Top Five Date Night Destinations Near Gracewater 

It’s Saturday night.  The kids are looking forward to a big bowl of popcorn and watching movies with their favorite sitter.  You and your significant other are looking forward to heading downtown for some much-needed couple time.  That’s really important, according to relationship experts. 

This may seem obvious, but if you don’t spend time with your spouse, you’re more likely to contemplate divorce. According to the Couples Center, those who don’t have at least one mutually meaningful connection a week are at greater risk for divorce. The women in these couples are 4 times more likely to initiate divorce and the men are 2.5 times more prone to initiate divorce when compared to couples who regularly take time every week to connect.

Fortunately, Gracewater’s Midtown Sarasota location gives you a wide variety of choices.  In fact, there are so many options within minutes of Gracewater, we thought we’d like to suggest five of our downtown favorites.

 1. – How about a romantic dinner downtown? 

 Sage features international cuisine and inspired cocktails.  Sage is located in one of Sarasota’s most famous landmarks, the historic Sarasota Times Building, which was designed in 1925 by renowned architect Dwight James Baum.  Baum was the visionary behind John and Mable Ringling’s stunning Ca d’Zan mansion, as well as our Sarasota County courthouse. The iconic building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

 Chef, Christopher Covelli, has received eight acknowledgements from the James Beard Foundation.  A native New Yorker, Chef Covelli is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York City, and was groomed by world-renowned chefs including Andre Soltner, Jacques Pepin and Alain Saihac. He’s hosted seven James Beard dinners in New York and his career spans across seven different countries. His culinary specialties span Classic French, Italian, Spanish and American haute cuisine. Just as his menu changes, Covelli said he sees food trends change weekly.

 What’s on the  menu at Sage?  You could start the evening off with cocktails like espresso martini or Mai Tai and a first course of crab and lobster cakes with cucumber aioli or classic Spanish white gazpacho.  The main course might be steamed Hake in a banana leaf with cilantro chutney or grilled Spanish octopus with Nuoc Mam and pickled watermelon over crispy farro.  You can have a romantic dessert to finish off the evening by splitting a peaches and cream éclair or warm berry cobbler.

Opera in Sarasota

2. – Spend a night at the opera.

 Sarasota Opera, now in its 63rd season, is located in another renovated building now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  In 2008, it underwent a $20 million renovation to bring it back to its original, stunning splendor.  Since 1983 the company has been under the artistic leadership of Victor DeRenzi. Recognizing the importance of training, Maestro DeRenzi founded the Apprentice Artist and Studio Artist programs. Sarasota Opera also maintains a commitment to education through its performances for local schools and the unique Sarasota Youth Opera program, currently the most comprehensive youth opera program in the nation.

 Sarasota Opera began attracting international attention with the Masterworks Revival Series, which presents neglected works of artistic merit and made history in 2016 by completing the Verdi Cycle, a 28-season effort to produce every work written by Giuseppe Verdi. Sarasota Opera is now the only opera company in the world to have presented every work, in every version and Maestro DeRenzi is the only conductor to have conducted all the composer’s works.

 But not just operas take place at the Sarasota Opera House.  It’s also home to the Sarasota Opera Food & Wine Festival and a Moonlight and Melodies dinner series. A night at the Sarasota Opera is a great opportunity to step out in style and make lasting memories together.

3. – Take a romantic walk through the grounds of The Ringling Museum.

The Ringling Museum of Art houses one of the finest art collections in Florida.  Built by John Ringling to house his personal collection of masterpieces in 1927, the museum features paintings and sculptures by European, American, and Asian Old Masters, including Rubens, van Dyck, Gainsborough, and more.

 The Ringling Ca d’Zan mansion was home to John and Mable Ringling. The 36,000-square-foot mansion reflects the splendor and romance of Italy. The five-story structure features 56 rooms and 15 bathrooms. John Ringling willed his property and art collection, plus a $1.2 million endowment, to the people of the State of Florida upon his death in 1936. One instruction of the will states that no one has permission to ever change the official name of the museum.  The grounds and gardens are also treated and cherished as works of art.  Mable Ringling’s rose garden was completed in 1913 while she and John were living in another house on the property. The rose garden is located near the original Mary Louise and Charles N. Thompson residence within the beautifully landscaped grounds overlooking Sarasota Bay. John and Mable are both buried very near this garden, just to the north, in what is called the Secret Garden. The Dwarf Garden showcases stone statues that the Ringlings brought back with them during their years of travel in Europe. Docent-led garden tours of the Courtyard and Renaissance-style gardens are offered seasonally and must be purchased 24-hours in advance. Six self-guided tours are offered each day and require a separate admission fee. Better yet, it’s free after 5 p.m. and on Monday’s Ringling’s grounds and the art museum are free to roam around in all day long. 

4. – Take a sunset cruise.

 Down at Marina Jack, you can set sail on a relaxing narrated sightseeing lunch tour or sunset dinner cruise through the inter-coastal waters and the Gulf of Mexico.  Aboard the 96-foot Marina Jack II, you can enjoy delicious dining, outstanding views, and exceptional service. The Marina Jack features air-conditioned salons and an open air outside deck. On the Marina Jack II every seat has a view of the water, perfect for sightseeing!

 About two hours before sunset, you can step aboard a Kathleen D Sailing Main Cat 30 or Stiletto 30 catamarans for a relaxing end-of-the-day adventure.  All catamarans have tables and convertible covered bridge-decks with windows to keep the sun or chill off. The netting out front is akin to riding on a magic carpet- out in the breeze as the bay glides away beneath you. 

 5. – Catch some live music.

 The Jazz Club of Sarasota is one of the largest and most active jazz organizations in the United States.  Although the basis for The Jazz Club of Sarasota’s musical offerings is Straight-Ahead Jazz, The Club has presented a range of music that includes traditional, swing, Bebop, Blues, Latin and Smooth jazz in various settings. Performers have been Nicolas Payton, Dr. Billy Taylor, Bradford Marsalis, Monty Alexander, Pete Fountain, Cleo Laine, Marian McPartland, Andre’ Previn, Ramsey Lewis, Diana Krall, Gerry Mulligan, George Shearing, Dave Brubeck, Pacquito D. Rivera, Rosemary Clooney, Keely Smith, Arturo Sandoval, Lionel Hampton, Chris Botti, Kenny G, Down to the Bone, The Rippingtons, Tito Puente, Tommy Newsome and Patti Austin. 

 For an evening of revelry that has just a bit more punch, couples should try one of Sarasota’s premiere music venues and arguably one of the best spots for Southern cuisine, The Blue Rooster. Just about every night of the week, Rooster has live blues music from some of the best acts all over the state, and the music never dominates the room in spite of how rockin’ it is. That means you can enjoy your fried chicken and waffles and a mint julep while maintaining an intimate conversation. Al Fuller’s Famous Blues Jam performs every Wednesday night for a perfect weekday date, while the Sunday Gospel Brunch is the perfect cure for the hangover blues.

 The possibilities are endless when you live at Gracewater.

Homesite reservations are now available, and the first homes are expected to start construction this fall.  To learn more, visit www.gracewatersrq.com or call 941-841-1833.

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