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A daytrip to Sarasota - lunch reco and a nice stroll?

A daytrip to Sarasota - lunch reco and a nice stroll?

Old May 4th, 2012, 03:12 AM
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A daytrip to Sarasota - lunch reco and a nice stroll?

Planning a weekday visit to Sarasota (from Tampa area). Plan to visit the Ringling mansion. Where should we go for lunch? Anything with a nice view and/or outstanding food? What else should we see?
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Old May 4th, 2012, 05:29 AM
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Have been to the Ringling Art Museum before -- it was not bad, if not at the level of the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach. Across the street from there is the Sarasota Classic Car Museum, which is worth a visit if this kind of collection interests you.

There are also the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens and Sarasota Jungle Gardens. Went to the latter ages ago, have never been to the former, so I can't make an informed recommendation here.

St. Armand's Key is a great place to window shop (or shop for real). There's an outpost of the Columbia Restaurant there, which is very good.
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Old May 4th, 2012, 06:05 AM
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Was not planing on going to the art museum, just the mansion on the property. Did you visit that? Worth the time? We do enjoy old mansion tours. I'm also a fan of the Norton.
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Old May 4th, 2012, 06:17 AM
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I loved Ca d'Zan. Very interesting about the history of it. St. Armand's circle was built so his wife and her friends had someplace to shop. When we were there we saw a wedding on the terrace. Also really liked the scale models of the Ringling Circus. They were all built by one man. Amazing.

I really enjoyed the Selby Gardens too.
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Old May 4th, 2012, 06:49 AM
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mclaurie, the Ringling Museum of Art was not bad -- it has some choice items. And it's not a large place, so a visit here won't take up a lot of time. In my opinion, it's not as good a museum as the Norton, though I haven't been for a few years now and reportedly they've beefed up their Asian holdings in particular:

http://www.ringling.org/

and specifically for the museum

http://www.ringling.org/ArtMuseum.aspx

Personally, I think it's worth including if you're already going to be on the property anyway.
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Old May 5th, 2012, 06:55 AM
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Just didn't want to spend the whole day at Ringling museum without seeing some other things. Columbia looks good for lunch!
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Old May 5th, 2012, 12:45 PM
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Columbia is a great chain. I love their salads and black bean soup. I always enjoy a walk around St. Armand's. Beautiful shops (Dreamweaver) and some very nice restaurants. Have a great time!
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Old May 5th, 2012, 07:12 PM
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I was just in Forida about two + weeks ago and while in Sarasota we saw a wonderful Children's Circus Theatre production. If it is still doing its performances I highly recommend it. It was the highlight of our time there.
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Old May 6th, 2012, 06:51 AM
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I really enjoy Ca d'Zan...well worth your time! I also love Selby Gardens and buy some new beautiful orchid every visit, but if you only have that day, I'd probably do St Armand's Circle instead. There is a beautiful, if expensive, home goods store on the northwest quadrant of the circle. It's name is eluding me at the moment.

We never eat on St Armand's, not that Columbia isn't OK, but we prefer driving further up the chain of barrier islands and eating at a little place on the beach on Anna Maria Island, called the Sandbar. http://sandbar.groupersandwich.com/s...to-gallery.php. Eat outside on their deck with that blindingly white sand, (bring sunglasses ) and turquoise water.

We used to make this drive at least once a month when we lived in Tampa, and it's a far prettier way to get to or from Sarasota/Tampa, than I-75 to Fruitville Rd. You instead head west in Bradenton via state rd 64, and from that point on, there are beautiful beach and water views all along the drive. It's longer but less stressful, and so much prettier than taking the interstate the entire way. In your shoes though, with a time constraint, I'd probably drive down via I-75, do Ringling, visit St Armand's, then make the leisurely drive up Gulf of Mexico Drive through Longboat Key, Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach, to Anna Maria Island for late lunch/early dinner then return to Tampa via Bradenton to I -275 then across the Skyway.

Hope you enjoy it all! We hated being transferred away from there so much we bought a condo in the area a month after DH retired and now spend half the year there. One of these years, it'll probably be a full time move back.
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Old May 6th, 2012, 07:16 AM
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Oh..if you have had lunch in Anna Maria or that area, I would stop in downtown St Petersburg for dinner and a look around.. The downtown area facing on Tampa Bay, has been revitalized with outdoor dining and shops all along Beach Dr. Our personal favorite is Parkshore Grill. http://www.parkshoregrill.com/gallery.html, but there are plenty of others to choose from. After dinner wander to the gelato shop, Paciugo, then sit outside and people watch as you eat your gelato.
http://paciugo.com/st-petersburg/

If you are in St Pete early enough (I'm not sure what their hours are) and like Chihuly, there is a permanent collection on Beach Drive. http://www.moreanartscenter.org/content.php?id=90

Getting to downtown St Pete off I-275 is a snap and takes just minutes (probably less than 5). Take either the I-175 or I-375 spur off 275. It's a straight shot to downtown, and the downtown is small and easily navigated.
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Old May 6th, 2012, 10:55 AM
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Thanks for the great info!
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Old May 16th, 2012, 05:55 AM
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So here's a recap of our lovely day. We got a late-ish start so headed straight for the Ringling museum via the highway. Arrived around noon. On entering the ticket buying area, you're met by a greeter who gives you a map and explains what's where and what the ticket options are. We knew we wanted a docent tour of Ca D'Zan so paid the extra $5 (so total $30) and booked the next tour available which was 12:15. There were about 9 people in our group and we were a curious group with lots of questions. Our docent was knowledgeable, engaging and clearly liked her job, BUT, from the beginning, she was clearly rushing us along as though she was worried we'd miss our train.

We saw the first and second floors ending the tour in the kitchen 45 mins. after we'd started. At this point she asked if anyone was scheduled for the 3rd floor tour which was just starting (ah, we thought, that's why we were being rushed). We assumed that was us, but no, we'd not been offered this extra tour nor would we have probably taken it for another $25. Bottom line, the house is lovely, the tour interesting but we were left with a bad taste from the rushing around for seemingly no good reason. We sat on the back terrace for a while admiring the boats and the setting and tried to imagine what it would have been like to live there. The house did remind me somewhat of Vizcaya in Miami. If I had a choice of one or the other, I'd go for Vizcaya, but this is a lovely place. http://www.ringling.org/CadMansion.aspx

We had planned on stopping for lunch at the Sandbar but I was starving by this time and we wanted something closer. We wound up going to DryDock Grill on Long Boat Key for a pleasant waterside lunch. http://drydockwaterfrontgrill.com/

We then headed to St. Armand's Circle for some retail therapy. My friend who lives in Tampa hadn't been there in a while and was happy to see the stores all rented and busy. Last she was there, the economy had apparently taken a toll and many of the stores were empty.

We then did the leisurely drive OO mentioned heading back along the Gulf. My friend showed me a condo her friends had rented on Brandenton Beach which was lovely. We were able to stop for a drink at the Sandbar. OH BOY is that sand gorgeous! We were treated to a wedding as we sipped our drinks, an added bonus. I'll add this would be an ideal spot for what I imagine is a relatively inexpensive beach wedding. The Sandbar has a separate building next to the main one for catered events it seems and they set up chairs on the sand for the guests at the wedding. http://sandbar.groupersandwich.com/s...to-gallery.php

From there we continued heading back to Tampa and did stop in downtown St. Pete as OO had suggested. While we didn't want to drink any more, we did have a walk out onto the pier and visited with the very friendly (and somewhat aggressive) pelicans who are looking for handouts or trying to steal fish from those fishing off the dock.
http://www.stpetepier.com/history.asp
But downtown St. Pete does look great and the restaurants seemed very buzzy by then (about 7). I will definitely go back to St. Pete next time. http://www.stpete.org/downtown.asp

Thanks for all the great help.
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Old May 16th, 2012, 06:25 AM
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Ah, Mclaurie -- I was in Florida when you posted and didn't see this or I'd have responded too. Back in NJ now. Glad you had a good time, but sorry about rushing -- that never happened to me. In fact my favorite part there was the top (3rd?) floor which was filled with quirky things, but I'm not sure it's still part of the tour. I think there was a stairway safety issue so it's closed to the public now. I find the house a definite reflection of "circus" taste, not the tastefulness of Viscaya!
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Old May 16th, 2012, 06:54 AM
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Thanks for the report Mclaurie! Glad you got to do the drive and experience a little of the Sandbar and downtown St Pete. That pier you visited is to be torn down and replaced by an ultra modern creation,The Lens, so you may have witnessed a bit of history. Here's the new design. http://saintpetersburg.wtsp.com/news...te-pier-design.

I'm sorry Ca d'Zan was somewhat of a disappointment. Your docent can surely make or break any such experience! The structure was a work in progress while we were living in Tampa and I don't think the 3rd floor was available for tours our last time through it. I too enjoyed the patio by the water, sitting and wondering what it would have been like to have lived there...sort of Great Gatsby-ish.
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Old May 16th, 2012, 03:13 PM
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They are offering tours of the 3rd floor but that's extra and was not offerred to us. Back in NJ NP? What have I missed?

OO, I was told they're tearing down that Pier. Seems a shame.
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Old May 28th, 2012, 09:55 AM
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Try Marina Jacks for lunch, lovely! You can watch the dolphins playing & if you want a special lunch, try the restaurant upstairs.
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Old May 28th, 2012, 12:56 PM
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mclaurie, I guess a lot! Yes, been living in NJ with partner Peter for over a year now. Lambertville. Only getting back to Naples occasionally.
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