A wooden footbridge leading to the beach

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Spotlight On Our Team: Michele Knuese

Meet our fearless leader, Michele Knuese. Having been in the local vacation rental business for over 30 years, Wisconsin-born Knuese was perfectly poised to take the helm of Florida Vacation Connection in 1994. As owner and manager, Michele calls upon her decades of experience both in the industry and as a resident of Sarasota, leading a team of rental experts who just so happen to be area experts, too. Today she shares some of that expertise, offering up her top picks for dining, shopping and more.

DINNER RESTAURANT:  Euphemia Haye. Love the table-side Caesar salad!

BREAKFAST SPOT:  Millie’s. The best pancakes ever!

BRUNCH:  The Sunday Gospel Brunch at the Blue Rooster is a lot of fun.  Music is great and the food is good ole’ southern comfort!

WATERFRONT DINING:  Ophelia’s. The setting is just gorgeous, and the food is delicious.

SEAFOOD RESTAURANT:  Owen’s Fish Camp is just so cool, and the fish and sides are excellent. Try the succotash!

  Southside Deli. Love the Taco Salad and the Muffuletta sandwich.

GROCERY STOREMorton’s Gourmet Market, especially when I don’t want to cook, as they have great pre-made meals. The produce is really fresh and local when available, plus their meats and fish are good, too.

COCKTAIL HOUR:  Can’t beat happy hour at the Chart House, and the beautiful water view is a bonus.

LIVE MUSIC SPOT:  Downtown Sarasota for sure, but Stottlemeyer’s is a pretty great place, too. Downtown I like Mattison’s and Sky Bar. Oh, and O’Leary’s when they have reggae. I guess it really depends on the band!  Reverend Barry & The Funk and Twinkle are two of my favorite local bands.

CLOTHING & JEWELRY SHOP:  I love to shop at Exit Art for both clothes and jewelry. The service is great and they carry a lot of my favorite brands as well as local jeweler’s designs.

NATURE ATTRACTION:  Selby Gardens is just beautiful. I could visit every week!

BEACH:  Well, that depends on my mood. For peace and quiet, north Longboat Key, but for a little more activity, Lido Beach. On Lido you can walk to bars and restaurants, which is really nice.

WATER ACTIVITY:  Inland boating and in the Gulf when it is as flat as a lake.

ARTISTIC SPACE:  When I walk into the Artful Giraffe I get an instant smile. They also have art classes that are really cool.

MOVIE THEATER:  Cinebistro. The seating is just so darn comfortable, and they serve popcorn in real bowls.

EVENT:  Giving Hunger the Blues and Jazz on the Bay.

SUNSET OR SUNRISE?  Most definitely sunset.

LOCAL DELICACY:  Stone Crab is my favorite, and I don’t think you can get it anywhere but Florida. Season runs October 15 – May 15.

LOCAL SECRET/HIDDEN GEM?  It wouldn’t be a secret if I shared it!

WORTH THE DRIVE:  Tarpon Springs.

SARASOTA BUCKET LIST:  Still haven’t been to the rooftop bar at the downtown Westin and really want to go! I’ve heard the view is incredible, and I bet the sunset is outstanding. Yes, I have got to go!

TOURIST ATTRACTION:  LeBarge Tropical Cruise for cocktails, Jimmy Buffett music and sunsets! They also have a daytime dolphin cruise.

Get to know Michele and her team here.