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Why Fly to Sarasota?
Located between Tampa Bay and Fort Myers, Sarasota boasts one of the most vibrant arts communities in Florida. The town of about 52,000 is also known for its excellent culinary scene, unique assortment of boutiques and beautiful waterfront. In particular, the city's several keys, which include Bird Key, Lido Key and St. Armands Key, are known for their sandy beaches, which become tourist hotspots during the popular summer months. Sarasota has no shortage of major arts attractions and institutions to keep visitors entertained. Highlights include the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art includes works by such luminaries as El Greco, Titian and Rubens. In total, the expansive complex houses 21 separate galleries. The Museum of Asian Art contains an extensive collection of 19th-century photographs that provides a historical record of Asian culture at that time. Visitors can also check out a performance at the city's famed Historic Asolo Theater. The performance venue dates back to the 18th century, when it was built in Asolo, Italy. It was moved to its current location in the 1940s and has served as a major community theater ever since. If you want to explore the natural landscape of Sarasota, head to the coast. Here, you'll find Siesta Key Beach, which draws thousands of tourists every year because of its pure crystal quartz sands. Popular beach activities include volleyball, cookouts and swimming. Outside the city, travelers can explore the 100,000-acre Great World Way. This giant swath of wilderness features a 66-mile long river and hundreds of miles of trails. Restaurants and bars are abundant throughout the area. As for accommodations, you can find luxury Sarasota hotels along many of Sarasota's picturesque keys. For affordable flights, use Travelzoo's SuperSearch.
Which Airlines Fly to Sarasota?
The Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) serves the Sarasota area. Several major carriers provide service to the small facility. You can compare discount airfare from Atlanta on AirTran Airways and Delta. Or search for plane tickets from New York on JetBlue Airways. Meanwhile, you can find flights from Washington, D.C., and Charlotte on US Airways.
Popular Sarasota Flight Routes
Sarasota Flight Tips
Alternatively, you can compare plane tickets to several nearby airports. Find cheap flights to Tampa, located only an hour away from Sarasota. The Tampa International Airport (TPA) is served by many national carriers, including AirTran Airways, American Airlines, Continental, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, United and US Airways. Or search for flights to St. Petersburg, which is only 45 minutes away. You can also buy airfare to Fort Myers, which is only about 75 miles south of Sarasota.
Quick Travel Guide to Sarasota
One of Sarasota's greatest sites is its range of architectural gems. The city is home to numerous aesthetically significant buildings. Prime examples include the old Terrace Hotel, which was built by city developer and circus mogul Charles Ringling. The adjacent courthouse is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Federal Building, designed by George Albee Freeman and Louis A. Simon, has been restored in recent times. There is also a strip of historic luxury homes from the 1920s along the northern shore of Sarasota Bay.
The Ringling Brothers played a major role in the development of the city, which is why their names can be found throughout town, from museums to boulevards. The Ringling Estate, which recently underwent an extensive restoration, occupies 66 acres and includes manicured landscapes, a rose garden and Ca d'Zan, the Italian-inspired former residence of John and Mable Ringling. The estate's Visitor's Pavilion is the home of the restored Asolo Theater, while the John and Mable Ringling Museum of art houses the couple's extension collection of fine art.
The brothers have also left their mark via the Circus Museum. This unique institution has the distinction of being the first museum of its kind to document the history of the circus. Visitors can view its collection of rare handbills, posters and print art. Exotic wardrobes and performing props are on display as well. Inside the Circus Museum's Tibbals Learning Center, guests can view a replica of the early 20th century Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus complete with miniature tents, wagons, workers, performers, animals and train cars.
For an outdoor adventure, head to Historic Spanish Point. Located just south of the city along the Gulf Coast, this 30-acre educational reserve highlights the area's natural history. Here, visitors can learn about the Florida environment, archeology and early inhabitants. As for beaches, head to nearby Siesta Key for some of the best beaches in Florida. Or sunbathe along the miles of waterfront that stretch across the narrow Longboat Key. Other popular beaches include Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach, both of which are easily accessible from the mainland.
If you're looking to shop, head to downtown Sarasota to historic Palm Avenue. Located one block from the bay, this strip features a number of interesting galleries, restaurants, antique stores and specialty shops. On the first Friday of each month, the area comes alive with gallery openings, live music and refreshments.