I’m not at all surprised to learn that Siesta Beach has just been named America’s Best Beach by “Dr. Beach,” Stephen P. Leatherman, a professor of environmental studies at Florida International University.
After all, this is the gorgeous stretch of shoreline that I always show off to friends who come to visit (the beach is on the barrier island of Siesta Key – about 20 minutes from where I live on the Sarasota mainland).
In fact, I recently spent a day, and night, here with my good friend Sarah, in for a visit from Gloucester, Mass.
We did what I always do at Siesta – spent the day relaxing on the beach’s famous powdery white sand. We also took a long walk along the beach, stopping to swim in the clear, turquoise Gulf of Mexico along the way. As always, I insisted we watch the sunset, which is really stunning here.
We next headed to nearby Siesta Key Village, which is a charming, beachy village filled with restaurants, bars, ice cream parlors and shops (there are a few day spas, too – check out The Key Spa & Salon and Massage Experience).
One of my favorite local restaurants – Blu Smoke Island Grill – is in the village. I have three favorite menu items - Blu Cheese Chips as a starter, the Low Country Shrimp & Grits and the Bourbon Bread Pudding for dessert. Even though I always plan to branch out and try something new, I end up ordering these three every time because they are so good. I also love this place because of its great open-air dining area and live music.
But on this beach day, Sarah and I opted to dine at a Siesta Key institution – Siesta Key Oyster Bar (or as locals affectionately call it, SKOB). We had frozen tropical drinks, Grouper Bites, Oysters on the Half-Shell and Keith's Seafood Tacos. The Key Lime Pie is also good here.
SKOB is a great place to come at night, as there’s live music and a really fun, casual, beachy vibe. Sitting out on the deck offers great people-watching, as well.
There are too many village destinations to mention in one blog post (but I do have to note that the Broken Egg is spectacular for breakfast, especially the morning after a big night out in the village!). But you can click www.visitflorida.com/Siesta_Key or the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce for more information.