April, 2015 – Sarasota, Florida, is a oceanfront city, and The Ringling is an exquisite spot to enjoy Sarasota’s shores. During our stay, we soon discovered that this pretty city has lots of other wonderful public places on the waterfront, too.
Centennial Park is an older waterfront park, but the views across the water of the city skyline are lovely.
At one end of Centennial Park, the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall backs right up to the shoreline, and it has a deck where we were told theater goers can enjoy a snack with a view at intermission. How fun!
Sarasota is perhaps most famous for its divine sugar sand beach called Siesta Beach. I don’t know if I was more enchanted by the powdery soft sand or the vivid colors of the beach umbrellas and the turquoise water — it was all gorgeous.
We learned that Siesta Beach was rated the #1 beach in America in 2011, and there are lots of proud “#1 Beach” signs all around town. Interestingly, Siesta Beach was followed closely by Coronado Beach in San Diego…another beauty!
Marina Jack is the downtown waterfront area in Sarasota, and we were surprised to find another connection to San Diego when we saw the enormous sculpture “Unconditional Surrender.” We discovered that both sculptures were created by artist Seward Johnson and that the one in Sarasota was constructed first, back in 2005!.
Marina Jack is a large marina with lots of boats of all sizes. Next to it there’s a lovely little walking path that goes around a peninsula called the Marina Jack Trail.
A little dinghy pulled up on shore made a perfect photo op. We took turns with some other people getting portraits of each other perched on the dink with pretty Sarasota Bay in the background.
A few streets back from the waterfront we enjoyed a wonderful farmer’s market one Saturday morning. This was a sizable market with lots of fresh and beautiful veggies and other goodies.
On another day we drove a little south of Sarasota to Venice where we found yet another wonderful beach. Of course this whole coast is loaded with great beaches, but when we got to Venice Beach it seemed like the population of the whole coast had decided to join us there! And how funny to find another California connection in the name “Venice Beach.”
The beach in Venice has some unique picnic areas that are built into wooden walkways so you are slightly elevated above the vegetation. We hadn’t brought a picnic, but many of these little picnic spots were in use by knowledgeable locals who had staked them out for the day.
The Venice Fishing Pier extends well out into the ocean and is popular with fishermen.
It’s also a great vantage point for getting a look at this super popular beach. On one side of the pier the beach was overflowing with crowds of sun worshippers.
Due to construction going on at the pier, looking over the rail at the stretch of beach on the other side, we saw crowds of another sort…
Sarasota has freshwater waterfronts too. Payne Park is a tiny downtown city park with some small man-made ponds that have lovely water lilies and a lively collection of unusual birds floating around.
A few miles east of there, the Celery Fields park has some wonderful fresh water birding habitats for long legged herons and egrets.
Sandhill cranes are very common in Sarasota (as we found out when we saw some adorable hatchlings) and they are much beloved by birding enthusiasts. Someone had even built them a park bench to sit on, although we didn’t see any sandhill cranes using it.
The purple martin boxes were definitely getting lots of use, however, and we watched a pair of them hanging out on their front stoop.
Nearby, a little ground squirrel had grabbed a discarded piece of bread and he’d run away with it to the safety of a tree branch.
There are dozens more waterfront spots and there’s lots more wildlife to be seen in and around Sarasota, but these are a few of the glimpses we got during our visit there…
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More info about Sarasota, Florida:
- Marina Jack in Sarasota Florida – The marina and waterfront walking trail in downtown Sarasota
- Sarasota Farmer’s Market – Held downtown every Saturday
- Centennial Park – A city park on the bay near the Van Wezel
- Celery Fields Park – A great place for bird watching and photography
- Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall – See the Russian ballet, Yo-Yo Ma or Ringo Starr right on the bay
More Posts from Sarasota, Florida:
- Jungle Gardens in Sarasota Florida – It’s for the Birds! 05/06/15
- The Tube Dude – Spreading Good Cheer in Sarasota, Florida 05/03/15
- The Ringling – The Art of the Circus in Sarasota, Florida 04/27/15
- Sunny Side Up – Baby Sandhill Cranes Hatch in Sarasota FL 04/01/15