Florida has so much to offer, Disney, beaches, camping, alligators…. I often hear people ask what beach is close to Orlando in an attempt to hit a beach and visit our favorite mouse in the same trip. I going to give you the scoop on one of our favorite beaches ( full disclosure it is also in my backyard).
Siesta Key is located on the barrier island just off the coast of Sarasota. For those less familiar this is on the Gulf Coast of Florida and about a 2 hour drive from Disney depending on traffic. This means it is not the closest beach to Disney, but totally worth the drive.
So before you turn up your nose and declare Sarasota is for old people, hear me out. For this post I am going to solely focus on the island of Siesta Key. Sarasota has a lot to offer but I can tackle that more in a later post.
So let me explain a few basics about Siesta Key. Once you are “on the key” you don’t really need a car. Sarasota has a small airport that is 20 min away. There is great public transportation ( beach trolley) and several ride for tips type transportation ( golf cart, van etc.) Once you get settled you can walk or use transport depending on where you lay your head.
Siesta Key has a gorgeous beach. Fine white sand that does not burn your feet in the hot hot sun. This is because it is made of quartz. This is a bonus itself, trust me.
Getting on and off the key does not require paying a toll, or a parking fee. This is also a unique feature of of our beach.
Because we are on the Gulf Coast we have beautiful sunsets over the water. You won’t get that on the Atlantic Coast. Another perk of the Gulf Coast is the relative calmness of the water. If you or your children are not used to swimming in the ocean this may be a good choice for you. The waves typically crash gently on the sand. The water is generally tranquil and perfect for ocean beginners. Picture your self in a float with a drink in your hand. Win win so far.
The key has a wonderful main beach pavilion with a snack shop, bathrooms, a playground, and the usual beach amenities ( pavilions, shower, water fountain and iconic life guard stands). There are several beach access locations with parking but no amenities or lifeguards all the way down the coast.
There is also a very cute area on the key that houses all the shopping, dining and night life called ; Siesta Key Village. Here you will find all level of dining from flip flops and shorts to fine dining and gourmet dishes. Within a 1 mile strip you can find it all. The bonus in my opinion is all the live music and the absolute best beach town vibe.
The Village is family friendly with a variety of ice cream shops and family restaurants and the obligatory souvenir shop. However, as the night goes on you can hear a live band at the only “club” on the island aptly named The Beach Club or listen to other live music at the Siesta Key Oyster Bar.
What you won’t find on key are giant name brand hotels or restaurants on the beach. If you are looking for an accommodation, condo rentals or small independently hotels are the way to go. I actually prefer this, as it keeps the beach a little calmer and accessible.
If you want to beach like a local attend the Siesta Key drum circle every Sunday night before sunset. Musicians, dancers and those who can’t escape the rhythm of the drums gather for a free form jam session. Stick around and watch the beautiful sunset and see if you can catch a glimpse of the elusive green flash.
If you are visiting us in the summer come join the community in our summer beach run series. Every Tuesday June through the beginning of August we have a kids summer beach run at 6:30pm. The kids run is 1 mile and ends with a ribbon and popsicle for each participant. Stick around and join me and my local track club , The Manasota Track Club, in an adult run of various lengths at 7pm.
We love our not too commercial beach town that is laid back and not full of high rises. Have you visited our beautiful beach? Want to hear more about beach destinations in Florida close to Orlando? Let me know in the comments