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Things to do in Sarasota on a Budget

Destination(s): Sarasota

For those vacationing on a tight budget there is plenty for you and your family to do and see when visiting this beautiful city. Much of Sarasota’s downtown waterfront is designed for walking or for bicycling. There are wading birds to observe and porpoises that playfully leap out of the water not far from the shore. You can walk through neighborhoods with attractive homes and beautifully landscaped yards. See tall palms, and live oaks with old man’s beard (sometimes called Spanish moss) dangling from the branches. Sarasota has miles of white sand beaches. And there is one outstanding, usually expensive attraction that is free every Monday: viewing the art at the Ringling Museum.
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Siesta Beach

Siesta Beach

  • 948 Beach Road
  • tel:941/861-7275
  • Siesta Key, 34242

Siesta Beach, in Sarasota, is often ranked among the top two or three beaches in the United States. Wider than a football field is long, it stretches for roughly half a mile beside the sky blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The pure white sand gives visitors the sensation of walking on finely ground sugar. Sarasota County points out that "at the Great International White Sand Beach Challenge, Siesta Beach was recognized as having the whitest and finest sand in the world."  The shallow Gulf waters are ideal for wading. Life guards are on duty year round. Located on Siesta Key, it is an easy drive from downtown Sarasota, from the Sarasota/Bradenton Airport, or from Interstate 75. The free parking lot can accommodate 800 cars. Shade trees tower over 50 or 60 or more picnic tables with grills, ideal for family gatherings. There also is well designed playground equipment for younger children, lighted tennis courts, nets for beach volley ball and a soccer field. Be sure to bring your sun glasses and/or a baseball cap or a straw hat because the sand is 99 percent pure, brilliant white granulated quartz that reflects the sun.

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Amish Restaurants in Sarasota

Amish Restaurants in Sarasota

  • 707 N. Tamiami Trail
  • At 6th St
  • Sarasota

It may surprise you that Amish and Mennonite families charter buses in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and other states to winter in the Pinecraft neighborhood of Sarasota. They have been coming to Sarasota since the 1920s. Despite the heavy traffic on Bahia Vista St. and Beneva Rd. men and women wearing traditional clothing often ride their three wheel bicycles, some with boxes attached behind the seat, to carry things. There are several excellent Amish style restaurants – Yoder's Amish Village and  Troyer's Dutch Heritage lead most local's lists, along with Mom's Amish Country Cooking, Der Dutchman, Dutch Haus, Dutch Oven, and out on Cattlemen Rd. Sugar & Spice.  All offer wholesome, traditional Amish meals, such as chicken and dumplings, liver and onions and meatloaf. Yoder's 25 varieties of pie includes shoofly, key lime, rhubarb, and many berry and creme pies.
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State of Florida: John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art

State of Florida: John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art

  • 5401 Bay Shore Road
  • tel:(941) 359-5700,(941) 351-1660
  • Sarasota, 34243

John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

First time visitors to the John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota may be
surprised to find that it consists of several massive buildings scattered over 66 acres. Fortunately people who don't like to walk are provided free rides in open air "trams"  beneath sprawling bayon trees. Others may not realize the Museum of Art on the grounds is the official art museum of the State of Florida, ranking among the top 20 in the United States. It does not feature circus posters. Instead, its gilded rooms include heroic-sized paintings by such illustrious sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth century European artists as as Rubens, van Dyck, Velázquez, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, El Greco, Gainsborough and more.. The Ringling's amazing European style mansion, completed in 1926, and called Ca' d'Zan, has 56 rooms, and is open to the public. Two more building are dedicated to the circus that made the Ringlings tremendously wealthy. Short films depict how circus trains were unloaded and how the tents were set up in small towns almost overnight. Perhaps not as exciting as the attractions aimed at 21st century  youngsters in Orlando, still the John and Mable Ringling Museum and all that is on their landscaped former grounds is one of those must-see places for adults.

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FSU Ringling Center for the Cultural Arts

FSU Ringling Center for the Cultural Arts

  • 5401 Bay Shore Rd
  • At N. Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41)
  • tel:941/359-5700
  • Visit website
  • Sarasota, 34234
Shark's Teeth on Venice's Beaches

Shark's Teeth on Venice's Beaches

  • 5401 Bay Shore Rd
  • At N. Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41)
  • Sarasota

Wander on a white sand beach beside by the warm, gentle Gulf of Mexico waters, in Venice, Florida  and you will undoubtedly want to join locals and out-of-towners in their search for prehistoric, fossilized sharks teeth. The fossilized teeth, which range from smaller than the nail on your little finger to three or more inches long, are brown, grey or black.  Fossilized sharks teeth can be attached to a gold or silver chain to create an  attractive pendant necklace that will remind you of your delightful trip for years to come.  Over the centuries, when an elderly shark expired, his remains would sink to the floor of the Gulf and be covered with sand. In time there would be little left but the teeth, which absorbed minerals and were eventually washed ashore by storms or left from the days when much of Florida was under water. People travel great distances to Venice to find shark teeth treasures. read more about Shark's Teeth on Venice's Beaches

DeSoto National Memorial

DeSoto National Memorial

  • DeSoto Memorial Hwy. (north end of 75th St. W.)
  • tel:941/792-0458
  • Visit website
  • Bradenton, 34205
Art Center Sarasota

Art Center Sarasota

  • 707 N. Tamiami Trail
  • At 6th St
  • tel:941/365-2032
  • Visit website
  • Sarasota, 34236
The Rookery

The Rookery

  • 707 N. Tamiami Trail
  • At 6th St
  • Sarasota

Birding in Southwest Florida is popular year round. The Rookery, a small island near the center of a quiet pond behind Sarasota County's South County Building on busy U.S. 41 (Tamiami Trail near Jacaranda Blvd.) has long been a birding hot spot. A variety of large shore birds nest on the island, including great blue herons, glossy ibis, great egrets, anhingas and night herons. A call for volunteers has gone out to help restore the vegetation on the outer shore of the pond. Dozens of Brazilian Peppers have been ripped out as part of an effort to get rid of the unwanted invasive species, so the shoreline is looking rather naked. The island itself retains thick vegetation. There is picnic shelter in front of the pond to shade one from the sun and to protect visitors from an unexpected rainstorm. A little more than a block from WalMart with a busy shopping center nearby, this quiet spot comes as a surprise to many tourists.
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