Downtown Orientation Walk (Self Guided), Sarasota

Known for the abundance of cultural institutes, Sarasota – a quaint coastal getaway – has long been regarded as one of the premier destinations for those seeking to satisfy their “culture buds”. The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Sarasota Opera House, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens are just some of the city's top attractions. To visit these and other notable sites of Sarasota, follow this orientation walk.
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Downtown Orientation Walk Map

Guide Name: Downtown Orientation Walk
Guide Location: USA » Sarasota (See other walking tours in Sarasota)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 13
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.5 km
Author: brian
1
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

1) Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall (must see)

The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall is a theater in Sarasota, Florida. Being one of Sarasota's landmarks, it hosts events that range from classical and rock music to Broadway musicals and modern dance. The architectural design was carried out by William Wesley Peters, of Taliesin Associated Architects, who used two seashells as an inspiration for the design. The purple and lavender color scheme was suggested by Frank Lloyd Wright's widow, Olgivanna Lloyd Wright. The seat hall's 1968-69 construction was partly funded by a bequest from local residents Lewis and Eugenia Van Wezel, and now the Roskamp Auditorium only has 1,741 seats. Today, the Hall contains 80 thousand square feet and has a state-of-the-art lighting and sound system. With its cozy interiors and fantastic acoustics, the Hall is a wonderful place to relax after a nice dinner.

Why You Should Visit:
Every season, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall hosts a broad spectrum of the world's finest performers representing the diverse tastes of locals and visitors alike, including top national and international performers, ballet and dance troupes, popular comedians, musicals, world-class symphony orchestras and more.

Tip:
Make sure you get seats close to an aisle.
The season is September through April.
2
Florida West Coast Symphony

2) Florida West Coast Symphony

Sarasota Orchestra, formerly known as the Florida West Coast Symphony, is an American symphony orchestra located in Sarasota, Florida, which performs symphonic and chamber works for the Manatee, Sarasota, and Charlotte counties. The 80-member orchestra performs more than 100 classical, pops and family concerts each year, and is the "oldest continuing orchestra" in the state of Florida. The orchestra also hosts a music education program including the 50-year-old Youth Orchestra, which features five ensembles, the most advanced of which, The Youth Philharmonic, made its Carnegie Hall debut in 2008. In the fall of 1948, Ruth Cotton Butler, a Sarasota music teacher, enlisted the support of businessmen Dr. W.D. Sugg and J. Lorton Francis of Bradenton, and George Gibbs, an amateur musician from Venice. Their combined effort produced the debut concert of the Florida West Coast Symphony on March 12, 1949. In 1961, Paul Wolfe began a 35-year tenure as artistic director and conductor. His leadership allowed the Orchestra to establish a core chamber and four resident chamber ensembles, expand the Youth Orchestra Program and consolidate the then Florida West Coast Symphony and the Music Festival of Florida, to create the Sarasota Music Festival.
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Municipal Auditorium

3) Municipal Auditorium

The historic Sarasota Municipal Auditorium is a unique, multipurpose facility owned and operated by the municipal government of Sarasota. The auditorium has 10,000 square feet (930 m2) of potential exhibit space on its main floor and also contains an unusual Art Deco style stage measuring 1,500 square feet (140 m2).

Sarasota Municipal Auditorium is the name of the auditorium complex, but it also has been known as the Sarasota Exhibition Hall or the Sarasota Civic Center Exhibition Hall, depending upon eras. The auditorium and its outdoor recreational facilities are located at 801 Tamiami Trail North, within easy walking distance of the urban core of the city and its nearby high-rise downtown residences. The building has a barrel vaulted roof. The structure contains a generous amount of glass block in its eastern elevation that provides natural lighting for the interior of the large building, especially needed because of lighting issues related to a vault structure. Typically, the design of the auditorium is described as Modrene and Art Deco, but elements of the design also suggest the International Style that is associated with the Bauhaus.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Gulfcoast Wonder & Imagination Zone

4) Gulfcoast Wonder & Imagination Zone

The Gulfcoast Wonder & Imagination Zone was opened in 1990. Its main aim is to make technology understandable and science relevant. This innovative science center features exhibits that cover a wide range of subjects designed to entertain you and your child. The large number of exhibits have themes ranging from music and mathematics to physics and chemistry.
5
Sarasota Times Building

5) Sarasota Times Building

The Sarasota Times Building is a historic site in Sarasota, located at 1214-1216 1st Street. On March 22, 1984, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The three-story asymmetrically-massed, stucco and cast stone facade, Mediterranean Revival structure was designed by architect Dwight James Baum. It is significant to Sarasota's heritage for its role as a newspaper established in 1899, and also for its architectural merits.

The design of the Times Building is one of Mr. Baum's most successful; the variety of architectural elements, including the use of three different door types and enframements on the ground floor elevation of the Times Building is particularly effective on a relatively small-scaled building. Following the crash of the land prices and the onset of the Depression, the Sarasota Times newspaper went into receivership. The Times Building was subsequently used as the office of the "Tree-Ripe Citrus Products, Inc. which was owned and operated by Mr. Owen Burns.
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Unconditional Surrender Sculpture

6) Unconditional Surrender Sculpture

Unconditional Surrender is a series of sculptures by Seward Johnson resembling a photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt, V–J day in Times Square, but said by Johnson to be based on a similar, less well known, photograph by Victor Jorgensen.
Seward Johnson first built a life-size bronze precursor to the huge statues of Unconditional Surrender using computer technology. A 25-foot (7.6 m)-tall styrofoam version of the work was part of a temporary exhibition in Sarasota, Florida in 2005, at its bay front. Johnson established the Sculpture Foundation to disseminate his work
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
The Gompertz

7) The Gompertz

The Gompertz is located on First Street and was built in 1920. Initially the building housed the Park-Seventh Movie House. During the Depression the building was closed. Over the years, it housed a number of different businesses like The Playhouse and Asolo Theater. At present, the Florida Studio Theater uses the building for its shows.
8
Sarasota Opera House

8) Sarasota Opera House (must see)

The Sarasota Opera House (originally the Edwards Theatre) is a historic theater, now opera house, located in Sarasota, Florida. The vision of a local man and the first major of the town, A. B. Edwards, it originally opened on April 10, 1926, with an elaborate three-story entrance and an orchestral pipe organ in the theater's auditorium. The house quickly became a popular entertainment venue with major performers of the day, such as Will Rogers (in 1927) and the Ziegfeld Follies (1928), and Elvis Presley (1956), appearing there. Also, it became a movie theatre when it presented the world premiere of Cecil B. DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth (which had been filmed in Sarasota) attended by its stars Charlton Heston and Dorothy Lamour.
The theater is now the home of the Sarasota Opera Association.

Why You Should Visit:
Recently renovated, Sarasota Opera House went through some important changes such as the restoration of decorative details, increase of the orchestra pit, expansion and enhancement of the public areas and amenities, and other improvements. All these restored the theatre’s original glory while creating a 21st-century venue for opera Combined with top-notch costumes and amazing performances make it a must see, especially if you are in Sarasota from October to March.

Tip:
The season is October through March.
Although there are no ‘bad seats’, opt for balcony seating options.
A formal dress-code might be appropriate when visiting the shows and events.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 10am-5pm, during shows and events
Sight description based on wikipedia
9
Golden Apple Dinner Theatre

9) Golden Apple Dinner Theatre

Opened in 1971, the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre is a nice mix of great dining experience and mesmerizing theatre performance. Having 281 seats and a horseshoe shape, this place has produced over 300 musicals and plays. Having received many awards for excellence, it's a sure bet you'll enjoy your time here at Golden Apple Dinner Theatre.
10
Main Street

10) Main Street

Main Street in downtown Sarasota is home of dozens of shops, restaurants and nightclubs. There are many special events throughout the year, including live music, art festivals, motorcycle shows and parades.
11
U.S. Post Office - Federal Building

11) U.S. Post Office - Federal Building

Located on South Orange Avenue, the U.S. Post Office was built in 1934. The building was designed by Louis A. Simon and George Albee Freeman and is in the Classical Revival style with two floors. It was the last building to be designed by Freeman. The building was added to the National Register in 1984.
12
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

12) Marie Selby Botanical Gardens (must see)

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens cover 15 acres, 9 of which are display gardens, featuring more than 20 thousand living plants. Spectacular and serene, the site is a great place to visit if you enjoy walking through beautiful gardens. Plant enthusiasts will rejoice at the possibility to see and learn about the multitude of species and specimens displayed, and the most devoted aficionados can visit the Selby Gardens Research Library hosting more than 8 thousand volumes, including rare and hard to find botanical books.

All the plants are divided into separate gardens. You’ll find a tropical conservatory, a fern garden, a bamboo garden, a fragrance garden, and more. Children will enjoy the Kid’s Corner in the Selby House. Besides, you’ll get the chance to marvel at the mesmerizing koi pond, tropical and coastal palms, mangrove walkway and majestic views of the Sarasota Bay, butterfly garden, waterfalls and plenty of other wonders featured on site.

Why You Should Visit:
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens’ uniqueness is given by the fact that it’s the only botanical garden in the world dedicated to the study and display of epiphytes and their canopy ecosystems. As more than 150 expeditions to the tropics and subtropics have contributed to these collections, it now features a huge collection of living plants and many other on-site wonders.

Tip:
When visiting with kids, don’t miss the rainforest adventure area.
If you are a student or a member of a different botanical garden, you can benefit from certain discounts. Don’t forget to grab the corresponding ID with you.
If you are a bugs’ beloved target, bring bug spray with you.
Note that there is plenty of walking and a lot to explore, so get some comfortable shoes.
There might be lines at the restaurant. Plan your time accordingly.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm, closed on Christmas Day
Sight description based on wikipedia
13
Bayfront Park

13) Bayfront Park

Bayfront Park is an area of Sarasota, Florida along Sarasota Bay that includes a marina and the Chidsey Library building. A fountain is located at the center of the park
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Sarasota, Florida

Create Your Own Walk in Sarasota

Create Your Own Walk in Sarasota

Creating your own self-guided walk in Sarasota is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Sarasota Historic Buildings Tour

Sarasota Historic Buildings Tour

Most of the historic buildings in Sarasota are located in the Downtown area. They are in the Mediterranean revival style with similar design. Some of them have been designed by the famous local architect Thomas Reed Martin who has had a huge impact on architecture and style. In the following tour you'll get to see some of the first constructions in Sarasota and their initial functions.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 km
Sarasota Downtown Art Galleries Walking Tour

Sarasota Downtown Art Galleries Walking Tour

Sarasota is an artist's bay with many art galleries and shops ready to delight any art connoisseur. With a great selection and variety of both artistic styles and forms, you can find paintings on canvas and paper, glass and steel sculptures, hand-crafted jewelry, home decorations and accessories, and many more items. Take the following tour and you can be sure you'll discover the best...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.4 km
Sarasota's Top Museums Walking Tour

Sarasota's Top Museums Walking Tour

Known for its famous arts community and historical sites and museums, Sarasota is a delight for any traveler. The wonderful flora and the refreshing breeze of the ocean will make your trip even more interesting and relaxing. You can visit a wide range of museums, most notable the John & Mable Ringling Museum, that will satisfy your desire for knowledge. Take the following tour to discover the...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 km
Cultural Venues Tour in Sarasota

Cultural Venues Tour in Sarasota

Sarasota's theaters are some of the city's biggest cultural attractions. With its famous city landmark, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, and the amazing Regal Hollywood Stadium 20, you'll definitely find something that will suit your taste. This tour will guide you through some of the best cultural venues in Sarasota.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 km
St. Armand Circle Shopping Tour

St. Armand Circle Shopping Tour

At the heart of Sarasota there is a true shopping harbour - the St. Armand Circle. Its large number of shops, art galleries and restaurants will definitely satisfy any customer looking for something special to buy. The next tour will take you through some of the best shops that range from men's and women's clothing, to general sportswear and extravagant designer shops.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.6 km
Museums Walk in Downtown Sarasota

Museums Walk in Downtown Sarasota

Sarasota's Downtown features not only new modern attractions, but also historical sites that have been preserved for the benefit of Florida's cultural heritage. Their style ranges from Mediterranean Revival and Prairie School architecture to Classical Revival and Transitional Queen Anne. Be sure to take the following tour and see the great design and architecture these sites have to...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


Sunset, Dinner & Drinks of Sarasota

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