displays and was named one of America's Top Ten Botanical Gardens.

The Sarasota area is also very kid friendly. The Children's Garden, a whimsical outdoor play area for children. Then there's Jungle Gardens, which is one of the oldest attractions in FL and has flamingo feeding, bird shows, alligators and many other various animals. Spanish Point is a historical site where they have Indian mounds, early pioneer homes and a lots of summer activities for kids. There are YMCA's in every city from Bradenton to Port Charlotte. Sarasota has Mote Marine Aquarium, which gives a wonderful look at the native sea life. They also to a great job with rehabilitating injured animals and returning them back to the gulf. Bradenton has the South FL Museum, Bishop Planetarium and the Parker Aquarium. Stop by and say "hi" to SW FL's very own manatee, Snooty. The Big Cat Habitat in Sarasota is a wonderful place to visit and see the amazing job Rosaire's do with the animals.

Many restaurants offer waterfront dining all the way down the coast. Speaking of restaurants, this area has lots and lots of wonderful, restaurants for any taste. Many mom and pop restaurants. You could spend a whole day out on St Armand's Circle shopping, browsing and stopping in at Kilwin's for some great ice cream. St Armand's has more than 130 shops, restaurants and galleries.

Here are a few of my favorite restaurants in the area:
Pho Cali
Euphemia Haye
Ophelia's on the Bay
Capt Brian's
Two Senoritas
Crab & Fin
Casey Key Fish House
Bijou Café
Joto's Japanese Steakhouse
Blasé Café
Pacific Rim
Mar Vista
Sign of the Mermaid
El Toro Bravo
Lazy Lobster

And I have to add Sweet Tomatoes (for the kids) and Ophelia's (special doggie dining on the porch).

Downtown Sarasota is another all day event with the many eclectic shops and quaint restaurants. There are also some great consignment & antique shops if you make your way downtown. If you're looking to snag a bargain you can try the Red Barn Flea Market in Bradenton, The Sun Flea Market in Port Charlotte or The Dome in Englewood.

Sarasota and Charlotte counties have some of the best schools in the state and also have Pine View School for the gifted, which is one of the top in the nation.

So, folks as you can see there's A LOT to like about the SW FL area.
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  1. Old Comment
    I really recently feel in love with Sarasota after a 12 day trip to Siesta Key. I am wanting to relocate from Louisville, KY within the next few months and was wondering if you could tell me anything about the job market? I am in my late 20's with great job experience and don't have trouble getting a good job in KY but worried about Sarasota. I am daydreaming about coming there everyday so any help you can give me would be great! Thank you!
    Posted 06-27-2011 at 07:30 AM by Brighteyes29 Brighteyes29 is offline
  2. Old Comment
    I love your blog on the Englewood area. A lot of very helpful information. My husband and I would love to move there but haven't found jobs yet. He currently works for the University of Wisconsin in leasing and property management. Do you have any recommendations on companies he could send his resume to? Also, I am wondering about the economy there. How is retail? On a side note there is a full on blizzard going on right now! Get me out of here!
    Posted 12-20-2012 at 07:39 AM by leannf411 leannf411 is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Dear SoFlogal,
    Thank you so very much for all your informative feedback!! We are planning a road trip soon in search of a retirement/relocation home, starting in the Hilton Head area and ending up in Sarasota. The road trip ends on the east coast of Florida where family lives. Thanks again!! I will keep you posted!!!
    Posted 02-21-2016 at 03:56 PM by ellie51 ellie51 is offline

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