Sunset at Venice Beach in Venice, Florida

Florida’s Southwest Coast is known for being home to some of the most gorgeous beaches in the country. Unlike the congested, oftentimes commercialized beaches of Tampa Bay, Sarasota and Venice beaches offer a less hectic ambiance and an all around more leisure oriented vibe. Don’t get me wrong Tampa Bay is home to some fabulous beaches, although they are more suited for tourists seeking a day of recreation, fun-in-the-sun, and easy access to eateries and shopping. In comparison, Sarasota beaches are much quieter, and more scenic. Most offer free parking, which is a huge benefit over Tampa area beaches, where parking is expensive and oftentimes near impossible to find.

As an added benefit, there is little business surrounding the beaches. You will need to drive to get to the restaurants and shopping areas, although you benefit overall by enjoying a quieter beach experience.

White sands at Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota, Florida
Nothing but endless white sand and clear waters

A vacation to the Sarasota area is the perfect choice for anyone seeking more of a laid-back beach vacation. Here you will find less traffic, fewer strip malls, and more beautiful landscaping and architecture. Sarasota offers more of an old-school Florida feel, rather than a modern suburban feel.

There are many great beaches to choose from while on vacation. Below I have listed 6 must-see options in the area. Each of these beaches offer a slightly different atmosphere. Whether you are looking for soft sand, lots of seashells, a great sunset, or just a laid-back beach day, there is a beach waiting for you in Sarasota.

Siesta Key

A summer storm making its' way
A summer storm making its’ way

Siesta Key should be tops on your list. Not only is it one of the best beaches in Sarasota, it also is one of the best on the Gulf Coast! This gorgeous wide, sandy beach features 99% pure quartz sand. The soft sugar white sand will make you want to dig your toes right in, so park your beach chair and enjoy a relaxing, carefree afternoon. Or visit at sunset for gorgeous photo opportunities.

If you are looking to get more active, Siesta is one of the few beaches in the area which offers sand volleyball. Why not enjoy a little healthy exercise while taking in the magnificent views all around you? And the sand doesn’t get hot, so no need to hop around to try to cool your feet down. Not a volleyball player? Tennis courts are also available. Here you can enjoy an invigorating game, followed by a little R&R on the beach. Or simply walk for miles and enjoy the crystal clear water and feel of the smooth sand under your feet.

Beautiful smooth sand and gorgeous clear water
Beautiful smooth sand and gorgeous clear water
The sand at Siesta is 99% pure quartz - completely smooth to the touch!
The sand at Siesta is 99% pure quartz – completely smooth to the touch!
Another view of Siesta’s famous soft, powdery sand
Siesta Key right before a summer storm.
Siesta Key right before a summer storm.

The beach is very clean without any garbage in sight. Crowds are hefty on the weekends during the winter season, but never as congested as the Clearwater/St. Pete beaches. And another big plus: parking is always available unlike some Bay area beaches where you have to drive around looking for a spot to open.