Known as Florida’s Cultural Coast, Sarasota County is rich in arts, theater, and cultural, attractions. You’ll find a variety of museums, top art galleries, and performing arts venues in abundance as well as independent art studios, sculpture gardens, and more.
Here are 5 Places to Experience Arts and Culture in Sarasota
1. Architecture Tours in Sarasota
Whether you’re a first-time visitor to Sarasota, a regular snowbird, or a permanent resident, you will appreciate the diverse architecture that graces the city. If you’re new to the area or a first time visitor, join Harold Bubil on the Sarasota Architecture Trolley Tour he leads for the Center for Architecture Sarasota. As the former real estate editor for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Bubil is more knowledgeable than most about the area’s fine buildings.
From 1920s Spanish Mediterranean Revival style homes to the neo-modern structure housing the Richard and Barbara Basch Visual Arts Center at Ringling College of Art and Design, there’s something to thrill every architectural taste. Other tour highlights include St Paul Lutheran Church with its wavy roofline and Victor Lundy’s pagoda-like building with its blue ceramic roof that is currently the home of the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization.
2. The Asolo Repertory Theatre
Founded in 1960 in a historic building adjoining The Ringling Estate, the Asolo Rep. is one of the largest and most successful non-profit theaters of its kind. It has been the springboard for many successful Broadway actors who have attended the Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training. The on-going program covers a diversity of interests from family-friendly circus spectaculars to musician showcases and Shakespearean screenings.
3. The Ringling Museum
Once the personal art collection of circus owner John Ringling, The Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota is now the State Art Museum of Florida. The purpose-built Renaissance-style building is part of the magnificent Ringling Estate. From the Grand Courtyard with its classical statues to the paneled room of the Astor Mansion in New York, this world-class collection of artworks, sculptures, decorative arts, and medieval objects is a must-see for any cultural visitor.
Tour the new Center for Asian Art along with the Monda Gallery of Contemporary Art and 21 original galleries showcasing the works of many famous Old Masters including Rubens, Boudin, Salvator Rosa, and Tintoretto. Informative guided tours are also available. Insiders Tip: admission is always free on Mondays!
4. Sarasota Opera
Home to the professional Sarasota Opera, the Opera House is the venue for a broad range of musical performances. Its main claim to fame is the unrivaled 28-year run of the complete works of Verdi, including the acclaimed La Traviata.
With perfect acoustics, the Sarasota Opera House brings drama, love, heroes and heroines to Southwest Florida, courtesy of the operatic stage. Past performances include Carmen, Bellini’s tragic love story Norma, and Puccini’s Manon Lescaut.
5. Towles Court Artist Colony
One final treat for visitors enjoying Sarasota’s cultural heritage is the Towles Court Artist Colony in downtown Sarasota. Bungalows and historic cottages accommodate an eclectic collection of independent galleries, studios, cafés and sculpture gardens. This peaceful community is a colorful spot to wander and browse in the shade of the mossy live oaks.
Visit between 5 and 9 p.m. on the third Friday of each month and take part in the Towels Court Art Walk with live music. You’ll find handmade jewelry, photography, ceramics, and artworks that make fabulous gifts or memorable souvenirs. You can even commission your own bespoke artwork direct from the artist.
Sarasota, Florida offers a diverse collection of cultural attractions as well as white-sand beaches, championship golf, and world-class shopping and dining. Explore all there is to do in and around Sarasota here!