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Sarasota: Lido Beach

Shelling at Lido Beach in Sarasota, FLDotted with piles of seashells of all shapes and sizes and endless stretches of white sand, Lido Key is nothing if not a prime example of the quintessential Florida beach. 

As much as Siesta Key called me on my current trip to Sarasota, the novelty of exploring Lido Beach called me more. And sure enough my sense of adventure led me to some unexpected but exciting discoveries – blankets of seashells covering the beach and Florida's world-renowned sunsets.

After enjoying the walk around St. Armand’s Circle, we dashed to the nearest public beach to catch the warmth and views of the setting sun.    

Sunset at Lido Beach in Sarasota


Lido Key

Lido Key is a barrier island that’s located about 10 miles north of its more famous neighbor - Siesta Key, with a 1.5-mile stretch of pristine beaches. There are three beaches on Lido Key: North Lido Beach, Lido Public Beach, and South Lido Park Beach.

  • North Lido Beach’s location is everything. It’s about a 10 minute walk from St. Armand’s Circle. This beach is a little quieter and more secluded than the others. Perfect for some serene moments among the sand dunes and mounds of rare, fragile shells.
  • Lido Beach is a public beach with plenty of free parking and amenities, like restrooms, gift shops, outdoor showers, and concession stands. This area is perfect for families and people who don’t mind the crowds. It’s also within a walking distance from St. Armands Circle.
  • South Lido is where you find the best of the two worlds — a beach paradise and a park. You will have shaded picnic tables, barbecue grills, a kid’s playground, a canoe trail, volleyball, nature trails, and free parking.

All in all, you can't go wrong with either one.  


How to Get to Lido Beach

Lido Beach is just one hour away from Tampa and a short drive from Sarasota.

Traveling over the John Ringling Bridge takes you to St. Armands Circle, an upscale shopping area, from where you can walk about a quarter-mile to the North Lido Beach.

If you keep going down Ben Franklin Drive, you will hit Lido Public Beach and then, eventually, South Lido Park with beach entrances at several points along the way. 


Lido Public Beach

We came for the beach, but stayed for the shells. It would not be a stretch to call Lido Beach a shell hunter's paradise. The sheer number of rare, unbroken sea shells along the shore is the best kept secret of Lido Key. 

Shells at Lido Beach, Sarasota

To protect the Lido shoreline from erosion and storms, the City of Sarasota started the beach nourishment project in 2020. White sand from Big Pass was dredged and then dumped onto Lido Key, extending the beach width for about 300 feet.

Shells began to mount too. Visitors and locals alike flock to the Lido shores in search of some unique gifts from the sea. Supreme opportunities to find rare treasures, like Junonia shells, await you on a totally replanished beach. 

Piles after piles of conch shells,  huge olives, lightning whelks, shark eyes, house conch shells, scallops, nutmeg shells, tulip shells, and many others cover a 1.5-mile shoreline. 

Shelling at Lido Beach in Sarasota

These days, Lido Key attracts shell hunters as much as Sanibel, Captiva, or Fort Mayers beaches. 

The sunset on Lido Key beach has been heralded as one of the best in Florida. The big crowds gather for the breathtaking scenes over the water. 

The refreshing breeze, soothing waves, and the horizon, saturated in colors, make this time the most amazing at the beach.  

These are the moments of descending peace and calm that I need often the most without realizing it.

Beach Access at Lido Beach in Sarasota


And when our sun-filled day came to an end, we left the beach salty, sandy, and ready for the most delicious good night's sleep. 

Be sure to check out the 7 Best Things to Do in Venice, Florida, which includes many free and family-friendly activities.

Lido Key, Sarasota


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