Founded in the 1880s, Sarasota is located on the Gulf of Mexico about an hour's drive south of Tampa-St. Petersburg. The city is on a natural harbor, with several small inlets penetrating its coast. Sarasota's city limits also encompass Lido Key, St. Armand's Key, and Bird Key.
The city became a popular tourist destination for the wealthy during the first half of the 1900s. It is also famous as the winter home of Ringling Brothers Circus, and the palatial Ringling Museums on the north side by the Gulf attract thousands of tourists with a major art collection and permanent circus exhibits.