Best of Sarasota

Readers’ Choice: Best Arts & Entertainment

Our readers share their picks for organizations that inspire creativity

May 11, 2020


Standing Ovations (Best Performing Arts Group)

Asolo Repertory Theatre

5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 351-8000,, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube

After having to cancel the remainder of its season, we’re thrilled to see Hood and Knoxville rescheduled in the 2020-21 lineup. Go online to purchase your subscription today: Also, follow Asolo Rep on social media for live and recorded performances, interviews and audience engagement opportunities.

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe

1012 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota, (941) 366-1505,, FacebookYouTube 

Consistently voted the best performing arts group by our local community, you can follow them on social media or check out their website for creative inspiration and fun in-home entertainment. They can’t wait to see you at their newly renovated theatre during the 2020-21 season in the Fall.  

Florida Studio Theatre

1241 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota, (941) 366-9000,, Facebook, YouTube

Help FST stay strong by subscribing to its 2020-21 season. Stay tuned for the August celebration of the Suffragist Project, which Kate Alexander and her team have spearheaded for an entire year.

The Players Centre for Performing Arts

838 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 365-2494,, Facebook, Instagram

With 90 years (and counting) under their belts, The Players are a unique part of Sarasota’s history. They have a bright future ahead as they plan their move to their new Lakewood Ranch home. Help them make the move and consider a donation to their Center Stage capital campaign.

Child’s Play (Best Place to Take the Kids)

Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium

1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy., Sarasota, (941) 388-4441,, Facebook

While it’s a great place to bring the kids, Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium scientists remain committed to red tide mitigation and technology development, saving our coral reefs and rescuing animals.  Consider purchasing a membership so you not only support Mote, but you have a place to visit all year.

Sky Zone

6180 Edgelake Drive, Sarasota, (941) 363-6359,

Bounce away and have fun with the kids at the local Sky Zone. Great for birthday parties, too.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

900 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota, (941) 366-5731,, Facebook

When the Ann Goldstein’s Children’s Rainforest Garden opened in November 2013 at Selby Gardens, it ushered in a new era for the Garden to connect and build relationships with and among children and families. Open daily during regular hours (10 a.m.-5 p.m.), the children’s rainforest offers a delightful, natural space for discovery, exploration, learning and play. In conjunction with nearby Kids’ Corner, there are also hands-on, developmentally appropriate activities and programs available on a regular basis.

The Ringling

5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, (941) 359-5700,, Facebook

With multiple venues on the 66-acre estate on Sarasota Bay, there is something for everyone in the family to discover at The Ringling. Family Saturdays, ROAR! Ringling Order of Art Readers, stroller tours, and Museum of Art Mondays are some of the free programs offered to families. (Bonus: The Ringling happens to have one of the best playgrounds in town.)

Sweet Charity (Best Fundraising Event)

Wine, Women & Shoes

Fashion forward fundraising. Wine, Women & Shoes is an engaging and exciting fundraising event where community-minded, philanthropic women (and a few good men!) gather to sip, shop, savor, and support Forty Carrots Family Center in a chic, fun and innovative way.

SPARCC Amazing Raise

A scavenger hunt and super fun party on a Saturday. Even more awesome, your ticket helps SPARCC to stop domestic and sexual violence in our communities.

The Ringling UNgala 2019: The Evolution

After an almost a decade-long hiatus, The Ringling brought back its popular UNgala in 2019 with food, drink and spectacular entertainment in Sarasota. Support of The Ringling’s UNGala contributes to an environment that inspires, educates, and entertains through exhibition and family programming.

Tourist In Your Own Town (Best Hotel for a Staycation)

The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota

1111 Ritz Carlton Dr., Sarasota, (941) 309-2266,

Post-COVID-19 efforts in Florida are going to start with “Florida Pride,” a campaign to encourage Florida residents to vacation in-state. Why not start with the ultimate in luxury at The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota and book a room, a spa treatment and dinner reservations at Jack Dusty?

The Westin Sarasota

100 Marina View Dr., Sarasota, (941) 217-4777,

 Set sail to the Westin Sarasota, a hotel where you can quench your thirst for wanderlust. Chillax by the rooftop pool, book a spa treatment, then walk downtown for dinner and shopping. After weeks on lockdown, we don’t think you’ll mind the stroll.

Art Ovation Hotel

1255 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota (941) 316-0808,

Book one of the luxurious rooms in this boutique hotel that inspires creativity. Experience distinctive artwork and culinary experiences, live performances, tours and workshops. With a history of celebrating the arts, this unique downtown destination is the ideal setting for romantic retreats, family vacations and business trips. Turn new experiences into enduring memories.

The Sarasota Modern

1290 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota, (941) 906-1290,

Check in to this luxury boutique hotel which fuses captivating architecture with minimalist design and artistic flair, creating an inviting space for creative minds.

Tee It Up (Best Golf Course)

University Park Country Club

7671 The Park Blvd., University Park, (941) 355-3888,, Facebook

The award-winning golf course welcomes daily fee players with three-day advance tee times. The Park Grille & Café is open to the public, as well, for lunch daily and on Sunday for its famous Sunday mimosa brunch buffet. Weddings, special occasion events, private parties and golf tournaments are memorable here.

The Meadows Country Club

3101 Longmeadow, Sarasota, (941) 371-6000,

With two 18-hole courses and one nine-hole course, members can play to their hearts’ content (although The Meadows is going to close its nine-hole course and give it a complete makeover soon). Not a member? Check out the club the summer, when it offers tee times to residents and visitors who want to get in on the fun.

Laurel Oak Country Club

2700 Gary Player Blvd., Sarasota, (941) 378-3608, 

Do the names Gary Player and Rees Jones ring any bells? Each of these golf legends designed a breathtaking, challenging and meticulously maintained 18-hole course at Laurel Oak. Here's a question: Why settle for one championship golf course when you can have two? Always a tee time; always a group to join; and expert instruction to hone your game. Championship golf for every player at every level.

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