Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun
February 20, 2012
Distance from Baltimore: 894 miles, about a four-hour flight (with stop)
Why it's hot:Yes, you can spend some time relaxing on the stunning white beaches such as Lido Beach and Siesta Key Public Beach or try out fishing, parasailing and other water sports on the beautiful Siesta Key. But the real reason to visit Sarasota in the winter is to see the Baltimore Orioles at spring training. The birds flock to their off-season base here in Sarasota around February. In addition to baseball games and autographs, visitors can also experience hands on exhibits at the Mote Marine Aquarium, home to more than 100 species of marine life or learn about Floridas larger mammals at the Big Cat Habitat & Gulf Coast Sanctuary. Take a step back in time at the Gamble Plantation, the antebellum home to Major Robert Gamble and the only surviving plantation in South Florida. Mix it up for some fun at the Sarasota Classic Car Museum, the second oldest antique car museum in the nation with over 100 antique, exotic cars.
Don't miss: The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Open daily, six self-guided tours are offered to lead you through the five-story structure. One of the greatest collections of art in Florida, the museum features paintings and sculptures by European, American and Asian artists, including Rubens, Gainsborough, van Dyck and more.
Information: For more information about Sarasota, Florida, go to http://www.visitsarasota.org