Sarasota, FL has long been a favorite of tourists and retirees, thanks to its world-class white sand beaches and booming economy. Only a couple hours from both Tampa and Orlando, Sarasota is an accessible beach town that combines the eclectic culture of Florida's Gulf Coast with a more refined urban sensibility.
The Ringling Family, whose wealth came from the circus business, made Sarasota their home, and their 56-room Gothic-style mansion is still a big draw for tourists. There's also the world-class Ringling Museum of Art, as well as an art school that bears the Ringling name.
The beaches and keys here have spawned some world-class resorts and golf courses, but there are also down-to-earth beach bars and cafes. All in all, Sarasota has something for everyone, as you'll see in this diverse list of the five best Sarasota neighborhoods.
Located in downtown Sarasota, Laurel Park was designated a National Register of Historic Places District in 2008. If you're looking to buy, you should probably hold off on planning any big renovations until you check with the proper authorities.
As you might imagine from an official historic district, the architecture here is amazing. You can find bungalows and multi-unit apartment buildings in the Colonial revival, Mission revival, and Mediterranean revival styles, which gives the neighborhood a timeless vibe. There are even brick-lined streets to complete the classic aesthetic.
Laurel Park is one of the most walkable neighborhoods in Sarasota, with close proximity to everything downtown has to offer. It has the kind of winding alleys and unmistakable Florida charm that brings comparisons to that jewel of south Florida, Key West.
According to realtor.com the median list price in Laurel Park is $694,500.
This up-and-coming neighborhood offers walkability, green spaces, and relatively low home values, though home prices have been rising steadily for years. Located just north of downtown Sarasota, this neighborhood's packed with historic homes dating from the 1920s and 1930s, many of which have been recently updated. Right now, Gillespie Park is a great area to live or invest in.
The neighborhood's centered on Gillespie Park, one of the county's largest parks. The park offers tennis courts, playgrounds, and a huge pond, and is named after John Gillespie, Sarasota's first mayor and the builder of Florida's first golf course.
The median list price in Gillespie Park is $397,500, which is a 30.4% increase compared to a year ago.
Lakewood is a massive planned community of seven “villages.” Totaling over 17,500 acres, over half of the neighborhood is designated as open spaces and recreation areas. This policy has led to the development of a world-class polo club as well as an acclaimed golf course. There are also biking and walking trails, so if green space is high on your list of must-haves, then you should give Lakewood Ranch serious consideration.
Though a lot of Lakewood Ranch's amenities suggest a high-end gated community, the vibe here is inclusive and suburban. Each village has a walkable center with dining and retail, and the entire development's surrounded by picturesque wetlands. It's also a proud green community, with all construction since 2005 required to meet the Florida Green Building Coalition environmental standards.
Trulia data lists the median home sale price in Lakewood Ranch as $380,000, which is a 7% increase over the past year. The median rent is $2,155.
Siesta Key has one of the very best beaches in the entire country, so it should come as no surprise that it's one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Sarasota. Development is densely concentrated in the middle of the island, where Siesta Key Village offers open-air bars and waterfront restaurants, from which you can often see dolphins frolicking in the waves.
The south end is less busy and less developed, with Turtle Beach offering a low-key, natural vibe. The half-mile long beach is home to a sea turtle nesting habitat (hence the name). While it's not quite as Instagram-ready as the white sands of Siesta Beach, it is Blue Wave certified as environmentally friendly and is much less crowded than Siesta.
If you're settling here permanently, just keep in mind that the busy winter season can bring a massive rush of snowbirds and tourists.
The median home value in Siesta Key is $659,400, and the median rent is $1,417 according to data from Niche. About 85% of residents here own, as opposed to renting.
Indian Beach Sapphire Shores
Undoubtedly one of the swankiest neighborhoods in the greater Sarasota area, Indian Beach Sapphire Shores is located alongside the amazing Ringling estate. This neighborhood boasts historic mansions as well as modest single-family homes, the twin parks of Sapphire Shores and Indian beach, and has amazing views of Sarasota Bay.
The New College of Florida as well as the Ringling College of Art Design are also in the area, which gives the neighborhood a nice college town vibe. The median sale price here is $315,000, a 3.6% increase over this time last year.
When you're ready to move to Sarasota, your best move is to team up with a great local agent. An experienced Sarasota agent will make sure you get the best deal possible, and help you navigate every aspect of the long, complex home buying process.
Clever Partner Agents are top performers in their markets and come from top brands and brokerages. Whether you're looking to buy a beach home on Siesta Key or a condo overlooking the golf course in Lakewood Ranch, a Clever Partner Agent will help you find your dream home!