Signature City Sarasota: “America’s Best Small City”
Get to know Sarasota alongside experts as you discover its grand architecture, native wildlife, circus history, renowned theater and the cosmopolitan character of this Gulf Coast gem.
Rating (5)
Program No. 19350RJ
6 days
Starts at
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6 days
5 nights
13 meals
5 B 4 L 4 D
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Sarasota, FL
Lido Beach Resort

Activity note: Resort check-in from 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table in the 8th floor foyer to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing an up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes and other important information. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the program theme, the up-to-date Daily Schedule and any changes, discuss safety guidelines, emergency procedures including contact numbers for key staff, roles and responsibilities, and answer any questions you may have. Indicated times are approximate. Program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. We have set aside some free time in the schedule for your personal independent exploration. The Group Leader will often be available during free time to accompany informal excursions, activities, or meals that have been excluded from the program cost. You are welcome to join if you like, with any associated costs on your own. Our lunches on Tuesday and Wednesday will be selected ahead of time. We will fill out the preorder forms on the first evening of the program.

Dinner: In our private meeting room, the bountiful, tropical-themed dinner catered by the hotel restaurant includes salad, choice of entrée (chicken or fish), vegetables, bread, dessert, coffee, iced tea, water; other beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: At the resort, we will spend some time becoming better acquainted with participants and program staff and fill out the lunch preorder forms. 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 "Signature City" learning adventure in Sarasota. 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.

Ringling Art, Historic Sarasota, Ring of Fame, Circus Folks
Sarasota, FL
Lido Beach Resort

Activity note: Walking approximately 1-1/2 miles on city sidewalks. The hotel shuttle will pick up participants who do not want to walk to the circle or back to the hotel.

Breakfast: The breakfast buffet offers a rotating daily variety of hot and cold dishes such as hot and cold cereals, seasonal fresh fruit, muffins, bagels, toast, cream cheese, jams and preserves, yogurt, granola, freshly squeezed orange juice, prune juice, freshly brewed coffee and hot teas, water.

Morning: PRESENTATION: Learn about select pieces of John Ringling's extensive art collection from a curator's viewpoint. 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 on Tuesday.

Lunch: Enjoy a luncheon on St. Armand's Circle with a non-alcoholic beverage using vouchers handed out by the Group Leader. Relax and enjoy a meal from a plethora of award winning restaurants.

Afternoon: Take a walk with previous years master of ceremonies for the International "Circus Ring of Fame" induction ceremony on St Armand's Circle in Sarasota. On January 13, 2018, Chuck Sidlow, your presenter will be inducted into the "Circus Ring of Fame." He 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. Walk back to our private meeting room in the hotel where you'll learn from our clown expert about famous performers from legendary animal trainer Gunther Gebel-Williams to highwire walker Tino Wallenda Zoppe.

Dinner: At the resort.

Evening: At the resort, the Group Leader will introduce the Ringling Museum Complex, a legacy of John Ringling and his wife Mable. We will discuss the next day’s field trip to the Ca’ d’Zan, and the best exhibits to visit.

Painting Sarasota, Architecture walk, Singer
Sarasota, FL
Lido Beach Resort

Activity note: Walk approximately 1.5 miles

Breakfast: At the resort.

Morning: At the resort, learn more about the circus from a gentleman who has had a lifelong love for Sarasota and the circus. He will share his personal stories and experiences as we learn why some refer to Sarasota as “America’s Circus City.”

Lunch: Depart from the resort in our bus to enjoy lunch in downtown Sarasota using the vouchers provided for you. 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: We will set out on foot for an expert-led walk through downtown Sarasota. Focusing on the city’s significant architectural landmarks, we will view sites including City Hall and the 1926 Sarasota Times Building. Boarding the bus, we will drive by the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center for a panoramic excursion, during which our Group Leader will share some insight into this Sarasota landmark. Dubbed “the purple people seater,” the center was designed by William Wesley of Frank Lloyd Wright’s legacy architectural firm.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: Please join us after dinner for Musical Entertainment, by Rob, his voice will remind you of Frank Sinatra.

Ringling Museum Complex, Dinner at St. Armand's
Sarasota, FL
Lido Beach Resort

Activity note: Walk up to 1-1/4 miles with long periods of standing; plenty of benches to rest on at the Ringling Complex

Breakfast: At the resort.

Morning: Explore the Ringling Complex beginning the Circus Museum and the Tibbals Learning Center. Established in 1948, the museum follows the development of the modern circus and the history of The Ringling circus through films, memorabilia, and artifacts. The Tibbals Center features a vast exhibition of circus posters ranging from the size of a window to the side of a barn. The center is also home to the “world’s largest miniature circus” – a 3/4 size replica of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus from the 1920’s.

Lunch: We will select luncheon choices on Sunday, prior to arrival at the museum’s table service restaurant. Enjoy a lunch sized salad or sandwich and the chef’s choice of dessert, plus coffee (regular/decaf), tea (hot/iced), water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: With a local expert on a timed ticketed, visit the palatial Ca’ d’Zan, described as “the last of the Gilded Age mansions” to be build in America. After extensive travel through Europe, the John and Mable greatly admired the art and the Venetian architectural styles of the Ducal Palace, Ca’ d’Oro, and the Grunwald Hotel. Wanting to bring the architectural styles home with them, the Ringling’s began constructing the Ca’ d’Zan in 1924 and finished the complex just before Christmas of 1926. We will continue the afternoon at the extraordinary Ringling Art Museum. The incredible building housing the collection emulates the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Contracting architect John H. Phillips, construction began in 1927 but was slowed due to economic and financial misfortune, followed by Mable’s death in 1929. With new determination to finish the museum in Mable’s memory, Ringling borrowed money as needed. Completed in 1931, “The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art” officially opened to the public. 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: We suggest walking or taking the resort shuttle to St. Armand's Circle, renowned as a continental marketplace. The Circle is a charming and graceful synthesis of past and present. Relax and enjoy a meal from a plethora of award winning restaurants; trinkets and treasures, from gourmet snacks to candlelit feasts.

Evening: At leisure. Linger over dinner with new found friends, stroll around St. Armand's Circle, or set off to explore more of what Sarasota has to offer.

Selby Botanical Gardens, Cruise, Asolo play
Sarasota, FL
Lido Beach Resort

Activity note: Walk up to one mile at Selby Botanical Gardens. Walk one block to board the boat for the bay cruise.

Breakfast: At the resort.

Morning: Departing by bus, we will explore Marie Selby Botanical Gardens with a local expert. Located at the bayfront home of Marie and William Selby, the gardens are dedicated to sharing their appreciation of tropical plants with the world through research, conservation, education, and displays. The open-air and under-glass museum is spread throughout seven greenhouses and more than 20 habitats with banyans, bamboo, mangroves, wildflowers, succulents, and more. The garden is perhaps best known for its living collection of more than 6,000 orchids. Also on the grounds is the former Christy Payne Mansion, a unique example of eclectic Southern Colonial architecture. The Mansion, on the National Register of Historic Places, is the home to ever-changing botanical art and photography exhibits. In the time remaining before lunch, feel free to see more of your favorite areas.

Lunch: Dining al fresco at Selby Botanical Gardens, enjoy your selected meal of a sandwich or salad with a freshly baked dessert, plus coffee, tea, water.

Afternoon: A short walk on a sidewalk will take you directly to the marina. 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: Dinner is at the resort in our private meeting room.

Evening: Board the bus to attend a play at the Asolo Theater. See "Rhinoceros" by Eugene Ionesco, adapted and directed by Frank Galati. A farce. A tragedy. A magical experiment for the mind. Brace yourself for this illuminating new adaptation by two-time Tony Award-winner Frank Galati. Berenger is a simple man with a simple life. He has a regular job, drinks too much, and has a flirtatious relationship with his coworker Daisy. But his day is interrupted by a rhinoceros charging through town – then another and another, until all of the townspeople transform into rhinos. As one of the few humans remaining, Berenger ponders the ramifications of literally following the herd. Written just after World War II, Rhinoceros was considered a masterpiece of absurdist theatre, where the world is incomprehensible and anything a writer can imagine can happen. Don’t miss this hilarious satire about mass culture, conformity, and integrity. After the play board the bus to return to the resort.

Animal Trainer, Program Concludes
Sarasota, FL

Activity note: Resort check-out from 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: At the resort.

Morning: Joined by a zoologist in our private meeting room, we will learn about the various habitats of some reptile species native to Florida. There will be an opportunity to hold some of the reptiles for a personal photo This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy all your Road Scholar learning adventures and we look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. We encourage you to join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!

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