siesta key or sanibel island

Old Mar 12th, 2008, 10:17 AM
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siesta key or sanibel island

I would appreciate anyones opinion on preference of siesta key or sanibel island. Will be going with a 12 and 9 yr old. Mainly going to enjoy beach/ocean. Want beautiful sunsets. Also, can't decide on going sometime Nov-1st to Dec 1st or April 1st to May 1st. Would like it warm but not unbearable. Lastly, is it a must to rent a car?
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Old Mar 12th, 2008, 11:09 AM
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Sanibel is lovely but because the island lies east-west, you won't actually see the sunset on most of the Sanibel beaches. Not sure about Siesta Key but on Sanibel you really need a car. Rates are still high on Sanibel til the first of May. All that said - Sanibel is my favorite.
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Old Mar 12th, 2008, 11:23 AM
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luvtravl- thanks for the reply
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Old Mar 12th, 2008, 11:38 AM
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I would say Sanibel as well. It is beautiful. The hotels are a little more expensive, but you can walk out on to the sand, there are shells on the beach, Ding Darling park can be a lot of fun (lot's of animals when I was there), and of course legendary sunsets and sunrises as well. A great vacation spot. I would spend more time there, if it wasn't so pricy. There is supposed to be a campsite, but I've never really checked into it. When I go I always rent a car. It just makes life easier. That way I can go when I want to, where I want to. Sanibel is across a toll bridge too. Last time I was there it was $6. Not sure if it's still the same.
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Old Mar 12th, 2008, 02:08 PM
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Both islands are beautiful. Siesta Key has a magnificent, wide, white sand beach with terrific sunsets and yes, you will see those sunsets. Kids love all the activities.

There's a lot of condos and houses for rent on each and you can probably find something in your price range on VRBO.com.

Nov-Dec is off-season where April-May is still high season. Rates would adjust accordingly.

Siesta is a barrier island off Sarasota where there's lots of activities for kids and Sanibel is off from Fort Myers Beach.

and yes, you'd probably need a car at either one.
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Old Mar 12th, 2008, 02:34 PM
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Many years ago my wife and I fell in love with Sanibel/Captiva and we would vacation there at least couple of times a year. Nothing wrong with the islands but the beach is not walkable without swim shoes as it's full of shells. There is not much to do for the kids outside of the obvious, beach/pool.

Since then, I have moved to Siesta Key and I would say it's probably a better family destination. The white, powdery sandy beach is just great for fun day at the beach. No swimming shoes required. The city of Sarasota is much closer to the island then Ft.Myers is to Sanibel. We do have public transportation to/from downtown Sarasota. It runs every hour and costs .75c one way. If you have a car then you are within 1/2 hour drive to many fun attractions. A beautiful state park is located just south of the city. It offers bike trails, kayaking, alligator spotting, etc. Dolphin spotting cruises from downtown Sarasota. Mote Marine, a world class research marine center with beautiful aquariums and some very exotic fish. Ultimately you are about 1.5 hour drive to Busch Gardens which could be a fun day trip for the kids.

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Old Mar 14th, 2008, 06:02 AM
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Thanks so much for all of your replies. I am leaning toward Siesta Key for the soft sand and sunsets. I would like to ask how driving around Sarasota is,difficult,confusing? We have been to WDW twice but did not rent a car. Thanks again!!!
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Old Mar 14th, 2008, 06:54 AM
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It's very easy.

The island itself has one major road cutting through the entire length of the island. The island is connected to the mainland by 2 bridges, a north bridge at the northern tip of the island and south bridge, about 1/3 of the way up from the southern tip.

Rest of the streets are mostly quiet, residential side streets.

Sarasota's main drag is Tamiami Trail or Rt.41. It cuts through the city north-south and runs close to the waterfront although only stretches allow you to actually see the water and that's in the downtown area. There are couple of more main streets going north-south but unless you looking for something specific then in most cases you'll never use these roads as most run through local residential areas.

The main east-west streets are University Park, at the northern edge of the city, Fruitville Rd which ends up going through downtown area, Bee Ridge Rd(which will take you from I-75 to the Siesta Key North bridge), mostly filled with strip malls, businesses catering to locals, usually very busy , and finally Clark Rd(which will take you from I-75 to the Siesta Key South bridge), full of industrial parks at the east end and some local strip malls and a shopping center at the west end.

Not too many places to get lost and most of the major attractions are right of Rt.41 or Tamiami Trail.

Collection of local maps:

http://www.see-sarasota.com/maps.php3

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Old Mar 14th, 2008, 08:34 AM
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AAfrequentflyer- you have been so helpful, thank you so much!
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Old Mar 14th, 2008, 01:53 PM
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If you decide on Siesta then your children would probably love Mote Marine & Aquarium. It's a great place to take kids. Then if you're out there you might just love to have dinner at St Armand's Circle (lots of great restaurants and little shops).
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Old Mar 20th, 2008, 06:43 PM
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We just did a week in FL and combined Sanibel (3 days) and Sarasota (4 days). I love collecting shells on Sanibel's beaches, but there's not a ton of stuff for the kids.

In Sarasota, Siesta Key beach is GREAT. St. Armand's is fun to walk around and there's more touristy type stuff for the kids.

There is a new outdoor skate park in Sarasota (in Payne Park) that is amazing. The terrain is varied - there's even a "pool". The kids there were extremely talented - it was fun watching them.

Sarasota's easy to get around, but there's a lot of traffic - lots of traffic lights, etc.
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Old Mar 21st, 2008, 07:41 AM
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There is an animal sanctuary in Sarasota as well. My 7 year old liked the Mote but you definately need a car. Roads are not difficult. Waters in November are not as warm as April.
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Old Mar 21st, 2008, 07:58 AM
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Autoeng,

I have to disagree with you about the need to have a car in Sarasota (just slightly).

Car does make it easier but it's not necessary. The County bus service SCAT, does have a very nice network at it's fairly cheap.

For example:

Siesta Village to Mote Marine

Leave Siesta Village at :24 past the hour, arrive downtown at :02 past the hour - 0.75 per adult

Leave downtown :15 pass the hour, arrive City Island :32 pass the hour - 0.75 per adult


That's pretty much true for any part of the county. Sarasota County also hooks up with Manatee county bus system so it's possible to get to the north point of Anna Maria island.

Again, car is easier, but it's not necessary.
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Old Mar 21st, 2008, 09:37 AM
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What's the bus schedule out to the Mote?
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Old Mar 21st, 2008, 09:54 AM
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read above...

it leaves downtown at :15 pass the hour and arrives on City Island (location of Mote Marine) at :32 pass the hour.
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Old Mar 21st, 2008, 10:17 AM
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That's good news to learn AAFF. I knew that we had good bus service from LBK into Sarasota (and to the airport if necessary) but I wasn't aware of the capability of getting from Siesta to Longboat and on to Anna Maria.

Great posting!!
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Old Mar 25th, 2008, 11:26 AM
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Thank you all for the information. This message board is the greatest thing. We will be going to mote marine for sure. I have been looking for a place to stay. A group of cottages called the beach place looks nice and close to the beach. Does anyone have any opinions on staying there? Thank you again!
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Old Mar 25th, 2008, 12:08 PM
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Look at this place. Cute little cottages. On a quiet side street only few yards away from the beach and the village. I live just few doors down , but I don't have any interest in this place, I just think the cottages are so cute. The beach is much quieter at this end. The village fun restaurants are just a short walk away.

http://www.beachpalms.com/
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Old Mar 25th, 2008, 12:32 PM
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Sieta Key has so much more to see and do for a 12 and 9 year old. The Jungle, where they can see allegators, flamingos etc. Barnum and Bailey museum with all the circus miniatures, the most beautiful beach area I have seen and a cute little town you can walk about. Lots going on for days that are not good beach days.
Either one, have fun and enjoy.
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Old Mar 26th, 2008, 07:17 AM
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Our family of 6 stayed in Sanibel Island last summer for the first time and had the best time ever. We drove 10 hours to get there. We stayed at Pointe Santo (renting via VRBO), and it was perfect for us. The kids of all ages loved the shelling, and we have great pictures of our kids finding shells & sea urchins, and the suprised look on their faces when they discovered that their shelling specimen actually moved!! They learned how to dig to find sanddollars and other things (we put the live items right back). We spent hours on the beach.

We have newly discovered bike riding on vacations and love it. We'd ride bikes into town to a restaraunt, and my husband would pull my then 3-year old behind. One time we even rode to the old timey movie theater, saw a movie, and then rode to a restaurant. We even drove our bikes all the way from the bike rental place to Ding Darling, which was a lot of fun.

I can't imagine a beach vacation without shelling and bike riding. For us, it was a great family time of discovery, exploring, and fun!! We are so busy going in different directions at home, we needed this kind of vacation!!
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