There’s So Much More to Sarasota Florida Than The Beach
If you travel far enough and often enough, it’s only a matter of time before your ability to roll with the punches will be tested. Even the best-made plans fall prey to forces out of our control. Canceled flights, a government shutdown, and, more often than not, Mother Nature, just to name a few.
But fortunately, many times these detours lead to more inspiring and fulfilling experiences than the original plans. Call it serendipity, a nudge from the universe, or even fate. Whatever you call it, relax a bit and embrace spontaneity!
Recently, I found myself working down around Sarasota, Florida, and couldn’t wait for a free day to bask on one of Florida’s world-famous beaches. Mother Nature, on the other hand, made other arrangements. The largest Red Tide bloom in recent history had plagued swatches of Florida’s Gulf Coast for months so no bueno for the beach.
Luckily, Sarasota brims with art and culture, offering an uplifting respite to heartbroken beach bums such as myself. Had I not been forced to rethink my plans, I could easily have missed these world-class destinations!
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
The world’s only botanical garden dedicated to epiphytes, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens welcome over 200,000 annual visitors. Shaded by gnarly banyan trees and mangrove forests, eight massive greenhouses shelter more than 20,000 plant varieties.
Sprawling over 15 acres, guests meander through the tropical conservatories, admire an extensive Bonsai collection, and tease the colorful koi beside a waterfall. Much of the garden’s specimens represent collections gathered from New World expeditions as well as acquisitions from international institutions.
The Ringling Museum
The youngest of the five brothers known the world over for their “Greatest Show On Earth,” Circus Tycoon John Ringling and his wife, Mable, chose the small fishing village of Sarasota for their winter refuge.
Believing Sarasota held potential as a world-class destination, Ringling relocated the circus’ winter headquarters to Sarasota. In 1926 and $1.5 million later, the Ringlings unveiled their 36,000-square foot Venetian mansion, Ca’ d’Zan, complete with 41 rooms and 15 bathrooms.
At the height of his career, Ringling held an estimated worth of $200 million. As one of the richest men in America, John appreciated and amassed a staggering collection of fine art. The Ringlings adorned their homes, including Ca’ d’Zan, with works from the Renaissance Masters such as El Greco, Velázquez, Onorio Marinari, and even Rembrandt.
Soon after the completion of Ca’ d’Zan, John built a 21-gallery palace to serve as a museum to his beloved collection. Continuing with the Renaissance architecture, the museums’ courtyard displays larger-than-life bronze and stone sculptures. At its center stands one of only three casts of Michelangelo’s David.
The Village of the Arts
Whether you’re a classic record collector or adventurous foodie, Bradenton’s Village of the Arts is a must! Made up of colorful historical cottages, this vibrant living/working community of artists house everything from award-winning restaurants to Bradenton’s best specialty shops, studios, healing arts, bakeries, and galleries.
Held the first Friday night and Saturday afternoon of every month, the artists invite guests to discover their unique community with eclectic food and live music.
After browsing, walk next door for a staggering array of craft beers at Motorworks Brewing. Refresh with a pint of their Cruisers which took Gold in the 2016/2017 Best Florida Beer Championship.
If you’re feeling daring, order up an Empire Oyster Stout. This jet black stout is brewed with whole oysters and dried kelp. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
So next time your plans don’t go as planned, roll with it and you may just find your next favorite adventure!