A few miles south, Venice’s historic downtown district boasts streets lined with towering palms, elegant plazas, cobblestone paths, art and antique galleries, sidewalk cafes, and chic boutiques. The Venice Symphony performs orchestral, pops, and chamber concerts and Venice Theatre offers award-winning main-stage and cabaret productions. Venice’s Sharks Tooth Festival offers art and jewelry by more than 100 artists from around Florida, as well as live entertainment, displays of prehistoric fossils, area cuisine, and plenty of fun for kids. And, speaking of sharks, Venice Municipal Beach is a shark tooth hunter’s paradise. Divers love to investigate the coral reef, just a quarter mile offshore.
Casey Key is a hop, skip, and a jump from all of the attractions and amenities that make our area so special. St. Armand’s Circle, with its outdoor cafes, award-winning eateries, stylish nightclubs, and boutiques, is also just down the road. And Siesta Key, with its pristine, award-winning white beaches stretching for miles alongside the sparkling turquoise Gulf waters, and eclectic mix of shops and restaurants, is a quick 10-minute drive. We’re just a short drive from downtown Sarasota’s dynamic mix of distinctive restaurants, boutiques and galleries, movie theaters, and performing arts spaces. Downtown’s Towles Court Artist Colony comprises more than 30 artists’ studios and galleries in restored 1920s bungalows, features a free art walk on the third Friday of every month. Drink in the view of the downtown skyline and Sarasota Bay at Sarasota’s Bayfront Park where there are expansive lawns to spread picnics on and a delightful fountain for kids to splash in. Fishing, sight-seeing and dinner cruises depart daily from the bustling marina. Stroll across Gulfstream Boulevard to enjoy drinks, dancing, and live music at The Ritz-Carlton’s ritzy Ca d’Zan Bar, named after circus magnate John Ringling’s mansion.
Historic Spanish Point is a 30-acre environmental, archaeological, and historic site just down the way from The Oaks Club. This land, once owned by Mrs. Potter Palmer, harbors the only museum exhibition in the world built inside of a prehistoric shell mound. Pioneer-era buildings connect visitors to a more recent time, and Mrs. Palmer’s colorful gardens delight the senses. The area’s largest Butterfly Garden is a destination for nature lovers, trails wander through native coastal habitats, and a boardwalk affords stunning views of Little Sarasota Bay. The Legacy Trail, which stretches 10 miles from Sarasota to Venice, offers the ideal opportunity to explore the area’s natural habitats. Walking, rollerblading, and bicycling on this winding path are just some of the ways you can appreciate our natural legacy. Even better? You can easily ride your bike to the trail from The Oaks Club!
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens sits on 13 acres of Sarasota Bay and maintains more than 20,000 accessioned plants. Eight greenhouses include the stunning conservatory where unusual flora can be seen year-round, and the elegant, historic mansion features ongoing nature exhibitions. Selby Gardens offers yearlong classes, workshops, and other educational programs.
The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is Sarasota’s crown jewel. Resting on a beautifully-landscaped, 66-acre bayfront estate, it boasts one of the world’s most extensive collections of Baroque art, John Ringling’s exquisite mansion, two circus museums, and a jewel-box of a theater, the Historic Asolo Theater. The museum offers social get-togethers, educational programs, festivals, a film series, and performances throughout the year.
The acclaimed Mote Marine Laboratory is one of the world’s few remaining private marine research laboratories. It also features a public aquarium that allows visitors to explore the secrets of the sea through touch pools, viewable-working labs, and high-tech interactive exhibits that showcase sharks, dolphins, manatees, and sea turtles, along with more than 100 other species of marine life. Parents and grandparents will enjoy the wealth of children-friendly programs, camps, and workshops.
The shoreline of Little Sarasota Bay includes mangroves, beach elder, and sea myrtle growing in profusion. Inland, stately oaks and exotic palms of many varieties create a rich and colorful canopy. South Sarasota Bay still sparkles and teems with fish as it did in Mrs. Potter Palmer’s day. Our corner of paradise has not been lost.