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From the beaches to the big top, Sarasota is an eclectic blend of beauty, history, culture, and glitz! Here are 5 can’t miss adventures in Sarasota!
Siesta Key Beach is a magnificent stretch of sugary-white sand bordering the clear, calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. What makes it extra special is that the sand is a fine powder of quartz-crystal that NEVER gets hot.
You can play all day in the sun and sand and never risk toasting your toes in scorching sand! That’s just one of the reasons it was ranked #1 Beach in the U.S. in 2020 by TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards™.
Take time to explore the island’s delectable dining, colorful bungalows, world-class fishing, high-flying watersports, and (of course) shopping.
Be sure to stick around for the magnificent sunset. It’s a kaleidoscopic wonder of color that turns everything it touches into an extraordinary shade of red!
In 1927, John Ringling moved the winter quarters of his Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus from cold Bridgeport, Connecticut to sunny Sarasota. The show’s stars made their way into the warmth each off-season to fine-tune their skills and get ready for the new season.
The clowns would use their time in Sarasota to perfect gags and try new routines out on visitors before the start of the next season on the road.
Eventually, these beloved characters began to age, and new faces were needed to keep the show fresh. In 1968, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College was founded in Venice, Fla. At the end of the free, 10-week term, students were committed to one year with the circus if offered a contract.
During its 30-year run, Clown College taught more than 1500 clowns, including Penn Jillette of Penn and Teller!
Now the Clown College resides in Sarasota as the Circus Arts Conservatory. Each summer, both children and adults can “clown around” learning to juggle and ride unicycles at Circus Summer Camp.
You can’t come to Sarasota without a stop at the spectacular Ringling. The Ringling is a 66-acre complex featuring the State Art Museum of Florida, Circus Museum, Ca’ d’Zan mansion, and Bayfront Gardens.
While you wander the Bayfront Gardens, look for Mable’s Secret Garden. Mable Ringling created the garden with plants given to her by friends and neighbors during her winters in Sarasota.
Today you can find her secret garden thriving as a living tribute to the Ringlings – along with the graves of John, Mable, and Ida Ringling.
Venice Beach in Sarasota County has the unique distinction of being the “Shark Tooth Capital of the World.” Ten million years ago, Florida was underwater and teeming with sharks. Now Venice Beach sits on top of a deep fossil layer. It’s packed with ancient incisors that wash up onto the beach.
Comb the beaches near the water’s edge or simply sift through the sand. You’re sure to find some shiny black treasure. You may even be lucky enough to find a massive Megalodon tooth that can be 3-5 inches big!
If anyone’s ever said you should do stand-up, The Humor Institute at McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre is the place to hone your humor skills. The Institute is “dedicated to the cultivation and enlightenment of the Art of Stand-Up Comedy for those who desire to learn.”
The Humor Institute’s core programs focus on teaching the techniques behind developing a stand-up routine. It’s a fantastically fun way to spend time with friends while tickling your funny bones!
Keep the good times going with a side-splitting show at the theatre, followed by tasty bites at the Green Room.
There’s so much more to see and do – but we just LOVE these 5 can’t miss adventures in Sarasota! Before you plan your trip, check out this recent episode of Destination Dispatch featuring Kelly Defebo from Visit Sarasota County.
You’ll learn even more about the incredible adventures waiting for you in Circus City!
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