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There are just those days when all you want to do is have a drink with some friends, eat some fresh fish, and watch the sun sink into the ocean while a steel drum band taps out a friendly rhythm. Thankfully, you don’t need to go to Kokomo or even Key West to get away from it all. Nestled on the southern edge of Island Park just a stone’s throw from Marina Jack, O’Leary’s Bar & Grille is Sarasota’s local tiki-hut ticket to paradise, a favorite haunt of residents and visitors alike.

This review from says it all:

Nestled near the fascination of Sarasota’s downtown skyline, exists another world inside Island Park. Children leaping through fountains shaped like turtles and sea animals. Reminiscent of Central Park, couples stroll and have picnics laying out large romantic blankets for lunch. Views of the Marina, sounds of acoustic and steel drums bring you to the entrance of O’Learys, come on deck. The scintillating view of the Sarasota Bayfront makes me feel like I am on horseback in Jamaica. Throw on your flip flops and come to a place that emits sparks.

For those who live in Laurel Park, the short walk or bike ride (a bike rack is provided on the west side of the restaurant) to O’Leary’s is a fine way to kick off an evening. Especially now in the late summer heat, when the evening breeze off the water goes awfully well with a cold margarita.

Open until 10 pm on Friday and Saturdays and 9pm Sunday-Thursday, O’Leary’s is located at 5 Bayfront Drive in Sarasota, (941) 953-7505.