Visit Siesta Key, Sarasota, Bradenton, Englewood, Venice
Sarasota County is home to beaches that include award-winning Siesta Key, renowned for its soft white sands, Venice Beach, perfect for finding sharks’ teeth, and Manasota Key, where you can escape to find some quiet time.
Sarasota is located south of Tampa and is known as Florida’s Cultural Coast®. Once the winter home of the Ringling Brothers Circus, Arts & Culture offerings is what Sarasota is known for where you can expect to enjoy museums, art galleries and performing art venues all around town. There is always an attraction any time of year! Or you can soak up the sun along Sarasota County’s white sandy beaches with shallow waters, such as Siesta Key Beach, Lido Beach, Longboat Key, Casey Key. Manasota Key and Venice beaches. Whether it’s a three-course meal that will transport you to another part of the globe, or a unique dining experience that defines categorization, you will not be disappointed in the dining options available in Sarasota.
Plays and Musicals
Great theater has great roots in Sarasota. The Asolo Repertory Theatre has a stellar reputation for innovative and moving productions. This theater is one of the largest not-for-profits of its kind in the country and has been a springboard for many actors and shows to go onto Broadway fame. Established in 1960, the Asolo Repertory Theatre is located next to The Ringling, just west of SRQ Airport.
In the heart of downtown, Florida Studio Theatre operates as Sarasota’s contemporary theater. Five stages offer an array of different theater experiences to enjoy, from cutting-edge plays to improvisational comedies and terrific musicals. This theater isn’t the only theater venue in downtown — the Urbanite Theatre, an intimate black box theater, is downtown’s newest and right next to Whole Foods Market.
Just a few blocks from downtown Sarasota is the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, one of only two professional black theater companies in Florida. Many actors and actresses have gotten their start here before earning roles in Broadway productions, at the Apollo Theatre and on television.
Just north of downtown Sarasota near the Rosemary District is The Players Centre for Performing Arts. Dating back to 1936, this award-winning community theater has had Hollywood greats Bette Davis and Charlton Heston pass through its doors.
Further south is the Venice Theatre. Known as the third largest community theater in the United States and the largest per capita, the Venice Theatre has a reputation for being much more than the average community venue. In 2016, Tony Award-winner Ben Vereen reimagined and directed “Hair” at this venue.
Last but not least, Lemon Bay Playhouse in Englewood is another community theater that has recently risen to local acclaim. Demand for shows has increased in the past few years, leading to consistent sell-out performances.
Highly-praised by The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, the Sarasota Ballet is the only professional ballet company on the Gulf Coast. Director Iain Webb revolutionized the company’s repertoire, featuring works of the greatest choreographers in the dance world, such as Sir Frederick Ashton and Antony Tudor. The company regularly performs at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, the Sarasota Opera House and the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
Two former Sarasota Ballet dancers branched off to form the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School in 2011 – one of the few schools in the United States specializing in the Cuban training style, which is renowned for its athleticism, passion, and grace. Don't let the end of their name fool you, these students will dazzle you with their skill, and many have gone on to major companies in Boston, San Fransisco and even the Royal Ballet!
For a very different experience, Sarasota Contemporary Dance brings cutting- edge, thought-provoking performances to Sarasota, collaborating with artists of different genres at local venues.
Both the cities of Venice and Sarasota have had longtime professional orchestras. Originally debuting as the Florida West Coast Symphony, the Sarasota Orchestra is the oldest continuing orchestra in the state and performs more than 100 classical, pop and family concerts every year. The orchestra is led by one of the most intriguing young conductors in the world: Anu Tali. In Venice, the Venice Symphony has provided cultural enrichment for more than 40 years.