Beaches and parks are listed geographically from north to south.
The Sarasota area encompasses some of Florida's most award-winning beaches -- and they’re as diverse as they are stunning.
Some beaches are thick with sugar-sand; others are laden with sharks’ teeth and shells.
Whether you’re longing for a romantic getaway, a quiet escape or a vacation your whole gang will love, you’re sure to find your perfect fit here.
North Lido Beach
If super-white sand and privacy is what you’re craving, grab your flip-flops and head to this easy-to-get to beach. Situated on Lido Key, one quarter mile northwest of St. Armands Circle off of John Ringling Blvd. at the intersection Ben Franklin Drive, this beach offers a small parking lot, fishing, and nature trails. A word of warning to swimmers: there are no lifeguards and the currents are swift.
The main public beach on Lido Key promises the same brilliant-white sand and clear water of its famous southern neighbor, Siesta Key.
Located one half mile southwest of St. Armand's Circle on Ben Franklin Drive, its amenities are abundant: it offers rest rooms, food and ice cream concessions, a gift shop, picnic tables, playground equipment, a heated swimming pool, a handicapped accessible observation deck, chair and beach umbrella rentals, and parking for 400 cars.
Oh-so-walkable St. Armand's Circle is the perfect place to grab a bite when you've had enough beach time.
The shopping is fantastic too.
South Lido Park
Sited on Ben Franklin Drive at the southern tip of Lido Key, this park is surrounded by four bodies of water; the Gulf of Mexico, Big Pass, Sarasota Bay, and Brushy Bayou. At its north end, discover a nature trail with scenic overlooks; on its southern beach, discover soaring views of downtown Sarasota’s skyline and the Gulf. It features a shaded picnic area, rest rooms, showers, picnic tables, cooking grills, playground equipment, and a canoe trail. No lifeguards are on duty.
Siesta Public Beach
This stretch of sand, located on Beach Road on Siesta Key, has been chosen the #1 beach in the U.S.A. by numerous groups and publications, including Dr. Steve Leatherman, aka Dr. Beach.
The reasons are plentiful: the first is its sand. It's 99% quartz, a dreamy, brilliant white concoction that reflects the heat and stays cool on your bare feet.
Its waters are clear beyond belief.
The shallow water and year round lifeguard protection make this beach perfect for swimming and families.
And its amenities are just as impressive.
They include rest rooms, showers, tennis courts, volleyball courts (on the beach), playground equipment, concessions, and picnic areas complete with grills and shelters.
The beach is host to numerous events, like the Siesta Key Crystal Classic Sand Sculpting Competition and 4th of July fireworks. Siesta Key Beach also offers special needs visitors help via free beach "wheelchairs," located near the main pavilion walkover.
Charming Siesta Village is a mere two miles north, chock full of mom-and-pop stores and eateries.
Crescent Beach on Siesta Key
Located at the south end of Siesta Beach, this curve of white sand and clear water is perfect for swimming.
At the southern tip of Siesta Key on Midnight Pass Road, you can discover this private beach. Though it’s so close to Siesta Beach you can see it, its vibe and sand are entirely different. Its sand is darker and not as fine as Siesta Beach’s, and your posse will love searching for prehistoric petrified sharks’ teeth and shells in it.
It’s popular with families, and offers amenities including rest rooms, boat ramps, large and small picnic shelters, horseshoe and volleyball courts, playground equipment and dune walkovers. No lifeguards are on duty.
Palmer Point Beach
If you want to escape the crowds, this is the beach for you. It begins at the southernmost point of Siesta Key and continues onto the north end of Casey Key. Since Midnight Pass closed in 1984, you can stroll all the way to Casey Key along the beach, listening to the sounds of nature. Boaters and kayakers often beach their boats in the area of the former pass, and others walk there from Turtle Beach. There aren’t lifeguards or facilities.
Due west of the Albee Road Bridge on Casey Key, you’ll find this 22 acre park with 1,700 feet on the Gulf and 3,200 feet on the Intracoastal. The beach's amenities include rest rooms, small picnic shelters, a boat ramp, a boardwalk and dune walkovers.
North Jetty Park
Jetties on the southern tip of Casey Key in Nokomis give this park a rare asset for a beach on Florida’s west coast: it’s a good place to surf. Picnicking and fishing are also popular. The park's amenities include rest rooms, large and small picnic shelters, horseshoe and volleyball courts, and a concession. Lifeguards are on duty year round.
Venice Municipal Beach
Hunting for sharks’ teeth is a regular pastime on this generous beach, located at the west end of Venice Avenue one mile west of Business Route 41.
SCUBA divers can enjoy exploring a reef containing fossilized material just a quarter mile offshore. Amenities include a pavilion, rest rooms, a concession, picnic tables and a volleyball court. Lifeguards are on duty year round.
Brohard Beach and Service Club Park
You can discover this dune-fringed park in the southernmost part of Venice on the Venice Airport property on Harbor Drive. The 740 foot pier is ideal for fishing, and it’s complete with rest rooms, a snack bar, and a bait shop. Sharky's Restaurant, located at the park, is a tasty place to recharge your batteries.
The wetland area is known for bird watching. No lifeguards are on duty.
South Brohard Park has something sure to make your best friend’s tail wag—a dog beach. It features a fenced area, a dune walkover, a drinking fountain and even dog showers and leash posts. But the best part is the 300 feet of beach dedicated to dogs and their owners. Your pooch has to be on a leash or under voice control, and you have to clean up after him.
This secluded stretch of mostly natural shoreline is located south of Venice Airport on Harbor Drive—and if you want a sure place to find sharks' teeth and shells, you can’t do any better. The beach's amenities include rest rooms, a 1,100 foot boardwalk, a picnic area and a nature trail. No lifeguards are on duty.
You can discover this small beach at the west end of Manasota Beach Road. It’s just right for soothing pastimes like collecting shells, walking, or kicking back by the surf.
On the parks’ Intracoastal side you’ll find a boat ramp and docking facilities as well as a boardwalk that curves through a mangrove forest.
The beach's amenities include rest rooms, a boat ramp, and large and small picnic shelters. Lifeguards are on duty year round.
Blind Pass Beach
Locals know this quiet 3,000 foot beach as a shelling hotspot.
Located at a sharp curve at 6725 Manasota Key Road in Englewood, it promises oodles of fossils, sharks’ teeth and shells as well as Gulf-to-bay access.
On the bay side, you can explore a beautiful trail that bends through the mangrove forest, and throw a line off of its fishing dock. It offers a kayak/canoe launch, a picnic shelter (bayside), grills, a playground, restrooms, and paved trails. Its parking includes room for RVs. No Lifeguards are on duty.
Photos by Lauren Tjaden for VISIT FLORIDA