Siesta Key: No. 1 Beach, Champion Destination

If you want top-of-the-line, more-bang-for-your-buck, you may as well go with No. 1.

It's that time of year again--time for family vacations, reunions and weddings. And there's no better place to host a family getaway than the beach. It has something for everyone: natural playgrounds of water and sand, miles of seashells, seafood restaurants galore, surf shops and souvenirs, tiki bars and live music. Thing is, which beach is best?

Well, if you want top-of-the-line, more-bang-for-your-buck, you may as well go with No. 1. And in 2011, according to world renowned expert Dr. Stephen Leatherman, aka Dr. Beach, that was Siesta Beach on Siesta Key.

Dr. Leatherman rates his beaches on 50 criteria ranging from sand consistency to beachfront scenery, wave size and water color to beachcomber amenities. And Siesta Key's beach boasts broad yards of quartz crystal sand that looks and feels like sparkly powdered sugar, kid-friendly sand bars that slope slowly and gently into the Gulf, miles of unobstructed views and scenic paths and underwater rock and coral perfect for snorkeling beneath incandescent water and modest breaking waves.

And while the key's No. 1 beach has plenty of places to shower, grill and snooze under a canopy of shady trees after a day in the sun, Siesta Key is worth a longer stay for a closer look at the other amenities that make Siesta Key a natural winner.

Siesta Key Village
Siesta Key Village

Premier Accommodations

Vacationers have their choice of places to hang their straw hats, from Key West cottages at Beach Palms to boutique digs at Siesta Key Bungalows; and community condos like Siesta Dunes to high-rise luxury found through Beckmann Properties or 55-plus accommodations available through Argus Property Management.

If you want room to spread out, the Hyatt Siesta Key Beach offers 13 floor plans that range anywhere from 1,800 to 3,000 square feet. For circus freaks, look no further than the Siesta Key Suites' Ringling Beach House, with its pink, blue and green décor and rooms with names like the Flying Trapeze, the Ringmaster, and its roomiest room, the Elephant.

Winning Diversions

Once the clothes are unpacked, grab some snacks from the Crescent Beach Grocery, hit the waves on a Jetski from CB's Saltwater Outfitters, or take a kayak tour with Siesta Key Bike & Kayak. Explore the key on a Segway from Robin Hood Rentals or motor around on a two seater "scootcoupe" from Siesta Sport Rentals. When you want to let someone else do the driving, hop aboard the Siesta Trolley for a private tour or party.

Nonpareil Dining

Gulf Paella at SKOB
Gulf Paella at SKOB

Enjoy the sunset over a succulent dinner in one of Ophelia's on the Bay glass dining rooms or smokin' good meat cooked over a hardwood grill and live music at the upscale Blu Que Island Grill.

Early risers will enjoy an egg-stravagant dish at the Siesta Key Village Café.

In between, enjoy strolling the quaint sidewalks of Siesta Key Village, where you can grab some fresh or baked oysters at Siesta Key Oyster Bar, a drink at the Daiquiri Deck Raw Bar or sample an assortment of loose teas at Local Coffee & Tea, in between perusing the boutiques and shops along the way.

With so many champion choices in one place, is it any wonder Siesta Key is No. 1?