Visiting gorgeous white sandy beaches with crystal clear ocean is one of my favourite things about visiting Florida. I’ve visited Florida many times over the years, and this time we wanted to try somewhere a little different. We set off in search of a place we’d never visited before – Sarasota and nearby Siesta Key. Once voted the state’s best beach with its sparkling Gulf of Mexico waters, we set off on the three hour journey from Orlando to find it.
Arriving in Sarasota
Sarasota is one of Florida’s main Gulf Coast cities. As well as beautiful beaches, it boasts great shopping, restaurants, and culture. As you reach Sarasota, you pass incredible whitewashed mansions boasting their own harbours for yachts. I loved staring out of the car window picking out my favourite houses. We parked up along the Bay in Downtown Sarasota, and went for a walk along Bayfront Park.
There are some beautiful views from Bayfront Park, as well as some lovely restaurants and a tiki bar. You can see sights including the Ringling Bridge, Sarasota Bay, and some glamorous yachts harboured.
Beginning our walk at O’Leary’s Tiki Bar, we began our walk around Sarasota’s Bayfront Park. The weather was beautiful, with just a few fluffy clouds in the bright blue sky.
The surprising number of yachts in the harbour says something about the impressive wealth of Sarasota. Which would you pick to own?
Bayfront Park is dotted with oak trees, and offers a perfect glimpse over Sarasota Bay and its skyline. A number of events are hosted here throughout the year, including Fourth of July fireworks. We stopped off to take in the views on such a beautiful day.
All around, even the fountains are pretty – dophins dancing in between the spurts of water. If you fancy cooling off from the Florida heat, you can rent boats and jet skis to ride over the Gulf of Mexico. It all feels quite tropical in Sarasota along with the style of some properties. In that sense, it reminds me a little of Miami and Key West.
I love this beautiful art deco style gate – what an entrance to such a beautiful walk.
We walked along the marina, until we came across an iconic statue. Known as Unconditional Surrender, it’s part of a series of sculptures by Seward Johnson. It’s based on a photo taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt, known as V-J day in Times Square. The statue in Sarasota is the original.
The photo shows a devoted man kissing a woman in New York’s Times Square on the day that the end of WWII was announced. It appeared to be a spontaneous kiss, although the characters themselves are unidentified. I really like the hopelessly romantic nature of the statue as the figures embrace. I just imagined sailors returning to their girlfriends after a long time away at sea.
It was a lovely stroll around Sarasota’s Bayfront, and one I recommend to anyone visiting the area. Keen to cool off from the hot summer sun, we went off in search of a beach.
Siesta Key, Florida
Siesta Key has a reputation as one of America’s Best Beaches, which you’ll see once you arrive. This is thanks in part to its incredibly fine white quartz sand, and beautifully clear turquoise ocean. It’s just a short drive from downtown Sarasota.
It’s definitely one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve visited – see how clear the water is? Just like its namesake, Siesta Key offers an inviting space to relax and rejuvenate from the stresses of every day life. It’s on an eight mile long island along the Gulf of Mexico, packed with shopping, resorts, dining, and nightlife.
We relaxed and sunbathed for a while, taking in the impressive views of Siesta Key. The sun was really intense as we watched rainbow coloured paragliders drift by, and saw jet skis bob over the ocean. Not far from Siesta Key beach, you can also find restaurants, coffee shops, and some adorable boutique stores.
After sizzling in the sun for a few hours, we upped sticks and grabbed a cold drink before setting off in search of some dinner.
After a long day of exploring Sarasota and Siesta Key, we fancied some fresh seafood for dinner. Having enjoyed Crabby Bill’s in Clearwater during our holiday a previous year, we found one en route home.
We started off with some classic Florida gator bites. My family and I all then picked fresh tuna steaks with mashed potato and broccoli. It was absolutely delicious. What’s even better is the glorious view over the harbour at sunset.
Although it looks beautiful, we saw a warning sign for alligators in the harbour. Maybe not quite as harmless as it appears! We drove home through the sunset.
A beautiful day exploring an area of Florida I’ve never seen before – Sarasota and Siesta Key are gorgeous.
Have you visited Sarasota? What did you get up to there, and did you also head to Siesta Key? Let me know in the comments below.