Idyllic, tropical, word-class—these are just some of the words to describe Siesta Key, Florida.
This barrier island sitting on the Gulf of Mexico has only 3.5 square miles in total area, but the attractions and activities abound.
From scenic beaches to bustling restaurants, there are many things this laid-back town has in store for the young and old alike.
So for your next well-deserved vacation, why not spend a few days roaming around this charming destination?
You’ll surely have a fun and memorable experience.
Here are the 15 best things to do in Siesta Key:
Visit Siesta Key Beach
This beach has been named the #1 beach in the US by TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards in 2020.
This recognition alone is enough reason to plan a few days at the picturesque location for most people.
But if that’s enough to compel you to visit this award-winning beach, then the soft, pinkish-white sand, aquamarine waters, amazing sunsets, and occasional sightings of dolphins would do.
Accordingly, the sand is s composed of 99% quartz, so it feels like stepping on powder instead of grainy bits.
It’s a rare experience to be walking barefoot on such gentle ground—this alone already makes the trip worth it.
But the scenic vistas are also something to behold.
Bring a chair and some sunscreen and relax as the balmy weather and rhythmic waves bring you to a state of nirvana.
Try Delicious Ice Creams
During the hot summer days, this sweet dessert is a perfect way to cool down.
Siesta Key has many ice cream shops where you can select hundreds of flavors, each with its own twists and specialties.
As the name implies, Made in Rome Organic Gelato offers authentic and creamy gelato in various tasty flavors and vegan options.
Big Olaf Creamery is another well-known vendor of heavenly ice cream, offering large, flavor scoops in waffle cones, pretzels, and sundaes.
Sub Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream offers an innovative approach to making ice cream, offering creamy desserts that customers can watch as they’re prepared.
Relax at Crescent Beach
For those who don't like crowds, Crescent Beach is an alternative destination.
It attracts fewer people than Siesta Key Beach, but the views and atmosphere is just the same.
In fact, the two beaches may be the closest you can get to a Caribbean experience in the US.
There are many seashells for collecting, making it a haven for shelling enthusiasts.
It’s also near the numerous restaurants, bars, hotels, and other entertainment establishments in Siesta Key.
You can walk away from the beach after a few hours of sunbathing and go directly to a bar for a refreshing drink or a restaurant for some delicious seafood.
Browse Specialty Gift Shops
Siesta Key Village is abounding in shops that offer one-of-a-kind items to bring home as a remembrance of your trip.
Their proximity to the sea means nautical-themed accessories, home decor, kitchen utensils, and woodworks on the shelves.
Since the region is also the melting pot of many cultures, you’ll find Caribbean-style souvenirs, bohemian dresses, tarot cards, and other cultural items.
There are also art galleries where you can buy paintings that capture the island’s majestic vistas, white-sand beaches, seascapes, and many other stunning sceneries.
Some galleries also offer sculptures, jewelry, and photographs made by local talented artists.
By purchasing from these shops and galleries, you're also supporting these local craftsmen and artists and the island’s economy.
Camp in Turtle Beach
Among the beaches of the island, Turtle beach is by far the quietest and least crowded.
While the sand is not as fine as Siesta Key or Crescent beaches, it boasts the most number of seashells ready for collecting.
And, as the name implies, turtles also come to the beach to nest.
With some patience and luck, you might find a loggerhead or a green turtle digging a hole in the sand to lay her eggs.
It’s quite a rare sight that only a few could ever dream of seeing.
To increase your chances of seeing these nesting creatures, you can set up camp at the designated sites within the area.
While camping, you can also enjoy the famous sunsets and sunrises of Siesta Key.
As a waterfront destination, Siesta Key offers thrilling watersports opportunities for beginners and professionals alike.
Surfing is a fun activity in the aquamarine waters of the island, with moderate swells perfect for beginners and intermediate-level surfers.
Windsurfing is a more physically demanding sport that requires knowledge of wind direction, but it’s as exhilarating as regular surfing.
Within the island, there are many outfitters that can provide quality equipment, like boards and sails, for these activities.
While not strictly a watersport, parasailing is another exciting activity to try while on vacation at Siesta Key.
You’ll be soaring high above the sea and see the incomparable beauty of the island and its surroundings.
Kiteboarding is a hybrid of surfing, parasailing, and skateboarding, and it’s definitely one of the most high-endurance sports you can try while on the island.
Both parasailing and kiteboarding shops abound within the island, so you should find no trouble accessing the equipment and services needed for these fun activities.
Book a Fishing Charter
Ready to head out to the open seas?
Siesta Key offers many fishing charters for those who want to catch big game fish.
With a seasoned fisher, you and your family can ride to the Gulf and spend the day hauling in snappers, groupers, blue runners, and more.
Fish like tuna, marlin, and mahi-mahi are also swimming within the depths, so have some patience if want to bring these home.
If you’re lucky, you might spot other wildlife like dolphins and whales!
The experience will definitely be one of the highlights of your vacation.
For your convenience, book a charter with a well-known business in the area, such as Siesta Key Fishing Charters, Beachin' Charters, and SiestaKation Charters.
A private boat charter is a great alternative for those who are not up for fishing but still want to see the island's views and wildlife.
These tours last anywhere from a few hours to a whole day.
You’ll get plenty of opportunities to see the wildlife inhabiting the seas near Siesta Key, such as dolphins, turtles, and colorful fishes.
Some tours offer scuba diving and snorkeling services for those who want to get up close and personal with these marine animals.
Dive underwater, interact with the fishes, see vibrant corals, and take amazing pictures to share with your friends and social media sites.
Join a Sunset Cruise
The Gulf’s stunning sunset is a view you don’t want to miss during your stay in Siesta Key.
But why not take it to another level by booking a sunset cruise?
Many businesses in the area offer tours on yachts and other watercraft in the late afternoon for those who want to see the sunset while out on the water.
The sky’s orange and violet hues reflecting on the calm seas make for an unforgettable and splendid experience.
Some of these charters also offer snacks and drinks during the cruise—an added perk to make your trip worthwhile.
As you return from the sea, you’ll see Siesta Key start to light up as the evening settles in.
It’s a different but welcome sight after you witness the majestic sunset of the Gulf.
Dine at Seafood Restaurants
No vacation to Siesta Key would be complete without trying the various seafood restaurants sprinkled on the island.
Siesta Key Oyster Bar serves some of the best oyster dishes in the area, along with mouthwatering clam chowder, seafood flatbread, paella, and grilled fish and shrimp.
Another well-known establishment on the island is Big Water Fish Market, which offers seafood dishes and soups made using ingredients caught fresh in the wild.
The Hub Baja Grill is perfect for people who crave flame-grilled seafood, refreshing margaritas, and delicious Baja dishes.
While not strictly seafood, The Cottage offers familiar tropical dishes that are a staple in this side of Florida, including crab cakes, salads, and sandwiches.
Roam the Island on an Electric Bike
For those who want a more relaxed way to tour the landmarks and destinations of Siesta Key, an electric bike rental may be what you need.
With this easy-to-use equipment, you can visit the beaches, Siesta Key Village, the various shops and restaurants, as well as scenic stops on the side of the roads.
The bikes also have tires that can easily ride over the sands, so you can cycle along the coastline and watch the sunset.
Some electric bike tours are scheduled specifically for this event.
Along the way, you might see local and migratory birds, dolphins, and other animals preparing to settle in as dusk approaches.
It’s your vacation, so you might as well indulge in the refreshing alcoholic beverages offered in the lively bars of Siesta Key.
Island House Tap & Grill, Daiquiri Deck Raw Bar, The Beach Club Bar, and the said Siesta Key Oyster Bar are some of the established businesses offering delicious drinks.
Most of them offer special beers, premium wine, and tasty cocktails that serve as the perfect way to cap off a day of touring.
The friendly locals and bar workers make every establishment a worthwhile place to be as you wind down and mingle.
So forget all your worries, hang out with your friends, and drink the night away.
Drive to Anna Maria Island
If you have days to spare during your vacation, a visit to Anna Maria Island would be a worthwhile trip.
Only a 30-minute drive from Siesta Key, this destination offers white, sandy beaches, turquoise waters, amazing restaurants, and unique shops.
It’s perfect for a day a trip!
Because of government regulations, the island is free from most commercialized buildings and establishments, adding an extra old-timey ambiance all around.
Try kayaking, sunbathing, swimming, and strolling along the scenic beaches of the island.
Before leaving, check out the bars for a cool drink or the restaurants for authentic seafood dishes unique to the area.
Try Mangrove Kayaking
Mangrove kayaking is another unique experience offered only in this corner of the US.
So it has to be on your itinerary.
Near Siesta Key is Ted Sperling Park, a nature preserve in Lido Key with enchanting mangrove tunnels.
Many businesses offer kayaking tours, giving you many opportunities to row your way through these important marine sanctuaries.
And while it may look like a fun and relaxing experience, kayaking will definitely have your arms working extra hard.
But the scenery is well worth it.
You’ll witness dolphins, various marine birds, clams, crabs, and other wildlife frolicking within the mangroves that they call their homes.
You’ll pass by Sarasota on your way to Siesta Key, but it’s a great addition to your itinerary as well.
The bustling city offers many attractions and activities, some of which you can do on a single day trip.
From The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art to the Sarasota Art Museum, there are no shortages of educational and interactive facilities in the area.
Wildlife lovers will also have a great time learning about various species from the region at The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, and Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium.
For those looking for more playful activities, you can make a stop at amusement facilities, such as Jumpin Fun Inflata Park and Urfer Family Park.
The things to try are endless, so plan ahead to maximize your time touring the city.
With the array of places to be and activities to try in Siesta Key, a weekend is not enough.
So for your next vacation, a week should be allotted so you can enjoy the beaches, coastal waters, restaurants, and many other destinations on the island.
Reference this list when making your itinerary so you’ll have an idea of what awaits you in this dreamy, tropical paradise.