Siesta Key is a barrier island protecting the shores of southern Sarasota. The eight-mile-long crescent-shaped piece of land hosts some of the most luxurious homes in Sarasota County. Siesta Key also has three popular beaches along the Gulf of Mexico. Turtle Beach, Crescent Beach, and the widely acclaimed Siesta Beach. These three beaches cover 6 miles of the 8-mile-long island.
One thing you will note as you travel across the north bridge from the mainland to the island is the tree-lined streets almost completely canopy the road. Most island and beach communities are more wide open. Siesta Key has exclusive home compounds along Siesta Drive and Higel Avenue, the main access streets from the north. There are no water views from the road. We immediately thought of past Florida road trips to Naples and its exclusive neighborhoods.
Siesta Key Village
As your Florida road trip continues further south to Ocean Boulevard, the structures change. Stately homes and beach houses begin to be interspersed with boutique hotels and small resorts. After a few blocks, you suddenly are surrounded by colorful restaurants, quaint shops and the small-town beach feeling. You have entered Siesta Village. This is the heart of the retail and restaurant district for the island. The tree-lined narrow street has whatever you are hungry for – from French cooking to fresh seafood, you will find it here.
One of our favorite restaurants seems to be a local favorite also. The Siesta Key Oyster Bar seems busy all the time. The “SKOB”, as they call themselves, not only serves fresh oysters, but they also have fresh Cedar Key clams we have written about before. If you are looking for breakfast, the Village Café is the place to go on the island. At the south end of the island, you can’t forget Captain Curt’s Crab and Oyster Bar. They have some unique crab delicacies.
Besides the shops in the village, the small boutique hotels stand out with bright colors along the community’s fringe. Siesta Key Village has that salty vibe felt in many island beach towns, covering about four or five blocks. As you go from Ocean Boulevard that turns into Beach Road, you know immediately where that salty air is coming from.
We see a lot of beaches on our Florida road trips. Many have beautiful white soft sandy beaches like Clearwater Beach or the remote Cayo Costa island. These beaches are mainly formed from tiny pieces of coral over thousands of years. Siesta Beach sand is brilliantly white, but the sand is 90% quartz. While normal beaches can be hot on your feet, this quartz sand reflects heat, and it actually feels cool on a hot day!
Siesta Beach has been voted the Number One beach in the country by a travel website several years ago. It was also ranked Number 11 in the world! If size matters, they certainly got it right. Siesta Beach is long and wide. The public parking lot alone is larger than many island beaches in Florida! Plenty of playground space for the kids and a snack shop or two when you are hungry.
Because Siesta Beach is so wide and long it could be one of the largest beaches in Florida. We know it is in our top 10 or 15 best beaches we have visited on our Florida road trips.
Hotels and Traveling Siesta Key
Perhaps Siesta Key could be the least developed island property for hotels. Many islands like St. Pete Beach, Amelia Island, Key Largo and Marco Island are loaded with chain hotels. They have every major brand with hundreds of rooms rising several floors over the island. That is not the case on Siesta Key. Yes, there are a few chains, but for the most part, small to medium size hotels and resorts dot the island. Most are clean and colorful. Some are directly across from the beach and others nestled in the many tree-covered streets.
If there is a caution on your road trip to Siesta Key, it’s the potential traffic. With public parking for hundreds of beachgoers, one of the most beautiful beaches in Florida, and the island atmosphere there is going to be cars. There is only one north bridge and one south bridge on the island. Both of these accesses are funneled into by multiple streets. That ends in gridlock at busy times.
Siesta Key can be visited any time of the year. However, we recommend weekdays during off-season periods. You won’t have competition for beach space, restaurant seats or parking spots in July to November.
You may also enjoy our post about Lido Key and St. Armand Circle. This island is just north of Siesta Key.