Sarasota's Gulf Coast is a world-class destination for visitors seeking relaxation in the sun. But, it's more than just a tourist hotspot to those who call Sarasota home. It offers small-town charm in a metro setting with amenities often found only in larger cities. Its reputation as an arts and culture capital of the southeast comes from its array of museums and arts organizations for a city of its size. Not only does the University of South Florida, Sarasota Campus call Sarasota home, the New College of Florida (renowned for its quality education as an honors school) and the world-famous Ringling School of Art and Design make Sarasota a notable "university town."
Beaches on Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key, Lido Key, Siesta Key, and Venice (known to beachcombers for prehistoric sharks' teeth) in the Sarasota/Manatee area—often referred to as "Manasota"—provide nearby escapes to the region's tropical paradise.
Sarasota County features two state parks—Myakka River, one of Florida's largest, and Oscar Scherer Park as well as a number of other attractions in close proximity.
World-class shopping and dining opportunities abound throughout Sarasota and its beach communities. St Armands Circle, originally conceptualized by John Ringling, is a favorite of tourists and locals alike. In addition to high-end shopping malls, Sarasota is home to a downtown area with many boutiques, local restaurants and delis, weekly farmers' markets, and annual events like the Sarasota Film Festival and The Off-Shore Grand Prix.
The Sarasota Convention and visitors Center is called Visit Sarasota. Visit Sarasota is a comprehensive resource for information about the area, including history, maps, events calendars, and travel guides. Visit them online or at their location at North Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41) and 6th Street.