Our third and final day in Sarasota was spent soaking in as much time at the beach as possible.
Our condo was amazing because it allowed us to walk to the beach in less than 2 minutes. We just headed down the elevator. Walked down the path you see above and boom, there was the beach.
The sand is 99% pure quartz, making it cool all year along. It originated in the Appalachians millions of years ago, and then flew down the mountains’ rivers into the Gulf of Mexico and eventually onto the Siesta Key shore.
Even though there were tons of people walking around, we never felt crowded because the beach is really wide and fairly long (it’s over 101 acres).
Once we got our beach fill in, we headed into the downtown area of Siesta Key, about a mile north of the condo. The Siesta Key Village is completely walkable with access to tons of restaurants and shopping, and even a few public beach spots.
These few blocks brought back lots of memories of Key West for me. The atmosphere was cool and casual, with open air restaurants and bars featuring live music on every corner. The hardest part was finding parking (most people tend to bike into the village).
We managed to find a spot right in front of the Old Salty Dog Restaurant so we figured that would be as good a place as any to eat (we found out later that the parking spots in front of the Salty Dog are all public parking so you don’t have to eat there if you use one of the spots).
Like most of the other restaurants in the village, the Salty Dog had an outside porch open for lunch. As a northerner, I was relishing the opportunity to eat outside in March. The warm weather just makes me happy.
We started the meal off with a coconut shrimp basket. I’ve always loved the sweet crunch of fried coconut.
For my main dish, I picked the black bean veggie burger. My expectations were pretty low (most veggie burgers in restaurants are fairly bland), but this burger was one of the best I’ve had. It had a great kick from the chili powder and reminded me of the delicious ones I make at home.
Mr. A has turned into someone who cannot turn down a peanut butter dessert (I think he doesn’t want to let me down) so we ended up sharing a peanut butter pie slice as well. Not going to lie. It was pretty awesome.
Since we stuffed ourselves to the brim, I suggested that we walk around the village to try to burn off some of those calories.
We ended up meandering down a road that led to public beach access on northern most point of Siesta Key Beach, including this old abandoned pier.
Turns out that end is just as beautiful as the one by our condo. I’m officially obsessed with this beach.
Once we finished up in the village, it was time to get ready for our last O’s Spring Training game. This time the game was being hosted by the Pirates at the McKechine Field in Bradenton (30 minutes north of Siesta Key).
We got there early hoping to catch some more warmups like we did at the Os stadium. It was a major failure. The Pirates stadium has separate facilities that hold warmups (outside of the stadium) so you can’t really see anyone practicing.
We ended up just walking around the stadium and taking lots of pictures.
Clearly, Mr. A was thrilled.
The coolest part of the stadium was the boardwalk in the outfield. You could walk the entire distance of the outfield and check the game out from any angle.
The rest of the stadium was pretty lackluster though—no big screen, no fun pitching stats, no real fan interaction, and quite possibly the most uncomfortable metal seats with which I’ve ever tortured my behind. Perhaps, we were a little spoiled by the O’s fantastic digs or maybe it was the cold weather, but I left McKechine field pretty unimpressed (sorry, Pirates fans).
Even though the stadium was less than stellar, we still had fun cheering on our O’s. It was the last O’s game we were going to get to see so we had to make it count–because the next day, we were headed off to surprise location number two and Mr. A had no idea what was coming.