If going to college in a city with a bustling culture, great location and year-round events matters to you, then you’re in luck: Sarasota has it all.
This vibrant and sunny city has been ranked #3 for America’s Happiest Seaside Town, #15 for Best Small Cities in the U.S. and #3 for the 20 Best Places People Are Moving to in the U.S. It also has an average annual temperature of only 73°F – a perfect getaway from the frigid weather of more northern states.
So, what exactly makes Sarasota so great for college students? Take a look at just a few of the reasons below.
Thousands of students!
Sarasota may not be front-and-center when you think of the typical “college town,” but the region has more than 15,000 students enrolled in local schools all within a few miles of each other. These include USF Sarasota-Manatee, New College of Florida, Ringling College of Art & Design and State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota.
This means you can meet a diverse group of interesting and motivated individuals every semester. It also allows you to connect with other people at partnering institutions regularly or take classes at a few different schools if you so choose.
Siesta Key Beach has continues to be ranked as one of the top beaches in the U.S., and was recently ranked by Trip Advisor as No. 5 in the world, the only U.S. beach on the global list! The best part? It’s only about 15 minutes from USF Sarasota-Manatee!
Just a few miles south of Siesta, you’ll find Turtle Beach – a great location for weekend camping trips with your classmates. Or if you’ve always wanted to try horse surfing, check out Bradenton Beach a little farther north. There are also some great Old-Florida beach towns, like Anna Maria Island or the Cortez Historic Fishing Village.
Catch a Show
The Sarasota-Manatee region has dozens of options when it comes to the performing arts, and many of them also offer discounts for those with a student ID! Here are just a few of the top places to see a local show any month of the year:
- Asolo Rep Theatre
- The Players Centre for Performing Arts
- Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe
- Manatee Performing Arts Center
- Sarasota Opera
- Florida Studio Theatre
- Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
- McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre
- Sarasota Orchestra
- Sarasota Ballet
Nature, Science and History
From the Crowley Museum & Nature Center and the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, to the Myakka River State Park and over 30 parks within the city limits, Sarasota is abundant with natural history and wildlife. You could stroll through a park in town one day and explore an old nature trail the next.
Did we mention the beaches?
Every Sunday night, visitors and locals alike gather on Siesta Beach for a rhythmic drum circle and dancing as the sun sets over the Gulf. The music gets started about an hour before sunset and lasts until the last drummer leaves. Don’t be afraid to jump in with your own drum or cowbell.
And don’t forget Lido Key, which has a calm, quiet North Beach and the well-known Lido and South Beaches.
Students might spend a lot of time studying each spring semester, but they aren’t the only ones in training. With the beautiful, warm weather here every March, Sarasota is one of the cities where Major League Baseball players come to visit and practice before baseball season launches. You could take a break from the studying one evening and hang out under the stadium lights with friends and catch a Baltimore Orioles spring training game at Ed Smith Stadium.
Are farmer’s markets your scene?
If you are looking for fresh, locally-grown produce, unique artisan wares or delicious food-truck fare, you are sure to find something to pique your interest at the Sarasota Farmers Market! Founded in 1979, the Sarasota Farmers Market is a year-round market hosting over sixty vendors with 10,000 average weekly visitors.
Off-Campus Study Spots
Do you need a jolt of caffeine to get your day started or a little java jive for your late-night study sessions? The Sarasota-Manatee area has plenty of coffeehouses, from funky to simple, where you can find just the right cup! Close to campus you’ll find delicious pastries and warm service at Mama G’s. And around the corner from USFSM, Coffee Loft offers yummy treats, locally-sourced coffee and tea you can sip while lounging in their comfy couches where you can put the finishing touches on your already brilliantly-crafted paper.
Stay Up to Date
Want to check out what’s happening around town or register for upcoming events? Check out these local event calendars online:
Looking to attend a university in Sarasota?
Whether you’re looking for a vibrant place to live and launch your career, or you know and love Sarasota already, consider earning a degree at USF Sarasota-Manatee! Between the endless opportunities for culture, diversity, entertainment, activities and job growth, Sarasota is one of the best places to be for a college student year-round.
Learn more about our campus by taking a tour, exploring our website or reaching out to our Admissions team. Contact us online here, or call us at 941-359-4331 for questions about our programs and community.