When it’s time to plan a Florida vacation, consider the plentiful fun that can be had in Sarasota, Fla. In addition to the beautiful beaches of the region, it’s west central Florida’s premiere location for culture, animals, and so much more.
Near the Sarasota bay, visitors will find the excellent Mote Marine Aquarium. A research and rescue facility, it may not be as flashy as other aquariums, but this is where serious marine biology work happens. In fact, when a baby sea turtle washed up at our beach, it was Mote who got the first phone call for advice on how to handle the little guy.
Manatees, sea turtles and a variety of sharks all reside at the aquarium along with a plethora of other exhibits. The main focus of the aquarium is on Florida wildlife, but visitors will see marine life from all over the world. Kids have a chance to touch stingrays, starfish, and sea urchins, too. A large saltwater tank stands ready to provide shelter to dolphins or whales that may need rescued. Although no dolphins are in residence at this time, Mote has housed them in the past. Find out more about Mote Marine Aquarium at https://mote.org.
Speaking of rescue, Sarasota is also home to the Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary. This sanctuary provides a shelter to more than 100 animals including tigers, lions, bears, chimpanzees, birds, monkeys, llamas, and more. All the animals at the sanctuary were born and bred in captivity, then abandoned or in need of alternate housing. Visiting the Sanctuary gives visitors to see these animals up close and personal. It’s even possible to feed some of the big cats and the bears for just a few dollars. The daily show is both informative and entertaining. Learn more at http://bigcathabitat.org.
Sarasota served as the winter headquarters of the Ringling Brothers Circus for many years. A rich circus history exists to this day. “The Ringling” gives visitors a unique opportunity to experience several museums, as well as Ca d’Zahn, the waterfront mansion and former home of John and Mable Ringling. This palatial residence was designed to resemble the Venetian homes of Italy that Mrs. Ringling loved. Tours are given daily.
The Circus Museum is a delight for adults as children as it showcases many years of circus history and includes the world’s largest miniature circus. The Ringling Museum of Art contains 31 galleries and was built by circus mogul John Ringling as a legacy to the citizens of Florida. It houses works from his personal collection, as well as masterpieces from around the world. A bronze cast of Michelangelo’s “David” towers over the center courtyard of the museum. Plan a visit by visiting www.ringling.org .
Sarasota boasts a lively bay-front atmosphere with parks for walking, picnicking, fishing, and of course, boating. Birdwatching is another lively activity on the Sarasota bay. Boat rentals, parasailing, and waterfront cruises can all be found here. The website http://www.visitsarasota.org/ is a good place to start planning seaside activities.
Contact Holly McElwee at [email protected]