Sarasota and Barrier Islands
If the middle of the action is where you want to be—theaters, restaurants, coffee shops, lovely Bayfront Park— Sarasota is the place to be. Head to the waterfront living on one of Sarasota’s barrier islands, or keys.
Long considered the cultural capital of Florida, sophisticated Sarasota County has been an intellectual haven for artists and writers for decades; home at one time or another to Pulitzer Prize-winning author MacKinlay Kantor (Andersonville); mystery writers John D. MacDonald, Mary Jane Clark and Martha Grimes;, John Jakes (North and South) and even the most blockbuster author of our modern time, Stephen King. Popular lecture series bring thought leaders to our doorstep. (The Ringling College Library Association’s Town Hall series has featured everyone from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush.) And SILL, the nonprofit Sarasota Institute of Lifetime Learning, offers dozens of lectures by retired college professors and former diplomats on global issues and music appreciation.
Beyond the abundance of cultural opportunities, Sarasota boasts an acclaimed public education system with one of the nation’s only public grade 2-12 schools for the academically gifted and a visual and performing arts magnet high school, as well as a strong commitment to teaching the arts in every classroom at every school. Its institutions of higher learning—which include the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, Ringling College of Art and Design, and New College of Florida, the state’s honors college—bring vibrancy to the community. Sarasota’s medical facilities are first-rate, its streets clean and well maintained.
And it’s a shopper’s paradise, with charming destinations like St. Armands Circle, downtown Sarasota, Southside Village and the Island of Venice.
Sarasota Home Listings
LIFE’S A BEACH ON OUR BARRIER ISLANDS
For many newcomers, a daily amble down the beach at sunrise is the quintessential Florida dream come true, and they often flock first to waterfront living on one of Sarasota’s barrier islands, or keys, as we call them.
Longboat Key is a manicured, 12-mile stretch of Gulf-to-bay living. The south end is dominated by the multimillion-dollar homes and luxury condominiums behind the gates of the Longboat Key Club; the north end is home to an eclectic collection of bungalows and beach cottages known as Longbeach Village. Beyond its beaches, Longboat’s attractions include golf, tennis, good restaurants, protected boating water for residents on the bayside, and a popular walking-biking trail that runs the island’s length.
Lido Key is known for its broad public beach and its proximity to the posh shops and restaurants of St. Armands Circle. On Lido, newer luxury beachfront condo towers like The Ritz-Carlton Beach Club and Orchid Beach Club mix with ’70s-era low-rise condominiums and a smattering of single-family beach homes.
Siesta Key has white sand beaches, and is the most family-oriented of the keys. Housing choices range from Florida ranch-style and mid-century modern homes to Med Rev mansions. The heart of Siesta Key is the Village, with its outdoor bars and restaurants, eclectic shops and ice cream stands.
Further south are Casey and Manasota Keys. Here, you’ll find some of the region’s largest and most opulent Gulf-to-bay estates. Life quietly revolves around the beaches and waterways, but there are cultural amenities, too. A short drive to the mainland is Historic Spanish Point, originally part of the Bertha Palmer estate (yes, that Palmer, of Chicago’s famed Palmer House Hotel). And the Hermitage Artist Retreat brings top visual artists, composers and writers to its historic beachfront campus on Manasota Key, many of whom give free beach readings and open studio tours.