Posted on 12/25/2023

A Traveler's Guide to Longboat Key, FL

Longboat Key, a gem nestled between the Gulf of Mexico and Sarasota Bay, is more than just a destination; it's a serene escape into a world of natural beauty and uniquely Floridian charm. It's also just a short drive away along the Gulf of Mexico Drive from Anna Maria Island.

This barrier sister island to AMI strikes a perfect balance between peaceful beach life and upscale amenities. Whether you're here during a delightful stay at our Anna Maria Island properties or considering a tranquil retreat on Longboat Key, it promises an unforgettable experience.

This is your guide to Longboat Key!

Why Visit Longboat Key?

Photo Credit : Andy Deitsch

Longboat Key is renowned for its twelve miles of white sand beaches, coastal golfing, abundant watersports, and upscale dining.

The island's unique position provides easy access to Sarasota's cultural vibrancy and Bradenton's quaint charm, making it an ideal location for those who want the best of both worlds - in addition to the magic of AMI!

Top Things to Do in Longboat Key

No matter what your interest is, you'll have a hard time running out of things to do on Longboat Key. Here are some of our favorites!

Explore the Beaches

Photo Credit: Jim Schwabel

The twelve miles of serene beaches on Longboat Key are a huge part of it's "get away from it all appeal." In all, there are 11 different public access points.

Whitney Beach (also known as Broadway Beach), on the key's northern end, is great for nature photography enthusiasts and those wanting the ease of shopping and eateries nearby.

Catch a Ski Show

Photo Credit: Carsyn Rose Schares

If you're in Longboat Key and looking for some free entertainment, the Ski-A-Rees Water Ski Show in Sarasota Bay is worth checking out. The Ski-A-Rees is an organization that has been bringing excitement and fun to Sarasota Bay for nearly 60 years.

They offer free water ski shows every Sunday, showcasing impressive tricks, jumps, pyramids, ballet on skis, and more. It's a fantastic display of skill and entertainment, and you can enjoy watching it from Longboat Key.

Nature Trails and Kayaking

Photo Credit: Leb Selbst

For nature lovers, Longboat Key is a treasure trove of natural beauty. The  Quick Point Nature Preserve is a must-visit, offering peaceful walking trails that meander through diverse ecosystems. It's a fantastic spot for bird-watching and enjoying the untouched flora and fauna of the island.

Kayaking enthusiasts will find the bayous around Longboat Key captivating. Paddling through these calm waters, you'll get up close with the local marine life, including the graceful manatees, and discover the unique mangrove environments that make this area so special.

Cultural Excursions

Photo Credit: Mia2you

A short drive from Longboat Key, Sarasota awaits with its rich cultural tapestry. The  Ringling Museum is a standout attraction, showcasing an impressive collection of art, a historic mansion, and beautifully landscaped gardens.

Day Trip Shopping in Sarasota

Photo Credit: Andy Linss

For those who enjoy shopping and dining,  St. Armands Circle is a great option. With its quaint boutiques and diverse eateries, this charming area offers a taste of Sarasota's vibrant lifestyle. Sarasota provides a fulfilling cultural excursion if you're looking to indulge in fine dining, explore local art galleries, or shop for unique souvenirs.

Good Eats on Longboat Key

Longboat Key's dining scene is as diverse as it is delicious, offering a range of experiences from fine dining to casual seaside eateries. Whether you're in the mood for gourmet cuisine or a simple, hearty meal with a view, Longboat Key's restaurants cater to every palate. We've included some of our top picks below, but be sure to check out our comprehensive article covering all of the best restaurants on Longboat Key.

Maison Blanche

Photo Credit: Adam Ott

  • Cuisine: French-American fusion
  • Ambiance: Elegant and intimate, perfect for a special night out.

Maison Blanche is known for its innovative dishes crafted by skilled chefs, using fresh, high-quality ingredients. The restaurant's contemporary approach to classic French cuisine, combined with American flavors, creates a unique and unforgettable dining experience.

Lazy Lobster Longboat Key

Photo Credit: danny abbruzzese

  • Cuisine: Local seafood
  • Ambiance: Casual, fresh local eats.

If you're coming from an area without access to fresh seafood like Florida, you'll definitely want to check out Lazy Lobster, a beloved spot among locals. The menu highlights include the delectable Lobster Bisque, Lazy Lobster dish, and Lobster Scargot. Don't worry if you're not a lobster fan – they also offer enticing options like the 1/2 Rack of Ribs and Open-Faced Reuben Sandwiches.

Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant and Pub

Photo Credit: Nathan Miller

  • Cuisine: American classics
  • Ambiance: Casual with a stunning waterfront view.

Mar Vista is situated directly on the bay, providing diners with a scenic backdrop to their meal. The restaurant specializes in fresh, locally sourced seafood and offers a variety of dishes that capture the essence of Gulf Coast cuisine. The outdoor seating under ancient Buttonwood trees adds to its charm, making it an ideal spot for a leisurely lunch or dinner.

Practical Information

  • Getting There: Longboat Key is accessible via Gulf of Mexico Drive, a scenic route that connects the island to neighboring Lido Key and St. Armands Key.
  • Getting Around: While the island can be explored on foot or by bicycle, renting a car is recommended for more flexibility, especially if you plan to visit nearby areas like Sarasota or Anna Maria Island.
  • Weather: Longboat Key enjoys a subtropical climate, which means warm, sunny weather year-round. Summers are hot and humid, while winters are mild and dry.
  • When to Go: The best time to visit Longboat Key is during the spring (March to May) or fall (September to November), when the weather is pleasant and the island is less crowded. However, the beauty of Longboat Key can be appreciated at any time of the year. It all depends on your personal preferences and what you're looking for during your visit!\

Your Longboat Key Experience Awaits

We encourage you to discover the beauty and charm of Longboat Key for yourself. Whether it's your first visit or a return trip, this picture-perfect island will provide a backdrop for new adventures, peaceful moments, and joyous gatherings. So why not make Longboat Key your next vacation destination?

Pack your bags, set your sights on Florida's Gulf Coast, and prepare for a journey that will captivate your heart and rejuvenate your spirit at our Longboat Key vacation rentals. Longboat Key is waiting to welcome you to its shores, where every moment becomes a cherished memory.

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