All things Siesta Key. Stories, news, and event information about Sarasota, Florida's beautiful beach.
Discover Longboat Key, FLorida
Nestled between Sarasota’s famous St. Armand’s Circle and the beaches of Manatee County, Longboat Key is a barrier island shared by Manatee and Sarasota counties. This little slice of paradise is similar to Siesta Key because it’s tucked away from mainland traffic and is not part of a major thoroughfare. However, the beaches, restaurants, and parks are unmistakably unique and pristine, attracting those in the know to enjoy everything this gorgeous hidden gem on the Gulf Coast has to offer. If you’re staying with us at The Best Western Siesta Key, we highly recommend a day trip to explore yet another piece of paradise along Florida’s Gulf shores.
Where Is Long Boat Key?
To us, the perfect day trip to Longboat Key includes several sites and stops along the way. If you’re staying with us on Siesta Key, you’ll head north on U.S. 41 through Sarasota. As you pass Sarasota’s Marina and the famous WWII Statue, Unconditional Surrender, you may want to stop for a quick walk and photo op. Next, you’ll turn onto the Ringling Bridge, another amazingly scenic aspect of Sarasota Bay, which takes you into St. Armand’s Circle. This historic spot is full of shopping and dining at its best, so definitely consider taking some time to walk around and enjoy the lively atmosphere. As you leave St. Armand’s and head toward Longboat Key, stop for a visit with jellyfish, dolphins, and the biggest squid you’ve ever seen at Mote Marine Aquarium, just before the Longboat Bridge.
Activities on Long Boat Key
Growing up on Longboat Key, my own adventures to revisit the island from time to time often take me back to the canal where my dad took us fishing on Saturday mornings, or past the house where Miss Julie gave us swimming lessons. While the tour of my childhood memories might not bring you the same nostalgia, I can definitely recommend a few great things we loved to do back then and are still awesome today.
- Bike Riding: We explored most of Longboat Key as kids on bicycles, and I still recommend this method today. With 16 square miles of island to travel, a paved path runs alongside Gulf Drive with amazing views of the Gulf the entire way. Be sure to bring water and wear sunscreen.
- Beachcombing: Growing up on the beach meant at any moment Mom could shout, “Swimsuits!” and you’d be on the beach within 10 minutes. Once there we never wanted to leave. Fiddler crabs, sea gulls, dolphins and driftwood kept us occupied for hours. I still believe we have some of the most serene, beautiful beaches in the world. My favorite is at the north end of the island, just before the drawbridge to Coquina Beach. Parking can be a challenge, so be patient. Once on the beach, prepare to hike through mangroves, collect unbroken shells and find yourself staring at the clearest green-blue water you’ve ever seen. You can even climb trees that jut out over the water and jump in for a swim to cool off!
- Eating Fresh Seafood: I cannot emphasize the word “fresh” enough when it comes to eating seafood on Florida beaches. The dining options on Longboat Key are amazing, but one of the best island experiences is the Dry Dock Waterfront Grill. Casual dining in a sunset atmosphere is only enhanced by the local fishermen who frequent the area.
Dining and More on Long Boat Key
While the two golf courses on the island are private, there are plenty of beautiful parks and beaches, including Coquina Beach, Beer Can Island, and Joan M. Durante Community Park. Because this island is a little bit off the beaten path, the parks and beaches tend to be a little more pristine and untouched than the more populated public beaches in Manatee and Sarasota Counties. For a more fun, upbeat adventure, party with the locals on paddleboards, kayaks, or boats in The Cove, just behind the Chart House Restaurant, then pop in for dinner to enjoy amazing views of our famous Florida sunset. Be sure to save room for dessert, which should absolutely be found in the Haye Loft, the second-floor dessert room of Euphemia Haye. This ultra-romantic dining experience takes dessert to a whole new level and should not be missed.
Taking a day to explore some of the majestic natural beauty of Longboat Key is an experience in and of itself. The quiet, laid-back island feel will help you relax, unwind, and simply slow down enough to appreciate the little things in life. When you visit Longboat Key from The Best Western Siesta Key, you get the opportunity to take in some of our favorites sights and attractions in the greater Sarasota area, giving you a larger glimpse of this incredible area. Fall in love with the different nuances of our Florida islands when you experience Longboat Key during your next vacation. You’ll be glad you stepped away from the hustle and bustle for a while.