Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Port of Call: Sarasota

Mai Thai anchored in Sarasota Harbor
The first time I ever heard of Sarasota was in the early eighties when a colleague mentioned it. His grandmother lived there. Immediately, I associated Sarasota with retirees. Years later, I passed by the town many times, but never did I stop. Until one Februray in 2005, when my husband and I arrived by boat.

We anchored at the expansive Sarasota Harbor, near Marina Jack. You can tie up your dinghy at O'Leary Tiki Bar and Grill for a small fee. Once on land, you are on Island Park (or Bayfront Park) with lots of amenities to offer the public - walkways for rollerblading, walking or running, huge playgrounds and water fountains for kids to play in, benches for picnics, all with the lovely view of Sarasota Bay. For those seeking watersports activities, there are plenty of affordable rentals and charters (sunset or dinner cruises, deep-sea fishing, you name it) at the park.
Bayfront Park
Sunset at Sarasota Harbor
Across the street from the park is the charming downtown, lined with art galleries, cafes, bookstores, and restaurants. There is a theater, an excellent library and bus system. On Saturdays, a good size farmer's market offers fresh vegetables, plants, herbs, flowers, etc.
Farmer's market in downtown Sarasota
We were lucky to stumble upon the Sarasota Arts Festival one weekend. We've been to several arts festivals, and loved Key West's and Coconut Grove's (Miami), but decided Sarasota has got to be the finest. Check out the video below and see if you agree.

We love Sarasota so much we stayed on anchor there for almost three weeks! When the birds start eating their catch on your deck and bimini top, it is time to leave. Did I mention that there were quite a few liveaboards at the anchorage? Back in those days, you could anchor as long as you liked. Now, the city limits anchoring to 72 hours. There's talk about putting in a mooring field that will be run by Marina Jack. Check out The Waterway Guide or Skipper Bob's publication for more information.
Mai Thai at anchor in Sarasota
Updated: 2/23/17
Since Nov 2012, you can no longer anchor freely in Sarasota. The city has installed moorings which cost $25/day. Find out more here

You might also like:
Beersheba Springs Arts and Craft Festival Port of Call: Boston, Massachusetts Best Beach in America: Siesta Beach, Sarasota

1 comment:

  1. Hi Eileen,
    I like your New York article. Keep it up, you have special talent in journalism. Maybe it could be your second career.