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janelle0510 Jun 9th, 2009 08:03 AM

Siesta Key
Hi! My family (two daughters 11yrs old and 15 yrs old), along with my husband and MIL are going to Siesta Key for 1 week for the 4th of July. We are an active family that likes to be on the water, shopping, exploring the area, and enjoying the outdoors.

We will be staying at the Sandpiper Beach Club. Has anyone stayed there in the past or know of the condos? I'm hoping these are near beach volleyball courts as my daughters are both huge VB players.

What are some must see sites in the area? We have a rental car and plan to explore up and down the coast. I've heard there are some great dolphin/wildlife tours out of Sarasota. Does anyone have suggestions on who to use? Or is it better to rent a boat for the day (we own one at home so no worries there) and explore on our own?

We will try to eat in most of the time, but what are some some good places to eat? We love everything from seafood to hamburgers!

Speaking of food, my hubby and I took a wonderful cooking class at the New Orleans School of Cooking when we were in NOLA last week... does Sarasota/Siesta have a similar program?

One final question --- we will be flying into Tampa and were hoping to get a shuttle/taxi/limo from TPA to Siesta. Does anyone have a suggestion for reasonably priced transportation? We will have a rental car for the rest of the trip, but it's coming with my MIL from Miami, so we are on our own getting from the airport to the condo.

Thanks for any help!

HKP Jun 9th, 2009 08:17 AM

TPA to Siesta Key isn't the easiest or cheapest thing to do, but here goes:

1. Taxi will run you $100 or more. In many ways, you might find a one-day car rental to pick up in TPA and drop off at SRQ a better deal, esp. if you can get your MIL to pick you up after you drop the rental off.

2. There is - or was - a bus that will shuttle you from the TPA airport to a transfer garage in Sarasota, where you can get a cab to Siesta Key. I used it once - it was about $60 at the time for one person -- but I have been scouring the web to find the name and haven't succeeded.

3. I have found a limou service that costs $85 for 1st person and $15 for each additional.

4. Go back to step 1 and think seriously about a 1-day rental with drop off in Sarasota.

tchoiniere Jun 9th, 2009 08:22 AM

MOTE Aquarium is near there and worth the visit. Its a great aquarium. Right near it is Salty Dog. Good food and right on the Gulf.

Check out the Ringling Museum to see if it would interest your family.

I would look for tours as they will know where there may be wildlife. Most rental boats aren't actually allowed in the gulf as they are limited to the Intercoastal. I don't know of any specific tours. Right near Marina Jack's restaurant in Sarasota, there are a bunch of boats / charters that may offer tours. Maybe try the Marina Jack's webpage or call them to see what is offered out of that marina. The restaurant itself is excellent food (downstairs is casual, upstairs is expensive).

For shopping, St Armand's Circle is great. Not cheap by any means. There are a bunch of restaurants there too.

tchoiniere Jun 9th, 2009 08:25 AM

I definitely agree with HKP about the 1 way dropoff for the rental car. Do note that there will be tolls to go across the Skyway Bridge that you will have to pay regardless of option (taxi, car, etc)

HKP Jun 9th, 2009 09:40 AM

I think the toll's only a dollar or two, tchoiniere - but good to be forewarned, nonetheless.

codybearcat24 Jun 9th, 2009 10:13 AM

Definitely try Mote Marine Laboratory on City Island (between St.Armand's and Longboat Key) for wildlife cruises. You might want to call for a reservation on the day you want to go, if you have a large party. They are staffed by Mote marine biologists who really know their stuff. We saw a family of dolphins last time we went out, but of course you never know what you'll see.

Myakka River State Park is also interesting. Take Clark Road west all the way past I-95. They'll take you out on the river to see alligators. Lots and lots of alligators (depending on the weather).

I --think-- there are volleyball nets up at Siesta Beach, but I'm not sure...relying on memory..

Enjoy your trip! Sarasota is wonderful!

tchoiniere Jun 9th, 2009 10:23 AM

HKP, the last time I was on it, the car in front of me obviously had no cash on them so it doesn't hurt to warn people.

To follow up on Cody's post, go early in the morning if you want to see wildlife especially gators with how hot it will be.

2bsmom Jun 9th, 2009 10:24 AM

We flew into Tampa last year and got a one way rental through Budget $90. There is an office right off the key, about 5 minutes away don't have to return it to the airport.

The public beaches have plenty of volleyball nets.

Favorits places to eat on the key: Daquiri Deck in the Village and Captain Curts. Also right off the key on US 41 Phillipi Creek.

janelle0510 Jun 9th, 2009 05:04 PM

Wow, thanks for everyone's ideas! I think we will go for the Budget or limo route. Seems like the most cost effective and easiest.

Any ideas on the school of cooking? My hubby says he thinks it doesn't exist in Sarasota, but a girl can hope!

Is there an old haunted hotel/resort in the area? My daughter said a friend told her about some neat place to explore... it sounded like the coastal version of the Stanley hotel to me.

Thanks again for everyone's input! Much appreciated!

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