Events & Festivals - Sarasota County Blog
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Holiday gifts can turn into a daunting expedition. Take our advice and find some great gifts for your loved ones to cherish!
It's the holiday season, a time when we are reminded of our blessings as we gather with friends and family to express appreciation for one another. We attend festive celebrations, share meals and exchange gifts.
But sometimes, finding those gifts can turn into a daunting expedition. So, why not take an easier route? Sarasota County is fortunate to have a wide variety of local retail choices for everyone on your holiday list.
Locally owned businesses and vendors are an ideal alternative when seeking special, unique, one-of-a-kind gifts. And by choosing "local" we support and sustain homegrown retailers, artisans and farmers.
If you would like some Authentic Florida gift ideas the following suggestions may help guide you:
Start at Sarasota's Farmer's Market
Every Saturday from 7 a.m. - 1 p.m. Sarasota's Downtown Farmers Market offers farm fresh produce, herbs, local honey and many unique gifts such as jams, jellies, art, crafts, homemade soaps and candles. Market vendors line Lemon Avenue both north and south of Main Street. While enjoying the market "vibe" pick up some fresh locally roasted coffee from Java Dawg for a hostess gift or stocking stuffer.
The Gift of Citrus
For many of us, shipping fruit to family and friends "up north" is a Sunshine State tradition. There's nothing quite like receiving the sweet juicy goodness of fresh Florida citrus when you are stuck in the snow. Whether you select fruit for your own holiday meals or have it shipped, Brown's Grove at the Farmer's Market will help you find the perfect selection. Home grown tangerines, grapefruit and oranges are in season. Two other local citrus growers, Albritton Fruit Company and Nokomis Groves, are also good choices when choosing fruit for the holidays.
Historically, Sarasota has been a mecca for artists and that tradition continues with talented creatives as they showcase their art, especially during the season. There are many art centers and galleries where Sarasota County talent is showcased and artwork is for sale: Art Centers Sarasota, Venice, Englewood and Longboat Key feature local artists. Sarasota is also home to the prestigious Ringling College Art + Design where talented student artwork can be purchased at the madeby Gallery. The Allyn Gallup Gallery, a downtown artists' cooperative features a wide range of artwork by locals or try the State of the Arts Gallery in downtown Sarasota. Also, Sarasota's Palm Avenue galleries line the street for the art connoisseur and shopper.
Local museums, gardens and attractions also have shops that source locally themed gifts and souvenirs. To capture Sarasota's colorful circus history, take a trip to the Ringling Museum Shop stocked with circus posters, keepsakes, jewelry, ornaments and books. For the gardener in your life, or anyone who appreciates the beauty of a garden, try Selby Gardens. Live orchids, bromeliads and other potted plants are available, plus books, paintings and jewelry. For a unique gift shop, try Historic Spanish Point for "old Florida" items such as homemade woven baskets, old-fashioned wooden toys, cookbooks and even shark teeth necklaces. Crowley Museum & Nature Center offers gift certificates for a full range of activities and classes including Full Moon Walks and local folk art classes on edible plants and canning. Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium offers "marine-themed" gifts and books – particularly children's items. And don't forget, each of these non-profit organizations offers annual memberships, a gift that keeps giving year around.
Floribbean Flo's is a hidden gem for Florida specific specialty foods ranging from gift baskets, to homemade baked goods (available for shipping) including Honey Bell Orange Cake, Key Lime Pie and specialty Florida gift products.
For the antiques collector in your life, head over to Sarasota Architectural Salvage, a large warehouse featuring repurposed recycled home and gift items. Many objects and artifacts have been salvaged from old local hotels, homes, and buildings with "old Florida" appeal.
Consider taking memories home with a Florida book. Try the downtown independent Bookstore 1 featuring the top selling books including local Florida authors. For used bargain books, try Brandt's Books, an old Sarasota institution.
And there's always Florida Kitsch for the loved ones in your life. Gift and trinket items like shells, flamingos, plastic alligators, Florida Santas, toys and sportswear make really fun gifts. Two specialty stores on Siesta Key will quench your desire for funky kitsch. Try the Green Turtle Shell & Gift Shop and the Beach Bazaar in Siesta Village.
Sarasota has many wonderful restaurants, and a gift certificate is a great choice. Or you could give a pair of tickets to a performance. Sarasota has seemingly endless choices for theater, opera, symphony, choral performances and dance. Maybe a weekend stay at a local inn, bed & breakfast or resort would suit your gift list.
Finding something authentically Florida may be just what you need to brighten your holiday gift giving.