Though Sarasota is the seat of Sarasota County and among the largest cities in the area, a number of surrounding communities in Sarasota, Charlotte, and Manatee Counties are worth visiting, especially if you're considering relocation to the vicinity. While some are similar to Sarasota, others offer more peace and quiet than the city itself. Still close enough to enjoy the city, however, these communities and towns often attract those who prefer a less-metropolitan lifestyle.
Similar in size to Sarasota, Bradenton is the seat of Manatee County. Situated between Tampa and Sarasota and surrounded by waterways, Bradenton is a growing business center with a number of new office buildings under construction. Culturally, the downtown area is home to the South Florida Museum, the Riverfront Theater, and the unique "Village of the Arts", a neighborhood where special zoning laws allow residents to live and work in their homes. As a result, more than 50 older homes have been converted to profitable galleries, restaurants, and studios, mostly arts-related.
Straddling Sarasota and Charlotte Counties, Englewood is located south of the city of Sarasota. Known as the "Gem of the Suncoast", this town of about 44,000 residents sits on the barrier island of Manasota Key. Many residents enjoy direct views of either the Gulf of Mexico or tranquil Lemon Bay.
Technically, Englewood boasts 4 separate beaches: Englewood Beach, Manasota Beach, Manasota Pass Beach, and Blind Pass Beach. Here, visitors can enjoy swimming, boating, fishing, and walking along miles of nature trails. There are also several state parks in the area and 8 golf courses for aficionados of the sport to enjoy. Accommodations for the area consist mostly of condos and other vacation rentals.
Just south of Sarasota, Venice sits on the Gulf of Mexico and the Myakka River. This is one of the few cities on the west coast of Florida that is not separated from the Gulf of Mexico by a barrier island. Population is about 20,000, including a large number of "snowbirds".
The city is known for two things. First of all, it is dubbed "the shark's tooth capital of the world" and is the location where everyone comes to look for ancient teeth. Secondly, it is also known for its historic downtown area, which is built in northern Italian Renaissance style to match its name. Rules demand that any new structures maintain this style. And just like its namesake, there are plenty of canals as well.
The city of Venice enjoys hosting a number of annual special events and the community has become known as a great patron of the arts. Guests will enjoy yearly arts festivals, theatrical productions, and other cultural offerings.
Sometimes lumped together with Venice, Osprey is indeed its own unincorporated community. Osprey is quite diverse, with multi-million dollar homes on the waterway as well as modest mobile homes for lower income residents. New home developments continue to spring up.
The premiere attractions in Osprey are Historic Spanish Point, where – in the late 1800s – the Webb family settled and grew citrus crops, which they shipped to Key West; and Oscar Scherer State Park, offering a plethora of recreational activities for the whole family to enjoy, including freshwater lakes for fishing, 15 miles of biking trails, and full camping facilities.
The census-designated community of Nokomis is home to about 3,800 residents. Located approximately 15 miles south of Sarasota, the town seems worlds away from the city. Usually included within the community of Nokomis is the barrier island of Casey Key, home to incredible multi-million dollar mansions that house some well known individuals, such as Stephen King and Martina Navratilova. However, you will find some moderately priced single family homes and a number of waterfront condos in Nokomis as well.
The beaches here are lovely, including the free public beach known simply as Nokomis Beach. Another Nokomis area beach, North Jetty Beach, is known as one of the better surfing spots on the west coast of Florida.
This mid-sized town of about 40,000 was once thought to be the true home to The Fountain of Youth, thanks to the presence of warm mineral springs that still attract lots of attention. It is currently one of the fastest growing towns on the Gulf Coast. New homes are literally springing up everywhere, making this a good location for first time home buyers as the choices are many and diverse. Both families and retirees are gobbling up the homes here.