When you deplane at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, it’ll be easy to see why Southwest Florida is a favorite destination for art- and beach-lovers alike. As you start to explore, keep an eye out for the influence of Italian architectural styles—many of the buildings around town reflect this aesthetic, especially Ca d’Zan, a historic estate open for public tours. This Venetian-style mansion underwent a full restoration in 2002 that restored it to its former Roaring-20s glory.
The influence of John Ringling, one of five brothers who founded one of the U.S.’s most beloved traveling circuses, can be thanked for the extensive collection at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art—also known as the State Art Museum of Florida. Housed in a blush pink Renaissance-style palace, the museum has 21 galleries and a sculpture garden. If fine art isn’t to your liking, head to the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, which bills itself as a living museum. Here, visitors can experience local flora at one of two garden campuses. Sarasota/Bradenton is also home to a number of places where you can see a show. Ballet, orchestra, opera, and theatre are all available—see what’s playing during your visit and take in a show.
Of course, a visit to the Suncoast of the Sunshine State wouldn’t be complete if you didn’t take advantage of the beach. Off the coast of Sarasota/Bradenton sits six islands, multiplying the number of beaches for sunbathing and seaside fun. Not every beach is the same, though, so explore a few to find the one that speaks to you. Families find fun at Casey Key, which offers plenty of picnic areas; Manasota Key is a favorite of nature explorers who want mangrove trees and sand dunes mixed into their beach day.
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Things to do in Sarasota/Bradenton.
- Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
- Mote Marine Laboratory
- Sarasota Jungle Gardens
- John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
- Sarasota Art Museum
- The Ringling Circus Museum
- Asolo Repertory Theatre
- Sarasota Ballet
- Sarasota Opera