As you know if you've been reading our Lido Key and St. Armand's Circle posts, the Island Runaways duo has been enjoying the gulf coast of Florida this summer, especiallly the barrier islands off Sarasota (south of Tampa). This is not our first island getaway in this mellow section of the Sunshine State: we once lived on one of these pretty isles for a year, and we still have family who live in the area. So, these are islands that we know pretty well, and return to whenever possible. It's worth revisiting Siesta Key for its famous stretch of sand and ocean, considered by many (including Dr. Beach, a.k.a Dr. Stephen Leatherman) one of America's best beaches.
(Take an island getaway to Siesta Beach. Photo by Laura Albritton.)
First things first, how do you get here? Well, from Sarasota you can take Siesta Drive and come onto the northern tip of the island, or you can take Clark Road to the Stickney Point Bridge and arrive a little further south. Either way will take you easily to Siesta Beach.
(The wide expanse of Siesta Beach on Siesta Key. Photo by Laura Albritton.)
Why has this destination won so much admiration? Well, if you look at the photo just above, you'll notice one thing right off the bat: it's huge. If you like wide, and I do mean extremely wide, swaths of sand, Siesta Beach will be just the spot for your island escape. This is not a place where it's ever a problem to find a place to park your beach towels and umbrella. But it's more than simply a matter of size. There's the quality of the sand, which is soft and white. People fall in love with this sand. Maybe they write poems about it; that wouldn't surprise me. Despite all the fuss, the sand on Siesta Beach is genuinely...nice.
Over the past years, due to its increasing popularity, improvements have been made. A new playground has sprung up, and new picnic tables, and finally, a brand new pavilion with restrooms and a snack bar for simple island eats. Since the snack bar resides on the second floor of the building, the view from there is just breathtaking.
(A snack shack with a view of Siesta Key beach. Photo by Laura Albritton.)
After gazing at a view like that you can't resist hurrying down to the shore and dipping your toes in the ocean. In summer, the water temperature can be a like a bathtub. Seriously. Some tourists find it too warm! Granted, in winter and early spring, it cools off quite a lot and many native Floridians (like yours truly) would not dream of diving in. But in summer, there are days when the sea will remind you of a delicious whirlpool soak.
(The perfect destination for the Island Runaways travel bloggers. Photo by Laura Albritton.)
When you consider that the cute Village of Siesta Key with its shops and restaurant lies just moments away (not to mention the rest of Sarasota), you can see why this island has become a regular vacation retreat for many travelers, particularly families.
The one little wrinkle in your plans may be...parking! Once upon a time, particularly in summer (traditionally a slower tourist season) you might find rows and rows of empty parking places. Those were the good old days. This trip Zickie and I were confounded by how packed the large lots was. Fortunately, construction on another lot nearby. Meanwhile, your best bet for securing a spot is either to come early, or very late in the afternoon. You'll also see narrow parking lots with beach access as you drive from Siesta beach toward the village to the north. These are worth investigating: we discovered a few spots here, despite the other parking being full. Of course the best scenario is staying on Siesta Key itself, close enough to walk. Then parking is never an issue!
(This is indisputably one of the prettiest Sarasota beaches. Photo by Laura Albritton.)
But once you reach the beach, all these concerns fade away as quickly as a sandcastle gets toppled by a large wave. Now it's time to spread out and chill out and forget your mainland cares.
(No, it's not the Caribbean travel blog followers. It's Siesta Key! Photo by Laura Albritton.)
Do you feel like parasailing? Going for a long walk in the surf? Or just doing nada? However you choose to while away the afternoon, Siesta Beach embraces you with its laid-back charm and beauty. I have a fairly strong suspicion that we'll be back as soon as we can.
Have you ever been to Siesta Key and Siesta Beach? If so, what did you think?