Surprising Facts About Sarasota

Whether you live in Sarasota or are just visiting, we have some fun facts to share about this beautiful city in Southwest Florida. See how many of these surprising facts about Sarasota you already know. We bet you’ll learn something fun and new!

Whether you live in Sarasota or are just visiting, we have some fun facts to share about this beautiful city in Southwest Florida. | Photo by Charlie White. Must Do Visitor Guides, MustDo.com

Photo credit Charlie White

    • Money magazine called Sarasota “the best small city in the US”.
    • Did you know that Sarasota is the only place in the world where you can walk through the treetops of a subtropical forest? Myakka Canopy Walkway is an 85-foot long boardwalk which is 25 feet above the ground. It allows visitors to spot wildlife and birds from this elevated position.

      The city of Sarasota has several nicknames including “Circus City” as a nod to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circuses that used the city as their winter headquarters. | Photo credit Debi Pittman Wilkey. Must Do Visitor Guides, MustDo.com

      Photo credit Debi Pittman Wilkey

    • The city of Sarasota has several nicknames including “Circus City” as a nod to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circuses that used the city as their winter headquarters.
      The city of Sarasota has several nicknames including “Circus City” as a nod to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circuses that used the city as their winter headquarters. | Photo credit Debi Pittman Wilkey. Must Do Visitor Guides, MustDo.com

      Photo credit Debi Pittman Wilkey

      Circus costumes on display at The Circus Museum at The Ringling in Sarasota, Florida. Photo by Nita Ettinger. Must Do Visitor Guides, MustDo.com

      Photo credit Nita Ettinger

    • Sarasota has its own Artist Colony at Towles Court near downtown. An area of galleries, art studios, restaurants and gift shops, this delightful area of Old Florida hosts the Third Friday Art Walks.
    • Sarasota has its own official type of period architecture known as Sarasota Modern. It embraces the iconic architecture by Paul Rudolph who was an influencer of mid-20th century design.
      McCalls Magazine 1953 article with photos by Ezra Stoller. Sarasota has its own official type of period architecture known as Sarasota Modern. It embraces the iconic architecture by Paul Rudolph who was an influencer of mid-20th century design. | MustDo.com

      McCalls Magazine 1953 article with photos by Ezra Stoller

      Sarasota has its own official type of period architecture known as Sarasota Modern. It embraces the iconic architecture by Paul Rudolph who was an influencer of mid-20th century design. Sarasota High School By Paul Rudolph. | MustDo.com

      Sarasota High School By Paul Rudolph

      Sarasota has its own official type of period architecture known as Sarasota Modern. It embraces the iconic architecture by Paul Rudolph who was an influencer of mid-20th century design. Umbrella House (Hiss Residence), Lido Shores, Sarasota, FL, 1953-1954.

      Umbrella House (Hiss Residence), Lido Shores, Sarasota, FL, 1953-1954

    • Incorporated in 1902, Sarasota’s history dates back to prehistoric times. Spanish Point is the site of a 15-foot high shell midden dating back over 1000 years. The area was the first site in Sarasota County to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
    • The Myakka River which is located within Myakka River State Park is a recreational resource which provides 58 miles of water for canoeing, kayaking, and fishing.
    • Do you know who Mary Thaxton is? Her name was given to the Memorial Preserve next to Oscar Sherer Buffer Park. She was the mother of John Thaxton, the County Commissioner responsible for bringing the conservation park into being.
    • The name “Sarasota” is derived from the 1700s map name of Zara Zota which means “a place of dancing”.
    • Burns Court Cinema often hosts films by the Sarasota Film Society. Nestled in the heart of downtown Sarasota this local landmark takes its name from its Burns Lane location. It opened as a cinema in 1993 and is hard to miss with its raspberry painted façade. It is the best place to enjoy screenings of foreign movies and art films.
    • The original creator of Barbie doll wardrobes was Mae Hansen Prodie, owner of the Mae Marie Company and the second owner of the historic Edson Keith Mansion in the Phillippi Estate Park in Sarasota.

    • Guess how many tourists come to Sarasota every year. One million? 2 million? Actually, the answer is over 4 million visitors enjoying our beaches, sunshine, golf, and shopping!

      In 1885, Sarasota was a mecca for Scottish settlers. They arrived expecting a thriving tropical town but at that time Sarasota was a simple community with no streets or shops! Some hardy Scots decided to stay and built Sarasota’s first golf course in 1886.

      Shutterstock

    • In 1885, Sarasota was a mecca for Scottish settlers. They arrived expecting a thriving tropical town but at that time Sarasota was a simple community with no streets or shops! Some hardy Scots decided to stay and built Sarasota’s first golf course in 1886. The DeSoto Hotel opened in 1887 and the first newspaper was published in 1899.
      In 1885, Sarasota was a mecca for Scottish settlers. They arrived expecting a thriving tropical town but at that time Sarasota was a simple community with no streets or shops! Some hardy Scots decided to stay and built Sarasota’s first golf course in 1886 - Bobby Jones Golf Club.

      Photo courtesy Bobby Jones Golf Club

      In 1885, Sarasota was a mecca for Scottish settlers. They arrived expecting a thriving tropical town but at that time Sarasota was a simple community with no streets or shops! Some hardy Scots decided to stay and built Sarasota’s first golf course in 1886 - Bobby Jones Golf Club.

      Photo credit Nita Ettinger

    • Love to dine out? Sarasota has a higher concentration of Zagat-rated restaurants than any other city in Florida. Look for the Zagat symbol and you know that you’ll be getting a quality meal at a fair price.
      Many people know that Siesta Key Beach is considered one of the top beaches in the US, but did you know that altogether Sarasota County has 13 public beaches and 35 miles of soft white sand?

      Photo credit Nita Ettinger

      White sand beach at Siesta Beach, on Siesta Key in Sarasota, Florida USA. Must Do Visitor Guides, MustDo.com, Photo by Nita Ettinger

      Siesta Key Beach, Photo credit Nita Ettinger

    • Many people know that Siesta Key Beach is considered one of the top beaches in the US, but did you know that altogether Sarasota County has 13 public beaches and 35 miles of soft white sand?
      Lido Beach in Sarasota, Florida. Photo by Nita Ettinger. Must Do Visitor Guides, MustDo.com

      Lido Key Beach, Photo credit Nita Ettinger

      White sand beach and blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Southwest Florida USA. Photo by Nita Ettinger | Must Do Visitor Guides, MustDo.com

      Longboat Key Beaches, Photo credit Nita Ettinger

    • Golf is a top attraction in Sarasota. There are over 1,000 public, private and semi-private golf courses to choose from in Sarasota County!

      Surprising Sarasota, Florida Facts | Must Do Visitor Guides, MustDo.com

      Photo credit Nita Ettinger

    Now you know even more about beautiful Sarasota, its history and its attractions!

    Discover more things to do on your visit to the Sarasota, Florida area at MustDo.com!

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Nita Ettinger is the co-publisher for Siesta Publications and the Editor in Chief for Must Do Visitor Guides. Must Do Visitor Guides provides Southwest Florida visitor information through printed publications and the website MustDo.com. Must Do Visitor Guides are published bi-annually and are available at no cost in Sarasota, Lee, and Collier County chambers of commerce, visitor information centers, select Southwest Florida hotels, and wherever free publications are found.

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