I imagine a life living in Sarasota is a pretty sweet one. Correct me, any Sarasotians out there, if I’m wrong.
The coastal town lies about an hour from Tampa on the west Florida coast and I spent a night there back in December. Sun is guaranteed on over 250 days of the year here, inviting everyone to make the most of the world famous Siesta Key Beach, along with the other 27 miles of other beaches in Sarasota County.
With Joe at the wheel, we cruised the streets in our Ford Mustang convertible finally pulling into the beach car park. As Joe busied himself with putting the roof up I soaked up the atmosphere from the emerging locals – sadly flocking to the car park fresh from the joy of watching the fading sunset ready to pack their day at the beach into the car.
We’d just missed the best of the day’s end thanks to my slow but determined and considered driving that morning. When it comes to driving, safety first, safety second I say.
I watched the locals in awe – I couldn’t imagine a life here. How perfect it could be. From the drive in I’d seen that the houses were huge, ‘condos’ looked out to the 8-mile beach if you preferred, and on Siesta Key you could be at the main strip within just a few minutes’ drive, skate or rollerblade.
As passenger for the last stretch from Tampa I was able to cock my head around to see it as we drove. Hues of orange, pink, red and more pink filled the sky, but as we finally got to the beach the pink was disappearing like / the black of the night was taking over the pink rays like the final dousing of the fire.
And the locals were on the move.
So we left too. To find our night’s accommodation at the Siesta Key Bungalows. A motel like accommodation coloured in baby pink and decorated with flamingos and white picket fences. My room was huge, a double bed with lounge and kitchen, and a bathroom. I loved the kitsch. It’s a shame we didn’t have more time there as we discovered in the morning that there was a lake out the back, complete with kayaks, and a pool too, but the road was calling and we had to leave.
Before we went to bed, instead of hitting the bars and restaurants of the main strip that were so tempting, such is the travel bloggers’ life that we had to go to Best Buy to get supplies for our technology (if you’re going to the US, and you like technology, it’s a must, so cheap for us Brits!). It was only a ten-minute drive away, but on a different key. We were like kids in a sweet shop.
Anyone not as excited by Apple products and iPhone cases as we were can enjoy the likes of Siesta Key Oyster Bar, Gilligans Island Bar & Grill or Daiquiri Deck. Apparently there’s a sister bar in nearby St Armands Circle shopping area and every Christmas they do a walk between them dressed as Santa. That sounds like my kind of Santa Fun Run.
Of course the next day we were up at the crack of dawn, or at least 8am, to see what the beach was like in the daylight. Definitely weren’t disappointed.
We went for breakfast at LeLus. A Hawaiian-like surfer type coffee lounge with a menu I’d like to work my way through every day, forever. One incredible breakfast burrito down and I was satisfied, for the next few hours. One of the best things about eating there, apart from the great food and iced coffee, was the people watching. That morning had been the annual Santa fun run on the beach, wish I’d known, the photos! Locals were coming in dressed as Santa demanding all sorts of delicious sounding things from the staff.
Just outside was a skateboard meet.
Sarasota is sporty, one of those fabulous places where people do exercise for fun and it unites the community. Kids were shouting at their parents, and they were doing as they pleased, it kind of reminded me of St Johns Wood in London, where I lived for five years; full of yummy mummys fresh from yoga, ordering skinny lattes and gluten free avocado based products.
We left Lelus to check out the shopping at St Armands Circle. I’d heard it was a mall and presumed it to be some sort of Westfield-type place. Instead we found a pretty circle of boutiquey shops. We sat watching all the action from a roof terrace with a health smoothie, like everyone else. An empowering feeling given it was mid-December.
As we left we realised it was the ‘Porsches in the Park’ weekend in the central circle and spent the next 30 minutes wandering around the cars. That’s just the kind of place Sarasota is – no village fete with a hook a duck here.
We had just enough time to explore the ground of the Ringling Museum of Art, although not quite enough to go in. You can visit the outside for free, and plenty of fabulous Sarasota people were taking full advantage of this, with their books out and sun cream on catching the rays on the veranda.
What I’m saying is, for anyone who lives there, Sarasota is an idyllic nirvana. If you don’t, revel in the chance to visit, and make sure you get to the Siesta Key Beach well in time for the sunset. Schedule in some time for Best Buy, Lelus and St Armand’s Circle too!
I was in Sarasota as a guest of VISIT FLORIDA and HERTZ. Thanks to VisitSarasota for helping me to enjoy my time there. All thoughts, positive and negative are in the post. Visit Florida have a whole January of activity in London – check out their ‘Moments of Sunshine’ here.
Just let me know if you have any questions!
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