Reality Check: Your sizzling guide to Siesta Key and beyond

Numerous no. 1 beach rankings and a new reality TV show on MTV — read more on Siesta Key’s fine white sand, turquoise green waters and fabulous sip-and-savor locales.

There truly is no place like Siesta Key.

The sugary white sand, the colorful bungalows, the charming village shops — it is truly the quintessential Florida beach town. There’s fun to be had for young adults, but not too much fun to turn away families and more mature travelers. Everything is just a short trolley or bike ride  away and there’s even more to explore on the mainland in the rapidly growing city of Sarasota (north of Siesta Key), or the laid-back adventures of Nokomis and Osprey (to the south.)

Did we forget to mention, Siesta Key is the No. 1 beach in America, as ranked by both TripAdvisor reviewers and Dr. Beach? The free public beach recently finished a $21 million renovation adding more parking, concessions, picnic shelters, a playground and many more amenities, adding to the impressively wide fine crystal sand beach and its turquoise green waters. It’s no wonder the beach is a favorite for millions each year.

So take a reality check and use our guide to explore Siesta Key:

Lifestyle + accommodations

It all starts with where you stay and there are numerous options on Siesta Key’s sandy shores.

If you wish to stay right on or near the beach, your best bet is one of Siesta Key’s numerous condominiums or vacation rental properties. Many of these are fully-equipped rentals with gulf side or bayside vistas and include amenities such as pools, tennis courts, jacuzzis and more. There is usually a minimum night stay at these properties, so for those only in town for a night or two, look to properties that are just off the island, such as Hibiscus Suites Inn, Siesta Key Palms Hotel, or the Best Western Plus Siesta Key.

Places to eat

There are many places to eat on Siesta Key, but most are located within Siesta Village to the north, and where Midnight Pass Road meets Stickney Point Road. However, don’t leave the area without enjoying a cocktail at Turtle Beach Grill or an upscale dinner at Ophelia’s on the Bay, both of which are further toward the southern tip of the Island.

Staples of Siesta Village include Daiquiri Deck Raw Bar and Siesta Key Oyster Bar. These restaurants are also late night hubs of activity, featuring live music and tropical drinks. For more intimate dining, try Café Gabbiano, Miguel’s or Flavio’s Brick Oven and Bar. Another Staple off Stickney Road is Captain Curt’s Crab and Oyster Bar. This establishment offers a family-friend “Old Florida” atmosphere and award-winning clam chowder.

Things to do (besides the beach)

The classic, casual beach vacation of “wake-up, walk the beach, read a book, go back to the beach or pool, visit a restaurant and repeat” is completely acceptable. But those seeking more adventure can enjoy boat rentals and fishing charters from CB’s Saltwater Outfitters. Fishing in Sarasota includes excellent inshore fishing, tarpon fishing during May through early July, and off shore fishing around artificial reefs. If fishing isn’t an interest, consider parasailing, jet ski rentals, dolphin tours or a sunset cruise with Siesta Key Watersports.

Pro beach tips

Most of the time spent on a Siesta Beach vacation will undoubtedly be on the beach. Internationally recognized as one of the world’s greatest beaches, there are many visitors coming to the beach on every day of the year. While it is an expansive public space and can host thousands of visitors without feeling overcrowded, there are some recommended tips to maximize a beach experience:

  1. Get there early. There are nearly 1000 parking spaces at Siesta Public Beach, but they will fill up quickly and typically the lot will be full by noon on a weekend. Additionally, mornings are typically cooler and the UV Index hasn’t yet hit “extreme.”
  2. Bring shade, water and sunscreen. Heat exhaustion can happen quickly and it’s critical to hydrate and find ways to stay cool. Without a tent or an umbrella, there is little shade on the beach, so be sure to come fully prepared to endure the heat of the sun.
  3. Alcohol is allowed, but bad behavior is not. Beverages in non-glass containers are allowed on the beach, however, Siesta Key is not the party capital of Florida. Expect police officers patrolling the beach by horseback and ATV.
  4. Keep our beaches beautiful. Do not leave trash and unwanted items behind on the beach. Please help us keep our beaches pristine and enjoyable for all. Do not feed wildlife under any circumstances. It is harmful to them and encourages dangerous behavior.

Share your experience!

Did you love the beach? The dinner? Your accommodations? Share it with your friends and family and use the hashtags #MySarasota and #SiestaKey. Show the world what, in reality, a Siesta Key vacation is like!