Sarasota is appealing for many reasons. Something that makes the area unique is the history of arts and culture. John Ringling from Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus fame was an early snow bird who ended up developing land and neighborhoods to make Sarasota what it is today. The John and Mable Ringling Museum was established in 1927 and is a must stop destination with over 10,000 objects on display. One of my favorite parts of visiting the sprawling water front property is visiting Ca'd'Zan which is the mansion inhabited by John and Mable Ringling. It is an immense home styled in opulent Venetion fashion that is truly breathtaking and tours are available daily.
While in Sarasota you will want to see the show schedule at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. This is an 80,000 square foot square foot facility with 1736 seats. The shows that come to town include, Broadway, Classic, Dance and Special performances. I've visited the Van Wezel to see live shows, symphonies, and holiday concerts. I recommend going early and having dinner at Mattison's at the Van Wezel.
The list of things to do in Sarasota is much more diverse and interesting than what you can find in most other South West Florida towns. Art festivals, farmer's markets, outdoor dining, and living with great weather, water views and people who appreciate art and culture. That's what living in Sarasota is all about.