Sarasota is the cultural capital of Florida, home to some of the best beaches in the world (according to Mr. Beach) and the location of more theaters per capita than New York City. Sarasota also is home to the Sarasota Ballet of Florida, the Sarasota Opera which has its own recently renovated historic opera house, Circus Sarasota, the Jazz Club of Sarasota which presents more than 80 musical events per year, the Sarasota Symphony, Sarasota Art Center, the internationally known Sarasota Film Festival, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall with its Fine Arts Society art collection, Towles Court Art Colony, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, an 80-year-old community theater (The Players) plus the Florida Studio Theatre complex and the Asolo Repertory Company and its world-famous Asolo Conservatory of Actor Training, a master’s degree program which the company runs in conjunction with Florida State University.
The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, now owned by Florida State University, is considered the most valuable university-owned museum in the United States and the 20th most valuable museum in the U.S. It is the most valuable legacy of circus magnate and real estate magnate John Ringling who moved to Sarasota in the early part of the 19th century and brought the famed Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus to town in 1927, effectively sealing the cultural fate of the city in the process, when the museum acquired the Historic Asolo Theater from Asolo Italy. Recently restored and installed within museum’s visitor center, that theater was home to the first performances of the Asolo Theatre Company, the Sarasota Opera, and the Sarasota Ballet. Also part of the museum complex is the Museum of the Circus, the Tibbals Learning Center with its 3,800-square-foot miniature circus, the finest rose garden in America, and the former Ringling winter home, Ca d’Zan, which is considered one of America’s finest houses.
The result for the city was an influx of people who care about art. Those people have included famous writers such as Stephen King, Stuart Kaminsky, and the late John D. MacDonald. Many celebrities also make their home in the area.
With its cultural climate and its tropical climate came the Sarasota School of Architecture designers, fine doctors who would establish Sarasota and Doctors hospitals, and people with a strong sense of community who would insist on the finest schools in the state and who also would support a variety of organizations that care about the well-being of all. In addition to fine public schools, which include Pineview School (one of just eight public schools for the gifted in the country), Sarasota is known for New College, FSU Sarasota campus, Manatee Community College, and the Ringling College of Art and Design among others.
Along its 35 miles of waterfront one can find sugar sand beaches, perfect conditions for sailing, fishing and other water sports. Kayakers and canoe paddlers enjoy many inlets and smaller waterways. With summer temperatures cooler than those in Cleveland and Chicago and winter temperatures conducive to year-round beach walking, boating, fishing, gardening, golfing and other outdoor activities in a pleasant subtropical environment. The expanding Rails to Trails program will soon allow walking and biking between Venice and Sarasota on the former railroad right of way.
Sarasota Year-round Average Temperatures and Rainfall