Victoria’s Secrets: A Love Letter from Sarasota, Florida

The stunning view from my hotel room.
The stunning view from my hotel room.
Victoria Schneps

For me, Florida has always held a sweet spot in my heart—a place where love has always surrounded me.

When I was a child, my favorite aunts and cousins moved to Miami and Miami Beach. Previously, we had lived only a block away from each other in Brooklyn, growing up more like brothers and sisters than cousins. It became a family ritual to visit them in Florida every Christmas vacation.

A return to the state of my childhood memories is always a treat. And the sun shining every day was just what my mind and body needed.

Now, I go to Florida to visit my “second” son Jon Yunis, his beautiful wife Hilary and brilliant, darling sweetheart Jillian in their hometown of Sarasota. Being with them fills me with nostalgia and warmth. Something in me yearned to walk the talcum-soft beach and hear the roar of the ocean. So I booked a Delta flight!

Even though I am fully vaccinated, I donned my double N95 face mask and a plastic face shield for my flight. I chose Delta because they committed to leaving empty middle seats in each row for extra protection.

I donned my N95 face mask and a plastic face shield for my Delta flight!

Sarasota has been rated one of the best places to live in the United States… I know why!

There is warm weather with a slight breeze, and there are multiple sites to see if you don’t want to just do as I did this time—sit on the beach before switching to soaking in the sun while sitting at the pool.

The city is the historic home of the Ringling Brothers circus family. Sadly, the circus has changed dramatically, but the impact of its founders is still felt all over the city.

The Ringling family endowed their property for an art museum in 1927, including their mansion and their estate grounds. But at the time of his death, John Ringling was nearly bankrupt and only after decades of court battles was the property turned over to the Florida State University (FSU), which transformed it into a world-class art museum. The museum’s board of trustees has worked diligently to engage the community and the museum has since grown to become the 16th largest in our country.

The stunning courtyard at the world-class John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

The mansion that had been in decay has been restored, and now the beautiful grounds offer a Visitors Pavilion, which leads to an Education Building housing the Ringling art library and Cuneo Conservation Laboratory and a Learning Center that even has a miniature circus! There is always an exhibit at the new 30,000-square-foot exhibition center. What a great place to spend a delightful day!

My next favorite place—after the beaches, of course—is the Sarasota Jungle Gardens, located in the heart of the city. As a kid, I remember falling in love with the picture-perfect pink roaming flamingos! You can get up close and feed them!

You can feed the breathtakingly beautiful flamingos at the Sarasota Jungle Gardens. (REUTERS/Paul Hanna)

And what is a vacation without a little shopping? Yes, there is a mall with a Macys and Saks Fifth Avenue, but for me the fun of exploring St. Armands Circle in Lido Key for shopping and dining is a must-do! Nearby, this seaside paradise features a beach that feels like walking on talcum powder!

My hotel has a beach club, but one must take a car to get there. Next time, I’d stay at the Sandcastle Resort at Lido Beach because it sits on the ocean—after all, that’s one of the reasons I came to Sarasota! That, and spending time with my dear children, of course! It doesn’t get better than this!

Celebrating my birthday with the Yunis clan.
Jillian with her farm-fed beef burger at Indigenous, a restaurant that prides itself on local, healthy products.
Lois Christie and I at the soft-sandy Sarasota Beach.

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