Sarasota - help with hotel and restaurants

Jun 3rd, 2008, 05:50 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 65
Sarasota - help with hotel and restaurants

We're planning a two-day mom and daughter (17 yo) getaway to Sarasota to check out the area. Our daughter is planning on attending Ringling College in fall '09 so we'd like to get a good look at the area (we've toured the college but didn't get a chance to see much of the surrounding area). Any advice on a nice place to stay? We're thinking maybe a beach location? Would like to keep the cost under $150/night - should we attempt priceline? Also, what are some fun places to eat? We'd appreciate you sending us your suggestions for a fun trip!
KarenInFla is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 07:17 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
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I would suggest you visit the Sarasota web site- for many suggestions, to prepare for your trip.
We always stay in a rental bungalow, for a month. Walking distance to Sarasota bay, and the downtown, with its art galleries, restaurants, boutiques, and just a 10 minute drive to the beaches on Lido Key, it is the perfect spot for us.
If that sounds interesting to you, there are two delightful Inns,La Palme Royal, and The Cypress B&B,both walking distance to the marina, and it's park with ever-changing art installations. The Hotel Ranola is a boutique hotel, on the eastern edge of the downtown.
As for things to do-I suggest you look at the Sarasota site. There are a myriad of things, from he magnificent Ringling Museum, and Ca'de Zan, the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, the gorgeous Selby Library,St. Armands circle.
There are wonderful restaurants, in the downtown area. Sangria is delightful, with wonderful Tapas. Rustic Grill has a great decor, and fine food. The Citrus Cafe, in Burns Court has yummy lunches, and there are many seafood shacks on all the Keys
Do click on Fodors destinations, "Sarasota", and you will find many more.

Enjoy, and know your daughter will like the city.
capecodshanty is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 08:11 AM
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Stay on one of the keys like Lido near St. Armand's Circle.
Gekko is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 08:40 AM
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Be careful about priceline (or hotwire) with Sarasota -- the bidding zones are really too large and random to be trustworthy. You're better off checking around for things like AAA discounts, etc. You're lucky (so to speak) in that it's off season, so lodging prices are way down.

Restaurants -- you can't NOT wander St. Armand's Circle and pop in to various places there. The obvious ones are Tommy Bahama (the usual), Cafe L'Europe (upscale european), and Columbia (good Cuban); but there are plenty of other cafes to pop into. I wish I could think of the name of one of them that's upstairs over some shops, with a nice balcony over the Circle -- continental food. May have been 15 South, but thought it was actually ON the circle.

In the "downtown" area, the money one is Bijou -- white table fencyshmency but very good. However, there are plenty of other veyr good ones down there, including the tapas place I enjoyed, Sandria.

THere are LOTS of other good ones -- esp. in Siesta Key area and out on Longboat heading north -- and I know others (notably Patrick) will give you some good guidance.

I will just add 3 notes: 1. The Mennonite restaurants (on Bahia Vista and I think there's one on Cattlemen) are interesting, busy, with really heavy but good comfort food. 2. The two cafes at the Ringling Museum are pleasant, although it may just be too hot to eat outside while you're there. 3. Avoid Michael's on East and Marina Jack's. If others disagree, I'll be happy to defend the advice, but let's just say I've had bad experiences both places and friends have too.
Jun 3rd, 2008, 08:41 AM
Posts: n/a
edit: tapas place is "Sangria."
Jun 3rd, 2008, 11:09 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 65
Thanks for the great input. We can't wait to check out all the interesting recommendations. Would it make more sense for us to stay on Siesta Key or Lido Beach? Though I'm happy with a quiet table and a nice glass of wine, my daughter is eager to check out surf shops and other fun shops. We plan on walking to most places but are o.k. with driving as long as parking isn't an issue. Please cast your vote for Siesta or Lido!
KarenInFla is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 02:20 PM
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I usually recommend SK, because I live here, but for your needs, Lido would be the better option. Much closer to the school, St. Armands Circle, downtown is just across the bridge. You can always visit SK for a day. Enjoy the day at our beautiful beaches, have late lunch in the village. Parking is no problem.

Staying on SK will add about 6-7 miles each way just to get downtown and another 5 miles to get to Lido or to the school north of downtown. Besides, SK is more quiet, relaxing type of place. It's great for a beach vacation. If you want to explore, shop, see the city, and still have a beach experience, Lido is the place.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 02:39 PM
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I'm on Longboat Key and would also recommend that you stay on Lido key. You'll be much closer into to Sarasota and the view crossing the Ringling bridge of Sarasota is just so beautiful.

There's a Holiday inn and I believe there's a Lemon Tree resort - you can find more if you google Hotels Lido key.

As to dinners Cassandra was referring to Hemingways on the 2nd floor overlooking St Armands Circle.
We enjoy going into Sarasota for dinner and check out Two Senoritas, nice Mexican good and good margaritas. If you'd like a nice lunch on the water - try Salty Dog on City Key. City Key is the next key out from Lido and St Armands Circle. You'll also find the Mote Aquarium there and it's a great place to spend an afternoon.

Oh there's also a truly great gelato place on St Armand's Circle with very little fat and it tastes like the best ice cream ever!!
LN is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 08:17 PM
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Lido, without a doubt.

Gekko is offline  
Jun 8th, 2008, 01:38 PM
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Lido it is! I checked into lodging and it looks like we have a few decent options. Though we were ready to pack a bag and head out next week, now we're on hold for a couple (or more) weeks until the overpass has been repaired. Our planned route was taking 41 south into Sarasota and 75 back north past the outlet mall on the way home but now need to wait until the road is passable. Has anyone been through the Ellington area since the accident?
KarenInFla is offline  
Jun 8th, 2008, 01:52 PM
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Posts: 643
I haven't driven past the site but the news said there's a detour off of 75 and they are constructing temporary (maybe for 6 weeks) two way lanes on the opposite side of 75. It may be ready for Monday June 9 but otherwise it's been a nightmare!
teacherD is offline  
Jun 8th, 2008, 02:04 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
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It's "Ellenton", and the temporary re-routing of I-75 is supposed to begin Monday morning, June 9. At best, it will be slow, as it's two lanes going each way, down from four each way, but it will be passable and an improvement over having the southbound lanes totally closed.

Complete repair is expected to take six weeks.
NewbE is offline  
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