Siesta Key, Florida

Best Places to Retire in Florida


Siesta Key is a barrier island on Floridaís Gulf Coast, about 55 miles south of Tampa. The island is eight miles long and is connected to the city of Sarasota by two bridges that pass over the Intracoastal Waterway.  The north bridge takes you into the cityís business and arts districts. The south bridge takes you into Sarasota County and offers a direct route to I-75, the major north-south expressway.

Siesta Keyís beaches, which extend the length of the island, were judged to be ìthe Worldís Finest and Whitest.î They consist of nearly pure quartz, which is pulverized to a fine white powder.  There are about 12,000 year-round residents and another 12,000 come for the winter months.  It is also a very popular tourist destination.

There are two main shopping districts on Siesta Key, each with a wide variety of shops. Siesta Key Village is on the northwest side, close to the Gulf, and the Siesta South shopping area begins at the south bridge (Stickney Point Bridge).  From November until September the Siesta Key Trolley runs the length of the island.  There is also public transportation into Sarasota.

The island is still remote enough to offer a small town lifestyle and a feeling of old Florida, with its lush foliage, large trees and tropical shrubs. There are wild sea oats and mangroves that provide a habitat for the native birds, and just off its shores there are dolphins, manatees and many other forms of aquatic life. Minutes away, Sarasota offers outstanding theater, ballet, opera, symphony concerts, festivals, special one-time concerts, museums, and more.  There is also fine dining, world-class shopping and about 30 galleries in the area.

While there are no hospitals on the island, Sarasota has two primary care hospitals.

Arts & Culture

Sarasota County Arts Council offers a preview of some of the many leading arts and cultural organizations.

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is the largest museum/university complex in the nation. Donated to the state at the time of the Great Depression, the Museum, which includes 21 galleries of internationally recognized European and American art, is considered the most significant cultural asset of the state. The 66-acre complex also features Ringlingís Circus Museum and his restored winter mansion on the waterfront.

The Asolo Theatre Company performs primarily in the 500 seat Harold E. and Esther M. Mertz Theatre (Asolo Theatre) which was originally built as an opera house in Scotland. Performances are November through June.

Florida Studio Theatre offers contemporary theater at its Mainstage or The Cabaret which offers fine dining with theater entertainment. It also hosts Sarasota Festival of New Plays each May.

The Sarasota Orchestra (formerly The Florida West Coast Symphony) performs more than 100 concerts a year, including Masterworks concerts, Family, Children, and a variety of Pops concerts. Four ensembles also perform in the area.

La Musica International Chamber Music Festival joins outstanding musicians from Europe and America to perform each April at Sarasota Opera House.

The acclaimed Sarasota Ballet of Florida performs from September through April.

The Sarasota Film Festival showcases independent and international features, shorts and documentaries.

Sarasota Opera Company presents concerts year-round and is home to a fine youth opera program.

Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, renowned for its acoustics, was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Since opening in 1970, it has featured  Pavarotti, Leonard Bernstein, Bob Dylan, Cary Grant, The Boston Pops, Willie Nelson, The Chicago Symphony, The Temptations, and many others.

Marie Selby Gardens Botanical Gardens was recently named one of America’s Top Ten Botanical Gardens.

Mote Marine Laboratory is one of the top three visitor attractions in the area. It also runs an extensive number of educational programs. 


Beach activities and water sports are at the top of the list on the island.  There is shelling, kayaking, snorkeling, sailboarding and more.  For boaters, there are nearly 50 miles of canals, waterways, and bays, and easy access to the Gulf of Mexico. There is on-shore and offshore fishing throughout the year, and others enjoy bicycling, or rollerblading through the quaint village.

Sarasota County offers 27 golf courses, over 150 parks and recreational sites, 35 miles of beaches, and unique environmental resources.  It has just about everything!

Nearby Myakka River State Park is one of Florida’s oldest and largest state parks with 45 square miles of wetlands, prairies, hammocks and pinelands. The river and its two shallow lakes offer excellent birding, canoeing, fishing and wildlife observation.  A seven-mile scenic drive winds through shady oak-palm hammocks and along the shore of Upper Myakka Lake.  Over 39 miles of hiking and biking trails and miles of dirt roads provide access to the remote interior.

Sarasota’s 7,500 seat Ed Smith Stadium is the spring training home of the Cincinnati Reds. It is also the home of the Sarasota Red Sox team.


The University of South Florida Sarasota/Manatee campus serves 2,500 students and offers 29 accredited degree programs and courses in 40 degree programs.

Ringling School of Art and Design enrolls both full- and part-time students who intend to become professionals in the visual programs leading to a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. It also offers courses, lectures, exhibitions and other art-related services to the local community, including continuing education. 

New College is a highly competitive liberal arts college with 650 students and 60 full time faculty offering over 30 arts and science disciplines.

Eckerd College, a private liberal arts college located in St. Petersburg, Florida, has a satellite location in Sarasota.

Argosy University/Sarasota, (formerly University of Sarasota) offers programs delivered through distance learning.

Senior Programs

Sarasota County offers a wide variety of programs for adults including volleyball, bicycling, softball, croquet, horseshoes, archery, track, lawn bowling, and trap and skeet.  There is also an extensive library system that offers programs and lectures, and Venice Public Library offers classic and contemporary films weekly from September through May.

The Sarasota County Aging Network (SCAN)  (a networking organization of profit and not-for-profit health, human services and social services organizations and others) offers a very good resource for information on services for older adults in Sarasota County. The SCAN Directory, published annually, is now available online.

Doctorís Hospital offers a local chapter of Senior Friends — a national not-for-profit organization created to provide benefits for its members.  Benefits include such things as a free daily newspaper, complimentary meal plan for a spouse of caregiver during your stay at the hospital, discounts from local and national businesses, and much more.

The Senior Academy of the University of South Florida Sarasota/Manatee offers a teaching/learning experience with opportunities to Senior Academy members for a “return to their college days.” Members can use the University Library, lunch at the Student Union, purchase books and software at the Campus Bookstore at student discount prices, select fields of study, and to become “professors” if they wish to lead a study group.


Doctorís Hospital of Sarasota is a private, 168-bed hospital that provides a full range of medical services including a 24-hour emergency department, cardiac care unit, an ALS clinic, outpatient surgery, and many others.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital is the second largest public hospital in Florida, with a staff of 685 physicians and 845 licensed beds.  It is among the top hospitals in the U. S. based on the number of open-heart surgeries performed annually.


Sarasota Bradenton International Airport –
Tampa International Airport, located 55 miles north of Sarasota, is served by most major airlines –


The average temperatures in January are a high of 72 degrees and low of 51. July averages a high of 92 degrees and a low of 75.  The average relative humidity is a high of 83% and low of 58%.  Prevailing winds are from the east, which is offshore.


Herald Tribune –

Property Taxes

State Taxes

Chamber of Commerce

State Aging Agency


Bradenton – 19 miles
Venice – 16 miles
Ft. Myers – 73 miles
Tampa – 68 miles
Orlando – 139 miles

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