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Sarasota, Florida

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Sarasota, Florida was recently ranked the number one place in America to retire by the TopRetirements.com website. It's not hard to see why, with its pleasant weather and low cost of living. But what many might not realize is that Sarasota has a distinct cosmopolitan feel with a thriving arts and cultural community.

Visitors windows shop on Main Street in Downtown Sarasota.
Visitors windows shop on Main Street in Downtown Sarasota.

Sarasota's downtown has a large number of high-rise office and residential buildings giving the area a distinct and impressive skyline. But unlike many other downtowns, Sarasota's is not only very walkable but has a charming small town feel.

Development in Sarasota never really took off until the early twentieth century when Florida began to be seen as a playground for the rich and a way to avoid the harsh winters up north. Many wealthy people settled in Sarasota or built residences there. One such person was John Ringling, the circus magnate. Ringling was a patron of the arts and many of the works he owned can be found today in the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Ringling's influence helped make Sarasota the cultural capital it is and led the area around it to be known as the Cultural Coast. Much of this influence is still felt in the city today, especially with its numerous museums and performing arts venues.

The center of Downtown Sarasota is known as Five Points and it's at the intersection of Main Street, Pineapple Avenue, and Central Avenue. Most shops, restaurants and other businesses can be found along Main Street, Palm Avenue, and First Street. There is a wide selection of restaurants and cafes. Many of the shops cater to the wealthy residents and snowbirds and sell high-end fashion, art, and home decor.

Palm Avenue, which intersects Main Street, is home to many art galleries and luxuriant antique stores. First Street, which runs parallel to Main Street just one block north, features a redeveloped block between Lemon and Central with new high rise condos and posh boutiques on the ground floor. Main Street itself actually continues east for a couple of miles, but the area with the most shops and restaurants is between Gulf Stream to the west and Orange Avenue to the east.

Originally, a lot of thought went into the planning of the town in the 1920s with roads running along Sarasota Bay before transitioning to a grid further east. Unfortunately, in the 1960s, a major highway, Tamiami Trail was rerouted along the Bay and became Bayfront Drive. This highway separates the waterfront from the more walkable downtown area and can be dangerous to cross. There have been some talk of redeveloping the area to make the highway less dangerous and more walkable, including adding roundabouts to help slow traffic.

High-rise condos overlook Main Street in Downtown Sarasota.
High-rise condos overlook Main Street in Downtown Sarasota.

Also in the city of Sarasota is the St. Armands Circle area, which has its own listing on our site. The two areas each have a different feel. St. Armands Circle is closer to the beach and has more tourists. Meanwhile Downtown Sarasota's atmosphere is reflected by the fact that it's the area's central business district. Also Downtown Sarasota tends to be quieter in the summer time when there are fewer vacationers and snowbirds.

There is a small rivalry between the two areas. One example is parking. Downtown Sarasota had parking meters for a short time while St. Armands Circle did not, which many business owners in Downtown Sarasota considered to be unfair since it gave St. Armands Circle an unfair advantage. Fortunately, the meters have since been removed. Either way, a full trip to Sarasota would not be complete without a visit to both areas.

Retail Hours

Most stores are open Monday through Saturday, but many are closed on Sundays and a few are closed on Mondays. Also most stores close by dinner time. Due to the large amount of restaurants and taverns, Downtown Sarasota does have a vibrant nightlife. There is a push to get more businesses to stay open later on Friday nights.

Parking

There is plenty of free on-street parking in Downtown Sarasota. Fortunately, meters have recently been removed. But it's important to pay attention to the signs. Some areas are limited to two hour parking between 9 and 6, Monday through Friday.

If you like this page, please check out the Main Streets we have listed in the states below!

Restrooms

Trees provide shade and an appealing aesthetic along Main Street in Downtown Sarasota.
Trees provide shade and an appealing aesthetic along Main Street in Downtown Sarasota.

There are no public restrooms in Downtown Sarasota, but restrooms are provided to customers at the Whole Foods at the intersection of First Street and North Lemon Avenue, just one block north of Main Street.

Attractions

Sarasota is packed with attractions, including numerous museums and artistic venues. Most of these though will require a short drive from Downtown Sarasota. Within walking distance though you have the Sarasota Opera House (61 North Pineapple Avenue, 941-328-1300), home to the internationally known Sarasota Opera company.

Also, Selby Five Points Park is a clean and well maintained park in the heart of Downtown.

Events

The annual Downtown Sarasota Festival of the Arts is held every year in February. It's considered one of the best and largest in the area and spans Main Street from Five Points to Orange Avenue. There is also a Downtown Sarasota Art and Craft Festival, which is held every March.

The Downtown Sarasota Alliance features a First Friday event for the Main Street area of Downtown Sarasota on the first Friday of each month. Recently this has been expanded and there is an event on the second Friday of each month at nearby Burns Square and an event on the third Friday of each month at nearby Towles Square. The initiative is called Live from Downtown it's Friday Nights!

Location

Downtown Sarasota is located in the heart of the City of Sarasota located in Sarasota County in the state of Florida. It is located on Florida's Cultural Coast on the west coast of Florida near the Gulf of Mexico. Sarasota is about 60 miles south of Tampa and about 40 miles south of St. Petersburg. From Interstate 75 you can take Fruitville Road and this will get you almost all the way to downtown. Or you can head south on U.S. 41, which is Tamiami Trail. This will turn into Bayfront Drive close to the heart of Downtown. If you set your GPS for the Five Points area, which is the intersection of Main Street, Central Avenue, and Pineapple Avenue, this will take you to the heart of Downtown Sarasota. Be careful though because there is a different town in Florida called Five Points that is no where near Sarasota.

External Links

www.downtownsarasota.com
www.visitsarasota.org/downtown
www.dsasarasota.com
www.palmavenue.org

Photo Gallery

A small town feel mixes with high rise buildings in Downtown Sarasota.
A small town feel mixes with high rise buildings in Downtown Sarasota.
Plenty of parking can be found along Main Street in Downtown Sarasota.
Plenty of parking can be found along Main Street in Downtown Sarasota.
Things are little quieter on the far eastern edge of Main Street.
Things are little quieter on the far eastern edge of Main Street.
Sidewalk cafes share space with the shops and shady oaks along Main Street.
Sidewalk cafes share space with the shops and shady oaks along Main Street.
High-rise condos overlook Main Street in Downtown Sarasota.
High-rise condos overlook Main Street in Downtown Sarasota.
The mix of high-rise buildings and small boutiques help give Sarasota its cosmopolitan flavor.
The mix of high-rise buildings and small boutiques help give Sarasota its cosmopolitan flavor.
The roundabout at Five Points marks the center of Downtown Sarasota at the intersection of Main Street, Pineapple Avenue, and Central Avenue.
The roundabout at Five Points marks the center of Downtown Sarasota at the intersection of Main Street, Pineapple Avenue, and Central Avenue.
The Kress Department Store building is a fine example of Art Deco architecture.
The Kress Department Store building is a fine example of Art Deco architecture.
A wide array of architecture can be found along Main Street in Downtown Sarasota.
A wide array of architecture can be found along Main Street in Downtown Sarasota.
New condos and shops are springing up on First Street in Downtown Sarasota.
New condos and shops are springing up on First Street in Downtown Sarasota.
Selby Five Points Park is a quiet oasis in Downtown Sarasota.
Selby Five Points Park is a quiet oasis in Downtown Sarasota.
South Palm Avenue is home to many high-end art galleries and boutiques.
South Palm Avenue is home to many high-end art galleries and boutiques.
Shops and restaurants can also be found on Main Street west of Five Points in Downtown Sarasota.
Shops and restaurants can also be found on Main Street west of Five Points in Downtown Sarasota.
Unique public art is displayed on Bayfront Drive in Downtown Sarasota.
Unique public art is displayed on Bayfront Drive in Downtown Sarasota.
Bayfront Drive separates the heart of Downtown Sarasota from the waterfront.
Bayfront Drive separates the heart of Downtown Sarasota from the waterfront.
Sarasota's impressive skyline rises above the Sarasota Bay waterfront.
Sarasota's impressive skyline rises above the Sarasota Bay waterfront.
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Directory

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Accessories

Bohemian Bliss (1544 Main Street, 941-312-6983)
Brooks Brothers (1500 Main Street, 941-954-7545)
Eliett's on Palm (45 South Palm Avenue, 941-953-2999)
Evelyn & Arthur (1480 Main Street, 941-365-2210)
i tesori (1405 First Street, 941-907-9296)
Jackie Z Style Co. (1464 Main Street, 941-554-8335)
J. McLaughlin (1503 Main Street, 941-706-3587)
Juno & Jove (1425 First Street, 941-957-0000)
Lotus Boutique (1451 Main Street, 941-906-7080)
Martin Freeman (75 South Palm Avenue, 941-953-2948)
Patchington (1467 Main Street, 941-822-0844)

Antiques

Burke Antiques (12 South Palm Avenue, 941-952-0042)
Coco Palm Gallery Art & Antiques (1255 North Palm Avenue, 941-955-1122)
Marianne E. Designs (60 South Palm Avenue, 941-373-1260)

Apparel

Bohemian Bliss (1544 Main Street, 941-312-6983)
Brooks Brothers (1500 Main Street, 941-954-7545)
Eileen Fisher (1501 Main Street, 941-365-2435)
Eliett's on Palm (45 South Palm Avenue, 941-953-2999)
Encore! & More Consignment Shop (1439 Main Street, 941-953-4222)
Evelyn & Arthur (1480 Main Street, 941-365-2210)
Jackie Z Style Co. (1464 Main Street, 941-554-8335)
J. McLaughlin (1503 Main Street, 941-706-3587)
Juno & Jove (1425 First Street, 941-957-0000)
Lotus Boutique (1451 Main Street, 941-906-7080)
Martin Freeman (75 South Palm Avenue, 941-953-2948)
Patchington (1467 Main Street, 941-822-0844)
PJ's Boutique (1443 Main Street, 941-366-3900)
Swimwear Boutique (1415 First Street, 866-SWIMWEAR)

Bakeries

Pastry Art (1512 Main Street, 941-955-7545)

Books

A. Parker's Books and Book Bazaar (1488 Main Street, 941-366-2898)
Bookstore 1 Sarasota (1359 Main Street, 941-365-7900)

Bridal

La Mariee Haute Couture Bridal Boutique (80 South Palm Avenue, 941-955-1600)

Children's

Picobello Children's Store (1462 Main Street, 941-373-0495)

Coffee and Dessert

Coffee Carrousel (1644 Main Street, 941-365-2826)
Pastry Art (1512 Main Street, 941-955-7545)
Starbucks (1401 First Street, 941-955-0273)
Whiteberry (1473 Main Street, 941-365-5050)

Coins

A World Coin & Jewelry Exchange (1509 Main Street, 941-365-5415)

Dining

Azteca Mexican Restaurant (1551 Main Street, 941-917-0043)
Barnacle Bill's Seafood Restaurant (1526 Main Street, 941-365-6800)
Cafe Americano Casual Italian (1409 Main Street, 941-365-1026)
Cafe Amici Ristorante Italiano (1371 Main Street, 941-951-6896)
Cafe Epicure (1298 North Palm Avenue, 941-366-5648)
Cafe Palm (1341 Main Street, 941-914-9411)
Caragiulos Italian Restaurant (69 South Palm Avenue, 941-951-0866)
C'est La Vie (1553 Main Street, 941-906-9575)
Drunken Poet Cafe Thai Bistro and Sushi Bar (1572 Main Street, 941-955-8404)
Duval's New World Cafe (1435 Main Street, 941-312-4001)
El Greco Mediterranean Cafe (1592 Main Street, 941-365-2234)
First Watch (1395 Main Street, 941-954-1395)
Floribbean Restaurant & Lounge (1400 Main Street, 941-365-2266)
Maemi Peruvian Cuisine (1535 Main Street, 941-954-0454)
Melange (1568 Main Street, 941-953-7111)
Mozaic Restaurant (1377 Main Street, 941-951-6272)
Mozzarella Fella (1668 Main Street, 941-366-7600)
Patellini's New York Style Pizza (1429 Main Street, 941-957-6433)
Patricks 1481 (1481 Main Street, 941-955-1481)
Pho Cali Vietnamese Noodle House (1578 Main Street, 941-955-2683)
Salute! Restaurant (23 North Lemon Avenue, 941-365-1020)
Sangria Mediterranean Tapa Restaurant (1532 Main Street, 941-955-8272)
Sarasota Vineyard Bistro (1528 Main Street, 941-366-6363)
Selva Grill Nuevo Latino (1345 Main Street, 941-362-4427)
Smokin' Joe's (1448 Main Street, 941-366-9439)
The Sports Page Bar & Grille (1319 Main Street, 941-365-0460)
Tequila Cantina (1454 Main Street, 941-554-8586)
Tropical Thai (1420 Main Street, 941-364-5775)
Two Senioritas Famous Mexican Food (1355 Main Street, 941-366-1678)
Yume Sushi Restaurant (1537 Main Street, 941-363-0604)

Electronics

Encore Home Entertainment Systems (1477 Main Street, 941-906-8474)

Eyewear

Soto Optical Boutique (1383 Main Street, 941-953-3788)

Footwear

Brooks Brothers (1500 Main Street, 941-954-7545)
Eileen Fisher (1501 Main Street, 941-365-2435)
Jackie Z Style Co. (1464 Main Street, 941-554-8335)
Juno & Jove (1425 First Street, 941-957-0000)
Happy Feet Plus (1453 Main Street, 941-924-2536)
Patchington (1467 Main Street, 941-822-0844)
Reasons (20 North Lemon Avenue, 941-388-1602)
T.Georgiano's Shoe Salon (1409-B First Street, 941-870-3727)

Framing

Dabbert Gallery (76 South Palm Avenue, 941-955-1315)
Kennedy Studios (1472 Main Street, 941-952-0358)
William Hartman Gallery (48 South Palm Avenue, 941-955-4785)

Galleries

Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art (1288 North Palm Avenue, 941-366-2454)
Art Uptown Cooperative Gallery (1367 Main Street, 941-955-5409)
Burke Antiques (12 South Palm Avenue, 941-952-0042)
Dabbert Gallery (76 South Palm Avenue, 941-955-1315)
DiFilippo Kent (79 South Palm Avenue, 941-321-0564)
Galleria Silecchia (20 South Palm Avenue, 888-366-7414)
Hodgell Gallery (46 South Palm Avenue, 941-366-1146)
Kennedy Studios (1472 Main Street, 941-952-0358)
Palm Avenue Fine Art (10 South Palm Avenue, 941-388-7526)
Stakenborg Fine Art (1545 Main Street, 941-487-8001)
William Hartman Gallery (48 South Palm Avenue, 941-955-4785)

Gift Shops

ENVIE Home Decor (1411 1st Street, 941-366-7027)
i tesori (1405 First Street, 941-907-9296)
M. L. Gosling (43 South Palm Avenue, 941-366-2500)
Southeastern Guide Dogs Gift Shop (1618 Main Street, 941-953-2892)
Write-On Sarasota (1423 First Street, 941-953-2800)

Gourmet

Penzeys Spices (1516 Main Street, 941-388-7704)
Sur La Table (22 North Lemon Avenue, 941-365-0380)

Guns and Knives

The Bullet Hole Gun Shop (1576 Main Street, 941-957-1996)

Health and Beauty

Simply Spoiled Boutique (1471 Main Street, 941-364-3337)

Home Furnishings

Art To Walk On Fine Oriental Carpets (16 South Palm Avenue, 941-951-5454)
Black Bird Home Gallery (1540 Main Street, 941-366-0941)
Burke Antiques (12 South Palm Avenue, 941-952-0042)
Campbell Cabinetry Designs, Inc. (1531 Main Street, 941-378-3922)
Coco Palm Gallery Art & Antiques (1255 North Palm Avenue, 941-955-1122)
Coquillage (1515 Main Street, 941-487-7160)
DiFilippo Kent (79 South Palm Avenue, 941-321-0564)
ENVIE Home Decor (1411 First Street, 941-366-7027)
i tesori (1405 First Street, 941-907-9296)
Main Street Traders (1468 Main Street, 941-373-0475)
Marianne E. Designs (60 South Palm Avenue, 941-373-1260)
Mariposa Designs (51 South Palm Avenue, 941-366-9510)
Parker Robinson (1521 Main Street, 941-366-3343)
Posh on Palm (33 South Palm Avenue, 941-954-7674)

Jewelry

Burke Antiques (12 South Palm Avenue, 941-952-0042)
Dalia Koss (53-A South Palm Avenue, 941-504-6316)
Eliett's on Palm (45 South Palm Avenue, 941-953-2999)
ENVIE Home Decor (1411 1st Street, 941-366-7027)
Jackie Z Style Co. (1464 Main Street, 941-554-8335)
June Simmons Jewelry (68 South Palm Avenue, 941-388-4535)
The Golden Image - MK Designs (30 South Palm Avenue, 941-364-8439)
Mariposa Designs (51 South Palm Avenue, 941-366-9510)
Milan's Jewelry (1666 Main Street, 941-953-5871)
Posh on Palm (33 South Palm Avenue, 941-954-7674)
Shrode Jewelers (1433 Main Street, 941-365-4234)
A World Coin & Jewelry Exchange (1509 Main Street, 941-365-5415)

Markets

Artisan Cheese Company (1310 Main Street, 941-951-7860)
As Good As It Gets (49 South Palm Avenue, 941-373-1839)
Whole Foods (1451 First Street, 941-955-8500)

New Age

Pixie Dust Metaphysical Boutique (1547 Main Street, 941-366-6325)

Pets

Southeastern Guide Dogs Gift Shop (1618 Main Street, 941-953-2892)
Wet Noses (1465 Main Street, 941-388-3647)

Stationary

Write-On Sarasota (1423 First Street, 941-953-2800)

Taverns and Clubs

The Blue Owl Tavern on Main (1507 Main Street, 941-953-6777)
The Gator Club (1490 Main Street, 941-366-5969)

Toys and Games

Toy Lab (1529 Main Street, 941-363-0064)

Wine

Sarasota Vineyard Bistro (1528 Main Street, 941-366-6363)

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