Here’s something to smile about in the beautiful Sarasota area.

A new list from National Geographic Explorer ranks Sarasota, Bradenton and North Port areas as one of the nation’s happiest.

“It ranks among the happiest & healthiest cities in America, based on metrics like walkability, access to nature, and civic engagement,” Buettner writes.

Sarasota is the best place to live in Florida and here are 7 reasons why.

1. Weather: You could say this about any coastal place in the state, but a daily dose of sunshine and utter lack of freezing cold temperatures is the No. 1 reason people from the rest of the country continue to relocate to Sarasota.

2. Beaches: Yes, there’s a reason our sugary white sands such as the ones found on Siesta Beach are consistently ranked among the best in the country.

3. Restaurants: I can walk to a handful of excellent and a couple dozen really good restaurants from downtown Sarasota. There are many, many more choice spots within a short drive. It’s hard to imagine a city this size anywhere else in the country that has as many outstanding dining options. Also, let’s not forget about the award-winning Sarasota craft beers being served at these restaurants and the clever cocktails our local bartenders are creating.

4. Arts scene: It’s also hard to imagine another city the size of Sarasota with such a vibrant arts scene. Take your pick: museums, art galleries, orchestras, opera, ballet, professional and community theater companies. Plus, our live music scene includes some of the best blues and roots rock musicians in the country. Not bad for a city our size.

5. Parks and preserves: While the beaches are the celebrities, places like Phillippi Estate Park, Rothenbach Park and Celery Fields are equally charming in their own way.

6. Things to do: Every week I easily assemble a list of 10 fun things for people to do in the Sarasota area. Even in the dead of summer, a list of 10 fun events is pretty easy to compile.

7. Celebrities: Look, even if you never run into Stephen King at the local bookstore or have lunch next to Jerry Springer, it’s nice to know celebrities do live here. I mean if it’s good enough for them, it must be good enough for us regular folks, right? And, who knows? I did once witness two other Sarasota celebrities, rock legends Brian Johnson (AC/DC) and Dickey Betts (Allman Brothers Band), playing together at a fundraiser in the Five O’Clock Club.

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