With its myriad of pristine beaches, environmental amenities, upscale boutiques and restaurants, not to mention the abundance of cultural events, Sarasota has proven itself to be a year-round destination for many of Florida and the country’s’ most affluent residents.
Offshore expect to find more than 40 miles of white beaches along a chain of narrow barrier islands stretching from Tampa Bay to Sarasota. To the south, Siesta Key is a residential enclave known for its high concentration of artists and writers. Nearby you’ll find Lido Key, which has an attractive string of family and wallet-friendly hotels and adjacent Longboat Key is one of the country’s swankiest islands.
Europeans first explored the area in the early sixteenth century when a Spanish expedition landed at Charlotte Harbor, just to the south of Sarasota. Spanish was the preferred language of the natives, providing evidence of earlier contact.
By the mid-eighteenth century, the sheltered bay and its harbor had attracted fish and marine traders. As a result, fishing camps (ranchos) sprang up. The camps, established by both Americans and Cubans, traded fish and turtles with merchants in Havana.
After the 1819 acquisition of Florida as a territory by the United States, it officially became a state in 1845. On maps dating back to this time the area was called the Spanish name Zara Zote, which became Sara Sota. European settlers flocked to the area, and these pioneer families were attracted by the climate and the bounty of the Sarasota Bay.