Sarasota and Manatee County Favorite Beaches Guide
We have to start with the country’s number one beach, Siesta Key. Consistently ranked in the nation’s top beaches and receiving the title of “#1 Beach” by Dr. Beach in 2011 and by TripAdvisor in 2015, Siesta Key offers something for everyone. Siesta Key Beach is very wide, with plenty of room for all, yet maintains a low-key vibe that doesn’t feel touristy. Its most unique and spectacular feature is the fine white sand that resembles the consistency of baby powder. The public beach is the favorite spot for families with its colorful lifeguard towers, newly constructed concession area and plenty of parking. Siesta Key Village is nearby, with quirky and fun family restaurants and an exciting nightlife scene. Don’t miss the famous drum circle every Sunday at sunset! Siesta Key is a true vacation destination that draws visitors back over and over again.
Lido Beach is a favorite of many visitors due to its proximity to the famous and upscale St. Armand’s Circle shopping district. With the same powder-white sand that Siesta Key is famous for, but a lot less traffic, Lido Key is very laid-back. The beach is great for quiet lounging, jogging, or soaking up the sun. When you’re ready for a quick bite or to retreat from the sun, St. Armand’s Circle is just steps away, offering a wide selection of restaurants and boutiques.
A nature lover’s dream beach, Caspersen Beach in Venice is the best spot to find sharks’ teeth. Along with the shelling, there are nature trails traveling through freshwater and saltwater marshes, mangrove areas, and tidal flats, and excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing. Bring your kayak! Caspersen Beach’s sand is a bit more dense, resembling sand on the East Coast of Florida. Parking is plentiful, and facilities are clean and bright. Be sure to visit the adjacent Dog Beach with your furry friend, or enjoy a waterfront meal at Sharkey’s on the Pier.
Anna Maria Island Beaches
The beaches of Anna Maria Island, including Coquina Beach, Holmes Beach, and what locals call the “public beach” at the end of Manatee Avenue, features powder white sand similar to Siesta Key’s beaches. The beaches are clean, quiet, and family-friendly, with free parking and all of the amenities you would expect at a beach destination. Anna Maria Island is much less developed than Siesta Key, and offers a very quaint “old Florida” feel that you won’t find anywhere else. No chain hotels or high-rise condos are allowed. Many true “beach bums” prefer Anna Maria Island for these reasons. It is a fabulous place to relax and unwind, walk, bike, and enjoy the beach. Due to development restrictions, there is less to do “on the island” such as nightlife and shopping than other beach destinations, and traffic can be heavy during the in season months of January through April. Accommodations are only available in the form of boutique-style rentals and smaller condos.