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Mount Pleasant

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Sarasota, Florida

read Sarasota Living Magazine

Sarasota is much more than the one-time winter home of the Ringling Brothers Circus.

Nearly a century ago, the circus settled in this central Florida town during the colder months, but, today, Sarasota is a city that has earned numerous distinctions outside the world of entertainment. Located on the Gulf of Mexico, it has been listed among the Top 50 Best Places to Live by Money Magazine and cited as an excellent place to retire by Fortune Magazine and by Kiplinger.com.

Sarasota, FLA town of just over 52,000, Sarasota is one of Florida's cultural centers. It boasts a rich arts scene that rivals some of the largest urban centers in the country. There are dozens of performing arts venues, theater and ballet companies, as well as art museums that draw visitors from around the globe.

Sarasota's rich artistic atmosphere has spawned a host of local festivals that have become a destination for artists. Film is represented by the Sarasota Film Festival in April and the Sarasota Film Society Cine-World Festival in November.

Sarasota is more than just an exciting downtown. Its beautiful barrier islands are home to towns ranging from rural outposts to cities that are destinations in their own right. Whether your idea of fun in the sun calls for crowds or solitude, the beaches in Sarasota County have something for everyone.

Siesta Key's soft, white-sand beach consistently ranks among the best in the world. The turquoise gulf waters keep tourists and locals coming back for more.

Cross the small bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway into Venice, and you immediately are immersed in its small-town charm. Its treelined streets feature quaint shops and cozy restaurants, and Venice Beach is world-famous for the sharks' teeth found along its shores.

Manasota Key is home to some of the most exclusive homes around, while Lido Key's beaches are among Sarasota's most interesting.

Spanish explorers "discovered" Florida's Southwest Gulf Coast in the 1500s, but there is evidence that Native Americans lived along the waterfront of Sarasota more than 3,000 years ago. The United States acquired the territory of Florida from Spain in 1821, though the Sarasota area wasn't developed until the 1920s.

Sarasota's cultural distinctions, reasonable home prices and warm winters make it a popular retirement community.

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