Siesta Key

Southwest Gulf Coast

At 8 miles long, Siesta Key is the area's most popular beach hangout, with a family-friendly village and a public beach of pure quartz sand so fine it's like confectioners' sugar. The enormous parking lot (at the corner of Beach Rd and Beach Way) has an information booth dispensing info on all types of activities and water sports (parasailing, Jet Ski rental, kayaks, bikes and more), plus nice facilities, a snack bar and covered eating areas.

For a quieter experience, head to Turtle Beach. The sun and teal waters are the same, but it's several miles south of the action and the narrow ash-gray sand beach isn't half as fine, so few prefer it. Not so the sea turtles, who nest here from May through October.

SCAT bus 11 serves Siesta Key from downtown Sarasota.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Southwest Gulf Coast attractions

1. Lido Key

3.58 MILES

Just a hop, skip and jump across from St Armands Circle, Lido Key is barely 15-minutes' drive from downtown Sarasota. Lido Beach is an excellent, wide…

2. St Armands Circle

3.99 MILES

Conceived by John Ringling in the 1920s, St Armands Circle is an upscale outdoor mall surrounded by posh residences on St Armands Key. More so even than…

3. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

4.38 MILES

If you visit just one botanical garden in Florida, choose Selby, which has the world's largest scientific collection of orchids and bromeliads – more than…

4. Island Park

4.55 MILES

Sarasota's marina is notable for Island Park, an attractive green space poking into the harbor: it has a great playground and play fountain, restrooms,…

5. Marina Jack

4.69 MILES

Sarasota's plush deep-water marina is within walking distance of downtown and is well served with alfresco and fine-dining restaurants, numerous…

6. Unconditional Surrender

4.81 MILES

A short stroll north along the Island Park waterfront is this towering statue of WWII's most famous kiss.

7. Mote Marine Laboratory

4.94 MILES

The Mote bills itself as a research facility and aquarium, and has a large department dedicated to the study of sharks. Exhibits include a preserved giant…

8. Art Center Sarasota

5.35 MILES

This community-oriented nonprofit gallery has four exhibition spaces that mix local and out-of-town artists. Hosts frequent events, including a lecture…