When it comes to vacationing on Florida’s west coast, visiting the state’s world famous beaches is a no brainer. Just west of Sarasota, Siesta Key is your gateway to seaside adventures, with a quaint village feel, and picture perfect sunsets.
Start your Siesta Key vacation with a swim, enjoy an afternoon picnic on the sand, and then wrap it all up with an evening meal overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.
Whether you’re visiting to escape winter weather, or just experience a slice of paradise without leaving the country, Siesta Key’s pristine coastline is yours to explore, year- round. Here are 19 things to do in Siesta Key that we know you’re going to love.
ENJOY THE BEAUTIFUL BEACHES
Siesta Beach is the hub of Siesta Key, making up the northern portion of the island. With a unique sand base that is nearly 100% quartz, the beach immediately stands out.
Public beach access along Midnight Pass Road makes it easy to reach the sand, and new amenities like pavilions, picnic areas and playgrounds mean you can spend an entire day outside without skipping a beat.
Speaking of beats, if you visit this beach on a Sunday evening, you’ll come upon a tradition that’s been happening for over a dozen years — the Siesta Key drum circle. Crowds gather to the left of the concession stand as sunset draws near, and you can enjoy the beat of the drums, dancing, and more.
Having recently added plenty of free parking spots to accommodate visitors, Siesta Beach is ready to welcome you to the Gulf Coast.
Moving south across Siesta Key, you’ll come upon Turtle Beach, located just past Stickney Point Road. Generally less busy than Siesta Beach, Turtle Beach offers one-of-a-kind beach camping opportunities.
Book a site at Turtle Beach Campground and fall asleep to the gentle lull of waves crashing on shore. The campground has nearly forty full hook-up sites to choose from, on- site amenities and unparalleled views across the water.
Just south of Siesta Beach lies Crescent Beach, yet another part of the key that becomes its own destination. Also less crowded than its northern neighbor, the beach offers white sands, a serene atmosphere and plenty of tanning space.
If you’re staying in the area, Crescent Beach is a perfect walking or biking destination; parking is available nearby but it is more limited than at Siesta Beach.
To further avoid the crowds, head to Shell Beach, located on the northern end of the island. This sandy enclave is much smaller and quieter than its counterparts; parking is highly limited, so try to arrive in the morning.
SIESTA KEY VILLAGE
No beach destination is complete without the shops, flavors and local flair that give it its character. Siesta Key Village is the island’s shopping, dining, and strolling center, known for its festivals, events, and nightlife.
Boutiques, souvenir shops, restaurants and bars make up the majority of the highly walkable village, giving it a small town atmosphere with the culture of a tight knit beach community.
Don’t miss Big Olaf Creamery, a village mainstay since the 1980’s. This is not your average ice cream shop; hand-packed ice cream, based on recipes written by the original founder, has made Big Olaf’s a legend in the region and beyond. There’s no better way to get to know Siesta Key than a slow walk through its heart and soul.
Tired of looking for parking spots? Hop on the island’s complimentary Breeze Trolley to get around in a matter of minutes.
KAYAK JIM NEVILLE MARINE PRESERVE
For an entirely new perspective on the Sarasota- Siesta Key area, see it from the water as you paddle the Jim Neville Marine Preserve’s marine trails. You can rent a kayak or paddle board from South Lido Nature Park or Turtle Beach Park. After contacting one of the rental businesses, a representative will meet you at your launch point with all the equipment you need.
Curious about the past, present and future of the preserve? Book a guided tour leaving from Turtle Beach and learn from an expert while you paddle. Expect to see local wildlife, birds, and expansive shoreline views.
Some of the preserve’s sandy beaches are only accessible by water, so you’ll have the opportunity to explore the preserve’s 35 acres from a unique angle.
SNORKELING POINT OF ROCKS
Located at the southern tip of Crescent Beach, Point of Rocks beckons snorkeling enthusiasts from around the country. Clear waters around the limestone rock formation make it the perfect spot for an underwater experience.
Never snorkeled before? Siesta Key is the place to start a new hobby; Point of Rocks is highly beginner- friendly thanks to tranquil and shallow waters. You’ll see underwater plant life, various kinds of fish and other sea dwellers up close as you find your rhythm.
Manatees, dolphins, and migrating birds make frequent stops at Point of Rocks as well. Consider parking at Beach Access 12 early in the morning for an easy walk down to the shore.
WELCOME THE EVENING AT SUNSET POINT
Rounding out the northern end of Siesta Beach, Sunset Point is a part of the beach that extends slightly into the water. Thanks to this natural feature, the area is perfect for panoramic photographs, an evening picnic or just viewing the sunset after a busy day.
Sunset Point is closest to Beach Access 2; get there just before dusk to catch the sun before it goes down.
MEDITATE ON THE ST. BONIFACE LABYRINTH
As part of the Boniface Episcopal Church grounds, the St. Boniface Labyrinth is a spiritual experience in the heart of Siesta Key. Modeled after France’s Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth, this Siesta Key curiosity is made of carefully laid stonework meant to ground the body and mind.
This part of the courtyard is out of the way enough to seem like your own secluded hideaway, leaving you to meditate unbothered. A trickling fountain and seating make this a comfortable spot to have a snack, journal, or just reflect before rejoining the bustle of the village.
NOSH AT SIESTA’S FARMERS MARKET
Open weekly on Sunday mornings, the Siesta Key Farmers Market is where you’ll find the best of local produce, artisan foods and handcrafted gifts. The market takes place within Siesta Key Village, meaning you can stop by bright and early to grab a delicious breakfast on your way to the beach.
Canvases, pottery and jewelry join fruits, vegetables, and dairy products for a shopping experience that ventures off the beaten path. Live music keeps the mood festive, and taking a moment to absorb the atmosphere is guaranteed to improve the rest of your day. You’ll find the market just north of the Siesta Key Visitor’s Center, on the west side of town.
Details: 5104 Ocean Blvd, Siesta Key, FL 34242 | Website
SEE THE CLOWNS AT CIRCUS SARASOTA
Located just across the water in Sarasota, The Circus Arts Conservatory hosts a variety of performing arts showcases, including Circus Sarasota.
This yearly event hosts acrobats and performers from all over the world, bringing them all together under a true Big Top. Classic juggling and acrobatic repertoires join aerial stunts and other unbelievable feats to bring you a show to remember.
If you’re looking for a night of fun for the whole family, head over to Sarasota for a thrilling spectacle. If you won’t be in town on the dates Circus Sarasota is scheduled for, keep an eye on the Conservatory’s schedule for more events.
SEE THE TORTOISES AT PALMER POINT PARK
Sitting just below Turtle Beach, and adjacent to the Jim Neville Marine Preserve, Palmer Point Park is a calm coastal area with a thriving ecosystem. The best way to reach the park is on foot from the southern tip of Turtle Beach; the park is also accessible from the water.
Native plant life and sweeping dunes introduce you to a quintessential Florida habitat that is home to a number of year round and migrating species. The park’s gopher tortoises can be found enjoying the grass or basking in the sun; they nest in the dunes. A fishing pier, birdwatching opportunities, and a well preserved natural environment are all good reasons to make the short walk down from Turtle Beach.
GET WET IN THE GULF
Along with Siesta Key’s beaches comes its other claim to fame; the Gulf of Mexico. When you’re not gazing out over its still waters or dipping your feet on the shore, take advantage of the many water sport opportunities the area offers
Even if you’re never tried jet skiing, kayaking, or boating before, find the daredevil in you and get out there! A number of rental services are available in Siesta Key Village, where you can pick up equipment, hear expert advice on where to go or sign up for guided experiences that will have you hooked.
Walking and biking are the best ways to get to know the key on land, but exploring the Gulf can be even more exhilarating, especially if you’re doing it on water skis. If you’re more of a paced traveler, a wildlife tour by boat or kayak is a slightly more relaxing way to do the same.
GRAB A DRINK AT DAIQUIRI DECK
With two locations on Siesta Key, Daiquiri Deck is hard to miss, especially when you’re craving a tall glass of frozen tropical goodness. The bar and restaurant offers both savory meals and a full drink menu, meaning you can take the whole family out for dinner or keep things exciting long after the sun goes down.
A daily happy hour from 3:00pm until 7:00pm, and live music at night, remind you that you’re still on vacation. Regular drink specials and a rotating event schedule mean no night at Daiquiri Deck is the same as the last. Grab a souvenir tumbler, choose from the classic seafood menu and sit back and relax at either Siesta Key location.
A top destination for both inshore and offshore fishing, Siesta Key won’t disappoint, no matter how much or how little fishing experience you may have. Booking a charter with Siesta Key Fishing Charters ensures you get to the best spot just in time for the day’s catch.
Your expert guide will organize your outing depending on the kind of fish you’re hoping to catch, meaning all you have to do is wait for a bite while taking in the scenery. Invite family and friends for a group fishing excursion and combine it with snorkeling or water sports for a full day out on the Gulf.
Private charters, deep sea opportunities, and family- friendly trips that include the kids, are just some of the available options. A charter is your opportunity to get insider tips from locals — and hone your fishing skills while you’re at it.
If you’re a thrill-seeker, chances are skydiving has been on your bucket list for a while. While it won’t have you diving from a plane, parasailing is just as much of an adventure; especially when you’re gliding above turquoise waters and white sand beaches. Stop by Parasail Siesta on Stickney Point Road in Siesta Village and find out for yourself.
Prioritizing safety and expertise, the company offers premium rides and early bird specials, both at heights of 450 feet. Rides start at 9:00 am and can be booked in advance or the day of. Share the air with a partner on the tandem ride; anyone over the age of 5 is allowed, making this an outing the kids will be talking about for weeks.
The experience takes a little over two hours in total, including the boat ride to the launch point and your ride. Parasailing over the Gulf will be unforgettable; if you’ve ever wanted to feel free as a bird, Parasail Siesta can make it happen.
Details: 1250 Stickney Point Rd, Siesta Key, FL 34242 | Website
PLAY AT SOUTH LIDO BEACH PARK
Rounding out the southern tip of Lido Key, South Lido Beach Park is a leisurely spot to explore if you want to venture outside of Siesta Key for the day. While swimming is not recommended as there are no lifeguards, the park offers plenty to keep you and the kids busy on a balmy day.
Have lunch at one of the picnic pavilions, visit the playground, or take advantage of the volleyball area. There is also a canoe launch on-site if you have your own equipment.
The beach park overlooks Sarasota Bay and Big Sarasota Pass; Siesta Key is just across the pass. Nature trails and walking paths introduce you to natural Florida habitats, and you might even spot wildlife. South Lido Beach Park is also a highly recommended spot for birdwatchers.
RIDE THE SIESTA KEY BREEZE TROLLEY
The Siesta Key Breeze Trolley is the most convenient way to get around town, especially if you don’t want to spend precious beach time searching for parking. The trolley is free and runs daily, traversing Ocean Boulevard and Midnight Pass Road.
The trolley operates from 8am until 10pm, and detailed maps are available online or via the Trolley app. You can also use the app to track the trolley in real time.
The trolley makes seeing the key an absolute breeze, giving you more time to explore, uninterrupted.
DAY TRIP TO ANNA MARIA ISLAND
Located only 45 minutes north of Siesta Key, Anna Maria Island is a day trip destination where time stands still. Easygoing and serene, this beach community has the sandy shores and shimmering waters of Siesta Key with an even more laid back vibe.
You’ll feel like a local as soon as you park your car and set out on foot; small businesses dot the main street along with restaurants serving fresh seafood. Manatee and Anna Maria Public Beach are just steps away, while Bean Point Beach lies a few minutes to the north.
Well worth the short drive, the island is a secret hidden out in the open, waiting to be discovered.
On the way to (or from) Anna Maria Island, consider a stop at Longboat Key. Stop for a bite to eat at Dry Dock Waterfront Grill, stay at one of the amazing beach resorts here, enjoy the Ski-a-Rees free waterfront ski show in Sarasota Bay, or stop by the Mote Marine Aquarium. Located only 30 minutes from Siesta Key, a day trip to Longboat Key is well worth it!
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO FLORIDA
- YOUR FLORIDA VACATION
- BEACHES: 17 Best Florida Beaches For Families To Relax and Unwind
- FLORIDA’S WEST COAST: 23+ Memorable Stops For A Perfect West Coast of Florida Trip
- KEY LARGO: 15 Fun Things To Do In Key Largo Adventurers Will Love
- WEST PALM BEACH: 20 Family-Friendly Things To Do In West Palm Beach
- CLEARWATER: 18 Awesome Things To Do In Clearwater For Sunny Fun
VACATION RENTALS IN SIESTA KEY
Best Beach Option. The Sea Spray Resort is 800 feet from Siesta Key Beach and 0.6 miles from Crescent Beach. It has family-style rooms complete with barbecue. All at affordable rates.
Best Budget Option. Carlisle Inn Sarasota is a bit farther from the beach (5 miles) as a “closer to the city” option. It features a pool and hot tub, and rated well for couples and families. Breakfast is also included.
Best Luxury Option. The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota is on the bay in central Sarasota. The resort classic Ritz amenities include a spa center and access to a nearby private beach and outdoor pool.
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