SARASOTA - If your idea of relaxation is sunning and shopping, Lido Beach is the destination.
A trio of beaches - North Lido, Lido and South Lido Park - are located one quarter mile from St. Armand's Circle, an outdoor shopping and restaurant district.
Parking is plentiful and free (which leaves more money to shop).
Spaces are available along the north beach and a spacious parking lot is near the concession stand.
If shopping is on your itinerary, you can park around St. Armand's Circle and walk to the beach.
Privacy is the main attraction here. The beach is not overrun with restaurants and high-rise hotels and condos. Small motels line the beach, even the Holiday Inn has only six floors.
A walk to St. Armand's Circle is your best bet to grab a bite to eat. The outdoor dining at the Columbia restaurant is ideal for people-watching.
The sand here is somewhat coarse compared to other local beaches. Amenities include a concession stand and small gift shop. Cabana and jet ski rentals are available and Sarasota County life guards are on watch daily.
Scared of swimming with the sting rays? A small public swimming pool is located right on the beach. It's open Tuesday through Sunday and a lifeguard is on duty. The prices are reasonable too. Adults - $1.72, seniors and kids - $1.18, kids under 5 are free.
Traffic is light on Ben Franklin Drive. So if you're an exercise enthusiast, bring your bicycle or running shoes.
Hiking - Florida style - is also an alternative. Gulf Coast Heritage Park is located at the southern tip of Lido Key. A nature trail includes scenic boardwalks and a shaded picnic area is a great spot to escape the sun for a midday lunch break.
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