Visiting Sarasota with the family

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Families looking for a laidback yet culturally rich Florida experience should be hot footing it to Sarasota and her string of eight islands tucked into the Gulf coast of Southwest Florida, 60 miles south of Tampa.

Known as the epicentre of culture on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Sarasota County is home to the Sarasota Ballet and the Sarasota Opera which runs a three-week Youth Opera Summer Camp in June. You’ll also find writers such as Stephen King living on sleepy Casey Key and fashion icon Michael Kors building a house here.

Top of the list for any family interested in the performing arts is a visit to The Ringling’s Circus Museum. Famously known as the historical winter home for the Ringling Bros. Circus, families will be bowled over by the epic model of The Howard Bros. old fashioned travelling circus with every last backstage detail revealed from practicing tight rope walkers to feeding the elephants. Kids will love the interactive area where they can sit in a clown car and pose on the back of a horse.

The immaculate grounds are home to a playground, palatial Venetian style mansion by the water and extensive art collections.

Another must is the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens where children can learn all about epiphytes – organisms that grow on other plants such as orchids, bromeliads and Spanish moss. Kids will adore the rainforest waterfall, treetop camp and mighty banyan tree which encourages them to embrace and care for nature.

Other great family attractions

Siesta Key

  • Siesta Key is well worth a visit for its superb beach.
  • Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium and Sarasota Jungle Gardens.
  • Venice is also renowned as one of America’s ‘Happiest Seaside Towns’. Head to Venice Farmers Market on a Saturday morning to buy everything from cool fossilised sharks teeth to delicious local cashew nut butter.
  • Historic Spanish Point is a great day out for families covering an epic 5,000 years of history from early Floridians to industrious 19th century citrus exporters, not to mention jungle walks and butterfly gardens.
  • Two state parks, Myakka River State Park and Oscar Scherer State Park provide miles of hiking and biking trails as well as diverse wildlife sightings, guided nature tours and camping.

Stay at the Longboat Key Club from £196 per night for a Junior Suite (sleeps 4), 

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