Explore the Area
"You see one beach; you've seen 'em all." Well, you may think so, but it is not true. Gulf Coast beaches are unique unless you want to ignore the key features.
There are diverse sand types. Some beaches are greyish others are so white that your eyes hurt when you go without sunglasses.
Some beaches are embedded in a natural setting, and others offer a wide range of waterside activities. The beaches are all different.
Only the location is not unique because they are all, without exception, on the barrier islands, a string of islands stretching from Tampa/St Petersburg down to Naples/Bonita.
You will look in vain for beaches on the mainland; you won't find a single one there. But because they are located on islands doesn't make it inconvenient to reach them. Modern draw bridges are connecting those islands with the mainland.
Florida's climate varies from region to region due to its proximity to the equator. The Tampa/Sarasota/ area climate is generally humid/ subtropical. At the same time, the southern part (south of Venice and further south) already fosters a tropical environment.
Of course, this climate impacts the vegetation and the animals that live in the area. You can notice the difference when you are driving south on I-75 towards the Keys. North of Tampa, you will see deciduous trees and shrubs. Cabbage Palms (Sabal Palms) are still everywhere because they grow in almost any soil. The further south you go, the more tropical it will look. Florida's State tree, the Cabbage Palm, is still around, but other palm species like Royal Palms, Bismarck Palms, and Coconut Palms dominate certain areas.
Everybody thinks that a few hundred miles don't make a big difference, but they do.
Of course, Florida has big Theme Parks that attract millions of people each year; however, there are tons of activities in your local area, which can be even more exciting than having a photo op with a famous Mouse. There is nothing wrong with that mouse; young and old kids love her dearly; however, a little variety in life can be positive.
Snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, parasailing, boating, fishing, swimming, biking, jet skiing, golfing are only a few of the activities that may be on your bucket list while staying in Florida. You can also explore state parks and museums or go to art festivals and music events.
If you prefer less action, you can enjoy southern cuisine instead. End the evening with a grouper dinner and a fine glass of wine while watching the sun dip into the Gulf of Mexico. You do have choices because there are quite a few restaurants directly on the water.
Warm temperatures year-round, award-winning beaches and a thriving art and cultural scene are what Sarasota is about. This southwest Florida region, which is about an hour's drive from Tampa, two hours from Orlando, and 2 hours from Fort Meyers, continues to attract new residents from all over the world. Sarasota is a go-to place, attracting retirees and working people with families, not to mention a handful of celebrities.
Besides world-class beaches, Sarasota has excellent restaurants, theaters, museums, and plenty of shopping options. However, Sarasota is not all paradise, you have to take it with a grain of salt.
As the population proliferates rapidly, the area struggles to keep up with infrastructure needs. Traffic congestion is becoming more of a problem for those who live and work in the downtown area, and construction cranes are disrupting the beautiful silhouette.
But Sarasota is an excellent place for those who enjoy the outdoors. There are plenty of Parks, and Golf courses and, of course, there are the beaches. Longboat Beach, Siesta Beach, Lido Beach, just south of St. Armands Circle, Venice Beach, Bradenton Beach, or the beaches of Anna Maria Island, all are a short drive away from Sarasota.
Venice, Florida, is a charming community of a little over 20,000 residents located south of Sarasota on the Gulf of Mexico. Initially developed in the 1920s by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers as a planned retirement community, Venice is named after the many canals and rivers running through it. The city shows the handwriting of the first city planner, who had made several trips to Venice in Italy. He loved that place so much that he decided to copy it.
Of course, it doesn't come close to the original, but that is okay. That way, Venice in Florida didn't become a Disney World Copy of the original, it became a cute little city with an Italian touch. The town has wide boulevards lined with palms and banyan trees. Much of the little Gulf Coast city is in the northern Italian renaissance architectural style.
The lively downtown area, which is on the island, has many interesting shops and restaurants. There are plenty of parks, beautiful Gulf Coast beaches, a fishing pier, a public golf course, and a small airport. There are only family-owned stores and restaurants on the Isle, the big chain stores are on the mainland. That makes it somehow unique.
Three modern draw-bridges are connecting Venice Island with the mainland.
Once known solely for its fishery, Englewood has grown into an emerging community. The sandy beaches and an abundance of aquatic activities make Englewood a top destination. Sportfishing is still the number one on the list, followed by boating, in general. Adventurous people may enjoy parasailing over the Gulf of Mexico; however, most people are more down-to-earth. Kayaking, biking, or hiking may be more suitable for them. But there are also ten challenging golf courses, with the majority being open to the public.
Of course, the four beaches on Manasota Key, Stump Pass Beach, Englewood Beach, Blind Pass (Middle) Beach and Manasota Beach, are the main attraction in Englewood, but that doesn't mean that there is nothing else to do. The Lemon Bay Playhouse, located on historic Dearborn Street, provides live community theater year-round. Dearborn is also the street where you will find numerous eateries offering fresh seafood and international/southern cuisine.
While Sarasota and Venice are more urbanized, Englewood could still preserve some of that "rustic" style. Go to the beach, and you will even see nests of sea turtle lined up along the beach, and there is a real chance to meet bottle nose dolphins or manatees in the water.