Day Trip to Sarasota Part II: Farmer's Market and Siesta Key
Bushnell, FL - Events of Saturday, February 9, 2013
As we said in our last post, we usually don't go out sightseeing on weekends, but we did this time because we wanted to go to the farmer's market that is held on Saturdays in the historic section of downtown Sarasota. We headed downtown to the market after our breakfast buffet at Der Dutchman.
Sarasota has free, on-street parking, but spaces were in short supply in the vicinity of the market. We drove around a bit and finally found a spot only about a block and a half away.
The main street for a distance of about three blocks and two cross streets for a distance of a block in each direction are closed off, and the streets are lined on both sides with vendors. When we got to the market itself, we found it to be very crowded. The streets were full of people, and some places were shoulder to shoulder. No wonder it was hard to park!
There wasn't a lot of produce, but much of the produce that was there was organic and expensive. There were quite a few vendors selling food like artisan breads, pasta, and local honey. There were also things like hand-made soaps and some crafts. One enterprising vendor had converted a double-decker bus to a coffee house with serving windows on the bottom level and seating on the upper deck.
There were also several vendors with live plants and one with gorgeous cut flowers. There were bunches of flowers you could buy and arrange yourself and also beautiful arrangements for sale like the one in the next photo.
Siesta John, shown below, was one of several entertainers at the market. Siesta John played keyboard and guitar and was singing Jimmy Buffet songs.
We were looking for a couple of tomatoes for our sandwiches and for some burgers we are planning to grill in the near future, but the only beefsteaks we saw weren't that nice so we didn't buy anything, especially with the premium prices.
The barrier islands in this area of the Gulf Coast have some of the nicest beaches you'll find anywhere in Florida, and the one at nearby Siesta Key is supposed to be one of the best of the best. Since Siesta Key is only a hop, skip and a jump from downtown Sarasota, we headed to Siesta Key after the market. As we crossed the bridge over Sarasota Bay to Siesta Key, we could see downtown Sarasota to the north.
Once we crossed the bridge and headed south down Siesta Key, traffic got very heavy. Not only was the weather gorgeous (not a cloud in the sky and temperatures in the upper 70s) and not only was it a Saturday, but there was also a craft show along the main road over on the island. As we inched our way past the craft show, we decided traffic was way too heavy to stop. Once we got past the craft show, traffic was still heavy, but at least it was moving.
Anxious to see the famous Siesta Key beaches, we tried parking at a couple of the small parking areas that lie between the condos where there is public beach access. Unfortunately, all the lots we tried were full on such a beautiful Saturday. Then we came to the main public beach area where there were two huge parking lots. Even though there were people coming and going (mostly coming), we never were in the right place at the right time to get a parking spot. It seemed like the car backing out of a parking space was always on the next row over. Margery ended up circling the parking lot while Paul ran down to the beach to snap a couple of photos
When Paul got over the dune, he was amazed at how wide the beach was. It looked to be at least 200 yards to the water.
The sand was so fine and white it looked like sugar. However, the sand was well packed and was surprisingly easy to walk on for as fine as it was.
With two huge parking lots that were both full, it was no surprise there were LOTS of people on the beach; but since the beach is so wide there was still plenty of room to plop down your beach towel or chair.
After a long walk, Paul finally got to the edge of the water. For as many people as there were on the beach, hardly anyone was in swimming. Paul overheard someone say the water temperature was 67º so it was no wonder.
Paul got back to the parking lot just in time to catch Margery as she came around the parking lot for only the second time. As we said, the parking lot was very big, and Margery took her time.
We went across a different bridge to the mainland to avoid going back through the area of the craft show. Traffic coming across that bridge in the opposite direction onto Siesta Key was even heavier than the traffic we sat through earlier.
We made our way back to the motor home and settled in for an evening of TV. It was an enjoyably day, and it was fun to finally get out to do some sightseeing; but we have to say we did miss Freeway whom we left at home because it was too hot. Stay tuned to see what we find to do next.