What To Do in the Rain on Siesta Key

Updated July 27, 2015

Its one of those rainy days on the Key.  As a resident of Siesta Key there’s plenty to do around the house but for the visitors of our Key who don’t have home improvements to work on, errands to run, friends to visit or other stuff going on, I put together a little list of things to do when it rains on Siesta Key.

The obvious, for a relaxing rainy day at the beach, especially if you’re staying in a condo/house is to be prepared.  Bring books, puzzles, board games, video games and DVDs with you to anticipate a not-so-perfect day at the beach.  That’s harder to do if you have a hotel room because you’ll likely get cabin fever quicker.  But for real excitement here are some ideas:  if there’s no thunder in the area, and your condo/hotel has a pool and you don’t care about getting wet (that’s a joke, ha) go swimming in the rain.  If you have a poncho/slicker/umbrella and don’t care about dodging rain drops just do what you’d normally do…shop at our cool stores in the Village or walk on the beach.  Otherwise, we have a great many restaurants to dine in so take a board game and some money for dessert and hang out at one of them.

Leaving the Key, just over the south bridge (Stickney Point) you’ll find Books-A-Million (we love visiting bookstores when we travel), and going south on Tamiami Trail, there’s the bowling alley, and a mall with a movie theatre.  A bit further south is the Tervis retail store.  Tervis is a Florida company and the entire collection of available cup designs is there for purchase.

Off the north bridge (Siesta Drive) you’ll find Barnes and Noble.  There’s also a mall on the east side of the Trail just north of Barnes and Noble.  If you go south on 41 you’ll come to the Landings shopping center on the right and Phillippi Creek shops on the left.

If it’s just a small, annoying rain that’s keeping you off the beach, don your rain coats or umbrellas and shop around St. Armand’s Circle.  Better yet, hop in the car to drive to Anna Maria Island.  It’s a nice drive up the Key (start on Long Boat and drive north), stop at Holmes Beach for a little shopping and great ice cream, go across the bridge to Cortez and visit the Sea Hag on the left. It’s an awesome indoor-outdoor shop of nautical decor and nick-nacks. While in the area, have lunch at Star Fish.  It’s one of our favorites.  Go back over the bridge and head north to Anna Maria Island. There is a little shopping area that we love as well.  Stop in, have some fun, talk to the parrots caged at one of the stores.  If you missed StarFish and you’re hungry, eat at Beach House Restaurant or Rod and Reel.  On your way back to Siesta Key, just over the bridge to Longboat Key, turn left.  Drive back into the neighborhood and if your lucky, you’ll see the peacocks roaming the neighborhood.  I don’t know if they are still there but according the latest report I could find, they may. Unfortunately, they are a nuisance for the residents as they take over every free space to roam, nest and make noise.  But for the visitor, it’s cool to see.  Just be respectful driving slowly through the neighborhood; people live there.

Annoying little rains that keep you off of the beach are still great times to throw on that poncho, grab a little bag and go beach combing.  Since the water may be churned up from a storm, and people generally stay away from the surf at that time, you may be able to find some cool finds.  South on Casey Key, stop at the public beach and collect some sharks teeth.  They’re everywhere.

Take a Marina Jack cruise.

Our totally indoor museums are:

South Florida Museum in Bradenton has a museum, planetarium and aquarium.  They also host family nights and Friday matinees.

Classic Car Museum (www.sarasotacarmuseum.org) – We went their on a field trip with some other homeschoolers and had a blast.  The tour was excellent and thorough.  My boys (huge Beatles fans) loved seeing John Lennon’s Mercedes Roadster and Paul McCartney’s Mini Cooper.  I don’t know if those cars are still on exhibit. Call before you go, if you want to, but the museum is really worth visiting regardless.

Ringling Museum of Art and their circus museums (www.ringling.org) – we went with the grandparents.  The circus museum was incredible.  It took us several hours to get through the circus stuff, gardens and only part of the art museum.  We were set on the Grandma Moses exhibit which is all we saw so we’re planning a trip back.  I understand Monday afternoons are free.  If you’re a teacher, check out their educator’s page on the website for discounts.  I recommend the Ca d’Zan (the mansion), also.  My husband and I had an abbreviated tour of the building which is amazing.  He had worked for the Cincinnati Reds and we were blessed that they held one of their family/staff dinners at the mansion during Spring Training one year, when  so we got to go in.  We mostly enjoyed the back veranda.  What a view!  What a sunset!  Hope they choose their dinner there again this year.  Take an umbrella because on a rainy day you’ll get wet going from building to building.

The Reds have moved but the Orioles are in town now.  On a good day in March you can catch a game.  You can still go when it rains, unless the game is called. Check out the gift shop but call first to see if it is open.

The Suncoast Science Center is open to the public and you can pay for a day  pass to tinker scientifically.  Call for information: 941-840-4394

The Ringling College of Art and Design has an art gallery. It is located just north of town along Tamiami Trail.

MOTE Marine Laboratory and Aquarium (www.mote.org) – they have a lot of events going on so check out their website.

Need a great place to eat?  Our website, http://www.dixiedining.com, has a complete and up-to-date listing of great dining places we’ve tried.  It includes wonderful restaurants and bakeries in Sarasota.

I have since moved away (why???, job related) but on a recent vacation back to the area we encountered a few very rainy moments. We used this time to go thrifting. The Sarasota/Bradenton area is home to some of the finest Goodwill stores we have found in the South. It was a lot of fun rummaging through pre-owned stuff. All of the stores are a little different. If you only go to one, check out the large one located off Hwy 30 between Sarasota and Bradenton.

There are a ton of other things to do in Sarasota: shop on Main Street, check out the aquarium in the kids section at the Selby public library, visit the art galleries.  We also like the bakery and the bookstore.  There is a movie theatre there, too.  Look into the concert schedules at the Florida Studio Theatre (www.floridastudiotheatre.org), the Sarasota Symphony (www.sarasotaorchestra.org), Van Wezel (www.vanwezel.org) as there may be a daytime event.  During the fall/winter months there is always something going on at the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium, mostly on the weekends.  They host flea markets, stamp shows, coin shows, shell shows.  Here’s their link: http://www.egovlink.com/sarasota/events/calendar.asp?Category=605, but if it doesn’t work just Google “sarasota municipal auditorium”.

Here is the Sarasota calendar of events.

There’s still more I could list but this should keep you busy on a rainy day.  You could always just sit on your balcony and look out at the Gulf.

Mystery Bones

Last week we went to Boca Grande.  Cool place to visit.  We hung out on the beach just before you get to the Gasparilla Island State Park.  After a while we checked out the Park and the Boca Grande Lighthouse then ate lunch at The Loose Caboose.  The fish basket was tasty. 

On our way out we stopped again at the beach, at some little pull-off parking lot.  A storm was coming so we weren’t going to stay long.  I started beachcombing while the guys jumped in the water.  First I found a large and gorgeous snail shell.  Then, up on the sand, among dried-up sea weed, I found some really cool looking bones.  We Googled skeletons of all the sea creatures we could think of once we got home

and couldn’t find a match.  So today the boys and I went to MOTE, the aquarium in Sarastoa, and asked if anyone could identify the bones.  There must have been about 6 biologists that stopped by to take a look.  Apparently they really dig looking at creature bones.  Some said it could be the jaw of a large tarpon, another said it could be from a whale (since it’s pretty large).  I was referred to USF.  They have a museum and the paleontologists and archeologists might be able to identify the bones better than the biologists. 

It was a fun trip that kept us busy.  I’ll contact USF through email with some pictures tomorrow.  Meanwhile, we’re calling it our sea monster.