Beginner’s Guide to Your Lido Key Vacation

Dreaming of white sandy beaches, tropical climate, and romantic sunsets? Look no further than Lido Key, one of the most exemplary places to experience the isolated beaches of Florida’s Gulf Coast. 

Lido Key is a borderline mystical little Florida vacation getaway- bold waterfront restaurants, clean walking paths along the water, sprawling beaches and year-round beautiful weather. Lido Key is the place to be, and you can make it your next well-earned vacation destination.

We cover all that makes Lido Key a magnificent place to visit, from the glorious weather to the many attractions in, near, and just off the key. This is your beginner’s guide to a Lido Key vacation. 

Layout of the Island

An overview of every major area of the key will give you the best understanding of what you can expect to see- and which attractions should top your list.

Ask most locals, and they see Lido Key as divided into three main areas. These are St. Armands Circle, Lido Key Park, and the north side, often referred to as Lido Shores.

St. Armand’s Circle

St Armands Circle is the core shopping district of Lido key and is considered the key’s most heavily-trafficked tourist area. Between award-winning restaurants, local-centric boutiques, and an eclectic array of travel-specific service providers, St. Armands Circle is a mini paradise for shoppers and adventure-seekers. Some of its many (many!) shops include beauty and Wellness, Alicia’s Dream, Apricot lane Boutique, Cariloha Bamboo, Brighton, Hartley, and Ivory Coast. It also includes many of the key’s top seafood eateries, including Daiquiri Deck and Tommy Bahama. 

Be sure to explore numerous family-friendly things to do at St. Armands Travel or Key Culinary Tours. Spend some time exploring the circle galleries and be sure to review the list of special events for the year. You can find musical showcases in the circle, Power of Pink campaigns for breast cancer, end of summer sales, various artist meet-and-greets, and more. 

There’s a lot to digest when visiting. But it is absolutely worth adding to your to-do list and setting aside at least a whole day to explore its many delightful shops, boutiques, galleries, and eateries. We suggest utilizing the parking garage on N. Adams Drive across the street from St. Armands Key Lutheran Church. It costs .50 cents an hour. You can park around the circle north of Madison Drive on North Boulevard of the Presidents for free. Metered street parking is monitored from Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

Lido Key Park

If you want to take a break from the shops, we can’t recommend Lido key County Park enough. It’s a dazzling park with pretty bayou to traverse and easy access to the beach. A picnic area on site is a fantastic place to lounge out and the swimming area is clearly labeled, shallow, and safe. You can even bring out some food to cook for the afternoon on one of the grills. 

Rental providers are available if you want to grab a kayak or paddleboard for the afternoon. You can enter the bayou and cruise around or stay ashore and admire the views of the nearby Big Pass, the half mile wide inlet passage connecting the intercostal waterway to the Gulf of Mexico. 

Finally, perhaps no spot on the whole of Lido key is better for seeing the sunrise. Pack up early for the morning to catch the famous gulf morning. Lido Key Park is located at 2201 Benjamin Franklin Dr, Sarasota, FL 34236. It is officially open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day.  Overall, it is modestly maintained but still quite rustic and quiet. Use the park as a lovely escape from the crowds. 

Northside

For the most part, Lido Shores, known colloquially as the north side, has few places for high-quality shopping and natural relaxation. Sure, Lido Key Park and South lido Key Beach are the best places to see the sprawling sands, and St. Armands is unrivaled for its shopping. But the north side has some wonderful attractions and should not be missed by the ambitious visitor. 

Perhaps its most iconic attraction is the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, a must-see for families. The aquarium is led by local environmentalists and marine biologists. With a specific focus on local science and improving the gulf, the aquarium is an assured experience for animal and marine lovers of all ages. You can see over 100 species of marine animals within a variety of ambitious exhibits, like the 135,000-gallon shark tank, the crocodile pit, and the manatee and sea turtle pools.

We also suggest checking out the often-overlooked Wild Bird Learning center and Living Museum overseen by Save the Birds Inc. This bird sanctuary is an absolute delight, with parrots and various shorebirds strolling along on the open “Birdwalk.” It is home to about 120 birds. You can get ½ admission with your MOTE Marine Laboratory and Aquarium ticket. 

While St. Armands is the key’s shopping and dining capital, the north side is home to some top-tier Lido key restaurants. Our personal favorite is the fun and funky Old Salty Dog. And afterwards, you can take a water tour with Sarasota Bay Travelers, right across the street. 

There are, of course, many smaller places to see within these three main areas. For example, we highly recommend visiting the Ringling Bridge Causeway Park just west of St Armands Circle. It sits at the eastern side of the Ringling Bridge. We also suggest taking a brief journey through Bird Key, located just east of Lido Key. While it is mostly a residential community, it hosts beautiful views and is home to the Bird Key Yacht Club. 

Weather

What is the weather like on Lido key throughout the island? The Lido Key weather is magnificent, keeping every month on the list for a great time to visit. 

As a general rule, Florida during the summer is hot. Fortunately, you can (at least partly) escape the Florida heat during the summer, and that is by heading towards the gulf or the ocean. Fortunately, you get that glorious gulf breeze over the key during the hottest months. So while it may get in the low 90’s during the summer months of June, July, and August, the breeze tends to make it feel a bit cooler. The hottest month for Lido Key, statistically, is August, where 92 daily averages are expected and evenings carry down to a beautiful 75 degrees. 

While the weather is generally very tame and wonderful, there is still an ideal time to visit. Many Lido Key locals say that the best time to travel is starting in late October and into late April. This is when the cool weather settles over the whole area and precipitation is at its lowest. The peak of the low precipitation is in December, November, and into January.

Humidity is also something to consider. The reality is that Lido Key can be very humid. It is usually most humid during August and September, while it is least humid in February and March.

Overall, the temperatures rarely venture outside 60 degrees to 85 degrees. The average mean temperature during January is 61 degrees. Jump to March and it is 66.7. Jump once again to the heart of the summer in June and it is still a very reasonable 81 degrees. Things cool down moderately in October with an average temperature of 76 degrees. The key weather is simply wonderful. You rarely can see it spike unbearably hot and you rarely see it dip to consistent and crisp cool weather. 

Lido Key Rentals

We love to share all that Lido Key has to offer, from the family-friendly attractions to the intimate excursions over the water. It is a mini-paradise all year round, and we would love to have you.

Things To Do

Lido Key offers a wide variety of attractions – even the pickiest member of the family won’t want to miss out! The beaches are naturally Lido Key’s most notable attraction. Take a few days to unwind, soaking in the sun and enjoying the tranquility of the ocean without the stress of large crowds. 

If the beach is not enough to keep you occupied, Lido Key is also known for its sunset cruises and eco-tours. Dolphin watching and deep-sea fishing are popular activities that will be sure to delight the kids. Ted Sperling Park at South Lido Beach is a renowned kayaking destination. Strong currents make it a no-swim zone, but kayaking tours travel through the calm, shallow waters of mangrove forests, an enchanting ride that is completely safe. 

lido key kayaking mangrove tunnels

Wildlife and birdwatching tours, hiking trails, picnic facilities, and bicycle trails are available at Ken Thompson Park, located on City Island just adjacent to Lido Key. The park is situated on 92 acres of land, giving any vacationer plenty of opportunities to explore. Nearby, Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium provides close encounters will a host of marine wildlife you might not encounter in the wild. 

If you hope to stay a little closer to civilization, St. Armand’s Circle, the cultural center of Lido Key, provides plenty of options for fine dining and shopping. Sample local cuisine or a variety of international options, from French baked goods to Mediterranean meals. St. Armand’s Circle is also the perfect place to find go window shopping or find a souvenir. You’ll find plenty of popular chain stores and local boutiques to meet all your shopping needs. 

St. Armand’s is also home to the Circus Ring of Fame, which commemorates history’s most notable circus performers. While strolling the circle, you’ll encounter the famed statue walk, which is filled with many Greek and Roman-style art. Why not take advantage of the local décor for a photo op with the family?

Getting Around

lido key sarasota florida

Lido Key is located just one hour south of Tampa, two hours north of Fort Myers, and two and a half hours southwest of Orlando. Four international and municipal airports are located within an hour and a half’s driving distance, the closest being Sarasota International Airport, which is only 15 minutes away. 

biking the sarasota bay bridge

John Ringling Causeway, a 3,100 ft. bridge that provides spectacular gulf views, connects Lido Key to the mainland, joining St. Armand’s Circle to downtown Sarasota. Just south of Lido Key is Siesta Key, renowned worldwide for its gorgeous – although more crowded – Siesta Beach. 

All major attractions are within easy driving distance: downtown Sarasota to St. Armand’s Circle is only four miles, and from there, Lido Key’s southernmost beach is another two. Follow North Boulevard of the Presidents from St. Armand’s Circle, and it will take you to City Island’s park and aquarium. There are plenty of things to do right in all of these top local areas.

Where to Stay

Lido Key Vacations provides vacation rentals to meet all your needs. Whether you are looking for a townhouse or condo, a rental with a view, or a space that caters to pets, you are sure to find what you’re looking for.

Rentals include parking, WiFi, pools, covered patio, entertaining area, and more. All properties are located within easy walking or biking distance from the beach and the many St. Armand’s Circle restaurants.

When to Visit

We adore Lido Key. But when should you definitely visit? While the great weather may encourage you to visit any time during the year, you may want to avoid crowds. There is a rather distinct busy and slow season for Lido Key.

As a rule, the busy season for Lido Key runs from November to March, and for obvious reasons. The cool weather draws visitors from up north, while the holiday crowds come and visit while they are all off school and work. This makes it a great time to come for the weather, but may draw crowds.

The slow season typically begins around May and continues to early September. The summer heat and humidity keep many visitors at bay, but Lido Key is a very popular destination all times of the year!

Contact us for more info about Lido Key vacation homes for rent. 

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Lido Key Vacations
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