Enchanting Sarasota- The Circus, Celery, Cats, and Fairies

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What does enchanting Sarasota, Florida have to enhance the Gulf Coast culture?

We know there is endless beach recreation such as swimming at Lido Beach or the Siesta Key Drum Circle. However, there are many other engaging pursuits that you may not be aware of. 

How about the Circus? Big cats, celery, and fairies? 

If you are traveling in the central Gulf Coast area and are looking for something fun and unusual to do, read on.

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Can I Find Exotic Animals in Sarasota?

Yes, you can! At the Big Cat Habitat & Gulf Coast Sanctuary.

Many have watched the Tiger King television series on Netflix piquing their curiosity about big cats in captivity. 

The Big Cat Sanctuary and Gulf Coast Habitat was founded in 1987 to help rescue animals that never belonged in captivity to begin with. 

Working as a non-profit, all ticket admission goes towards the feeding and care of the animals. They strive to provide education to the public about animal care and the preservation of their natural habitats. 

Besides big cats, there are other exotic animals living at the sanctuary. Bears, primates, and birds to name a few. 

The hours to visit are Wednesday to Sunday from 12- 4. Close-up encounters with some animals such as a sloth or lemur are available by reservation.

Check out the Big Cat Habitat & Gulf Coast Sanctuary website for more information about how to plan your visit. 

Big Cat Habitat & Gulf Coast Sanctuary Sign
Big Cat Habitat & Gulf Coast Sanctuary in Sarasota Florida

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Enchanting Sarasota Nature

At The Celery Fields in Sarasota, Florida you can observe hundreds of species of birds in the wild. And yes, these fields once grew acres and acres of celery. 

During the early 20th century celery was a major agricultural crop in the area. Although that is no longer the case, the name The Celery Fields remains and consists of 400+ acres of protected land in Sarasota consisting of marsh, canals, and grasslands.

Celery was grown on multiple farms, but as the industry declined in the area, Sarasota County purchased the land in 1995. The county then began to restore 100 acres of the land to wetlands and planted over 200,000 aquatic plants completing the job in 2011. 

Today the land is utilized in several different ways. 

the trail in the celery fields
The Celery Fields Trail

Sarasota County has maintained trails and walkways to provide recreation to local residents and visitors. The outdoor activities include hiking, biking, and viewing the wildlife in its natural habitat. 

The Celery Fields has one of the few hills of any notable elevation in the area. 

Plan to spend a relaxing hour or two just wandering and soaking up the beautiful scenery. You can climb the trails and the eastern view from the hill overlooks the Big Cat Sanctuary in the distance. Find more information about hiking the Celery Fields here.

Migratory birds use The Celery Fields as a resting place and food source. It has become a very popular birdwatching spot.

The Sarasota Audubon Nature Center is onsite and open daily from 9 am to noon. There are docents who will educate you about the birds and wildlife that find their home there. Along with valuable information, the center provides amenities such as restrooms, a hydration station, and a gift shop. 

Sarasota Audubon Society Sign
Sarasota Audubon Society at The Celery Fields

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Is There Still a Circus in Sarasota?

Absolutely, almost all year round you can find a circus performance in Sarasota.  Kids of all ages will love the circus!  

Sarasota has often been called “Circus City, USA” and local residents pride themselves on the history that connects them to the circus. A walk around town will reveal many circus-themed places as the community embraces its roots. Look for Circus Park playground in Payne Park or stop in for a drink at the Big Top Brewery.

Circus Park in Sarasota Florida
Circus Park Playground

It all began around one hundred years ago. John Ringling made Sarasota his circus headquarters in the 1920s bringing the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey circus there for the winter. A savvy businessman he continued to invest and build in the area. 

Today The Ringling is comprised of an art museum, a circus museum, and his historic estate and gardens. All of these can be toured and are open daily from 10 am to 5 pm. Spend your day in this enchanting Sarasota activity discovering what was once billed as The Greatest Show on Earth. 

Sailor Circus has been around since 1949. Originally a class given at Sarasota High School, the program had developed and sustained its existence in the community. It is America’s longest-running youth circus.  The Circus Arts Conservatory runs classes, camps,  and community outreach programs continuing to educate and promote the performance arts today. 

Season to season, Sarasota is the place to see an unforgettable circus show while traveling in Florida.

Searching For Sarasota’s Tiny Fairy Doors 

What more enchanting activity could you find in Sarasota than searching for fairy homes? Take a leisurely walk down Main Street and you may happen upon several tiny doors. Hunting for these creates a fun adventure for an afternoon.

The amazing downtown coffee and ice cream shop, Rise & Nyes,  has created a Tiny Door Scavenger Hunt with clues to help your search. They even offer a prize if you complete it!

In addition to these charming tiny doors, all of Sarasota County is filled with outdoor art for you to appreciate. In your hunt for tiny fairy doors, you will notice sculptures and murals abound. Much of what you will find is concentrated in the downtown area. Heading over to St. Armands Circle on Lido Key will reveal more outdoor art (and maybe more tiny doors as well).

Tiny Fairy door in a tree
Tiny Fairy Door in Downtown Sarasota

Sarasota Florida is undoubtedly best known for its’ fabulous beaches such as Siesta Key. But remember not every day can be a beach day. 

Don’t let that thought spoil your vacation plans. Cold, rainy days or a beach break can not keep you down in enchanting Sarasota. 

Check out this ultimate guide to vacation fun in Sarasota.

While visiting Sarasota, don’t forget to try the delicious food Florida is famous for.

Explore this list of delicious souvenirs from Sarasota and all across Florida.


“Circus Museum.” The Ringling, https://www.ringling.org/circus-museum. Accessed 16 Jan. 2023.

Conservation Foundation. http://conservationfoundation.com. Accessed 13 Jan. 2023.

“The Celery Fields.” Sarasota Audubon | Sarasota, Florida, https://www.sarasotaaudubon.org/the-celery-fields/. Accessed 13 Jan. 2023.

“The Circus Arts Conservatory.” The Circus Arts Conservatory | Sarasota, https://circusarts.org/home-3/. Accessed 16 Jan. 2023.

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