The Siesta Key Crystal Classic

After a COIV-related hiatus in 2020, the Siesta Key Crystal Classic will be back in full force in 2021. Plan to visit Siesta Key November 12 – 15 to see amazing Sand Sculpturesand sculptures built by 24 amazing artists from around the world. Sculptors will build a large community carve, 8 solo sculptures and 8 team sculptures. On Saturday evening, be sure to drop by to enjoy the sculptures under colored lights after sunset. The timed competition is judged and the winners are revealed on Sunday afternoon.

There are plenty of other attractions at the event as well: Sand sculpting lessons and demonstrations are hosted multiple times daily, Fri – Sun; there will be four days of live bands under the massive entertainment tent; And an ongoing contest of speed and skill; plus, the Amateur Competition on Saturday.

In addition, the Barefoot Beach Bar Party Tent is open all 4 days with music and a full bar- no entry fee. A Vendor Village surrounding Sand Village features over 70 retail vendors and 6 food trailers which are all open to the public.

Don’t miss this annual Siesta Key event!

Nathan Benderson Park #1 Rowing Venue

Benderson Park
Rowing at Nathan Benderson Park

Rowing News poll of readers just listed Nathan Benderson Park atop a group of 10 top rowing facilities across the USA. Other notables that made the list were the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia and Charles River in Boston, as well as Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Lake Natoma near Sacramento, Calif., and St. Catharines/Port Dalhousie, Ontario.

Nathan Benderson Park Tops the List:

  1. Nathan Benderson Park, Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla.
  2. Montlake Cut on Lake Washington, Seattle
  3. Lake Natoma, Sacramento, Calif.
  4. Melton Lake, Oak Ridge, Tenn.
  5. St. Catharines/Port Dalhousie, Ontario
  6. Charles River, Boston
  7. Schuylkill River, Philadelphia
  8. Cooper River, near Pennsauken, N.J.
  9. Tennessee River, outside Chattanooga
  10. Fish Creek, Sarasota Springs, N.Y.

International Dragon Boat Federation’s Club Crew World Championships

Dragon Boat Festival

Sarasota’s Benderson Park will host the International Dragon Boat Federation’s Club Crew World Championships in 2022. The event, which is organized by the sport’s world governing body will feature over 100 dragon boat teams representing corporations and non-profits as well as competitive teams from across the world. Look for an upcoming announcement on the dates for the festival. #DragonBoatFestival #Sarasota #SiestaKey

Spend a day with a fishing guide on the beach

Beach Fishing Siesta Key

Beach Fishing Adventures

Think you can’t catch big fish without going on a boat?  Beach fishing guide Steve Herich takes families or individuals out for fishing adventures on Siesta Key, Longboat Key and Lido Key.  Steve is an expert fisherman and works with all levels of customers.   Steve has a variety of packages available including a family special, Beach fishing apprenticeship and a Basic  Package.  Steve specializes in taking individuals and families out for a shore-based fishing adventure.  Bring along some water and a snack, Steve will provide bait and tackle and give you a day on the beach to remember.  Click on the link above to check out his website and get more information.  Beach fishing – a great way to spend a day on the Suncoast!


Dolphin babies!

Sarasota Bay Dolphin

In 2017, 19 dolphin in Sarasota area waters have given birth.  If you are out by the Intracoastal or beach, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the newborns.  One of the mothers, “Ginger” is a bottle-nose dolphin that was rehabilitated at Mote Marine Labs dolphin and whale hospital.    She was stranded when she was 3-years-old in December 2008 on Siesta Key Beach. Ginger was dehydrated and was covered in tooth-rake marks from other dolphins and appeared to be suffering from a respiratory condition called bronchopneumonia . She was released in February of 2009, with a VHF radio transmitter so Mote can keep tabs on her.  When visiting Siesta Key, where staying on the Intracoastal, Sarasota Bay or Gulf waters, be sure to keep your eyes open for the abundance of area wildlife!


Siesta Amateur Sand Sculpture Contest

Siesta Amateur Sand Sculpture Contest

Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources’ Amateur Sand Sculpture Contest returns to award-winning Siesta Key Beach on Saturday, May 5, for the 46th year.

The free, family friendly contest is for all age groups and all amateur skill levels (no pro’s allowed!)

Friends of Sarasota County Parks and the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, are sponsoring cash prizes awarded to 1st, 2nd and 3rd  place finishers in the adult (individual), adult (team), children (10 years old and younger) and youth (11-17 years old) categories and one overall people’s choice winner.

Registration starts at 8:30 AM on May 5th on Siesta Key Beach near the yellow lifeguard stand.  Each individual or group will be assigned a 10 foot by 10 foot square in which to sculpt their amazing creation.  Bring your buckets and shovels and a plan to win!  Spectators are invited to vote for the people’s choice award.  Judging begins at 1:00 PM and the results are announced at 2:00 PM.

Suncoast BBQ & Bluegrass Bash

Suncoast BBQ & Bluegrass Bash

April 20 & 21st head out for a finger-lickin’ good time at the 9th annual Suncoast BBQ & Bluegrass Bash in Venice, FL.  This free annual festival features world-class BBQ, grammy nominated music, tons of family friendly activities and so much more.  This event is a qualifier for The Jack Daniels World Championships, Food Network’s World Food Championships and The American Royal World Series of barbecuing. The nation’s top BBQ teams will compete for a $20,000 purse.  Enjoy a variety of Craft Beers from Goose Island, Firefly Moonshine, Kentucky Gentleman Bourbon, Deep’ Eddy Vodka, Platinum Gin, Fireball, Blue Chair Rum and Margaritaville Gin.  Friday, April 20 gates open 5pm, Saturday, April 21 gates open 10am.


Music with the following International Bluegrass Music Association award winning bands:
– Volume 5
-Russell Moore & IIIrd TYME OUT
-Lonesome River Band

Insider tips:

  • No Pets, Coolers, Beverages or Weapons Permitted
  • No Umbrellas, Tents, or Backpacks
  • Tram available from parking to the main gates
  • Bring a comfy chair or blanket for concert



Siesta Key Drum Circle

Siesta Key Drum Circle

A must-do when staying in or near Siesta Key is a visit to the Siesta Key Drum Circle.  Head out to Siesta Key Public beach  in the late afternoon every Sunday and you’ll first hear the primal beat of drums and then see a crowd gathering just south of the main pavilion between lifeguard stands 3 and 4 – the Siesta Key Drum Circle.  It’s a diverse group of  drummers, hula-hoopers, percussionists, rope walkers, sun-lovers dancers and people-watchers gathering to celebrate the sunset.  This weekly celebration has been going on since 1996.  Some come to participate, some just to gawk at the happenings. Drum circle regulars occasionally perform with swords and fire, you might even see a belly dancer. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to join in. Bring beach chairs or a beach blanket and get there early as the parking lot can fill up quickly.  Drop by one Sunday evening for an amazing experience.  Even after the the festive vibes have ended (typically around 10pm), you will head home with a reminder of the awesomeness that is Siesta Key.

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Shelling on Siesta Key and Sarasota Area Beaches

Shelling on Siesta Key and Sarasota Area Beaches

The key thing about shelling is to know the Tide tables, since the best shells are found just before low tide.

Another great time is after a storm passes. Cold fronts tend to push water away from the beach and tropical storms churn up the water bringing shells ashore like augers, left handed whelks, and coquinas.

Need to identify the shells you find? Check out this site: Shell Museum.

One rule of thumb: If you see something still living in a shell, leave it on the beach.

Siesta Key

Siesta Key beach has awesome sand, but isn’t the best place around for shelling. There are plenty of coquinas though. Head to the southern end of Siesta Key to Turtle beach for better shelling. If you kayak or walk south from Turtle beach you can get to the area known as Midnight Pass, which is a closed-in pass. Fewer visitors = more shells. You can find a variety of shells including crown, fighting, and horse conches, and banded tulips. Or, you can head north on Siesta to the public access on North Shell Road. The beach at North Shell Road faces Lido Key and Big Pass. The sandbars there produce sand dollars, augers, lightning whelk, spiny jewel box, and olives at low tide. Watch for the currents though.



Looking for fossilized shark teeth? Venice beach has some and if you head a bit further south from Venice beach, you will happen upon Caspersen Beach, which is ideal for shelling and finding sharks teeth including Megalodons. If you are really into it, you can pick up a shark tooth sifter, known as “Florida snow shovels” at the Osprey Walmart, or a local tackle store. Check out the Venice Fossil Guy.

Longboat Key

On the only public beach, Whitney Beach, you can enjoy relative solitude by grabbing a patch of sand that feels miles from your nearest neighbor. Longboat has great shelling. Sand dollars, spiny jewel box, augers, olives and lightning whelk can be found as well as others.  You’ll find shore birds a-plenty including pipers, egret, pelican, heron, petrels, gulls, and skimmers. Keep you’re eyes peeled, because It’s not unusual to spot pods of dolphin fishing in the surf and sea turtle nests protected by tape and stakes along the shore.

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Venice Seafood & Music Festival

Venice Seafood & Music Festival

Coming up May 5 -6, 2018 is the 2nd Annual Venice Seafood & Music Festival in Centennial Park in downtown Venice.  The festival is a weekend of mouth watering seafood creations prepared by top area restaurants including drinks and live music.  Festivalgoers can surround themselves in the sounds of R&B,  steel pan, jazz and  Caribbean music while having their favorite beverage and eating some of the best seafood our are has to offer.  The festival runs from Saturday 11am-8pm to Sunday 11am – 7pm.  Admission is free.  The festival’s seafood dishes are created using native and sustainable seafood from Florida’s coastal waters.  Of course there are meat and vegetarian options and an assortment of side dishes and deserts..  They also offer a VIP Tent admission for $130 which  includes a raw bar serving steamed snow crab, raw oysters,  peel-and-eat shrimp and an open bar serving premium drinks.  The private tent has dedicated servers and is located for optimal viewing of the live music performances.

While there, be sure to  enjoy the amazing shops and businesses in downtown Venice.