Longboat Key is just to the South of Anna Maria Island connected by a drawbridge. The picturesque scenary features white beaches, the evergrowing beer can island and Jewfish Key with its shallows that is popular for anchoring.
Well known for outstanding beaches, where sunsets are marvelous, the Gulf of Mexico provides warm tropical breezes, the water is warm, and the superb sand invites lounging, walking, fishing or playing.
There are 11 different beach access points, which allow beach-lovers easy access to arguably the area’s greatest asset. Because the beach stretches down the length of the 11-mile Key, it’s easy to carve out your own space and soak up the relaxation of your private outdoor oasis. Whitney Beach at the very North end has public parking. Although there are no amenities, these beaches offer beautiful white sands, graceful sea oats, sparkling Gulf waters and refreshing breezes.
There are several shopping plaza sprinkled along this barrier island.
Whitney Plaza offers some shopping and more eateries.
2 miles further South you will find Harry's. They feature a convenience store right on the corner, a deli and their fine dining establishment.
Next is the Center Shops with restaurants like Ciao!, Lazy Lobster and Tyler's Ice cream. The Longboat Key visitor center and UPS is also located here.
Approaching one of the few traffic light intersections, you will find the Shoppes of Bay Isle with the only island supermarket Publix and a CVS.
Lido Key is another close by barrier island. It is part of the city of Sarasota and is connected to mainland Sarasota by John Ringling Causeway.
The Longboat Key Public Tennis Center opened in 1998 and now, with its 10 soft clay courts, daily organized events and teaching professionals on staff, getting in a few matches of tennis is never hard to do.
The Tennis Center’s 1,750-square-foot pro shop and players observation deck (completed in December 2009) is sure to be a treat for any tennis player. The center also hosts two USTA-sanctioned tournaments each year, along with a variety of other tennis events. There are also tennis leagues to join, as well as round-robins every afternoon.
The center is open every day but requires advance notice to reserve a court. To make a reservation, call the Tennis Center at 941-316-TENS (8367).
Try also the Cedars Tennis Resort. They offer pro lessons and guest memberships.
The Resort at Longboat Key Club offers beautiful facilities and offers 45 holes of championship golf with two beautiful courses — Islandside and Harbourside. The Islandside course is an 18-hole, links-style course that borders the Gulf of Mexico. Harbourside offers three nine-hole courses surrounded by beautiful trees and bordering Sarasota Bay. No matter which course of play you choose, the beautiful views and warm weather are sure to add a special touch to your game. To set up a tee time, call the Pro Shop two days in advance at 941-387-1632.
Ken Thompson Park/City Island
1700 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, FL
This 84-acre park truly has something for everyone. Its amenities include three boat ramps, fishing piers, a playground, a recreation area and benches and picnic tables for those who want to enjoy the unrivaled view of the Sarasota skyline. The park is home to the Sarasota Sailing Squadron, which was established in the late 1930s and now is home to 800 member families who take advantage of the organization’s many sailing programs; Save Our Seabirds, a nonprofit facility devoted to caring for and treating ailments of the island’s many varieties of birds; and Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, founded in 1955, which is home to a massive aquarium featuring dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, seahorses and more, along with interactive exhibits such as a stingray petting area, classes and educational opportunities and excursions such as Eco-Boat tours around the bay.
Quick Point Nature Preserve
100 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, FL
Quick Point, originally called The Hook, encompasses 34 acres on the island’s south end. The Town of Longboat Key acquired the land in 1985 from Arvida Corp., which developed much of the Key in the 1970s and 1980s. The preserve offers paths that wind around lagoons, mangroves and other native plant species and even features an osprey nesting pole. Florida’s natural beauty has been preserved in this tranquil setting.
2730 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, FL
Nestled near Longboat Key Town Hall sits a one-acre park that is known as a place to refresh and reflect. The partly shaded park, dedicated to the town July 4, 1976, sits just off the bike path and offers active persons a place to pause with benches beneath a canopy of trees and a relaxing view of the butterfly garden created by the Longboat Key Garden Club. The park is recognized as a Florida Model Garden by the state for its low maintenance and eco-friendliness.
Bayfront Park and Recreation Center
4052 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, FL
The Bayfront Park Recreation Center is currently home to a large rec center that houses not only fitness classes and bridge games but serves as a community gathering spot. Behind the main building lies a baseball field, tennis courts and even a basketball court and shuffleboard court.
Joan M. Durante Park
5550 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, FL
This 32-acre park is certainly a rarity on the Key. One of the few remaining vacant properties on the island, it is the result of a private/public partnership to restore the land as a viable wetland and coastal hammock forest. Key resident James Durante established the park in 1993 in honor of his late wife. The town of Longboat Key maintains the park’s lush vegetation year-round, and the property includes a pavilion, children’s playground, a lake and bicycle and boardwalk paths around the entire property.
North Lido Beach Park
400 Benjamin Franklin Drive, Sarasota, FL
North Lido Beach Park is a good spot for swimming and fishing and also features nature trails. The natural beach and dune system make it a popular place for birdwatching. The park is also an important sea turtle nesting site.
South Lido Beach Park
2201 Benjamin Franklin Drive, Sarasota, FL
Tucked away at the end of Benjamin Franklin Drive, South Lido Park is a go-to spot for nature enthusiasts. The 100-acre park offers a panoramic view of downtown Sarasota and the Gulf of Mexico. Its amenities include a picnic area, canoe and kayak launch, fishing, jogging/walking trails, a playground, observation tower and decks and more.