Anna Maria Island is favored over many other Florida destinations – and for good reason! It’s one of the only places left that hasn’t been overrun with large resorts and still retains its “Old Florida feel.” For many vacationers, staying in AMI is preferable to anywhere else. Yet Florida does have many other incredible places to see!
Fortunately, since they are close to everything, our Anna Maria Island vacation rentals make the perfect base for Anna Maria Island day trips to the other exciting parts of the sunshine state. Here is the ultimate guide for an ideal Siesta Key day trip.
Siesta Key Beach
A day trip to Siesta Key wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the island’s top attraction! Siesta Key Beach is the full-ranked beach in the United States, and it is consistently ranked as one of the top five beaches worldwide. Spend a lazy day swimming, suntanning, building sandcastles, or searching for seashells and sea dollars!
In addition to its crystal-white sands, the beach is well developed with many amenities to make your stay more enjoyable. There are concessions stands, a large parking area, and a free trolley that will take you to and from the beach.
Things to Do in Siesta Key
Siesta Key Beach is certainly not the only place to visit. Just a short walk from the beach, you can do your souvenir shopping at Siesta Key Village. The site is filled with great stores and restaurants. Both locals and tourists alike complete their shopping here. You can take a stroll around the area, find a place to eat, peruse an art gallery, and hang out in the village circle. After sunset, the whole place comes to life. The Village has some of the best nightlife on the island, so if you’re a night owl, be sure to make your way to this part of town!
The Mote Marine Aquarium is another top attraction if you have kids (or even if you don’t). The aquarium features more than 100 marine animals, including sharks, in a stunning 135,000-gallon habitat. Catch a glimpse of alligators and caimans or meet the resident manatees and sea turtles. There is plenty to explore!
Right next door is the Wild Bird Learning Center. This center homes birds that have been injured and are unable to return to the wild. Instead, these creatures live in comfort while serving as “bird ambassadors” to educate the public. Visitors can explore the bird walk to learn more about these beautiful birds!
For more close-up experiences with nature, the whole family can take a kayak excursion to Sarasota’s stunning mangrove tunnels. Such a trip gives you the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in local ecosystems, where you are guaranteed to spot shorebirds and a host of marine life. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a bottlenose dolphin!
Even if you don’t spot a dolphin in the mangroves, you are almost guaranteed to catch sight of one on a dolphin tour. These half-day tours take you right to the best spots where pods regularly visit. The boat will take you right to them, and there is a good chance you will be able to watch them splashing and frolicking! In the springtime, it is also possible to see manatees in the area.
The Marie Selby Botanical Garden is another natural wonder of the area. The gardens are not located directly on Siesta Key but in nearby Sarasota and would make a great stopping point as you make your way to the island. With over 5,000 species of plants, the gardens are revered worldwide as a hub for scientific research. Visitors can explore different ecosystems filled with bamboo, epiphytes, bromeliads, meat-eating pitcher plants, orchids, and more. At the very least, it is a gorgeous place for a stroll!
For a unique cultural experience, stop by the Amish Pinecraft Community of Sarasota. This is the perfect place to buy homemade baked goods and other delicious delights. You will also find a host of other homemade products – from hand-carved wooden toys to original quilts. You can always stop by for souvenir shopping or for a hearty meal!
Back on Siesta Key, cool off with some of the best homemade ice cream around. Gelato-Go, Local Chill, Orange Octopus, Nokomis Groves, and Big Olaf are some of the best ice cream joints in town. Between the five of them, you are sure to find almost any flavor imaginable!
Once you’ve cooled off, go adventuring across Siesta Key for free! The Siesta Key Breeze Trolley runs every 30 minutes and takes across the island. There is also an electric bike tour that allows you to get a feel for the island in style. Take it easy with the sunset tour, which gives you stunning views of the sea and skyline.
And while Siesta Key Beach may be the most famous stretch of Siesta Key’s coastline, it’s certainly not the only one. If you’re hoping to escape the dense crowds or would just like to try something different, Crescent Beach is a beautiful alternative. Though the sand isn’t quite as refined as its famous neighbor, it’s still a Siesta Key beach, meaning it’s better than most you’ll find elsewhere!
Plan Your Visit
At the end of your day trip to Siesta Key, return to the comfort of your A Paradise Rental vacation lodging. We offer Anna Maria Island rentals with a pool as well as beachfront rentals. There are large family homes for groups needing more space. When you book Anna Maria Island rentals with us, we will ensure all your vacation needs are met!
Siesta Key Dining
In addition to stunning attractions, Siesta Key dining is exquisite. Try any number of lovely restaurants featuring both local and international flavors. Summer House restaurant is a local favorite. Though relatively new, it has already earned rave reviews! The menu features various steak cuts sourced from the finest ranches. You will also be awed by the décor, which includes a fish tank that is 1,000 gallons, 10,000 pounds, and 14 feet long. An evening at Summer House is one you won’t forget!
The Cottage is another superb restaurant whose menu features sustainable meats and seafood. The Cottage provides a wide range of sandwiches, soups and salads, and sides with a heavy emphasis on seafood. It is the perfect place for any foodie!
For a laid-back, beachy feel, look no further than Siesta Key Oyster Bar. They serve fresh oysters and some fantastic drinks, including skob-tails, cocktails, mocktails, and margaritas. If you come at the right time, you will even get to enjoy your fresh drink while listening to live music. There’s no better way to start your evening!
Directions to Siesta Key
The drive to Siesta Key from Anna Maria Island takes approximately two hours. You can get an early start and still make it to Siesta Key in time for breakfast!
To get there, the fastest route takes you along the islands on FL-789 S. From there, you can cross the John Ringling Causeway into Sarasota. Then, follow Highway 758 onto Siesta Key!
If you don’t want to rent a car, regular buses run from Anna Maria Island to Siesta Key.