A Little History of Siesta Key
Homesteaders began settling on “Sarasota Key” (now Siesta Key) in the 1880’s, but few remained long enough to establish their claims. An exception was Capt. Louis Roberts and his wife, Ocean Hansen Roberts, for whom Ocean Boulevard, Roberts Road and Hansen Bayou are named. In 1906, Capt. Roberts enlarged his house and began calling it the Roberts Hotel. The following year he, along with Harry Higel and E.M. Arbogast, formed the Siesta Land Company. By 1946, the Key was still labeled “Sarasota Key” on government maps, but was called Siesta Key by the County.
In late 1910, E.M. Arbogast began construction of the Bay Island Hotel on the north shore of the Key. Meanwhile, Harry Higel’s dredge was busy not only digging the canals and filling low land, but also excavating shell deposits that could be used to surface the roads as they were built. The canal that leads from Hansen Bayou westward to the recently closed Siesta Fish Market was dug for its shell deposits.
Harry Higel was mayor of Sarasota in 1916 and supported a bond issue that was passed and resulted in the building of the first Siesta Key Bridge in 1917. The second bridge on Stickney Point Road was built by the County in 1926. They platted the subdivision of Siesta on the northern end of the Key.
Siesta Key is an 8 mile barrier island which is located off of the central western coast of Florida. It is situated between Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. A portion of it lies within the city boundary of Sarasota, but the majority of the Key is in Sarasota County.
As you can see from the map above, there are two main roads on Siesta Key. Midnight Pass Road runs the full length of the Key from North to South. Just before you get to Siesta Beach, the Key becomes wider and the road breaks into a Y. The left fork becomes Beach Road, and then turns into Ocean Blvd. Here you will not only find Siesta Key Village, but many beautiful residential areas and condominiums.
Siesta Key is connected to Sarasota by two bridges, one off of Stickney Point Road on the South end and the other off Siesta Drive on the North End. Many times, when approaching one of these bridges, you’ll have to put your car in park while the bridge lifts for boats to pass. I used to be annoyed by this, but now I find that it is a relaxing event to watch the sailboats pass by.
The Flavor of Siesta Key
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to walk across a field covered in baby powder, then Siesta Key will amaze you. The sand on Siesta Beach and Crescent Beach is some of the finest, whitest sand in the world and in 2011 was voted the Number One Beach in America by Dr. Beach. On the hottest days of summer when temperatures get well into the 90’s, that sand on Siesta Key Beach remains cool to the touch.
It’s so beautiful to see the colors of Siesta Key Beach. White, powdery fine quartz sand dotted with the bright colors of umbrellas and bikinis, of buckets and baskets filled with fruit, all framed by the blue sky and turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. A creative sand sculpture might surprise you as you walk along the water’s edge. You might see lovers kissing in sunset or hear the crisp, gay sound of a child’s laughter and wonder if that is really a child, or some exotic bird. There could be board surfers skimming along the edge or shell seekers with their hands submersed in water and eyes focused downward. You might hear a drummer beating a rhythm in honor of the sunset and an elderly couple walking and holding hands while the sky turns pink. You will certainly hear the sea gulls and you will see pelicans gracefully hovering above the gulf in search of food, and then elegantly diving to a precise spot where the food will be caught. Tiny sandpipers are constantly chasing the tide and then running from it as if it were their job to care for it.
There might be a regal sailboat on the horizon and if you’re lucky you might even see a family of dolphins playfully swimming in the sparkling waters.
Yes, this is Siesta Key Beach. A place you most definitely need to discover and one you will always remember. Photo Slideshow of Siesta Key
Shopping and Dining
After a wonderful day at the Siesta Key Beach, you might want to take a stroll into Siesta Key Village. Here you will find restaurants, both casual and elegant. Unique shops line the streets where you’ll find everything from pink flip flops to upscale clothing stores like Foxy Lady where you will also find a great salon for hair and facials. There is a corner grocery market and of course Davidson Drugs which is a family owned drug store and an institution in Sarasota since 1956.
You’ll love the shopping experience in Siesta Key Village