If your money tree is light on fruit, don't fret: "Beaching" it in Sarasota doesn't have to cost a bundle. In fact, our little slice of heaven is just bursting with all sorts of things to see and do that are either entirely free or won't break the bank.
Take a Siesta
Boasting world famous white sands, Siesta Beach gets a lot of play. It isn’t all just sun and sand, though. Every Sunday night, the Siesta Key Drum Circle attracts musicians, dancers, beachgoers and certainly its share of regulars.
Folks gather with drums, maracas and tambourines to fill the evening air with enchanting sounds. Dance along or bring a blanket and drift away to the music. With the sand beneath your feet and the sun setting over the water, you can afford to go (it’s free, of course) and you can’t afford to miss it.
While it may be difficult to resist the allure of the food and drinks in Siesta Village, it’s entirely possible to enjoy it for free. Window-shop at the many stores lining the Village or take a walk up one of the palm-tree lined side streets to scope out the quaint homes.
If walking gets your appetite going, you can grab lunch for less than $10 in the Village. Daiquiri Deck and Siesta Key Oyster Bar are local sit-down favorites, but you can pack a beach picnic with goodies from one of the nearby markets.
You can even experience the art and culture associated with downtown on Siesta Beach. The annual Siesta Fiesta takes over the Village each spring. The event is a favorite local celebration and a goodbye party for our snowbirds. The free weekend block party features art, food and live music.
Around the Circle
Head down to Lido Key to relax on the quiet beach or stroll up the peaceful streets to admire both lavish beach residences and understated condos that conjure up visions of Old Florida.
Window-shoppers will be in heaven on nearby St. Armands Circle, which is overflowing with an eclectic variety of stores.
R & R on the cheap at Nokomis Beach
Think of Nokomis, Sarasota's oldest public beach, as a family-friendly spot where you might first want to stop at Publix to pick up a tasty noontime repast or maybe a sunset dinner. At North Jetty Park, it won't break the bank to grab a just-off-the-grill cheeseburger from the concession stand. Add some chips and an ice cream bar or maybe go the hot dog or Polish sausage route.
Need to work off a few calories? Just a short jaunt away is a beach volleyball court. Grab the friends or family for a game or kick back and watch the boats make their way in and out of the Intracoastal Waterway to the Gulf.
Go sightseeing without even moving—you can watch the dolphins frolic in the water or check out the surfers who consider this the best spot to surf on the west coast of Florida.
House-hunt on Casey Key
Casey Key claims some of the most beautiful Gulf-front homes, and some luminary residents, like horror writer Stephen King. Even if you're not in King's tax bracket, you, too, can enjoy these magical sands.
After a day at the beach, pack up the family for a leisurely drive down the narrow road on Casey Key to "ooh" and "ahh" at all the incredible homes that could be mistaken for small hotels.
Find free souvenirs
Need some mementos to take back to the folks at home? A short drive from Casey Key is Venice Beach, which boasts as its claim to fame fossilized, black sharks' teeth just waiting to be plucked from the sand.
Even if your wallet is completely empty, you can enjoy some of Sarasota's greatest sights and sands. How's that for bliss on a budget?