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A Local’s Guide to a Siesta Key Summer

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

Sarasota, home of Siesta Key, is known for its many keys that run along the coastline, creating stunning beaches with soft sand and blue water. It’s also the city I was born and raised in. While it used to be a quiet hidden gem, it has recently been booming in popularity.

All of Sarasota’s beaches are well-loved, but Siesta Key has garnered a big reputation. In 2011, it earned the spot of No. 1 beach in the U.S., and again in 2017. The rest was history. Since then, Sarasota has become home to a plethora of celebrities, including Jerry Springer and Stephen King. The town has also been the site for the reality series Siesta Key.

Seeing my hometown turn into a set for reality drama was mind-boggling, especially as an angsty teen who thought the city was just full of heat and older people. However, I have a lot of love for it, and there’s a lot of beauty to be found there. While the heat of the summer somewhat keeps the crowds at bay, Siesta Key is always bustling with tourists. Here’s everything you need to know to go on a Siesta Key beach trip like a local.

Beach Access

One secret to tackling Siesta Key like a local is knowing your beach access. Besides the main public beach parking lot, 12 smaller lots connect to other parts of the beach. If you can get to those before at least 10 a.m., you’ll be able to stake out a spot away from the crowds. The same rule applies to the main parking lot: the earlier the better.

My personal favorite beach access is No. 12, also known as “Point of Rocks.” Once you park, you walk down a path to the beach, passing the house where Siesta Key was filmed (for those of you who are reality TV buffs), and take a short trek south down the beach. Here, you’ll reach the southernmost part of the public beach which is, well, a point of rocks.

Point of Rocks is the perfect spot for snorkeling and getting a glimpse of the less-manicured side of Florida’s beaches. On a calm, flat morning, there’s no telling what kind of sea life you may find!

Drinks and Snacks

Provisions are a necessary part of any successful beach day. Luckily, Siesta Key Village is home to a variety of restaurants and shops.

To start your day, look no further than Mojo Risin’ Coffee Company. Formerly known as Lélu Coffee Lounge, this spot’s been serving up delicious drinks and refreshing smoothie bowls for over 15 years. It’s nestled in the Village and within walking distance of the beach.

Another excellent early-morning spot is Meaney’s Mini Donuts, a walk-up stand serving freshly made donut holes. Their key lime and chocolate coconut varieties are perfect for keeping the beach theme going.

If you’re looking for drinks and bites later in the day, Daiquiri Deck is a fun option. This local chain has two locations in Siesta Key: the Village location has a cozy, beach shack vibe, while the South Siesta Key one is more upscale, featuring a balcony level. Their blended drinks and seafood appetizers always make for a good time.

Finally, you can end your day with the best nightcap: ice cream. Olaf’s Siesta Village has been serving locally-made frozen treats since 1982.

Bigger Bites

There are delicious spots for larger eating in the Key, as well.

One spot for breakfast is Sun Garden Cafe. From their lush dining patio to their lively menu, they’ll leave you feeling full, refreshed, and ready to take on the beach.

When lunch rolls around, look no further than Anna’s Deli. Since 1971, they’ve been serving hearty deli-style sandwiches that are best eaten on the beach. Their “Surfer sandwich” comes with ham, turkey, Swiss cheese, and cucumber slices, and can be topped with their signature sauce. Their motto rings true: “Often imitated, never duplicated.”

For dinner, try The Cottage. It features a diverse menu that’s sure to satisfy anyone’s taste buds. Do note that it’s on the more expensive side, so it makes the perfect spot for a special vacation treat.


The shopping on Siesta Key is somewhat limited. On the Key itself, you’ll mostly find beachwear and kitschy souvenirs.

If you don’t feel like coming home with some shells and a tie-dyed dolphin t-shirt, check out Main Street in Downtown Sarasota for a variety of unique shops. From bookstores to boutiques, there’s something for everyone. As a bonus, every Saturday morning, the Sarasota Farmers Market opens up shop with handmade crafts, natural beauty products, and fresh produce.

From the beautiful beaches to the small-town feel, Sarasota’s been a beautiful place to grow up. I hope everyone has the chance to visit and see it through the eyes of a local!

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Thea is a junior at Florida State University pursuing a major in English (Editing, Writing, and Media) and a minor in education. She loves listening to all genres of music and spending time outdoors.