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Sarasota names one of the South’s best cities

Southern Living magazine has named Sarasota one of the South’s best cities.

Sarasota was No. 9 on the publication’s list — and the only one in Florida — of the South’s Best Cities.

It also made the list of the South’s Prettiest Cities. At No. 5, it was the top city in Florida on this list and one of only two in the state. St. Petersburg was No. 11.

The 52-year-old monthly publication, which has a print circulation of 16.8 million and a total reach of 20 million, said it arrived at its second-annual South’s Best awards based on more than 32,000 detailed surveys and the work of the New York City-based marketing firm GBH Insights.

“This is a very prestigious list, and to be the only Florida destination in the South’s Best Cities and then the top Florida destination for prettiest city is a great recognition for us,” Visit Sarasota County president Virginia Haley said.

“This reflects well on the decision to add the flower baskets from the Downtown Improvement District along Main Street along with the dedication of the City of Sarasota employees who do a great job of maintaining the landscaping around the city.”

The magazine sliced and diced its data into a number of categories, also including Best Tiny Town, Best Restaurant (L’Opossum in Richmond, Virginia), Best Food City (New Orleans), Best Barbecue Joints (Florida’s was Four Rivers Smokehouse in Winter Park), Best Brewery, Best Festivals, Best Beaches (Destin was the only Florida beach) and even Best Grocery Stores (won by Publix).

Coverage of the lists will be included in the magazine’s April issue, due on newsstands Friday.

“There are so many exciting places in the South now, but these are spots that truly stand out — in many cases because of their creativity, hard work, and good old Southern hospitality,” said Sid Evans, Southern Living editor in chief.

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