I never imagined parts of Florida to be chic, but Sarasota is that, a bit like Henley on Thames but in the states? It has the inland water ways that make you realize how close to the keys you are, and the pelicans that sit on every post they are far more interesting than sea gulls.
Sarasota has a wonderful stretch of white beach washed with the warm seas of the gulf of Mexico, while I was there the it was constantly in the high 80 c with a gentle breeze, swimming in the sea was just like been in a huge warm bath.
The Floridians themselves are very friendly bunch and very generous ,we walked along the beach and stopped to chat to a couple picnicking they invited us to join them, we stopped and had a beer with them, they told us the best local eating houses and the best places to shop. That evening we chilled out on the beach playing guitars with friends, drinking champagne with strawberries and singing to the stars, it took me back to my hippy days, I love the relaxed feeling of Sarasota and yet it is elegant with top class restaurants, hotels and shops.
Sarasota is beautifully clean and well kept, it is a little like staying in an English village but on a much larger scale it is also in a good position to visit many places along the coast before heading down to the keys, like Santa Maria island people go there just to watch the sunset on the beach truly magical.