There are hundreds of beaches in Florida. We can’t visit them all, yet, but every now and then we find an exceptional beach that escapes the mainstream publicity. Lido Key Beach is certainly one of those Florida beaches that escapes those best beach in Florida lists.
Lido Key Beach is the southernmost beach in a string of beaches along the barrier islands from Sarasota, Florida to Bradenton. Just north you will find Coquina Beach, Longboat Key Beach, Holmes Beach and Anna Maria Island Beach and a half dozen more along the way.
Lido Key Beach Less Crowded
Lido Key Beach stands out among all the others in this range because it is big and comparatively much less crowded. The white plush sand stretches 300 yards from the street side to the clear Gulf waters. On our last visit, standing at about the middle of the island beach, there were only about a dozen people north and south a half mile in either direction. Few people on a Florida beach on a 90-degree midday.
As usual, when there aren’t many people around a Florida Gulffront big beach, there is a reason. It is access. There is street parking along the narrow street that fills up fast and a public parking lot for a few cars, but for a beach this size, parking is an issue. There are several hotels that hosts beach goers and visitors in the area for another reason called St. Armand’s Circle.
Just a couple blocks from Lido Key Beach is a shopping and dining area known as St. Armand’s Circle. Thousands of people come here daily and compete with beachgoers for parking on the island. St. Armand’s is a collection of more than 140 trendy shops and restaurants. It is doubtful the millions of tourists who visit Florida’s Cultural Coast haven’t heard of St. Armand’s Circle.
St. Armand a Block from Lido Key Beach
Founded by circus king John Ringling, St. Armand’s Key was purchased to develop homes and other commercial property in the early 1900’s. St. Armand’s Circle was the center of activity for the island community. Today, the circle is an attraction for locals and tourists.
The shops include upscale clothing stores mixed in with the normal beach shops. The area includes a better collection of restaurants including Tommy Bahama’s, The Columbia, Daiquiri Deck and one of our Florida favorites, the Crab & Fin. The fresh seafood includes local catches as well as flown-in fresh selections from around the country.
If you want to visit Lido Key Beach our recommendation for a hotel would be the Holiday Inn located in the middle of the beach and about two blocks from St. Armand’s Circle. Very basic hotel at an acceptable rate, but the location is everything.
Lido Key Beach is across a causeway (Rt. 789) from downtown Sarasota west to the Gulf. Sarasota has numerous museums and attractions we have written about before. Further north is Anna Maria Island which is also one of the communities we would call Florida quaint. As we mentioned earlier, if your goal is to visit many beaches in Florida, there are numerous choices north and south of Lido Key Beach.
Sarasota is about 90 minutes south of Tampa off interstate I-75 and about an hour north of Ft. Myers.