Located less than an hour's drive from Tampa, Sarasota is the centerpiece of a metropolitan statistical area that includes Bradenton to the north and Venice to the south. Included within the city's boundaries are Lido Key, Otter Key, Coon Key, Bird Key and St. Armand's Key. Separating Sarasota Bay from the Gulf of Mexico is Longboat Key, home to luxury resorts, prime condominium complexes and single-family residences, plus championship golf and tennis for the exercise-minded. A bit further north, and linked by a bridge to Longboat, is Anna Maria Island, which still maintains its small-town, laid-back ambience, despite the recent additions of upscale dwellings. It's an easy drive to neighboring localities and attractions, too: only two hours to Orlando and Disneyworld, and less than an hour to Tampa for professional baseball or football or to spend an afternoon in historic Ybor City.The sunlit city of Sarasota claims 52,370 full-time residents, many of whom are college grads between the ages of 20 to 29. But "snowbirds" flock to Florida's west coast to retire, favoring the Sarasota area because of its year-round, shirt-sleeve climate, natural beauty and cultural attractions. With nearly 3,000 listings on average, families, young professionals and retirees on the move should be able to find their dream home in a community that fulfills their requirements. Take note, though, homes in this area generally sell at about the same rate at which they're listed and frequently sell at the asking price. So while you're vacationing, take a look around. Get a good start on your tan on one of the white, sandy beaches, then hop on over to St. Armand's Circle for some world-class shopping. (While you're there, stop by the famed Columbia Restaurant for some Spanish Bean Soup.) Check out the Ringling Circus Museum and the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. If you're suffering from spring baseball fever, head out to Ed Smith Stadium to watch the Baltimore Orioles tune up. And don't forget to contact a realtor. Once you've experienced Sarasota, you might never want to leave.
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