If you’re waking up with a sense of purpose, well-being, stability and optimism, you are undoubtedly living in the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton area. Our Gulf Coast oasis, which we’ve always thought of as award-winning, has once again drawn positive nationwide attention by being named as one of the top U.S. place to live for well-being. For people just discovering the splendor that this area delivers, this is a great discovery. And for locals who would just like to keep the lid on how great it is to reside here, the cat has been let out of the bag once again.
Out of a list of 100, the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton area was named the #3 U.S. Place for Well-Being according to the Gallup-Healthways’ State of American Well-Being: 2015 Communities list. Factors used in consideration of the rankings include abundance of affordable healthcare options, social outlets, financial security, sense of purpose and a cohesive community. The study goes on to conclude that people living with a high degree of satisfaction in several facets of daily life including work, friends, finances and an optimistic outlook on their future have a higher sense of well-being than perhaps people who may live in a town which offers greater career opportunities but fewer recreational activities, and vice versa.
While these surveys and lists are a nice nod to the area, there are few revelations that come as a result for those who live here. It seems like a no-brainer that waking up to near year-round sunshine with beaches we can visit in minutes would make anyone happy; certainly, a list is not needed to affirm that. But it is nice to take stock of just some of the reasons people from across the world would give anything to live right where you do.
Let’s face it, without the amazing coastline, superior beaches, and barrier islands, much of Sarasota’s appeal would be lost. Blessed with quartz sands that have attracted the praises of Dr. Beach and other notable experts, Sarasota beaches are considered to be some of the best in the world, and during the winter months, it feels like much of the world is here visiting. A town known for cultivating and nourishing its music and arts scene, although at odds sometimes with residents who would prefer to keep the noise down, Sarasota does offer a multitude of cultural activities. World-class shopping, fine boutique hotels, good hospitals and highly rated schools add to the attraction of the area.
Bradenton has reinvented itself in a hip, sustainable way, making the most of its expansive riverfront area and historic downtown. For many longtime Sarasota devotees, Bradenton has become the perfect place to find affordable housing, perhaps serving as a bedroom community where you sleep, with the bulk of their time being spent in Sarasota for work and social activities, but that is not the case anymore. Bradenton has become the place to live, work, relax and dine along redeveloped areas including Bradenton’s Riverwalk. Unique outdoor art, cool seating areas, an inviting area to run and walk have made this a go-to area for everything you might need. Breweries, food trucks, boat races, farmers’ markets, revamped schools and community involvement have shown that Bradenton is eager and willing to make things happen for its citizens, and perhaps easier to do business with.
North Port is maybe the most misunderstood in the trifecta area that is striking gold in the well-being arena. Without beaches and a thriving arts scene and without major malls, there aren’t day to day reasons for most Sarasota County residents to visit North Port. Nearby Venice, which has the benefit of gorgeous beaches known for bestowing prehistoric sharks teeth, a quaint downtown are and an artsy vibe with live theater and outdoor art, along with countless popular festivals is where most people South County people go to spend a day at the beach. But North Port does hold a few treasures of its own including Warm Mineral Springs and Little Salt Spring both revered as significant archeological sites. With nearly constant water temperatures of 85 degrees year round and the highest mineral content in the United States, Warm Mineral Springs is elusive even to the locals. North Port, which has been named A Playful City U.S.A. by Kaboom is the home of countless parks which have undergone tremendous upgrades so that most parks which have playgrounds also have shaded areas, and many have canoe launches which allow paddlers to explore North Port’s entire Blueway, an interconnected water trail encompassing over 80 miles of freshwater canals. In addition, North Port is experiencing a commercial building boom with new businesses choosing to open their doors there, where single-family home construction is also on the rise.
Yes, the secret may be out and we cannot help that. But as residents of this wondrous area on the Florida’s Gulf Coast we can be the first to point out the fine benefits living here brings to our visiting friends and neighbors. You cannot fight progress, as they say, so embrace the attention and let it serve as a reminder of how great it is living in paradise.
Photos: Turtle Beach HDR by Chris Lexow courtesy of Flickr, commercial use allowed
Hotel Dixie Grande Bradenton courtesy of Naql courtesy of Flickr, commercial use allowed