Siesta Key is one of many reasons 55 Places named Sarasota-Bradenton as one of the best places to retire to in 2018.

With 13 public beaches and an average temperature of 72 degrees, the Sarasota-Bradenton region of Florida is easily a top retirement pick for active adults looking for a place to settle. It’s just south of Tampa and a couple of hours from Miami on the lush Gulf Coast that’s known for stunning sunsets and scrumptious seafood.

Finding a desirable, affordable place to live in Sarasota/Bradenton is also easy, and its international airport makes it convenient to travel around the country and the world.

All this made us name Sarasota and Bradenton as number two on our Best Places to Retire in 2018 list. Here are some of the best reasons to consider retiring in the area.

Arts Abound on the Sarasota Scene

A dynamic arts scene is critical for any small city, and Sarasota does not disappoint. Check out live music, dance, and comedy performances at The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Visit The Ringling, which is one of the most impressive collections of art in Florida.

Asian art, antiquities, American and European masterpieces are all on display in the permanent collection, and temporary exhibits range from medieval pieces to modern, multi-media installations. Sarasota also has the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, a living museum with interpretive exhibits for indoor and outdoor art.

Sarasota Salt Life: Beaches

Sarasota and Bradenton have some of the most beautiful beaches along the Gulf Coast. Coquina Beach and Anna Maria Island have white sands, clear water, and lots of opportunities for boating, swimming, snorkeling, and fishing in the Bradenton Beach.

In Sarasota, be sure to visit Siesta Key and Turtle Beach, where you’re likely to find beach volleyball games, and you can easily slip into a coffee shop or a restaurant when you need a break from the sun and sand. Longboat Key is home to local beachgoers as well as breeding sea turtles.

Plenty of Nature

Just a couple of minutes southeast of downtown Sarasota is Myakka River State Park, which has something for every active adult who loves nature. There’s a wildlife drive through the forest, where you’re likely to see alligators, deer, bobcats, and wild turkeys.

Birders will love the Bird Walk, which takes visitors on a boardwalk out over the river to admire white pelicans, herons, hawks, and winter birds like coots and migratory ducks. There’s also hiking, camping, and airboat tours.

One of the oldest state parks in Florida, Myakka River State Park was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. In Bradenton, Leffis Key Preserve is another great place to enjoy birds, nature, and some of Florida’s most wild habitats. There are also gorgeous views over the shoreline and the swampy wetlands. 

Pockets of Culture and History

Another great reason for a Sarasota/Bradenton retirement is that you just never know what you’ll stumble upon in the area’s various neighborhoods. There’s a settlement of Amish snowbirds, for example.

Sarasota’s Pinecraft neighborhood is home to Amish and Mennonite families who work, learn, and have fun just like everyone else. They run fruit stands, candy shops, and furniture stores. Six minutes from Bradenton, in Terra Ceia, you’ll find the Madira Bickel Mounds, an ancient Native American burial site dating back 2,000 years.    

Choice Housing for 55+ Residents

Finding a place to live in the Sarasota/Bradenton area won’t be difficult. There are nearly two dozen communities to choose from. Cascades at Sarasota is one of the most popular places to live, especially for residents who love activities. There’s karaoke, a singles club, tap dancing classes, and photography.

In Bradenton, Mirabella is one of the newest communities for active adults 55 and older, and especially attractive to buyers who like a lot of resort-style amenities and modern floor plans. If low-maintenance condo living is more appealing, you’ll want to check out Harbour Isle in Bradenton or Siesta Harbor in Sarasota.