There is no mistaking the fact that one of the highlights of visiting, or living in, Sarasota is a trip to St. Armands Circle. With its eclectic shops, delectable restaurants, and regular special events, there is certainly a lot to see, do, and taste. But there is more to Lido Key than merely the Circle.
Technically, St. Armands is its own key, distanced from Lido by a canal that is well used by boating residents. And to get the best perspective of what island living is really about, you really have to do it from the water. Fortunately, by heading to the south of Lido Key on Boulevard of the Presidents, you have grand opportunities to do just that. The north parking lot at Ted Sperling Park regularly features kayak rentals, and if you really want to experience Sarasota, this is one of the best ways to do it.
Not only do you get to travel the canals to get a backyard glimpse of some of the most fabulous homes in Sarasota, but you can also paddle your way through the mangrove tunnels. Weaving their way through the South Lido Nature Preserve, these tunnels are home to many species of wildlife, and the beauty of these intertwined trees is just magnificent. And when you're finished kayaking, the south end of Lido Key is filled with trails for hiking and getting in touch with nature.
If you still need your nature fix, North Lido Beach also features its share of trails and a two-mile stretch of pristine beach that reminds us of why people started settling here in the first place. If you want the beauty of nature without getting sand between your toes, Lido Beach features an Olympic-sized swimming pool perfect for doing laps under the beautiful Sarasota sun. Although it may never get listed among the best restaurants, one of the secrets that most locals cherish is that the concession stand at Lido Beach has some of the best fish tacos around.
But if you really want one of the local delicacies, head a bit north from the Circle and get yourself a salty dog at the Old Salty Dog. Not only can you get a deep-fried-beer-battered-hot-dog, but they have a great seafood menu, full bar, and a beautiful view from the waterfront patio. While you're on City Island, you can walk off that dog on the boardwalk in Ken Thompson Park, or you can spend some time at Mote Marine Aquarium, getting to know some of the other species that share this space with us.
And if you want to top off your day with one of the best views around, have dinner at the Sand Dollar Dining Room on top of the Holiday Inn. The food is good, but the view of the beach below as the sun sets is just glorious.
The thing you've really got to understand about Sarasota, is that for everything we're known for, there are a number of hidden jewels just beyond. Everywhere you go around here, there's something new to see that makes life all that more grand. Enjoy exploring paradise.
Sarasota Area Real Estate Specialist