A Comprehensive Guide to Sarasota & Southwest Florida

Sarasota & Southwest Florida vacation rentals, Sarasota rental condos, accommodations, Sarasota Florida restaurants, Sarasota arts, Sarasota attractions, Sarasota recreation, Sarasota dining, Sarasota retirement living, Sarasota real estate, Sarasota golf courses, Sarasota Florida boating, Sarasota entertainment      
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on the Gulf of Mexico with its

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SARASOTA There are numerous reasons why Sarasota is one of the most desirable places to... vacation... live... work... and raise a family. While maintaining a small town atmosphere, Sarasota has a big city feel with exceptional amenities… offering some of the finest museums, art and antique galleries, as well as numerous shops and boutiques. Be prepared to include a few evenings in Sarasota with our resident ballet, opera house, symphony, live theatre, comedy clubs, and jazz bars. With year round sunny days and tropical breezes Sarasota invites you to partake in 60 challenging golf courses, tennis, 35 miles of pristine beaches, boating, fishing, sight-seeing and numerous nature loving adventures.
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BRADENTON With Old Florida flair, Bradenton offers plenty of diversity. Sports, recreation and eco enthusiasts will enjoy 150 miles of pristine shoreline boasting some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Families looking for low key activities can board a water tour, snorkel for sand dollars, shell and picnic on the beach. Get up close to Snooty the Manatee while visiting the South Florida Museum and Bishop Planetarium. Biking and kayaking, as well as numerous beaches, bars and nightlife are plentiful. Those seeking laid back relaxation might want to browse Village of the Arts where an artist community work and live or find treasures at the Red Barn Flea Market. Head to Ellenton for Factory Outlet Shopping or cross the river to Palmetto’s quaint boutiques and shops. Be sure to enjoy a night at the Players Theatre or dance and dine along the Manatee River.
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ANNA MARIA ISLAND Old Florida charm and pristine living is the essence of this narrow seven mile stretch of land. Comprised of three actual towns, Anna Maria Island is located north of Sarasota and off the coast of Bradenton. At the north end, with an atmosphere of yesteryear, is a quaint little village known as the City of Anna Maria. With little traffic, cyclists often pedal the shaded, lanes of colorful cottages, bungalows and the occasional beach house. At the widest point and the center of the island is the City of Holmes Beach featuring restaurants, shops and the only grocery store on the island. Although the public beach has plenty of parking, you’ll also find beach access along the side streets dotted with condos, houses as well as mom and pop motels. There’s an executive golf course, unfortunately... it’s private.Farther south is the bustling City of Bradenton Beach with restaurants, souvenir shops, ice cream parlors and a city pier on Sarasota Bay. This area is suited for the active vacationer seeking water sports and night life. Heading south of the city, the beach widens and becomes shaded by towering Australian Pines. Nature lovers will enjoy a walk to the tip of the island where a path leads under a draw bridge connecting Anna Maria Island to Longboat Key. Follow the path to a sanctuary of sea oats, sand dunes, inlets and mangroves where shore birds are plentiful. Direct access and parking are available on the bayside.
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Anna Maria Island Beaches: coquina beach | cortez beach | bradenton beach | holmes beach | manatee beach | anna maria beach

LONGBOAT KEY and LIDO KEY are barrier islands off the coast of Sarasota and have a more cosmopolitan style with easy access to the famed shops on St. Armands Circle, beautiful beaches and the renowned Longboat Key Club golf courses. Sarasota is just across the Ringling bridge offering a lively downtown, three convenient malls, antique shops, galleries, restaurants, night-time entertainment and wonderful attractions.
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Longboat Key Beaches: beer can island beach | whitney beach | longboat key beach
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Lido Key Beaches: north lido beach | lido beach | south lido beach

SIESTA KEY Located off the coast of Sarasota, Siesta Key is a bit more active than Anna Maria Island. Quaint shops, boutiques and cozy, sometimes bungalow style restaurants tend to be a little more sophisticated and pricey. Crescent Beach, known for its soft white sand, is among the "Top 10 Beaches of the World" while Florida Trend Magazine considers Siesta Beach to be... "The Best Beach in Florida". As for nightlife, Siesta offers island style entertainment with one of two bridges accessing the best of Sarasota’s downtown. In other words... You can’t get any better than this!
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Siesta Key Beaches: siesta beach | crescent beach | turtle beach

VENICE, "The Sharks Tooth Capital of the World", boasts the longest beach in Sarasota County. Caspersen Beach has been left in its natural state, uncultivated, windswept and secluded, which makes hunting for seashells and pre-historic sharks' teeth a favorite among visitors.  Located Just south of Sarasota, this quaint, historically preserved town features shops, cafes, and dinner theatres to provide a wonderful distraction.
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Venice Beaches: nokomis beach | north jetty beach beach | venice beach | brohard beach | caspersen beach

MANASOTA KEY Off the coast of ENGLEWOOD exists an enchanting barrier island where high-rises and traffic lights are non-existent; just a two-lane road shaded by live oak trees and pristine beaches. The north end has private homes tucked behind lush tropical foliage with boat docks and private beaches. At the south end are low-rise apartments, condos and a few restaurants and souvenir shops. If you’re looking for solitude, Blind Pass Beach provides the best opportunity with a nature trail of dunes dotted with wild flowers on Lemon Bay. This is definitely Old Florida with a slower pace.
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Manasota Key Beaches: manasota beach | blind pass beach | englewood beach | stump pass beach

NORTH PORT With 77 square miles of land and an 8,000-acre state forest, North Port is Florida’s third-largest city in land area. There are two golf courses, and 144 miles of waterways, some with direct access to the Myakka River. The Myakka is one of only two rivers in Florida to be recognized as a “Wild and Scenic River” by the state legislature. Nearby Charlotte Harbor and Gulf of Mexico attract people of all ages for Kayaking, Canoeing, fishing, birding, biking and hiking. Everybody loves the beach and Manasota Key is only 15 minutes away. Halfway between Tampa and Naples, North Port provides easy access to Sarasota/Venice culture and nightlife.
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PORT CHARLOTTE This is Florida’s premier Eco-Tourism destination while “Sail Magazine” rates Charlotte Harbor among the “Top Ten Greatest Places to Sail”. Located on the northern bank of the Peace River, Port Charlotte and Charlotte County boasts 165 miles of man-made waterways, estuaries, nature trails and five national wildlife Refuges that attract people from all over the world. This includes Boca Grande, Don Pedro Island, El Jobean, Cape Haze, Little Gasperilla Island, Palm Island and Placida. So, get off that beach towel, slip on your hiking boots, man that bike or kayak and explore the flat woods, cypress swamps, rivers, marshes and beaches of several hundred trails... We dare you to change your perception of relaxation and get involved with physical, educational, natural adventures.
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PUNTA GORDA Where the Peace River flows into Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf of Mexico, you’ll find a most enchanting historic little town. Featuring palm lined Streets, restored period homes, brick lanes, old fashioned gas lamps and park like settings... and... nearly everything waterfront... from hotels to restaurants, shops and parks. Money Magazine rated Punta Gorda the “Second Best Place to Live in America”. In 2005, Golf Digest ranked Punta Gorda #3 on their list of best cities for golf. This is where you’ll definitely find a slower than average pace, with little night life... not even a movie theater...But, you’ll love its small town feel. With bike paths, 2 mile bay walk, access to fantastic island beaches and exhilarating eco-friendly adventures, you’ll be too tired for anything more!!!
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