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Siesta Key: A Mom’s Guide to the Best Sarasota Neighborhoods

Siesta Key is a quiet and quaint community that is a little piece of paradise in the overall picture of perfection that we call Sarasota. It’s just a hop, skip, and a bridge crossing away from the main drag of Tamiami Trail and seeing that it is considered a “key,” it is completely surrounded by water with the beach on one side, and Sarasota Bay on the other.

Siesta Key is one of the main tourist attractions in Sarasota but it is also home to a large number of families. While driving down the long, winding, and scenic drag of Higel Avenue, it is almost impossible to miss the million dollar homes that line Siesta’s shores. However, if you look hard enough you can still find the hidden, reasonably affordable gems too!

What is your favorite part about raising your kids on Siesta Key?

My husband was born and raised on Siesta Key and has always had a deep passion for the water that surrounds it. When we had our son, it became my husband’s mission to teach him all there is about the Gulf of Mexico. How to stay safe on the water, how to treat it kindly, and most of all, how to fall in love with all it offers. This has been an amazing bond to watch and I am excited to watch my son do the same activities my husband did as a child, as it comes full circle.  Another great attraction that Siesta Key offers is “Siesta Village.” We often spend our family nights out there chomping on some mini donuts or checking out the multiple selection of ice cream shops.

What are the best local attractions on Siesta Key?

Siesta Key offers so many attractions that are family friendly. There is Siesta Village, which was mentioned above, that not only houses yummy dessert shops, but also great restaurants and small little boutique shops as well. No need to drive around to see all the village has to offer, you can park your car and walk as it only stretches about two city blocks.

Siesta Key Beach is also a major attraction. The stunning Siesta Key beaches, with their soft white sand that never gets hot, were actually rated #1 in the entire USA in several rankings over the years, and yep, all of us here in Sarasota get to enjoy it in our backyard!

The city of Sarasota recently spent a few million dollars renovating the entire park that runs along the edge of Siesta Key Beach. There are brand new shady pavilions and grills to host a small BBQ for you and your family. They also created a gorgeous new playground for kids of all ages to enjoy.

What schools are in the Siesta Key District?

Siesta Key has a few options for schools as it is a long skinny stretch over a multiple mile radius. Out-of-Door Academy, also known as ODA, is the only school that is on the actual island, but as it is a private school, it comes with a cost. The two public elementary schools that are zoned for the key are Phillippi Elementary and Southside Elementary. Both are two of the top rated elementary schools in the area, so either option is a win-win!

What are some of your favorite local places to shop?

Gidget’s Siesta Key is a fun, beachy, and super chic store filled with little trinkets that any tourist or local will love. It’s focused on all things beach and has a great paradise vibe.

Westfield Siesta Key is the local mall that is located JUST off the key on Tamiami Trail. It has a bunch of great store selections and is even adding on several brand new restaurants this fall. It also includes an LA Fitness for a quick workout (with childcare) and a Cinebistro which is a dine-in movie theater, perfect for a date night.

Morton’s Siesta Market offers fresh fruit and veggies, prime meats, desserts, an extensive grocery selection and a full liquor store. Pretty much everything you need, right? The best part about Morton’s…they deliver!

What are your favorite local places to eat?

Where to start?  There are SO many options for a great meal out with (or without) the kids. However my 2 favorites would have to be:

Meaney’s Mini Donuts is a tiny little pop up donut shop in the heart of the village. You can get your donuts plain, or covered in glaze or many other delicious concoctions. I can’t even explain how good they are in words, you will just have to try for yourself!  

SKOB (Siesta Key Oyster Bar) is also an incredible place to try. They offer raw bar options, homemade pizzas, and even an incredible brunch. My favorite thing about SKOB is visitors from all over the world are encouraged to leave their mark on the bar by writing on and stapling a dollar bill on the wall. While you wait for your food, it will keep you entertained as you learn about all the people that visited the restaurant before you.

Why would you recommend Siesta Key as one of the best neighborhoods in Sarasota?

What brought me, personally, to Sarasota itself, was the water. The white sandy beaches, the family friendly vibes, and the chance to get a fresh piece of paradise every day in my backyard. Siesta Key is the paradise heart of Sarasota. Even though you are only a few miles from downtown while on Siesta Key, you feel worlds away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

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