This is the 3rd and final part of my blog on the Sarasota Area where I spent 10 days while on my road trip during the end of April and beginning of May.
Siesta Key Village
I have mixed feeling on the village of Siesta Key. Some days I love it and some nights I hate it. The village is THEE place to go for nightlife on the Keys I would say and the street in the village is lined with several bars and restaurants. Such as Siesta Key Oyster Bar, Gilligan’s and my favorite The Cottage. During the busy season, the village is full of drunken 20 something’s and I don’t much like it even at 34. On this past visit, it was much less crowded at night and mom and I were able to go for dinner and drinks at a few places without being annoyed by obnoxious drunk kids or 50 year olds who think they are 20. SKOB (Siesta Key Oyster Bar) was still packed even during this slow time but is pretty much THE place to go. It has great outdoor seating but always packed at night for its live music so I sadly skipped it on this trip. Parents, after 10 pm I would say this is not the place for little kids to be just because of its rowdiness despite the heavy police presence.
During the day though, is very different thing and I actually found I enjoy the village more during the day sun filled hours. Since I try and find small cafes or coffee shops I attempted to try one in the village mall called The Local Bean and I left with no coffee and very angry. If you want to see why check out my review on the shops Trip Advisor page, I post as Oregonmike98. I was sad about this becouse when I found driving around late one night it looked like a wonderful place to sit and write in there outdoor seats. Maybe next time but I doubt it.
My next try was a new place called Lelu’s Coffee Lounge at 5251 Ocean Blvd. This air conditioned, surf themed café had plenty of comfortable seating inside and out, had really fun and friendly employees and I really liked the decor. This café is owned by the restaurant next door so you can get real food if typical coffee shop snacks are not your style. In addition, they have a nice selection of alcoholic beverages as well but nothing crazy. I had a few cups of coffee coupled with a few Espresso Martinis. Which I will say was priced high at 10 bucks each but it’s all top shelf so if it’s worth it to you I suggest you try one. I think next time I will have one and not 4…ok 2. The coffee was very good and locally roasted. They do sell bags of it to go if you like it as much as I did.
The Wi-Fi was fast and didn’t drop out which gave me time to do some online work as well as work on my next novel. This was a very relaxing place and I am glad I found it. I cannot wait to go back. During the hot part of the day this is an excellent place to hang your hat for a few hours. Above the fireplace was a drawing of Frank Sinatra, which made me very happy.
The Village in general is a nice place to walk around and hang out at, and the relaxing vibe of most businesses leaves you in a better place. The one thing I do like is the village is not over run with silly gift shops and there is only 1 directly on the strip. As far as food goes, prices have a wide range and an even wider range of options so there is something to fit every budget. And I counted at least 3 ice-cream places in the village which are open late. Away from the village and the beach Siesta Key is a quiet neighborhood with palm-lined roads, condos and vacation rentals.
Siesta Key is now perhaps the most famous of all the keys in the Sarasota area. This is because Dr. Beach ranked its famous beach (Siesta Beach) the #1 in Beach in America in 2011. The Travel Channel in 2004 also said the beach had the best beach sand in America. It has long been known to the Europeans that come here on vacation as a great beach with great sand. I will admit the sand is nice; it is soft, white and like powder. It also gets everywhere, is annoying and refuses to leave….much like glitter, herpes and ex’s. The coolest things I have ever seen at the beach were (on my very first trip) the giant drum circles they have every week.
I go to this beach every time I go (for sunsets with family) and currently it is my niece’s favorite beach in the area. I hate it though….I thinks it to be over rated compared to other beaches in the area that I have spent time on. Now since its #1 ranking 2 years ago the beach is even busier than ever, even during the late season so I can only imagine what it’s like in march and April. On this past trip, the public parking area (which is pretty big) was full and cars were lined up down the street. I hate this beach. I hate the beach because there are no trees, no escape from the heat other than the ocean, no shade, always busy, usually a pain to get to and is filled with kids, teens, drunk people bla bla bla. I do not like packed beaches…anywhere and like this one even less when it’s busy. The bathrooms are annoyingly far away. I do enjoy going there near sunset or at night however. I would say do not bother going but I know anyone who goes to Sarasota will eventually go to this beach it’s an inevitability. I personally prefer Melville’s Beach, Old Midnight Pass, Lido Beach or any other beach….anywhere. The only time I went to Siesta beach on this trip was at night so I could look at the stars so I didnt take any pictures of it.
Other places I visited in the Sarasota area and Florida.
The Lobster Pot
This is located in Siesta Key Village right on Ocean Blvd. It was my first time eating here. I was not impressed with anything other than the valet parking attendant and our window seat facing the village. My meal at The Lobster Pot (Shore Platter) was similar to something I had at Phillippi Creek but was way over priced and the small portions had me thinking about McDonald’s dollar menu. I love my seafood and with a place called the Lobster Pot, I was expecting more considering how long it has been in the village. My mom got a Lobster Pasta dish, which lacked….lobster of all things. The server who was very nice and attentive fixed this and brought her a bowl of it. Its small place and does not have much seating and I would imagine there can be a long wait. I have always wanted to try this place and I am glad I finally did. Bummer it was my mother’s day dinner with mom and my last night in Sarasota before heading back north to South Carolina. Knowing what I know now I would have chosen somewhere else to take her.
Yes, I know I said Starbucks and my little independent coffee shop heart died a little going here. However, there is one thing that Sarasota lacks in general and that is straight coffee shops there is many cafe’s and if you don’t know the difference educate yourself. Even more, it lacks late night or 24 hour coffee shops. This is why I ended up on the Starbucks on University Drive on the north end of Sarasota a few nights a week. This Starbucks (oddly enough) is the only 24 hours coffee shop in the area. It is big and has ample outdoor seating.
I expected to find a bunch of teens and kids in their early 20’s which I did, but I also found many adults, people my age and older there at 1am and later. I could smoke; drink coffee, write and blog with no one bothering in the wee hours of the morning. This might change however, since Starbucks in all their glorious fucking wisdom is apparently banning smoking outside of all their establishments. Now in Florida, you are allowed to smoke in the outdoor seating of places if the business allows it and people know this. I did not see anyone getting bitchy because of it at 2 am and most people sitting outside were smokers. I may not be going to this Starbucks again when I am in Sarasota because of this. *enter the annoying non-smoker rant…..now*
This was one of my mom favorites as well as her boyfriends but was new to me. It’s on Tamiami Trail on a canal just before crossing the bridge to the south end of Siesta Key. We stopped in the early evening during the week. The décor is rustic and gives you that feel of an old fishing village with its fishing décor and look. We were seated right away with no wait, something that again would have made me leave. My general rule on vacation is that there is nothing worth waiting more than 10-15 minutes in line for. Our server was a wonderful German woman with a thick accent who was very attentive and nice.
We started off with a dozen raw oysters for an appetizer and I ate ¾ of them since my mom gets them whenever she wants in Florida. My dinner was a feast of seafood favorites on a massive platter and when I was done I was beyond full. The price I paid was about 20 bucks and I felt it was very much worth the money spent. I have no memory of what my mom got. It’s a family friendly place and they offer non seafood fare just in case. The menu is extensive and it took me awhile to pick something out. I really liked this place and would like to go back again. Think a local version of Red Lobster with better food and higher quality ingredients and cheaper prices and that’s what Phillippi Creek is.
The Cottage Restaurant
This was a place my sister introduced me to about 2 years ago. Its her favorite drinking hole in Siesta Key. This trip mom and I stopped in on a whim one night and we just shared an appetizer and got drinks. We ordered the calamari which was awesome…probably the best I’ve had down there. The sauce on it was amazing. Also in my never ending search for the best Mojito i tried one here at the cottage…2 actually, It was yums!. The cottage is owned by the same people who own The Hub Baja Grill which I also stopped at and just got drinks. The Mojitos at The Cottage use whole mint leaves and The Hub Baja uses shredded pieces of mint leaves. I’m not sure what. both places were decently priced on drinks and food.
So yeah….thats it for these blogs on my road-trip. I hope you enjoyed reading these as much as I liked writing them. I may be going back down to Florida near the end of the summer so maybe ill find something new to share with you all. Otherwise my friend and fellow author Ben and I are going to the coast of Maine over thanksgiving. So expect a blog or 2 about that. Also look for some new posts regarding my first novel Running Northwest and my upcoming second novel All The Roads Home and also some short stories.
See my other blogs in this road trip series.