Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Lido Key, FL

  • Published 2023/03/18

In Lido Key, Florida, you will experience unparalleled peace and excitement!

This key (meaning small island in Spanish) is one of the barrier islands by Sarasota, Florida.

A Sarasota resident, John Ringling, named the island’s beach lido (meaning shore in Italian).

As a result, Lido Key became the name for the entire area by the beach.

Lido Key in Sarasota County features pristine beaches, mangrove tunnels, and unique flora and fauna.

Thanks to its fascinating ecology, Lido Key is known for its eco-tourism!

Explore the best things to do in Lido Key, Florida!

Have a Relaxing Picnic at South Lido Park

Aerial view of South Lido Park

Felix Mizioznikov /

South Lido Park is a treat for all, whether you are a nature lover, beachgoer, birdwatcher, or Instagrammer!

It occupies over a hundred acres, with the Gulf of Mexico, Sarasota Bay, Brushy Bayou, and Big Pass forming its boundaries.

As a result, you can see a variety of coastal influences here.

Beautiful sunset at South Lido Park

Morrisayoder, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

On one edge, you will see mangrove tunnels; on the other, the park overlooks the sparkling water.

You can explore nature trails, kayaking, and even canoeing trails.

You can also access observation decks, clean bathrooms, and free parking lots.

South Lido Park offers amenities perfect for picnicking with your family and friends.

You get nice picnic areas, a children’s playground, and barbecue grills!

Check Out Wyland Galleries

Wyland Galleries is an art gallery in St. Armand’s Circle that gives art a marine twist.

Jay Shaffer and Guy Vincent are behind this establishment.

With more than 50 years of experience, they help collectors find the perfect artwork.

The gallery features artists like Michael Cheval, Steve Barton, and Clarita Brinkerhoff.

But the spotlight is on Robert Wyland, the famous marine life artist.

His collection combines themes of the environment with art.

The result is evident in his featured sculptures, painting, and photography.

Wyland Galleries also hosts several events throughout the year.

You can meet the resident artists and learn about environmental conservation.

Explore St. Armands Circle

Bird's eye view of St. Armands Circle

Suncoast Aerials /

St. Armands Circle may be a part of St Armands Key, the island next to Lido Key.

However, it is one of the area’s biggest attractions.

Also referred to as ‘The Circle,’ this area features more than 130 shops and restaurants.

These include clothing stores, retail outlets, gourmet dining, and salons.

You will find a peaceful, grassy park in the heart of it all.

A woman shopping at St. Armands Circle

Linda White Wolf /

It has a ‘statue walk,’ which features classical sculptures from John Ringling’s collection.

Another attraction is the Circus ‘Ring of Fame,’ a ring of bronze plaques rounding central park.

These plaques recognize the individuals who help keep the circus culture alive.

Lush greenery, unique art, and fun shops form St. Armands Circle.

It is timeless, relaxing, and worth your visit!

Sitting area at St. Armands Circle

Linda White Wolf /

Enter a Sweets Paradise at Kilwins Chocolates

Kilwins Chocolates is a much-loved confectionary outlet on St. Armands Boulevard.

Just walking near this immense establishment is enough to lure you in.

The outlet makes the most delightful chocolates, fudge, caramels, and more.

There are so many options to choose from at Kilwins Chocolates!

Most visitors recommend their ice creams, fudges, and cashew brittles.

You can explore and even watch the staff always busy melting some fudge or something else.

The experience is exceptional, with friendly service and an affordable price range.

This is probably why there is always a line outside.

But as every visitor will attest to, the wait is worth it!

Grab a Souvenir from the Eclectic Just/Because

No trip is complete without visiting a local shop to carry souvenirs with you back home.

Just/Because is a gift and home accessories shop, one of the many in St. Armand’s Circle.

The Cohen sisters, Marie and Barbara, own this little shop.

They display trinkets from several American artists.

An impressive thing about the shop is the artists’ products.

Not only are they eco-friendly, but they are also versatile, ranging from paintings and sculptures to pottery and unique items.

The shop gets a lot of traffic because of the helpful service and affordable prices.

The variety of unique things here is hard to describe but even harder not to buy.

Visit Just/Because to experience this yourself!

Cross the Ringling Bridge

View of the Ringling Bridge

Suncoast Aerials /

Connecting Lido Key to Sarasota, Ringling Bridge gets much attention and traffic.

The bridge is the brainchild of John Ringling, a Sarasota resident and the co-founder of the Ringling Brothers Circus.

It is around 0.5 miles long and 65 feet tall.

Even though it handles heavy traffic, the bridge is more popular among walkers and runners.

It comes with a six-foot-wide path on both sides of the bridge.

Top view of Ringling Bridge

Ryan McGill /

Many people choose it as a part of the bigger walking trails, which are many and exhilarating.

You can also use it for quick Sarasota trips or leisure walking.

Although it may not count as a tourist spot, the sweeping views you see of Sarasota Bay are worth it!

Night view of Ringling Bridge

Heidi Besen /

Join the Sarasota Bay Explorers’ Sea Life Encounter Cruise

Sarasota Bay Explorers joins hands with Mote Marine Laboratory to give you the best marine experience!

It is one of the pioneers of the area’s eco-tourism initiatives, offering several exciting tours.

One of their famous tours is the Sea Life Encounter Cruise, an exhilarating way to experience the local sea life!

The ship cuts through the water to take you to a remote island.

You can observe the nesting habitats of birds like herons, egrets, and pelicans.

The cruise lets you observe and touch marine animals with a trawl net!

With its own marine biologist guide, seating area, restrooms, and snacks, it is an absolute delight for visitors.

The Sarasota Bay Explorers cruise is a hit for every age group, as there is something for kids and adults to enjoy.

Fall in Love with Lido Key Beach

Pristine water at  Lido Key Beach

Billy McDonald /

Lido Key Beach is not your regular, crowded beach.

It is, in fact, quiet, secluded, and magical!

The beach features picture-perfect white sand and blue waters.

It is no wonder that most of Lido Key’s hotels and resorts line its edge.

Even then, it is more of a private seashore.

However, it is so spectacular that people book sections of the beach for weddings and other parties.

Shoreine of  Lido Key Beach

Ruth Peterkin /

The beach is perfect for sailing and deep-sea fishing.

You can catch more than mere glimpses of dolphins here.

Bathrooms, a snack bar, beach rentals, and lifeguards are some of the amenities Lido Key Beach offers.

The beach is filled with fascinating seashells; seashell hunting is a favorite laid-back activity for tourists.

You can enjoy that, among many other things, when you visit Lido Key Beach.

Drift wood decorated with sea shells at  Lido Key Beach

Jewelzz /

Join the Key Culinary Tours

Lido Key is a cozy home with rich history, circus tradition, and fantastic food.

Susan Robinson wanted to share all this with the tourists.

As a result, she founded Key Culinary Tours in 2015.

They offer tours in and around Lido Key, each offering unique experiences.

Their culinary tours include a good walk, delicious food, and fun activities.

It might be the best part of your Lido Key itinerary!

Some of their tours are Ghosts & Gruesomes, Wild Women of Sarasota, and Family Fun on Lido Beach.

These walking tours last from one to three hours.

You get a friendly and knowledgeable guide around this fascinating place.

The Key Culinary Tours are fun for everyone, whether traveling with family, kids, or friends.

Learn to Surf at Surfit USA

Visiting Lido Key and not surfing on its new waves is a no-no.

That is why Surfit USA’s private lessons come to your rescue!

Operating for almost a decade in Sarasota, Surfit USA is one of the leading companies in eco-tourism.

They offer a handful of tours for kayaking and paddleboarding in the mangrove tunnels.

In addition, they offer fantastic surf lessons that are popular with tourists.

One lesson lasts for an hour and a half, during which you can use their quality surfboards and wetsuits.

These lessons focus on teaching you the basics before you even take your board in the water.

After joining these sessions, catch the best waves, paddle, and ride the boards!

Spend a Day at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Pathway at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

SunflowerMomma /

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is a sanctuary where you can get well-deserved peace amid nature!

Facing the scenic Sarasota Bay, it preserves native flora spread over 45 acres.

It is a blend of two gardens.

One is in the Osprey area of the same county, while the other one is in the Downtown Sarasota campus.

The campus has a variety of exciting spaces, including a banyan grove, a butterfly garden, and a koi pond!

Buddha statue at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

SunflowerMomma /

You can go for guided or audio tours; you can also bring a group or explore alone.

An on-site café serves a limited but delicious menu.

Other amenities include valet parking and a nominal admission fee.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens also hosts several exhibits and events throughout the year.

You must try to attend at least one of them, for the experience is mesmerizing!

Gazebo at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

SunflowerMomma /

Join the Lido Mangrove Tunnels Tour

Explore the sparkling waters around the island with the Lido Mangrove Tunnels Tour!

The tour is one of the most popular, brought to the tourists by Almost Heaven Kayak Adventures.

On tour, you can paddle through the ethereal mangrove tunnels, a part of Ted Sperling Park at South Lido Beach.

You can go on this tour in stand-up paddleboards or single or double kayaks.

The company provides intelligent guides who know the area well.

They will get you in and out without making you feel uncomfortable.

Try to catch glimpses of local wildlife, like dolphins and manatees.

Shorebirds and fish are also regular parts of the eco-tour, appearing on nearly every excursion.

Wear your adventure hat and join a fun eco-tour in Lido’s Mangrove Tunnels!

Check out the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

Exterior view of John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

travelview /

Spanning over 66 acres is the gorgeous museum complex, the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

It is a 13-minute drive from Lido Key, where you can explore the legacy of John Ringling and his wife, Mable.

Ringling built this area in bits and pieces.

He first built, Ca’d’Zan, their home, in 1926, followed by the museum featuring his collection.

After its opening in 1931, the authorities added another museum, the Circus Museum.

Exhibits at John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

Michael Gordon /

The museum complex now has theatres, libraries, gardens, and education centers!

Do not worry about eating outside; the museum complex offers several restaurants.

There are so many things to explore, but you can’t afford to miss out—the experience is once-in-a-lifetime!

Interior view of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

Mia2you /

Explore the Mangroves at Ken Thompson Park

Ken Thompson was the longest-serving city manager in Sarasota.

In his memory, the city built the peaceful Ken Thompson Park!

It is a short distance from Lido Key, between Mote Aquarium and Sarasota Bay.

This 66-acre park is perfect for canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and boating.

It also has cozy picnic areas, a playground, a boat ramp, and bathrooms.

One of the most popular features of the park is the Mangrove Boardwalk.

It features a sensitive design preserving the surroundings as it leads you through the mangroves.

Ken Thompson Park is a calming tourist spot with towering trees, shaded areas, and sweeping views of the Ringling Bridge!

Other Things to Do Nearby

Dive into the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

Signage of Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

Paulleon /

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is where aquatic magic happens in Sarasota, Florida!

Less than ten minutes from Lido Key, this place is a perfect getaway spot for families.

The laboratory is a nonprofit institute.

The marine scientists here research marine conservation and sustainability.

You can see marine life at the on-site aquarium, which offers fun exhibits.

The tanks contain many species, like sharks, manatees, and jellyfish.

Fishes at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

Markus from Sarasota, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Visitors love the manatees, sea turtles, and rescued otters among the hundreds of species.

A great thing about Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is the morning tours!

A Mote educator takes the group around to show the morning routine of the animals there.

Exterior view of Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Final Thoughts

Considering that the island is around 2.5 miles long, seeing this list of the best things to do in Lido Key, Florida, might be surprising.

There is great importance to history and marine life preservation, and these qualities shine through its tourist spots.

With its gorgeous sunsets, unique eco-tourism, and something new on every corner, Lido Key needs more appreciation than it gets now!

© All rights reserved.