Sarasota, Florida

Best Places to Retire in Florida


John Ringling, one of the great business tycoons of his day, deserves much of the credit for the growth and cultural development of the Sarasota area. In 1927 he decided to base his Ringling Brothers circus there and became a great promoter of the area.  While he is best known for his circus business, Ringling also made major investments in railroads, oil and real estate.  He bought up vast amounts of real estate in Sarasota County.  A part of his legacy there is the magnificent Ringling Art Museum, the Ringling Museum of the Circus, and his 30-room mansion on the waterfront.

Sarasota has a population of about 52,000 and Sarasota County is over 300,000.  Like most locations in Florida, it enjoys a mild climate suited to year round outdoor activities. There are miles of sand beaches, 60 or more golf courses, and there is year-around fishing. Sarasota has become known as Florida’s “Cultural Coast.”  It’s offerings include a symphony, a ballet, and an opera company.  It has a number of professional theaters, and a magnificent performing arts hall.  There is an abundance of fine dining, excellent shopping, festivals and community events, and there are 30 or more galleries.  There are also five star resorts and exquisite country clubs in the area.  It is not surprising Sarasota has been described as “a paradise”, “the nation’s per capita arts capital”, and “among the nation’s 15 most livable communities.”

Arts & Culture

Sarasota County Arts Council offers a preview of some of the many leading arts and cultural organizations.

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is the largest museum/university complex in the nation.  Donated to the state at the time of the Great Depression, the Museum, which includes 21 galleries of internationally recognized European and American art, is considered the most significant cultural asset of the state. The 66-acre complex also features Ringlingís Circus Museum and his mansion on the waterfront.

The Asolo Theatre Company performs primarily in the 500-seat Harold E. and Esther M. Mertz Theatre (Asolo Theatre) which was originally built as an opera house in Scotland. Performances are November through June.

Florida Studio Theatre offers contemporary theater at its Mainstage or The Cabaret which offers fine dining with theater entertainment.  It also hosts Sarasota Festival of New Plays each May.

The Sarasota Orchestra (formerly The Florida West Coast Symphony) performs more than 100 concerts a year, including Masterworks concerts, family, children, and a variety of pops concerts. Four ensembles also perform in the area.

La Musica International Chamber Music Festival joins outstanding musicians from Europe and America to perform each April at Sarasota Opera House.

The acclaimed Sarasota Ballet of Florida performs from September through April.

The Sarasota Film Festival showcases independent and international features, shorts and documentaries.

Sarasota Opera Company presents concerts year-round and is home to a fine youth opera program.

Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, renowned for its acoustics, was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  Since opening in 1970, it has featured Pavarotti, Leonard Bernstein, Bob Dylan, Cary Grant, The Boston Pops, Willie Nelson, The Chicago Symphony, The Temptations, and many others.

Marie Selby Gardens Botanical Gardens was recently named one of America’s Top Ten Botanical Gardens.

Mote Marine Laboratory is one of the top three visitor attractions in the area. It also runs an extensive number of educational programs.


Sarasota County offers 27 golf courses, over 150 parks and recreational sites, 35 miles of beaches, and unique environmental resources.  It has just about everything!

Nearby Myakka River State Park is one of Florida’s oldest and largest state parks with 45 square miles of wetlands, prairies, hammocks and pinelands. The river and its two shallow lakes offer excellent birding, canoeing, fishing and wildlife observation. A seven-mile scenic drive winds through shady oak-palm hammocks and along the shore of Upper Myakka Lake. Over 39 miles of hiking and biking trails and miles of dirt roads provide access to the remote interior.

Sarasota’s 7,500-seat Ed Smith Stadium is the spring training home of the Cincinnati Reds. It is also the home of the Sarasota Red Sox team.


The University of South Florida Sarasota/Manatee campus serves 2,500 students and offers 29 accredited degree programs and courses in 40 degree programs.

Ringling School of Art and Design enrolls both full- and part-time students who intend to become professionals in the visual programs leading to a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.  It also offers courses, lectures, exhibitions and other art-related services to the local community, including continuing education.

New College is a highly competitive liberal arts college with 650 students and 60 full-time faculty offering over 30 arts and science disciplines.

Eckerd College, a private liberal arts college located in St. Petersburg, Florida, has a satellite location in Sarasota.

Argosy University/Sarasota (formerly University of Sarasota) offers programs delivered through distance learning.

Senior Programs

Sarasota County offers a wide variety of programs for adults including volleyball, bicycling, softball, croquet, horseshoes, archery, track, lawn bowling, and trap and skeet.  There is also an extensive library system that offers programs and lectures, and Venice Public Library offers classic and contemporary films weekly from September through May.

The Sarasota County Aging Network (SCAN)  (a networking organization of profit and not-for-profit health, human services and social services organizations and others) offers a very good resource for information on services for older adults in Sarasota County. The SCAN Directory, published annually, is now available online.

Doctorís Hospital offers a local chapter of Senior Friends — a national not-for-profit organization — created to provide benefits for its members.  Benefits include such things as a free daily newspaper, complimentary meal plan for a spouse of caregiver during your stay at the hospital, discounts from local and national businesses, and much more.

The Senior Academy of the University of South Florida Sarasota/Manatee offers a teaching/learning experience with opportunities to Senior Academy members for a “return to their college days.” Members can use the university library, lunch at the student union, purchase books and software at the campus bookstore at student discount prices, select fields of study, and to become “professors” if they wish to lead a study group.


Doctorís Hospital of Sarasota is a private,168-bed hospital that provides a full range of medical services including a 24-hour emergency department, cardiac care unit, an ALS clinic, outpatient surgery, and many others.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital is the second largest public hospital in Florida, with a staff of 685 physicians and 845 licensed beds.  It is among the top hospitals in the U.S. based on the number of open-heart surgeries performed annually.


Sarasota Bradenton International Airport –

Tampa International Airport, located 55 miles north of Sarasota, is served by most major airlines.


The average temperatures for January are 72 degrees, and 50 degrees. In July the averages are 91 degrees and 72 degrees.  The average annual humidity is 52%.


Herald Tribune –

Property Taxes

State Taxes

Chamber of Commerce

State Aging Agency


Bradenton – 13 miles
Fort Myers – 75 miles
Orlando – 131 miles
St. Petersburg – 35 miles
Tampa – 61 miles
Venice – 23 miles

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