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From Tampa to Sarasota in a Day: 4 Must-Do Experiences

A day isn't nearly enough to see it all, but it's worth a try to visit the major tourist draws. The southwest coast of Florida is dense with interesting places in close proximity to each other. I flew to Tampa from Houston and then headed down the southwest coast with the most quirky stop in Bradenton.

1. Visit the Village of the Arts, the artsy enclave in Bradenton

A wrong turn on the route led me to an unexpected, beautiful place – the Village of the Arts in Bradenton, the artists' community where each house is as quirky as it gets. The Village is a collection of best local art galleries, restaurants, workshops, bakeries, quirky installations and murals. It all lives alongside the resident homes. I bet it makes the residents day to walk along these color-filled streets every day. Besides the galleries, the Village hosts special events and art walks every month.


2. Get swept away into the Renaissance past at the Ringling Museum of Arts

The Ringling Museum is a hidden gem of Florida. This rosé-walled beauty definitely elevated my experience when visiting the place. Founded in 1927 in the name of John and Mable Ringling, the family who built a traveling circus empire at the turn of the 20th century, this place is more than one could possibly expect from the museum.  Besides the art museum, the Ringling estate has quite a few landmarks– the Ringling's mansion, Ca' d'Zan, the rose garden, the Circus Museum, the Secret Garden and some others. The coolest part is its pink palace with the Renaissance courtyard.

Before you get to the art museum you will walk through the beautiful entrance arch, pretty greenery and the elegant –just behind the welcome area, restaurant-– the Muse at the Ringling, which decor totally lives up to its inspirational name.


3. Visit the Marietta Museum of Art and Whimsy  

Have you ever been to a real whimsical museum? Not the conceptual art galleries with the artworks that few understand, but a real happy whimsical treasury? Well, stop by the Marietta Museum to experience one. The place where you can stop pretending you understand art and actually enjoy it. There are not really many rules that make you feel discouraged to visit even before you get there: Don't Touch! Be Quiet! No Cameras Allowed! All the creations definitely are not the type to bore you. Quite the opposite.


4. Cap off your day at the Siesta beach

Slip out of the shoes to enjoy the softest sand between the toes and walk to the water's edge to go on a treasure hunt – beautifully-colored little butterfly shells. Beach regardless of the hour (or the season) is always a good idea, peaceful and charming with long stretches of coastline, fresh breeze and the feeling that time is passing slowly.



  1. Sadly, the Marietta Museum of Whimsy doesn't plan to reopen until November 2021, due to the pandemic. BUT ... It definitely is a MUST SEE.


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