Here are some websites that will provide you with some basic information:
Walkability http://www.walkscore.com/rankings/ You will need a car on the west coast of Florida.
Sarasota schools http://www.sarasotacountyschools.net/ There are a variety of schools.
Sarasota crime http://www.neighborhoodscout.com/fl/sarasota/crime/
Sarasota Clubs and Organizations http://www.superpages.com/yellowpages/C-Civic+Clubs+%26+Orga
Sarasota statistics and public forums http://www.city-data.com/city/Sarasota-Florida.html
Find your spot http://www.findyourspot.com/
Seems like you are trying to decide when and where to relocate. Perhaps one or all of these sites will help you narrow your search.
Brock Realty Inc.
I'll put in my personal favorites that fit your preferences. Harbor Acres, Cherokee Park and Siesta Key.
Teresa M. Fellows
ERA Waterside Realty
Raffie Hamilton, Broker
There are several areas in Sarasota that may be considered "upscale." Certainly, Longboat Key is known for luxury properties, immaculate beaches, and gorgeous scenery. However, Longboat Key is a bit isolated compared to other areas in Sarasota. Yes, the southern end of Longboat is near Mote Marine Aquarium, a short drive to St. Armands Circle, and through Lido Key and across the Ringling Bridge into downtown Sarasota.
I do not know how familiar you are with Sarasota, but Lido Key borders Longboat Key. Lido is great because it is the home to previously mentioned, St. Armands Circle, the beach, and the aquarium. St. Armands features over 140 shops, stores, banks, coffee shops, restaurants-- this is a VERY walkable area. It is perfect for families to spend a day or night shopping and having dinner. There are even ice cream shops, bakeries, and frozen yogurt businesses that appeal to children. Another neat thing about St. Armands is that it is not just shopping. There is typically a monthly event that draws in many locals. Specific for children, there is the annual Trick or Treat for Halloween and the Circle is decorated brightly at Christmastime. I had also mentioned the beaches, which are fantastic. Plenty for children to do at the beach on any given day. Also, there is the aquarium, which is a wonderful attraction for all ages. Again, Lido is very navigable on foot and BOTH Lido Key and Longboat Key offer water access (including boat access to the Gulf).
As for other areas in Sarasota, Siesta Key has been mentioned. Siesta Key had the number 1 rated beach, according to Dr. Beach Rankings in 2011 -- naming it the #1 beach in the US. Siesta Key also features great boating waters and is known for luxury properties. Siesta Key has a true beach town feel to it, but this does not deter from its upscale appeal. The dining options aren't "fine dining" like some of the places in Lido Key, but there are some nice, tasty, fun restaurants on the island. The heart of Siesta Key is Siesta Village. This is where you find the small shops and restaurants, though the selection is not nearly as great as Lido Key. Siesta Key is also a great place for children. There are more companies that offer outdoor activities, such as: snorkeling, parasailing, kayak rentals, bike rentals, paddle boarding, etc. Plus, Siesta Key hosts annual events too-- sand castle building contest, fireworks on the fourth of July, etc.
Siesta Key is also close to the Sarasota Square Mall and the Southgate Mall (Sarasota Square being the nicer, more complete of the two). Sarasota Square makes a nice "hangout" spot for kids, as there is plenty of shopping, a food court, and movie theater.
What it really comes down to is a matter of lifestyle preference. Longboat Key is upscale, has great beaches, and great boating water, but it is not in close walking distance to very much. Lido Key is close to it all from St. Armands to downtown and is extremely "walkable." And Siesta Key is a true beach town with luxury properties that is easy to navigate on foot.
I would recommend coming down and visiting each of these areas so that you can see and feel what we are all talking about. The only opinion that truly matters is yours.
If you would like to search the MLS for free (no sign in or personal info required) and learn more about some of the nice areas in Sarasota, please visit http://www.sarasota.suncoasteam.com
Here is a more detailed report about the property you were viewing earlier: http://www.searchsuncoast.com/Homes/Sarasota/A3951419.html
I would be happy to answer any questions that you have about these areas, conduct a property search for you, or show you around when you are in the area. Please call or email me if there is anything else that I can do for you.
Always close to amenities from here.
Let me know specifics and we can narrow down what you want.
Hook & Ladder Realty
Re/Max Alliance Group