Suncoast Beaches, FL - Anna Maria Island, Bradenton, Longboat Key, Sarasota, Lido Key, Siesta Key & Venice - Vacation Travel Guide

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Suncoast Beaches Area Features

Enjoying the Sarasota Bayfront

Locals love the Sarasota Bayfront for its amazing water views mixed with flowering greenery and interesting pieces of art. Plus, there are many outdoor activities to enjoy and a few exceptional restaurants for a delicious meal. Visitors should take some time to visit this park to get a local’s perspective on the region’s natural and cultural beauty.

While driving along the bayfront, your attention will undoubtedly go to the 27-foot-high “Unconditional Surrender” statue. It’s one of the most unique statues in the area and is actually based on an iconic American photograph. Located off Bayfront Drive and the Tamiami Trail right before the Ringling Causeway this pillar of American fortitude is just a short walk from Sarasota Bayfront Park.

On August 14, 1945, President Truman announced the end of World War II following the surrender of the Japanese. As the story goes, in a moment of pure joy, a U.S. Navy sailor kissed a random nurse in New York City’s Times Square. There are many versions of this story because the identities of the individuals in the photo have never been truly confirmed. The prevailing thought is that the sailor was George Mendonsa and the nurse was Greta Zimmer Friedman, though over a dozen people have come forward claiming to be the sailor or nurse. Regardless, that iconic moment was captured by two photographers: Alfred Eisenstaedt’s “V–J Day in Times Square” photo became the iconic shot on the cover of Life magazine; and Victor Jorgensen captured another angle for The New York Times. The “Unconditional Surrender” statue that was created by J. Seward Johnson and graces the Sarasota landscape is based on Jorgensen’s photo.

Many people like to stand in front of the statue and re-create the pose. Some even dress up to do so! The victorious kiss reflects the national pride that erupted in the streets of the United States following the Allied victory. The statue is there to remind us of the actions that precipitated World War II and the devastation the war caused throughout the world. Now, it also reflects peace, joy and love.

Be sure to also visit nearby Sarasota Bayfront Park, which is considered by many to be one of the most scenic areas of the city. The dolphin statues that grace Sarasota Bayfront Park are quickly becoming icons of the city. Artist Steven Dickey cast these depictions of playful sea life and placed them over a fountain that is approximately 40 feet in diameter. Bronze, stainless steel and granite were the key materials used in creating this piece. Interestingly, the four dolphins that are frozen in time while frolicking through the water are actually the same size as an average dolphin found in the wild. This striking work of art debuted in Sarasota in 1995 and was funded by Marina Jack, Inc. and the City of Sarasota. While visiting the bayfront, stop by to visit these beautiful dolphins and include them in your vacation memories!

In addition to the dolphin statues, the park offers gorgeous scenery. Countless couples have chosen the park as the backdrop to their wedding or for a first date due to its romantic feel. After finding a parking spot with relative ease, visitors can stroll the circular sidewalk while taking in the tranquil atmosphere and stunning views of Sarasota Bay—all for free! In addition to the natural setting, the park hosts other works of art including the whimsical “Olympic Wannabes” sculpture. Plus, there are places to dock your boat, grab a bite to eat, and even rent watersports equipment like kayaks and paddleboards. Kids will love the playground and the splash park (summer only), couples will adore the romantic bench swings that overlook the water, and even the family dog will enjoy the exercise and playtime with other dogs on the grass or in the water. Sarasota Bayfront Park is a destination that should not be missed, and you’ll have plenty of opportunities for fun and fantastic views.
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