At the end of May 2020, after 10 weeks of quarantine in our Massachusetts home, we drove for 22 hours straight to Sarasota, Florida to get a little bit of sun and fresh air. We enjoyed it so much, we have since returned several times (it is now our favorite area for Florida vacations!).
Getting There. Sarasota has direct flight connections with many US cities, but half the time we drive our own car there to save some money (especially during school vacation times when airfare gets out of control).
Where we Stayed. For our first visit we have rented an apartment with private entrance at a beach-front condominium called Palm Bay Club on Siesta Key Florida. (We have since been staying with our family)
We were very happy with our choice of that first apartment; you can take a look at it (and even see what’s for dinner) in our youtube video (we put a lot of love into our new youtube channel –please subscribe!)
WHAT TO DO ON A FAMILY VACATION TO SARASOTA, FLORIDA.
THE BEACH. Siesta Key Beach – several miles of crystal white sand and warm blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico – is number one reason for a trip to the area. We live near Cape Cod in Massachusetts and I always thought that our sand was one of the nicest I have seen anywhere in the world. I do still think so, but after a visit to Siesta Key area beaches, I am having hard time getting used to Cape Cod sand and waters (stay tuned for our report from some of the best Cape Cod beaches-coming up soon on our youtube channel and on the blog)!
We have spent most of our time on that first trip enjoying the beach and its offerings: long walks, gorgeous sunsets and many swims. We felt properly social distanced while on the beach and did not wear masks. Just to give you a little orientation, Siesta Key Public Beach starts around Siesta Village area on the northern tip of the island, and “public/private” Crescent Beach is located just to the South of the Siesta Key Public Beach and stretches all the way to the sea wall. Our condo was located in the middle of Crescent Beach which we preferred to Siesta Key Public Beach (it was less crowded than public beach).
ROADTRIP TO ANNA MARIA ISLAND. Another activity we enjoyed was a road trip to Sarasota’s other gorgeous keys and beaches (remember, we drove our own car to this Florida vacation). Our chosen destination was Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island (about an hour away from Siesta Key).
We travelled via several causeways and bridges through Sarasota, Lido Key, and Longboat Key. On the way back we swam on Lido Key Beach (our second favorite in Sarasota area!) and walked around St. Armands Circle.
The St. Armands Circle – historical marketplace on Lido Key adorned with Italian sculptures, interesting architecture and lush greenery- is a worthy destination in Sarasota, but we were not comfortable enough to indulge in its many fine restaurants and shops on this social distancing trip. We did enjoy our sculpture walk around the Circle (wearing masks) and braved an ice cream treat (we did take our masks off for that- and enjoyed some ice cream on the bench outside)!
20-th century American industrialist John Ringling (of the Ringling Brothers circus family) is a prominent name in Sarasota and The Ringling Museum of Art is not to be missed! Its rich collection requires quite a few visits to be fully enjoyed, as it houses 15-18 century European art, modern art collection, Circus Museum with the most intricate miniature circus city, an Italian sculpture garden, and the Ringling Family’s estate and gardens. This was our first (and probably last) visit to any museum this year; but we appreciated every minute of our visit to the Ringling and felt properly distanced from other visitors at all times!
There is an interactive area inside the Circus Museum that was closed off during our visit; we also did not have time (or energy) for the Ringling Estate Ca D’Zan on this visit- so we will be back!
SARASOTA BAYFRONT was another area where we took breaks from the beach on this trip- to enjoy bay walks, admire the yachts and photograph the sunsets!
On our return trips to Sarasota, we have took boating on Sarasota Bay – thanks to a family connection with the local boating club (there are rentals/sunset cruises there too)!
We have recently discovered Sarasota’s newest waterfront Park – The Bay Sarasota– with walking, running, boating, concerts, food, zumba and many other great ways to relax.
I know that many readers will also enjoy a visit to Sarasota Aquarium but we had plenty of real time nature’s encounters on the beach to enjoy on this trip (shhh we still did not tell our daughter about a manatee encounter!).
For more roadtrips from Boston, read our post full of summer ideas!