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New Year's in Sarasota: Friends, Food and Cuban Flair

Program Number: 21262RJ
Start and End Dates:
12/28/2014 - 1/2/2015;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Sarasota, Florida
Price starting at: $1,549.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Holidays Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 14; 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 4 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

Beautiful sunsets, circus magic, Cuban flair and good food and friends. What more can you want to ring in the New Year? Join us in Sarasota for a special celebration on Florida’s Gulf of Mexico. Learn about the Cuban connection of historic Ybor City on a walking excursion and take in a Flamenco show. Marvel at John and Mable Ringling’s palatial estate, Ca’ d’Zan. Join an architecture instructor and artist to learn about the impressive buildings of Sarasota. Visit the Ringling Museum of Art, the Ringling Museum of the Circus and hear a firsthand account of life in the circus from the former dean of Clown College.


• Enjoy a New Year’s Eve party with Cuban music.
• View colossal parade wagons, sequined costumes and memorabilia documenting the history of the “Greatest Show on Earth” at the Ringling Museum of Art.
• Float Sarasota Bay looking for dolphins and manatees.

Activity Particulars

Walking 1.5-2 miles for four of the six days.

Date Specific Information


Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Coordinated by the Friendship Centers.


Situated on the beautiful Gulf of Mexico on Florida's west coast, Sarasota is rich in cultural treasures and recreational attractions within a short driving distance, including the outstanding John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the Ringling Museum of the Circus, art galleries, golf courses and beaches.

Beachfront hotel with two swimming pools.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Kevin Costello

Kevin Costello is an artist, teacher, and writer who is presently an instructor in advanced drawing at the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota and lectures on the history of art at the Longboat Key Education Center. An honors graduate of Goldsmiths College, University of London and the Chelsea School of Art, he has served as an art correspondent for many publications, most recently the Sarasota Herald Tribune. He is also a member of the City of Sarasota’s Public art Committee.
Aaron Watkins

Aaron Watkins has shared laughter with people everywhere from the White House to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. He was featured in HBO’s “The Big Event,” and in the children’s book “Whose Shoes Are These?” Aaron directed Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade clowns and served as Dean of Students at the famed Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College. He is a proud recipient of the Raoul Wallenberg Humanitarian Award for his work in bringing laughter to seriously ill children.
Robert Horne

An Atomic War veteran, Bob Horne served and conducted experiments in the U.S. Navy during the Eisenhower administration, later working at the Environmental Protection Agency. He married the granddaughter of Rudy Bundy, the late Ringling Brothers Circus treasurer and friend of John Ringling. Bob is currently the President Emeritus of Circus World and operates a restaurant in restored train cars decorated with photos from his life with the circus.
Eladio Amores

Eladio Amores was born in Marianao, Havana, Cuba, and has traveled through most of the world. A corporate consultant with the Florida Department of Education Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, he assists companies who are seeking to enhance their diversity and inclusion programs. Eladio has a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s in urban studies from Southern Connecticut State University, as well as a degree in public administration from the University of New Haven. He also is a graduate of the University of South Florida’s HR certificate program. Eladio is the former chair of the Florida Business Leadership Network, as well as the former chair of the Board of Directors of The Able Trust, which is the Florida Governor’s Alliance for the Employment of Citizens with Disabilities.
Meals and Lodgings
   Lido Beach Resort
  Sarasota, FL 5 nights
 Lido Beach Resort
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Hotel is located directly on the beach with the Gulf View Jr. Suites-Catagory #1 Accommodations with a private balconey and Gulf of Mexico View. Standard rooms Accommodation #2 do not have a Gulf of Mexico view. Take in breathtaking sunsets, enchanting tropical views and see dolphin making their daily trek through the Gulf. Walking distance to the renowned St. Armands Circle featuring dazzling dining, unforgettable entertainment and some of the finest boutique shopping in the world. Hotel has a van to drive guests to the circle if they choose not to walk.
  Contact info: 700 Ben Franklin Dr.
Sarasota, FL 34236 USA
phone: 941-388-2161
  Room amenities: Category #2 Standard Room: Enjoy a free daily newspaper, ample closet space, plush top bedding, a refrigerator, microwave, coffeemaker, high-speed Internet access, voice mail, 25" TV, clock radio, electronic safe, and a hair dryer. Bottled water and popcorn are included in room. Category #1 Gulf View Jr. Suite: Must upgrade at time of registration with Road Scholar. This room features a private balcony overlooking the Gulf of Mexico and more upgrades. Bottled water and popcorn are included in room. If you wish to upgrade to the Gulf View Jr. Suite, (Category #1) please do so with Road Scholar participant registration.
  Facility amenities: Enjoy two beachfront free-form pools, three poolside Jacuzzis with a tropical landscaped sundeck. Private beach so you can splash around in the surf. A 900 sq ft exercise room is available to guests if you desire more exercise than long walks on the beach. Services include; a business center, two restaurants, lounge, beachside tiki bar and a garden area with waterfalls. When registering with Road Scholar there is an option to upgrade to a Gulf View Jr. Suite which is classified as Category #1 Accommodations.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: $179-$350 +$20 nightly res fee A green form is mailed to participants in their first welcome letter from Senior Friendship Centers which is sent within two weeks of enrollment date. Please make reservations directly with the Senior Friendship Centers by mailing us the form or by calling 941.556.3269, for a discounted rate for additional nights stay. You will be charged by the hotel upon arrival for the additional nights. No deposit required! There is also a $20 per room night resort fee and applicable taxes.
  Check in time: 4:00 PM
  Additional nights after: $179-$350 +$20 nightly res fee A green form is mailed to participants in their first welcome letter from Senior Friendship Centers which is sent within two weeks of enrollment date. Please make reservations directly with the Senior Friendship Centers by mailing us the form or by calling 941.556.3269, for a discounted rate for additional nights stay. You will be charged by the hotel upon arrival for the additional nights. No deposit required! There is also a $20 per room night resort fee and applicable taxes.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Hotel Check-in is 4:00pm. Road Scholar program registration is 3:30-5:00pm (located on the 8th floor foyer, turn left then right after exiting the elevator). You will be staying at Lido Beach Resort that night.
  End of Program:
Hotel Check-out is 12 Noon. The program concludes at 10:30am; box lunch provided. You will be staying at Lido Beach Resort the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. The Road Scholar Health & Safety Information and personal information form must be completed and mailed to Senior Friendship Centers no later than three weeks prior to program commencement.
  Parking availability:
To Start of Program
  Location:  Sarasota, FL
  Nearest city or town:  Sarasota and Longboat Key
  Nearest highway: I-75 and U.S. 41
  Nearest airport:  Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport
  From End of Program
  Location: Sarasota, FL
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport


From Airport




Diplomat Taxi
phone: 941-365-8294


Per Person/One Way:


Approx $35
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


30 min. 




18 miles


Taxis are readily available 24hrs a day at the SRQ Airport.


Tampa International Airport


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Starlight Limousine
phone: 941-923-1896
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Approx $95 to hotel
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


1 hr 30 min 




65 miles


They use executive town cars and SUVs, please ask for Rick.

Driving Directions
  I-75 From I-75 exit #210 (Fruitville Rd) go west six miles to Tamiami Trail, also known as U.S. 41. Turn left and continue south three blocks to Gulfstream Avenue. Make a right onto the Causeway, John Ringling Bridge and continue to St. Armands Circle. Continue halfway around the circle and follow the signs to Lido Beach and make a left at the beach onto Ben Franklin Drive. The Lido Beach Resort will be on your right just past the public beach and is approx. 7.5 miles from the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrival & Check-in, Registration & Orientation, Getting to Know You
(Sunday, December 28)
 Afternoon: HOTEL CHECK-IN: 4:00pm. Rooms may be ready earlier.
PROGRAM REGISTRATION: Come over to the Road Scholar desk in the 8th floor hallway between 3:30-5:00pm to register with the program staff and pick up your arrival packet that we'll review during orientation.
ORIENTATION: Begins at 5:00pm in our meeting room. We'll have an overview of the program ahead and review the up-to-date schedule, responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and any other administrative issues. Please be aware that local circumstances may require adjusting program elements. In the event of changes, we will notify you as quickly as possible. We appreciate your understanding.
 Dinner: Dinner is a catered affair (by the hotel restaurant) in our private room beginning at approximately 6:00pm. We have worked with the chef to provide meals that are both tasty and nutritious. (There will be a vegetarian option available for you if you note a vegetarian preference on your Health & Safety form.)
 Evening: GETTING TO KNOW YOU: After dinner we'll spend some time becoming better acquainted with participants and program staff. Find out what you have in common beyond a love of learning! The rest of the evening is yours to continue making new friends or just to relax and prepare for the full day of activity ahead.
You are about to embark on a new "Sarasota History and Ybor City, Tampa Cuban History" learning adventure. Whether this is your first visit or another chapter in an ongoing love affair with this lovely city, you'll encounter fascinating highlights of history and culture, people and places.
Accommodations: Lido Beach Resort
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Two morning classes to prepare you for Ringling Museum & an Architectural Walking Field Trip, Depart for Ybor City in Tampa
(Monday, December 29)

Note: Must be able to walk at a 2.0 mile per hour pace for up to 2 miles on the narrated walking tour. There are a few benches on the way.

 Breakfast: Breakfast is in our private room is a full breakfast.
 Morning: PRESENTATION: Discuss Ringling as a collector and the architectural elements of his famous home. Delve into the social and political backgrounds of the late Renaissance and Baroque periods, including Peter Paul Rubens and his contemporaries featured at the museum. br> We'll have a short break before resuming the educational program.
An architecture instructor-artist will provide an overview of historic buildings from an architectural view as well as points of interest you’ll see on our afternoon narrated walking field trip this week.
 Lunch: Lunch in our private meeting room before our visit to Ybor City in Tampa.
 Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: Partake in an historic walk through Ybor City with Cuban guide, also visit the Ybor City Museum State Park. Opportunity to stop for a coffee or mojito which is included. (money is given for your choice or save your money for a special drink at dinner)
 Dinner: Enjoy dinner at the Historic Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. (alcoholic beverages are not included and are on a cash basis with the individual and the restaurant)
 Evening: PERFORMANCE: Savor dessert while enjoying a Flemenco show at the restaurant. Be amazed at the costumes and the excitment by the performers. (Cuban dancing performance.)
Accommodations: Lido Beach Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Discuss the historic sites and statues from Ybor City yesterday, Field Trip to Ringling Museum Complex. Dinner is own your own tonight.
(Tuesday, December 30)

Note: The Ringling Museum Complex is very large, but there are many benches throughout the museum and its grounds. Up to 1.5 miles of walking is necessary to experience it all. Take the free hotel shuttle to St. Armands Circle for dinner on your own. They drop off and pick up at Tommy Bahamas Restaurant. (not the store)

 Breakfast: Continental breakfast in our private room.
 Morning: PRESENTATION: Delve into historic sites and statues, ie, Jose Mart seen yesterday in Ybor City with Cuban expert.
FIELD TRIP: We begin our exploration as your explore at your own pace through palatial Ca' d'Zan, described as “the last of the Gilded Age mansions” to be built in America. John and Mable Ringling greatly admired the unique architectural style of the Danieli and the Bauer-Grunwald hotels in Venice, as well as palaces that face the Venetian canals. This architectural style, called "Venetian Gothic," greatly influenced the Cà d'Zan's design. A comprehensive six-year, $15 million restoration and conservation was completed on Cà d'Zan in 2002.
The Ringling complex contains numerous wonders and we move next to the Circus Museum, established in 1948. Document circuses of the past and today as you view colossal parade and baggage wagons, sequined costumes, memorabilia and artifacts documenting the history of The Ringling family circus, John Ringling as the Circus King, and the greatest circus movie, The Greatest Show on Earth, was filmed in Sarasota.
Next is the museum’s Tibbals Learning Center with an exhibition of circus posters. Ranging in size from window to barn sized, these colorful posters were plastered on buildings, walls and fences all across America and broadcasted in no uncertain terms that the circus was coming to town. The learning center also contains the world's largest miniature circus — the Howard Bros. Circus Model — a replica of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus from 1919-1938, created over a period of more than 50-years.
 Lunch: We'll have lunch at Treviso, the museum's Italian restaurant.
 Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: We continue the afternoon at the extraordinary Ringling Art Museum where expert guided tours are available with local docents. The incredible building housing the collection emulates the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. John Ringling engaged architect John H. Phillips to design the museum in 1925. Construction began in 1927, but was slowed almost immediately by the collapse of Florida’s land boom and later, Wall Street’s stock market crash. Financial misfortune and Mable’s death in 1929 might have ended the dream, but John Ringling instead gained a new resolve to complete the museum, borrowing money as needed, knowing that it would perpetuate the memory of his beloved Mable. The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art was officially opened to the public in 1931.
After leaving the Art Museum, explore the gardens and grounds at your leisure. All you see was given to the people of Florida, thus preserving for generations to come the exuberant lifestyle of America’s spectacular Roaring Twenties. The beautiful landscaped grounds contain over 400 species of exotic Florida trees, plants, flowers, sculpture garden figures, and Mable's historic rose garden.
 Dinner: Dinner is on your own with new friends. You can take the hotel shuttle to St. Armands Circle or you may walk or dine in one of the hotels restaurants.
 Evening: Continue your exploration on the historic circle.
Accommodations: Lido Beach Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: Architecture walk through Downtown Sarasota, lunch downtown, afternoon cruise on Sarasota Bay."New Year's Eve Cuban Style."
(Wednesday, December 31)

Note: Must be able to walk at a 2.0 mile per hour pace for up to two miles on the narrated walking tour. There are benches however the group will need to keep moving in order to experience everything. Minimal walking from bus to afternoon cruise on Sarasota Bay.

 Breakfast: Breakfast consits of a full breakfast in our private meeting room.
 Morning: Board our private bus as we explore the exterior of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center, designed by architect William Wesley Peters of Frank Lloyd Wright's firm and dubbed "the purple cow" and "the purple people seater" when it first opened in 1970, then continue on to the Sarasota Visitor's Center Museum for a deeper understanding of our fine cities' local history.
Start our expert-led walk focusing on significant architectural landmarks in downtown Sarasota, starting at City Hall, highlighted by the 1926 Sarasota Times Building, designed by Dwight James Baum and other significant buildings.
 Lunch: Lunch in downtown Sarasota. Part of the charm of this program is choosing the cuisine you prefer, whether classic North or South American, Asian, French, Greek, Indian, Italian, Spanish, and many more.
 Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: Float through Sarasota Bay as you enjoy a relaxing, entertaining, and informative cruise through calm waters along the shoreline of Sarasota Bay — flanked by palm trees! As the narrator tells you about some of the area’s fascinating history and folklore, gaze at magnificent homes right out of Architectural Digest. If you’re lucky, you may see local bottlenose dolphins and even manatees?
 Dinner: NEW YEAR'S EVE DINNER: Start the evening festivities with a New Year's Buffet Dinner.
 Evening: NEW YEAR'S EVE CELEBRATION CUBAN STYLE: New Year's Eve Party with Cuban musical entertainment and Cuban traditional celebrations. Ring in the New Year with old and new friends. New Year's Eve party ends at 11:00pm. Participants may stay on their own until 12 Mid., if they prefer. Various hors d'œuvre items will be available for your enjoyment at the party along with two glasses of the following either, wine or beer or soda or water, plus a champagne toast. (A cash bar will be available at the party for any additional celebratory needs required.)
Accommodations: Lido Beach Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: HAPPY NEW YEAR! Clowning in Sarasota, Walk to the "Circus Ring of Fame," lunch at St. Armands Circle/Free afternoon and evening, dinner on your own. Farewell dinner and evening class on Circus Folk.
(Thursday, January 1)

Note: Walking up to one mile each way to explore the "Circus Ring of Fame." Hotel shuttle van can return you to the hotel if requested after the presentation. (you must schedule with hotel yourself for a pick up.

 Breakfast: Continental breakfast in our private room.
 Morning: PRESENTATION: Hear first hand experiences with the Ringling Bros Circus with clown, the former Dean of Clown College. (He is not dressed in a clown costume.)
FIELD TRIP: We’ll walk to St. Armand’s Circle where a local expert will highlight many of the bronze plaques on the “Circus Ring of Fame” commemorating 80 circus greats from around the world. You’ll also learn more about John Ringling’s role in the development of St. Armand’s Key.
 Lunch: We'll have lunch out in one of Sarasota's characteristic restaurants on historic St. Armands Circle.
 Afternoon: EXCURSION: Free afternoon to enjoy the historic circle or head back to the hotel by hotel shuttle and enjoy the beautiful beach, swimming pools or Jacuzzi.
 Dinner: Farewell Dinner
 Evening: PRESENTATION: Famous Circus Folks Past to Present. Learn about performers from legendary animal trainer Gunther Gebel-Williams to highwire walker Tino Wallenda Zoppe.
Accommodations: Lido Beach Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Cuban Citizen: his life then and now, Program Concludes
(Friday, January 2)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in our private room is a full breakfast.
 Morning: Join us for a farewell lecture with a Cuban Citizen. Learn about his life in Cuban and now in America. Hear first-hand of his family's role in Cuban history.
 Lunch: Box lunches are provided and available for those who need to depart early. If you wish to stay and have your lunch after the final presentation, you may eat in our private room or on the patio by the pool.
This concludes the program. We hope you have enjoyed this new learning adventure and will join us for other rewarding Road Scholar programs in the future. We wish a wonderful New Year!
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Free Time Opportunities
  Sarasota, FL Sarasota attractions
Sarasota is known as the cultural arts center of Florida. The area has a plethora of activities: Selby Botanical Gardens, Ringling Museum of Art, Mote Marine Aquarium, Historic Spanish Point, Sarasota Jungle Gardens, Florida WestCoast Symphony, Sarasota Opera House, Van Wezel Performing Arts Center, Sarasota Ballet Co., Asolo Theatre Co., Golden Apple Dinner Theatre. The area also offers several high quality beaches, boat rentals, water skiing, canoeing and kayaking. Hiking in two local state parks. For additional information, visit
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Ybor City Chronicles: A Memoir

Author: Ferdie Pacheco

Description: "Ferdie Pacheco takes us to a vanished time and place, full of affectionate laughter, the invincible optimism of immigrants, and the delicious aroma of good cigars. He makes all of us wish we'd grown up in Ybor City."--Pete Hamill

The Immigrant World of Ybor City: Italians and Their Latin Neighbors in Tampa

Author: Dr Gary R Mormino and George Pozzetta

Hidden History of Sarasota

Author: Jeff LaHurd

John Ringling: Dreamer, Builder, Collector

Author: John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

Ringling: The Florida Years, 1911-1936

Author: David Chapin Weeks

The Circus in Miniature: The Howard Bros. Circus Model

Author: Deborah W. Walk et al

The Ringling Legacy

Author: Pat Ringling Buck

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