Siesta Key, Sarasota
For as long as I can remember, growing up, over March break, my family would bring us down to Florida where we would either head straight for Disneyland or take a turn and beeline to the beach. After trying out a few beaches in the area, my parents started returning, year after year to Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota, Florida.
Siesta Key is lined with condo buildings whose units can be rented out for weeks or months at a time. Prices vary and depending on what your preferences are, you can opt for anything from bungalow style lodging to hotel style suites. After trying out a few different places over the years, we started rotating through Siesta Dunes and Midnight Cove, depending on the availability of suites.
Siesta Dunes offers a more modern feel with great facilities including a gated pool, hot tub and gazebo complete with barbecues that let you cook while you watch the sun go down. Midnight cove is bit more dated but has all you need to enjoy a relaxing stay on the beach. With a gated pool and barbecues in the parking lot, you can cook up a dinner to share with the whole family before taking a sunset stroll along the water. For a full list of rentals available in Siesta Key, visit Home Away or Vacation Rentals.
Voted Florida’s #1 beach
A hop, skip and a jump away from beaches like Lido, Longboat, Casey Key, Venice and Manasota, Siesta Key has been voted time and time again as Florida’s best beach. Offering up soft, pristine, white sands, visitors can enjoy a day of lounging on the beach, long morning walks (and I mean long – from Siesta Dunes to the tip of the beach is 1.5 hours return trip) to the end of the beach, or sunset strolls that make for the perfect end to every day. From sand dollars to dolphins, starfish and the occasional stingray, the waters offer a variety of sea life (friendly, for the most part) to awe at while providing a safe place for families to swim.
Travelers tip! If you’re a runner, grab your music and hit the beach about 30 minutes before sunset. One of my favourite memories of Siesta is bouncing along to Sinatra and other crooners (broken only by Meredith Brooks and her hit song “Bitch”) as the soundtrack from “What Women Want” played on my portable CD player (for readers under the age of 20, yes, those were a thing). Running past wedding photographers, lover strolling hand in hand, and families packing up for the day, I saw the setting of the sun and arrived back at the condo just in time for cocktails. Perfection!
Where to eat?
While most people head to the grocery store to stock up for staples during their stay, Siesta Key is ideally located for those who enjoy a night on the town. The first place to explore if you’re staying in Siesta is Siesta Key Village, a 10 minute drive (or much longer walk down the beach) from anywhere located around the middle of the beach. Often underrated (it took us 10 years of coming to Siesta to finally schedule a visit). The village is jam-packed with delicious dining options, from casual to formal dining, the choice is yours. Our recent trip into the village did however, result in two steamy recommendations:
New to the village but a must for those who enjoy breakfast, brunch, lunch or anything French, is Bonjour French Cafe. Offering up a selection of salads, crepes (sweet and savoury), pastries and caffeinated beverages for the European at heart, this place had us watering at the mouth. My favourite menu item was the Crêpe Classique packed with shredded ham and melted cheese. Délicieuse!
If you’re looking to explore the village around dinner time, check out the newest kid on the block, a restaurant simply called Eat Here, recently voted one of two of Florida’s ”Best New Restaurants”. With a menu featuring items like the “heart attack hot dog” I don’t blame you for questioning it’s speedy claim to fame, but once you try the food, you’ll be glad you took the chance.
Best places to visit outside the village
Whether you’re looking to enjoy a meal outside the village or simply seeking a break from the beach, there’s tons to do within a half hour drive from Siesta Beach. Here’s what to do, when you’re looking for…
Lunch on the dock, cold beer in hand
Try: Drydock Grill
High-end shopping, elegant restaurants, the best ice-cream in town
Try: St. Armands Circle and Kilwin’s Chocolates Toasted Coconut ice-cream… it’s to die for!
Shopping, shopping and more shopping, ideal for the odd rainy day
Whatever you do in Siesta Key, you’re guaranteed to enjoy a vacation well-spent. For more ideas on how to spend your siesta in Sarasota, check out visitsarasota.org and remember, when you’re on holiday and surrounded by this much natural beauty – life’s a beach!