lorida is home to some of the best beaches in the United States, beloved by locals and holidaymakers alike. Many of them are in Sarasota County, with over 40 miles of coastline. There are five islands known as keys as well as the mainland beachhead in Venice Beach. From Siesta Key to Caspersen Beach, we reveal the best beaches in Sarasota County.
Best Beaches in Sarasota, Florida
Here’s a tour of some of our favorite beaches, as well as other great things to do in Sarasota. Read on for our full guide of the top Sarasota beaches.
1. Siesta Beach
While most beaches are composed of pulverised coral, Siesta Beach is 99% pure quartz. This means that it’s incredibly fine and white and it stays cool under foot.
The sand is thought to be millions of years old, having originally flowed from the Appalachian mountains. It’s estimated that the sand on Siesta Beach and Crescent Beach on Siesta Key could be millions of years old, having its origin in the Appalachian mountains and flowing down through rivers until finally reaching these shores.
No wonder Siesta Beach scooped the TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Award for Best Beach in the US in 2020, as well as the number 1 Beach in America 2017 by Dr Beach.
There’s the Siesta Key Beach Pavilion cafe with restrooms and a playground, as well as picnic areas. You’ll also find beach wheelchairs that can be borrowed. In fact, Siesta Beach is easily accessible for those with reduced mobility or with pushchairs as it has a special Mobi Mat.
This rollout pathway extends for 450 feet and is something that we’d love to see on more beaches worldwide. It’s also very safe for children here.
The water’s edge is quite shallow and there are 4 colourful lifeguard huts manned daily. Siesta Beach is popular for volleyball matches as well as pickleball, a paddle sport that’s a cross between badminton, table tennis and tennis.
The parking lot at Siesta Public Beach has space for 976 cars. It fills up fairly quickly so try to arrive early.
Whilst Siesta Key has some of the best beaches in Florida, the sunsets are equally impressive. If you’re lucky you might even see a green flash on the sun!
This natural phenomenon occurs just before sunrise and after sunset in Florida and only lasts for a few seconds.
There are some great restaurants in Siesta Key including Ophelia’s on the Bay. This Sarasota County restaurant has been a popular spot since opening in 1988. The views from the bayfront patio are fantastic.
They specialise in seafood, with many delicious seafood dishes such as pan roasted Gulf lane snapper with a ginger soy glaze, white enoki mushrooms, baby bok choy and green tea noodle salad.
2. Venice Beach
The beach in Venice, Florida is a popular tourist attraction. It’s not to be confused with Venice, Italy although the town was named after the Italian city due to its perceived resemblance.
Voted in the top 10 Happiest Seaside Towns by Coastal Living, it was planned as a model city in 1925. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus established their Winter base here due to the proximity of the railroad.
These days you can cycle or walk along the former rail track, now the Legacy Trail, which links to the Venetian Waterway trail.
There are 14 miles of soft white sand in and around Venice, Florida with free parking, a picnic area and volleyball courts. Many turtles lay their nests here between May and October.
A distinctive pavilion in the form of a sail houses a cafe and restrooms. There’s a very active senior citizen community in Venice and dedicated exercise classes are regularly held on the beach.
Venice is known as the Shark Tooth Capital of the world and if you look closely you may well find some of the tiny black teeth. They are particularly abundant at nearby Caspersen Beach, also in the Venice area.
After relaxing at Venice Beach, it’s well worth making the 15 minute walk into town. Many of the low-level Mediterranean style buildings are of special architectural interest, and there are some great gift shops. Check out our recommendations for places to eat in Venice, Florida and some of the best restaurants in Sarasota.
Fins at Sharky’s is justifiably one of the most popular restaurants in Venice, Florida. You can’t miss it as there’s a giant fin on the roof! With an unbeatable beachfront location next to Venice Pier, it’s a great place to unwind.
Whilst the seafood is superb here, they also do a fine line in steaks. If you want the best of both worlds then the sushi surf and turf is an excellent choice.
Many of the tables overlook the pier, which is popular with fishermen and strollers. There’s a fun gift shop with many shark themed items. Heading onto the beach afterwards, you’ll see pelicans in the sea and sometimes dolphins.
3. Caspersen Beach
One of the most unique beaches in Sarasota County is Caspersen Beach, due to the impressive number of shark teeth. Searching for shark’s teeth is a popular pastime with visitors, and you can buy a wire sifter to help you find them more easily.
Two thirds of the beach were left in their natural state and a dune restoration system is in place to prevent erosion. There’s a county park with a nature trail, outdoor fitness centre, a pavilion and restrooms.
The beach isn’t manned by lifeguards but is uncrowded and has real natural beauty. Notice how the water shimmers in the sunlight here!
We asked a few people if they had found any and one man had indeed discovered a few.
4. Lido Beach
With super soft white sand, Lido Beach is another great choice in Sarasota County. It’s not too crowded despite its proximity to downtown Sarasota.
The surfing is good at Lido Key Beach, particularly when there’s a Northern wind. The beach is manned year-round by lifeguards and has good restrooms.
At the furthest tip of Lido Key you’ll find South Lido Park which has picnic tables. South Lido Beach is a great place to watch the sunset.
North Lido Beach Park is a great spot for bird and nature lovers. There are 49 acres of walking trails and pine wood, as well as 22.5 acres of beach and mangroves.
There’s a fun tiki bar at the Ritz Carlton Residences. Of the many great restaurants in Sarasota County, quite a few are located in St Armands Circle.
We particularly like Il Colonne for Italian specialties and Shore, serving American food in a contemporary setting. The latter is also a beach clothing store so you can browse before your meal.
St Armands Circle has some good boutiques, as well as statues of the Seven Virtues. It was John Ringling, of the famous circus, who purchased the original statues in the 1920s.
He had visited Renaissance cities in Italy and decided to recreate a similar ambiance in his property development here. Several of the statues are on display in the Ringling Museum.
In terms of hotels, Lido Beach Resort is a popular place to stay. It has a large outdoor swimming pool overlooking the beach and newly renovated bedrooms with well equipped kitchenettes.
5. Turtle Beach Park
Named after the many sea turtles who nest here, Turtle Beach Park is spread over 14 acres. There aren’t lifeguards but there’s a volleyball court, picnic pavilion and shelters, outdoor showers, restrooms and parking.
You’ll also find a canoe and kayak launch as well as a boat ramp. It’s a popular destination for fishermen and campers, with 39 RV and tent sites with WiFi and a laundry room.
The sea turtles are protected by law, and for this reason no pets are allowed. Sea turtle nesting season is from May to October in Sarasota County.
The area has the highest density of loggerhead sea turtles on the Gulf Coast, with up to 6,000 turtle nests each year. It’s rare to see the baby turtles as they usually emerge from their shells at night, giving them some protection from marauding birds. If you do happen to encounter them, there are some important rules to follow.
- Don’t approach them, touch the nests, hatchlings or sea turtles, it’s against the law. They are protected by the Florida Marine Protection Act and the Federal Endangered Species Act. The nests are marked with tape and wooden sticks and a sign will display the approximate egg-laying date.
- Don’t make any noise or use flashlights or headlamps
- Don’t use fireworks on the beach
- Dispose of your trash in the appropriate bins
- Don’t walk dogs here or on any other beach in Sarasota County other than at Brohard Paw Park
- The hatchlings can get disoriented in the dark. If you see one heading away from the sea, or any injured sea turtles, please contact Mote Marine Laboratory’s Stranding Investigations Program: 941-988-0212
There are free guided turtle walks led by a Mote Marine Laboratory volunteer every Saturday at 6.45 am in June and July, leaving from the public beach access point at 4795 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key. They’re open to all ages and no reservation is required. You’ll learn a great deal about sea turtles and look for signs of turtle nesting.
6. Manasota Key
Around Manasota Key, there are several beautiful beaches including Manasota Beach, Englewood Beach, Stump Pass Beach and Blind Pass Beach. Manasota Beach is uncrowded yet boasts several amenities such as paved hiking trails and picnic shelters.
There are some nice places to eat and drink in Manasota Key. The White Elephant Pub has live music and a waterside location, while Flounders on the Beach specializes in calamari and tacos.
As you can see, Sarasota County is blessed with some incredible wildlife and beautiful coastline. These are just some of the most well known beaches in Sarasota.
There are many more to explore, such as Longboat Key, Manasota Beach in Englewood, Nokomis Beach on Casey Key and Brohard Beach and Paw Park. You might also enjoy reading our guide to the top things to do in Sarasota County.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of the best beaches in Sarasota County. Have you been to any of these places, and in your opinion, what makes a great beach?
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