Beach Info for a Vacation in Sarasota, Florida

By Laurén Ettinger

Any day at the beach is a day well spent but with a little planning, your beach day can be taken to the next level! Even if you plan to lounge on the beach and do nothing else, there are some basic items you’ll want to have. Check out our list of beach essentials to make your vacation to Sarasota, Florida unforgettable.

  • Reef-safe, ocean friendly sunscreen
  • Beach hat
  • Polarized sunglasses
  • Cooler with snacks or packed lunch, water or other beverages
  • Sand toys for the kids
  • Beach towels + extra towels or a bedsheet to lounge or spread a picnic
  • Baby powder to gently remove sand from tender skin and feet
  • Plastic zip top bags for shells, leftover food, and to keep phones from getting sandy
  • Portable speaker and your favorite playlist
  • Beach chairs
  • Umbrella or beach tent for shade, small shovel or garden trowel to secure umbrella in the sand
  • Book, magazines, or e-reader
Beach Info for a Vacation in Sarasota, Florida. Top beach for kids, dog beach, Siesta Beach on Siesta Key, Lido Beach, secluded Longboat Key beaches, and Venice Beach - the shark tooth capital of the world. Must Do Visitor Guides |
Photo credit Nita Ettinger

Once you’ve packed the ultimate beach bag, it’s time to find the perfect Sarasota area beach to lounge the day away. No decision can be wrong when all options lead to sun and sand! 

Top Beaches in Sarasota Florida

Beach Info for a Vacation in Sarasota, Florida. Top beach for kids, dog beach, Siesta Beach on Siesta Key, Lido Beach, secluded Longboat Key beaches, and Venice Beach - the shark tooth capital of the world. Must Do Visitor Guides |
Photo credit Nita Ettinger

Siesta Beach

Consistently ranked as the best beach in the United States and one of the top beaches in the world, Siesta Beach in Sarasota, Florida is a must visit for beach lovers. The sand here is 99 percent pure quartz, making it incredibly soft, white, and cool to the touch. The state-of-the-art amenities at the public beach complex include restrooms, lifeguards on duty year-round, concessions, beach chair and umbrella rentals, playground, lighted tennis courts, beach volleyball, and so much more. Check it out for yourself and see why Siesta Key is much beloved by visitors and locals alike. Parking is free at the public beach and at the several access points found along Beach Road. Better yet, leave your car behind and walk, bike, or grab one of the many free ride options available on Siesta Key.

Turtle Beach

Turtle Beach is a wonderful alternative on Siesta Key to get away from the crowds. Located at the southernmost end, it features some of the tallest sand dunes in the area. Paddlers can launch their boats from the launch area and explore the nearby lagoon and wetland areas. In addition to plentiful free parking, restrooms, picnic shelters, and other beach amenities, there are also two great restaurants directly across from the Turtle Beach entrance with waterfront views to Little Sarasota Bay.

Crescent Beach

Located at the end of Siesta Beach, Crescent Beach can be accessed off of Midnight Pass Road just south of Stickney Point. This section of the beach is shaped like a crescent (hence the name) and makes for beautiful photos of the Caribbean blue shoreline. At the far end of the beach, Point of Rocks is an excellent snorkeling spot for snorkelers of all ability levels. No amenities. 

Lido Beach

An easy walk from the shopping and dining fun on St. Armands Circle, you’ll find beautiful, laid back Lido Beach. With more than a mile of powder-white sand, Lido Beach makes for an excellent place to take a long walk. There are numerous access points to the beach with ample free parking. If you want to leave the bulky beach equipment at home, you can also rent umbrellas, beach chairs, and other beach equipment from the concession stand. Additionally, check out the heated Lido Beach Pool for a family fun swimming option, $4 for adults and $2 for children and seniors.

South Lido Park Beach

At the southwestern tip of Lido Key in Sarasota, Florida you’ll find South Lido Park Beach. While there is no swimming here due to strong currents, visitors can enjoy picnic areas, a playground, a canoe trail, nature trails with an observation tower, places to launch watercraft of all kinds, and excellent fishing opportunities. Parking is free.

Coquina Beach

Quiet and natural Anna Maria Island is a wonderful place to spend a relaxing day at the beach. Coquina Beach is the longest stretch of sand at the southern end of the island. The flat beach is large with calm waters making it a great place for families and groups. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins along the coastline! Coquina has lots of amenities including picnic tables, free parking, grills, restrooms, a playground, a paved walking/biking path, boat launch, and more. 

Longboat Key Beaches

While it is a bit more difficult to access the beaches on Longboat Key, the reward is ten-miles of pristine crowd free beach on the Gulf of Mexico. Look for the blue beach access points along Gulf of Mexico Drive, you’ll find a few parking spaces at each one. Most of the beaches do not have any amenities (outside of the occasional port-a-potty) but beachgoers to Longboat Key can revel in the peaceful sound of the waves and solitude of the rarely crowded sands. 

Nokomis Beach

Located on Casey Key, Nokomis Beach is an excellent option for surfers, families, and fishermen. The beach has a wealth of amenities including year-round lifeguards, a bait shop, restrooms, free parking, canoe and boat launch, and a concession stand open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Alcohol is also available and a great choice for a sunset drink. On Wednesday and Saturday evenings, locals and visitors gather for a sunset drum circle on the beach. 

Venice Municipal Beach

Venice Municipal Beach offers the opportunity to shore dive or snorkel straight from the beach, there is a coral reef located about a quarter-mile offshore. Check out a local dive shop for equipment or group dives. Other amenities include a boardwalk, concessions, picnic areas, volleyball courts, year-round lifeguards, outdoor showers, and more. Parking is free. 

Caspersen Beach

The most popular activity on Caspersen Beach in Venice, Florida is searching for fossilized shark’s teeth! Prehistoric teeth can be easily found washed up on the shores of all Venice area beaches but are most prevalent at Caspersen. Bring along a plastic sand sieve (available at local beach stores) and sift through the sand located in shallow water to find your own treasure! Parking is free.

Brohard Beach Paw Park and Venice Fishing Pier

Located in Venice, Florida, the Brohard Beach Paw Park and Venice Fishing Pier offers an opportunity to hang out with your furry friend on the beach in Sarasota County. Amenities include dog showers, drinking fountains, dog park area, restrooms, and more. Just north of the dog beach, the Venice Fishing Pier extends 700 feet into the Gulf and is an excellent place to cast a reel or watch the sunset. 

Here is more information about Sarasota, Siesta Key, Venice, Lido, and Longboat Key, Florida beaches

Beach Info for a Vacation in Sarasota, Florida. Top beach for kids, dog beach, Siesta Beach on Siesta Key, Lido Beach, secluded Longboat Key beaches, and Venice Beach - the shark tooth capital of the world. Must Do Visitor Guides |
Photo credit Nita Ettinger

Written by: Laurén Ettinger | Author Website

Laurén Ettinger runs the travel and vanlife blog Flit Float Fly Away where she shares travel tips and stories from life on the road with her dog. She is the Assistant Editor at Siesta Publications for Must Do Visitor Guides where she manages social media, writes blog articles, and assists in editing print and online copy. Laurén also works as a freelance copy editor and proofreader. She holds a M.S. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University's School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution and a B.A. in Anthropology and a B.A. in Global Studies from Appalachian State University. Follow her adventures on instagram or her blog