Sarasota and the Gulf Coast

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Florida Guide > Other Florida

Sarasota and the Gulf Coast

We recently spent a day exploring Sarasota and the Gulf coast. This is a rough itinerary of our day and should give you an idea of what''s around.

Sarasota, situated on the West Coast of Florida, is about a two hour drive from Orlando. Take the I-4 West to the junction with the I-75. Take the I-75 South to exit 210 and follow the signs to downtown and the tourist information. It''s worth stopping by the tourist info building, if only to get some local maps and leaflets on things to do.

One of the main attractions in Sarasota is the Ringling Museum of Art, the Ringlings'' Ca d''Zan Mansion and the Circus Museum. We decided to save these for our next trip and instead headed over the causeway to St.Armands Circle. This is a very pleasant shopping and eating area, split into four quadrants around a circle. We actually had the best meal of our vacation here at the Columbia Restaurant. Take a stroll around the boutique shops and then venture further beyond the circle and down some of the side roads to see some very impressive properties!

From St. Armands, you can pay a visit to the Pelican Man''s Bird Sanctuary. We headed North along the keys as far as Anna Maria Island. From here, we headed West on the 64 and stopped in on the De Soto National Memorial where you can learn all about Hernando De Sotos'' disastrous expedition in 1539, before continuing on to head North on the 41 and then taking the I-275 (toll payable here!) and hopping over to St. Petersburg.

We drove up the coast road to Redington Beach, parked by the pier and took a leisurely stroll along the beach, seeing Pelicans skimming the water and a Blue Heron out for a stroll. We stopped at a tiki bar for some liquid refreshment. It was actually so pleasant that we followed it up with a meal whilst watching the sun set behind the pier (all very romantic) and then wandering back to the car for the drive home. Returning to Orlando took about an hour and a half via the I-275 and then the I-4 all the way back from Tampa.

This was a really nice day out and makes a change from the hustle and bustle of outlet shopping and theme parks. There is so much to do in the area from museums and shopping to canoeing and fishing just to name a few. We are already looking forward to our next trip and seeing some more of what the gulf coast has to offer.

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