Culture, Shopping and Siesta Key
There’s something for everyone on the white sand shores of Sarasota. Whether you’re looking for the No. 1 beach in the United States (Siesta Beach on Siesta Key), amazing art museums or the worlds’ best pancakes, you can find it all in this quaint Gulf town. It’s the small crowds, welcoming community and laid-back vibe that will keep you coming back for more.
Start your vacation with giant pancakes, stuffed French toast, fresh omelets and homemade biscuits from Yoder’s, a traditional family favorite. Featured on Food Network for their amazing pies, Yoder’s also stands out for its seasonal breakfast options, likecinnamon roll pancakes. The Amish market right next door sells handmade goods, local honey and fresh produce.
Siesta Key beaches rank No. 1 in the United States, trumping even Hawaii’s postcard-perfect beaches. The powder white sand is unbelievably soft, the walkways and restrooms are clean and the water is crystal clear. Arrive early to get good parking, which may be limited during peak season, or take a short walk from one of Siesta Key’s many hotels and condos. Rent a bike to explore, enjoy the incredible sand sculpting competition every November or just kick back and enjoy the beach.
“We went to Sarasota and stayed in a little cottage on the beach. A must-see place is Siesta Key Beach. There’s no place like it.”– Jessica Friend, PLAYGROUND Contributing Photographer and Designer
Beat the heat with a visit to Mote Aquarium, a marine research facility, animal hospital and interactive aquarium in one. Shark lovers will enjoy the open-water Shark Zone and budding marine biologists will love the touch tanks and other interactive marine life exhibits. Finish the day with a meal at Owen’s Fish Camp, a quirky establishment with live music, a tire swing for the kids and colorful, delicious Florida eats. Or do some shopping, strolling and dining at St. Armand’s Circle, which offers superb exotic boutiques, art galleries, beach shops, sophisticated restaurants and nightlife.
- EAT: Famous for their clam chowder, Captain Curt’s Crab and Oyster Bar is a local landmark that serves a variety of seafood fare on the beach. captaincurts.com
- STAY: Leave your worries behind at Hyatt Regency Sarasota, an all-inclusive resort with special hypoallergenic rooms — great for sensitive kiddos! They have sprawling, resort-style pools and offer access to their marina with fishing and boating activities. Family-friendly fun also awaits at the Homewood Suites by Hilton Sarasota, with a full complimentary breakfast and in-room kitchenettes for the ultimate kid-approved stay!
- SEE: Families will enjoy the The Ringling, a large campus that houses the Ca’ D’ Zan mansion, a circus museum (definitely a must-see for kids), an art museum, the Muse restaurant, 66 acres of bayfront gardens (think: giant Banyon trees) and a super cool playground for kids. Don’t leave Sarasota without visiting this treasure.
- DO: Snorkeling at Point of Rocks is a must-see for visitors. There are many snorkel rental options in the area. This activity is considered a hidden gem of the area.