Best Beaches In Sarasota Florida
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Sarasota lies on Florida’s beautiful western coast. Protected by barrier islands, the city itself nestles against sheltered Sarasota Bay.
Though you should definitely pay a visit to attractions such as the fascinating John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art and the impressive Ca’ d’Zan mansion, this is not where the best of the sand is.
For that, you’ll have to travel, but fortunately it isn’t far before you’ll reach some of the most spectacular beaches on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Base yourself in Sarasota or better still, opt for a beachfront hotel or condo overlooking the sand out on one of the barrier islands reachable by car.
Here’s the lowdown on the best beaches in Sarasota, Florida if you’re trying to decide where to go.
Siesta Key Beach
So many beaches claim to have soft sand that it’s usually unremarkable when you actually step on it. Siesta Key is different, as you’ll see the minute you scrunch up your toes and dig them into the powdered sugar that masquerades as sand on this exceptional beach. The water is a beautiful clear blue that makes it perfect for swimming too.
No wonder it regularly earns plaudits in best beach roundups, a place for all the family to come and enjoy.
Over a hundred years ago, it took some savvy investors to work out that this place, home to wild pigs and burdened by mosquitoes, would make a great beach resort. But you’ll thank them for their dogged determination as you appreciate today’s amenities.
Siesta’s huddle of shops and eateries gives it a relaxed, villagey vibe, but it’s the eight mile long strip of sand that really gives it the wow factor. It is one of the top things to do in Sarasota.
Beautiful though Siesta Key undoubtedly is, it can get busy. Even in low season you might find it hard to grab a parking spot close to the beach on a sunny day and you’ll have to accept that you won’t have that wonderful soft sand to yourself.
The good news, however, is that you don’t need to venture far before you get to a quieter spot.
Turtle Beach, named after the turtles that make their nests here, is rarely as busy as its more famous neighbor. The sand is darker and coarser, but still lovely, and with trees backing the beach it’s a pretty spot.
There’s a boat launch and a lagoon to explore by kayak, as well as pedestrian walkways, a children’s playground, restrooms and free parking.
Lined with condos and apartments, this part of Siesta Key is a good choice if you’re looking to rent accommodation with a sea view. Reserve well ahead to get the most choice and the best price.
This crescent-shaped beach has it all: plenty of facilities, an awesome outlook and sunsets that will take your breath away. Even if you don’t choose to stay here, it’s worth coming for a stroll along this pretty stretch of sand.
For those that like to be more active, bring your own beach ball or frisbee. Also, you’ll find a range of activities such as jet skiing, parasailing, canoeing and kayaking.
Park up and access the beach close to Midnight Pass Road a little way south of Stickney Point, or walk down from Siesta Key beach itself.
If you’re not so bothered about vast swathes of sand, this beach park fronts onto the lagoon south of Sarasota Jungle Gardens. It’s possible to launch a canoe or kayak, and as with the rest of the Gulf Coast, great for sunset watchers.
Park respectfully: it’s a largely residential area, the kind of place where you’ll see local residents out for a stroll with the dog rather than those on vacation.
Linking the offshore barrier islands to the mainland is Lido Key. There are a few shelly beaches and it’s possible to rent umbrellas and beach chairs, far more convenient than having to schlep your own from the car.
At South Lido Key Beach Park there’s a kids’ playground a stone’s throw from the sand and at nearby St Armand’s Circle, you’ll find plenty of cafés for when you’re in need of lunch or a coffee, as well as upscale boutiques for some retail therapy.
At Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, learn about some of the marine species that inhabit the waters off Florida.
It’s easy to lose track of time as you watch the hilarious antics of the aquarium’s resident sea otters scampering about their pen, ducking and diving as they chase each other in and out of the water and play on their slide.
Plenty of sharks in the tank and a wide variety of fish become the pre-show to meeting manatees Hugh and Buffett.
Through glass, you’ll really get a sense of just how large this bulky duo are; don’t miss feeding time when they munch their way through Romaine lettuce like it’s going out of fashion.
Linking Lido Key to Anna Maria Island is the skinny strip of land that forms Longboat Key. It boasts a whopping 12 miles of gorgeous white sand.
Backed by low dunes whose sea oats sway languidly in the breeze, it’s relatively undeveloped, though you’ll find somewhere to play golf or tennis if you so wish.
You’ll see fishermen trying to land their catch, children playing in the sand and joggers exercising at the water’s edge. But above all, it’s a place that’s ideal to kick back and relax, a place where you could quite easily do nothing except sit and let the sun warm your skin.
Book a stay at swanky Zota Beach Resort if you’re looking to boost the style factor. Midway along Longboat Key and right on the beach, its rooms overlook a fabulous pool with a social bar area and a breakfast room boasting an ocean view perfect for lazy brunches.
And of course, that’s not it. Continue south along the shoreline towards the Venice beaches and it too has some extraordinary beaches, not least those of Casey Key and Manasota Key. Nokomis, Blind Pass and Caspersen Beach are just some of the places worth checking out. Mid-Florida really does have some special beaches – so which will you choose for your next vacation?