Fun and Affordable Siesta Key Activities

family walking on beach at sunset

Siesta Key, known for its beautiful white-sand beaches and clear turquoise water, is a dream destination for everyone from snowbirds to spring breakers. And, while most spend their days happily relaxing in the sun and swimming in the calm Gulf waters, if you’re planning a visit, you may be wondering about things to do other than lounging on the beach, especially if you’re traveling with kids or need to find fun and affordable activities. From museums and aquariums to local markets, state parks, and more, we’re giving you the scoop on all the fun and free (or nearly free) activities you can look forward to on your Siesta Key vacation. Check them out below and add a few to your itinerary on your next visit. 

Fun and Education Activities for the Whole Family

little boy at aquarium

Free Monday at The Ringling Museum – Started nearly a century ago by circus phenom. John Ringling and his wife, Mable, The Ringling has grown into one of the most exceptional museums in Florida. Home to one of the most famed art and cultural collections in the United States, a visit to this beloved museum guarantees an enriching experience for all. From wandering the grounds of the sprawling estate to experiencing the original 21 galleries firsthand, you’ll be immersed in stunning art that spans from the medieval period to the 19th century. Taking advantage of Free Monday grants you entrance to The Museum of Art, Bayfront Gardens, and the Glass Pavilion, so be sure to take advantage of this outing on your Siesta Key vacation.

Ocean Education at Mote Marine Laboratory & AquariumThe Mote offers both up-close and even hands-on encounters with marine life, granting you an opportunity to learn all about the animals you could encounter on your Siesta Key vacation. Plan a visit to this Sarasota gem and experience their live shark feedings or touch a stingray at their shallows exhibit. After checking out the exhibits, visit Fossil Creek and search for shark teeth to keep as a souvenir of your visit. While not a completely free activity, children 0-2 years do get in free of charge, and ages 3-12 are discounted. The aquarium also does half-off weekends in September for Florida residents, and veterans and their military dependents receive free admission on Veteran’s Day each year.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens – At this Sarasota treasure, children ages four and under get in free, while ages 5-17 get steeply discounted tickets, making this an affordable activity to enjoy on your beach vacation. From photography and artistic exhibits to the Ann Goldstein Children’s Rainforest Garden, replete with waterfalls, winding trails, and swinging bridges, you can spend a day here full of affordable and educational outdoor fun. If you’re a visiting snowbird in Siesta Key in February, be sure to check out icon Patti Smith as she returns for a second date as the Artist in Residence for a series of readings and live performances!

Free Things to Do Other than the Beach

boardwalk through mangrove forest

Walking in Wonder Guided Tour – If you’re an early enough riser, consider making the short trip from Siesta Key to the The Bay Park on a Saturday morning for a free guided nature hike! Explore mangrove forests and native wildlife as you wander across the suspended bridge in the “nest” area. Other free activities at The Bay Park include guided kayak tours, movie nights under the stars, live sports matches, and Sunday concerts. Be sure to check their events calendar during your Siesta Key vacation. 

Catch a Free Scenic Ride – Hop aboard the Siesta Breeze Trolley or the Bay Runner Trolley for an open-air ride that takes you past popular stops like Bayfront Park, Lido Beach, Siesta Village, and Turtle Beach Park. Enjoy this stress-free means of sightseeing and take advantage of the hop-on/hop-off convenience that lets you explore the area without the hassle of traffic or parking.

Support Local in Siesta Key – The Siesta Key Farmer’s Market, held every Sunday from 9 am – 2 pm, is a great way to spend some “free” time on your vacation. From locally grown produce to handmade goods, you can peruse the vendor’s booths, try free samples, and enjoy taking in this slice of local life. You’ll only spend money if you find something you can’t live without… which is definitely a possibility with the awesome items you’ll see.  

Book Your Siesta Key Getaway Today

balcony view of the Gulf in a vacation rental

From educational activities and family fun to sightseeing and discovering local gems, it’s easy to enjoy some fun and affordable activities in Siesta Key. No matter the time of year you visit, we hope this list helps you add some excitement to your trip.

But before you start planning the activities, you have to find the perfect vacation rental, and at House of the Sun, we have everything you need to enjoy a picture-perfect beach vacation. Browse our vacation rentals and choose from Gulf Front, Gulf Side, or Gulf View condos. With easy beach access and on-site amenities like a private pool, tennis court, sundeck, and BBQ area, you’ll have everything you need to make the most of your Siesta Key getaway. Check out our available rentals and book directly with House of the Sun for the best price and service in the area. We hope to see you on the beach soon!