Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

January 2010: Florida Gulf Coast


The small city of Sarasota lies on Florida's Gulf Coast, between Fort Myers and the Tampa area. The Tamiami Trail, the original Tampa-Miami highway and a road that has previously cropped up in these pages, passes right through it. A number of islands lie close by, mostly linked to the mainland and each other by a network of causeways and bridges. For example, there are St Armand's Key (famous for its shopping), Lido Key and Longboat Key (well known for their resorts and beaches). The thing that really makes Sarasota stand out in this traveller's eyes, however, is the way that it has embraced the arts. Although home to a population of only 50,000 or thereabouts, the city has several theatres and an opera house, and even boasts its own resident symphony orchestra. Most remarkable of all, however, is the Ringling museum complex - an attraction so outstanding that I have given it a section of its own (see below). 

Not exactly in the same league as the Art Museum, but very close by it, is a small vintage car museum. Of particular interest are a number of British vehicles associated with The Beatles.

The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art

John Ringling (1866-1936) made his fortune from a string of business interests, but most notably from his travelling circus empire. He and his wife Mable made their winter home in Sarasota, at a custom-built Venetian mansion known as Cà d'Zan ("House of John" in Venetian dialect). As their bank balances grew, they amassed one of the most impressive private art collections in the world. John Ringling left the mansion, the museum and the entire art collection to the State of Florida on his death. Today, the facility makes for an outstanding attraction that can easily take up a full day. The art museum, house and gardens are all impressive in their own right, while the extensive collection of circus memorabilia - including a giant model circus - adds a more quirky side to things.

Grounds & Circus Museum

Cà d'Zan

Art Museum

St Petersburg

Not to be confused with its more celebrated namesake in Russia, St Petersburg FL, much better known as St Pete, is a Gulf resort close to Tampa. By this stage of my trip, the arctic air mass covering most of North America had sunk as far south as Central Florida, making for less than ideal holiday conditions!

Based in:

Hilton Longboat Key Beachfront Resort

Hilton St Petersburg Bayfront

Linked reports from same trip :-

Flight Log: LX64

Miami Beach

Flight Log: UA922