VIBE: Romantic, Family Friendly
948 Beach Rd, Siesta Key, FL 34242
Siesta Key is a place of natural beauty. It is the perfect destination for tourists (and locals) who want to enjoy their time at the beach and escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. We know you want to "go like a local" so read on!
What is so special about Siesta Key Beach?
Siesta Key is a small island located in Sarasota County, Florida, similar to Anna Maria Island. The Gulf of Mexico and white sand beaches are its most notable features and loved by the locals. This Sarasota island is only 8 miles long and 2 miles wide. With an idyllic setting including pristine beaches, lush vegetation and beautiful sunsets, some say it is the perfect escape. Restaurants, hotels, upscale shopping and beach activities are plentiful, though it can be more expensive than other Florida beach destinations. There is also a Siesta beach campground the locals don't want you to know about!
Siesta Key Beach Sand
Is the sand at Siesta Key Beach real? Yes! The sugary, white quartz sand and the turquoise Gulf Coast waters that stretch all along Siesta Key are real. The county does not bring sand in. It is the prime reason people visit the Siesta Key public beaches when vacationing in Sarasota, Florida. This incredible sand is not mixed with coral or shells like many other beaches in Florida which makes it very white and powdery. It stays cool to the touch even on the hottest days. You would never guess this Siesta Key sand came from quartz originating in the Appalachian Mountains...but it does! Siesta Key Beach is flatter and more firm than other nearby beaches. Just like Daytona Beach, you can walk a long way in either direction. This beautiful, white sand is also perfect for biking. If you are looking for seashells, you probably won't find a lot here. Nearby Lido Key Beach has more shells in the sand. It is south of St. Armands Circle (Siesta Key village shops and dining nearby) and also a wonderful beach for a day trip.
Siesta Key Beach Water
Emerald water is the color you will see when you visit the Gulf of Mexico in Siesta Key. It is so clear that you can see fish and other sea life up to 20 feet deep. It is shallow close to the shore. This makes it a great place for people who like to go deep-sea fishing, scuba diving, or snorkeling. Siesta Key water is some of the cleanest in the world. It has been ranked as one of the best beaches in America by TripAdvisor for five years in a row. The water is so crystal clear that you can see all the way to the bottom, which makes it perfect for aquatic activities. You will be amazed at the variety of sea life you will encounter including manatee, dolphins and large fish swimming close by. Don't be nervous...just enjoy this natural wonder passing by your feet.
Siesta Key Beach Parking and Amenities
Parking at Siesta Key Beach is free! However, get there before 10am or you will have trouble finding a spot (by noon all parking spots were gone when we visited). It is quite a long walk from the parking lot to the beachfront. If you are prepared ahead of time with your beach gear well packed, then it won't be so bad. Siesta Key is a big beach with lots of area to cover, just like Sand Key Park in Clearwater. So make sure you don't have to return to your vehicle by including everything you need the first time: water, snacks, sunscreen, hats, umbrella and towels. You can rent chairs and umbrellas if necessary, but it can be pricey (up to $50 a day, similar to Key West). This parking lot even has RV parking but spaces are limited and are taken quickly. There is no overnight parking. Siesta Key Beach is accessible. It has added is a 400 ft. woven mat (Mobi-Mat) along the beach so that people in wheelchairs or families with strollers can be close to the shore. Having an accessible vacation day is important to Sarasota County beaches, and you can reserve a free beach wheelchair for Siesta Beach. Get more information here.
Speaking of snacks...Siesta Key Beach has an awesome concession offering on the upper deck of their pavilion. They even have wine, beer and frozen cocktails! Of course you can buy hamburgers or a hotdog, but why not try a panini or wings? We knew Siesta Key Beach was special but this takes it to another level of island time! If you're feeling in need of some Italian food, take a walk over to St. Armands Circle and try Rico's Pizzeri. They have award winning Sicilian food. For more Sarasota food options check out foodielifesarasota on instagram.
Siesta Key Beach Activities
Parasailing and jet-skis are popular at Siesta Beach. If you're feeling active, you can play some beach volleyball. Stand-up paddleboards are wonderful at this calm water beach. Waves are rarely seen. For the kids there is a newly remodeled beachside playground with rubber cushioned flooring and shaded areas. Most of them prefer the warm, Gulf water to splash in. Showers and restrooms are nearby so you can wash that pristine sand off your feet. Want to camp? Try the Sarasota Turtle Beach Campground with trolley access to Siesta Village. It has only 39 sites but they have direct beach access. There may be a waiting list so book in advance.
Siesta Key Beach is a big, wide beach and very popular. If you find it too crowded near the pavilion, then walk a bit in either direction and you will find a quieter spot. The water gets very warm in the summer (90's) and it can be hard to cool off, so make sure you have a sunshade or umbrella handy. Most people just enjoy relaxing on the beach or floating in the crystal clear water. Take a walk if you need to stretch your legs. If you want to use your phone, the internet signal is good on the beachfront. Children can throw a ball, frisbee or play in the calm water. We saw a couple of kids with their Barbie dolls having a great time!
Look Out! This Could Happen...
Red Tide can happen on Florida's Gulf beaches. Florida’s red tide is a natural phenomenon that occurs when there is an overgrowth of Karenia brevis, a microscopic algae that produces toxins. It has been present in Florida for centuries and usually dissipates with the wind and waves. However, as the population of Florida has grown, so have the number of people exposed to it. The toxins from red tide can cause respiratory irritation and other symptoms in humans and pets if they are exposed to contaminated water or air from wave action. The effects of this toxic algae bloom are devastating to marine ecosystems. It can kill fish. We have experienced this a few times and had to leave the beach. Before you head out on a road trip to the beach, check the forecasts for red tide blooms in the Gulf of Mexico. You can find the forecasts and up-to-date conditions by clicking here.
What We Really Think about Siesta Key Beach
Siesta Beach is a world-class beach and it's gorgeous! Although we love it, we still rate Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island as our favorite Gulf Coast beach destination. Why? Less crowds plus less time spent looking for parking and walking to the shore. However, Siesta Key is really a famous and stunning Florida beach location not to be missed on any Florida vacation. It is worth the drive and patience for a parking spot. The sunsets here are vibrant and romantic so have your camera ready. If you stay at a beachfront hotel in the area it will make dealing with crowds and parking so much easier. Before you go check out how busy it is with this beach cam link.
Visit Sarasota But Don't Miss This
While in Sarasota, we visited the Ringling Circus Museum and Ca' d'Zan, the Venetian Gothic style home built by John Ringling. You don't have to be a kid to enjoy the 3800-square foot model of the circus, the train or the Ringling house with a Sarasota bayfront terrace. You can also visit Lido Key Beach nearby: it is close to Sarasota shops and restaurants.
Siesta Key Beach Hotels
Hyatt Residence Club Sarasota, Siesta Key Beach
Siesta Key Palms Resort
Tropical Beach Resorts
Tropical Breeze Resort
Siesta Key Beach Restaurants
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