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Five Spots: Siesta Key and Gulf Gate

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sb cottage

Cottage on the Key on Siesta Key / HERALD-TRIBUNE ARCHIVES

Regularly rated among the top 10 beaches in the country, Siesta Key is an 8-mile stretch of powdery white sand with plenty of superb restaurants and sizzling nightspots, with even more fun places across the bridge in Gulf Gate.

EAT: Vizen
6559 Gateway Ave., Sarasota; 926-0830; vizen-sarasota.com
Few local sushi spots stretch their culinary muscles, but Vizen chef/owner "Matsu" Matsunae fills a chalkboard with daily creations made from some of the best seafood around, from tender, barely smoked scallops to hand rolls tinged with international ingredients rarely seen paired with sushi. Though the food is exciting, Vizen’s atmosphere is calm and elegant, and the service is impeccable. – Brian Ries

DRINK: Cottage on the Key
153 Avenida Messina, Siesta Key; 312-9300; cottagesiestakey.com
Nestled behind The Hub and hidden from the bustle of Ocean Boulevard, The Cottage is one of the best-kept secrets in Siesta Village. Perhaps not as clandestine as when it opened a few years ago,it's still an excellent spot for adventurous tropical drinks such as the Watermelon Jalapeno Margarita, $2 draft beers during an extended happy hour as well as first-rate food like short rib sandwiches and tuna tartar tacos. For extra intimacy, escape to the foliage-filled, fenced-in back patio. – Wade Tatangelo

SHOP: Beach Bazaar
5211 Ocean Blvd., Siesta Key; 346-2995; beach-bazaar.com
Sure, you can pick up an amazing bikini, a new beach blanket or a skimboard at the Beach Bazaar, but this Siesta Village institution is known for its amazing array of souvenirs, tchotchkes and unique gifts. From plastic alligators to painting of hula scenes, backscratchers to “kokonut” candles, it’s an ideal spot to find something for the person who has everything. – Brian Ries

PLAY: Siesta Paddle Sports
6639 Midnight Pass Road, Siesta Key; 404-4624;
Outdoor recreation in Florida does go beyond sunbathing, with places like Siesta Paddle Sports offering kayak rentals and kayak tours that allow you to discover more than 100 acres of protected inner-coastal waters. Feeling like standing tall in the Gulf of Mexico? This company's paddleboard rentals include an intro lesson and deliver to your location – free of extra charge – to Siesta Key, Sarasota, Lido Key and Longboat Key. – Wade Tatangelo

STAY: Siesta Beach Resort & Suites
5311 Ocean Blvd, Sarasota; 349-3211; siestakeyflorida.com
Reasonably priced, right on action-packed Ocean Boulevard and a few steps from the beach, this former Best Western is tops for anyone on a budget. In addition to an excellent location, Siesta Beach Resort is cozy with an Old Florida feel with options for fun stuff like an in-room Jacuzzi. – Wade Tatangelo

Last modified: February 19, 2014
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