Things to Do in Longboat Key, Florida: Unveiling the Best-Kept Secrets

Welcome to Longboat Key - a coastal paradise nestled between the azure waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Sarasota Bay.

While this barrier island is renowned for its stunning beaches, luxurious resorts, and upscale dining options, it holds a treasure trove of lesser-known secrets that are waiting to be explored.

In this blog post, we will delve into the best-kept secrets of things to do in Longboat Key, revealing the hidden gems that make this a truly unique paradise on Florida's Gulf Coast.

Whether you're seeking tranquil escapes along its pristine shores, embarking on culinary journeys that tantalize your taste buds, or immersing yourself in its rich history, Longboat Key beckons with a diverse range of experiences that promise to captivate and delight.

Whitney Beach

Whitney Beach Days

While the local beaches are well-known, Whitney Beach remains a hidden treasure waiting to be discovered. This serene stretch of coastline offers an intimate escape from the crowds, with its tranquil dunes and lush vegetation creating a picturesque backdrop for relaxation.

Feel the sand between your toes as you take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, or seek out a secluded spot where you can lose yourself in the pages of a good book while the world around you fades away. Whether you're basking in the sun, enjoying the gentle lull of the waves, or simply savoring the peaceful ambiance, Whitney Beach provides the perfect setting for unforgettable beach days.

Public Beach Access: 100 Broadway Street, Longboat Key, FL 34228

Thing to do Longboat Key

Beer Can Island

Nestled at the north end of Longboat Key on the way towards Anna Maria Island lies Beer Can Island, an idyllic getaway. Also known as Greer Island, this hidden gem, known for its secluded charm, offers a serene escape, inviting you to indulge in shell collecting, sunbathing, and the sheer pleasure of basking in solitude.

Access to this captivating island can be found off North Shore Road in Longboat Key. As you make your way to Beer Can Island, you'll also be treated to captivating views of New Pass Bridge, adding to the scenic allure of these driftwood lined shores.

While the island's nickname, "Beer Can Island," might raise an eyebrow, it pays homage to its past as a favored spot for boaters who used to leave beer cans behind. However, in an effort to preserve its natural beauty, the island is protected and visitors are now encouraged to take photographs and memories, leaving nothing but footprints behind.

Turtle Watch

Longboat Key plays a vital role in the conservation of endangered sea turtles, especially during their nesting season from May to October. Both locals and tourists alike have the incredible opportunity to witness the nesting and hatching process firsthand.

Join knowledgeable volunteers on organized Longboat Key turtle walks, where you'll learn about these magnificent creatures while observing the remarkable journey from sea to shore. The experience offers not only a chance to connect with nature but also a newfound appreciation for the delicate balance of life along the coastline.

Beach Yoga

As the gentle waves caress the shoreline and the sun casts its golden glow, Longboat Key Beach Yoga offers a unique opportunity to find balance and solace. The classes are held on Tuesdays and Fridays at 8:30 am from September through April.

With the guidance of experienced instructors, attendees can engage in a practice that invigorates the body and calms the spirit, all while basking in the natural splendor that Longboat Key's coastline provides. Whether you're an experienced yogi or a newcomer to the practice, Longboat Key Beach Yoga offers an idyllic retreat to rejuvenate and connect with both yourself and the beautiful surroundings.

Location: 100 Broadway Street (Whitney Beach)

Shore Thing Tiki Cruise

The Shore Thing Tiki Cruise offers a one-of-a-kind aquatic adventure that captures the picturesque beauty of the Gulf Coast in a truly memorable way. Situated on Anna Maria Island, the beautiful turquoise waters serves as the perfect backdrop for this exceptional cruise experience.

The cruise features specially designed boats with a unique tiki theme, resembling floating tiki huts complete with thatched roofs, bamboo accents, and seating. This distinct decor cultivates a charming and laid-back ambiance, creating a relaxed atmosphere for all passengers on board.

As you embark, prepare to be captivated by the breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico, the pristine white sands of Coquina Beach, and the captivating coastal landscape. The cruise route often follows the coastline, allowing you to immerse yourself in the beauty of the surroundings and soak in the tranquil atmosphere.

Location: 200 Bridge St, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217

Happy Paddler Kayak Rentals

Happy Paddler Kayak Rental

The mangrove islands near Bayfront Park on Longboat Key offer a serene escape, free from crowds and perfect for family adventures. Happy Paddler Kayak Rental offers the opportunity to paddle through mangrove forests, spot dolphins and manatees, and explore Audubon Sanctuary Islands.

Fishing enthusiasts can rent premium fishing kayaks for a chance at the locally famous fishing spot. Happy Paddler is the only outfitter allowed to kayak launch at Bayfront Park.

Rentals include a paddle, life vest, and route map. While a brief lesson is given, experience in your chosen vessel is recommended. Inexperienced paddlers can use tandem kayaks or join guided tours. Remember to stay hydrated, protected from the sun, and wear comfortable clothing.

Location: 6844 Gulf of Mexico Dr, Longboat Key, FL 34228

Parasailing at Bradenton Beach

Parasailing near Longboat Key, Florida, offers an exhilarating adventure that combines the thrill of soaring through the sky with the breathtaking beauty of the Gulf Coast. This popular water activity allows participants to explore Longboat Key, Anna Maria Island, and Lido Key while taking in panoramic views of the pristine beaches below.

At Bradenton Beach Parasailing both newcomers and seasoned parasailers alike can seize the chance to take flight, relishing the thrill of soaring through the sky. Furthermore, the option for shared experiences enhances the allure, as up to three individuals can partake in a single ride, providing friends and family the chance to collectively revel in the exhilaration of the experience.

Whether you're an adventure enthusiast or simply seeking a unique way to take in the beauty of the Gulf Coast, parasailing offers an experience that combines the best of both worlds – the thrill of flight and the natural splendor of the sea.

Location: 200 Bridge St #3, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217

Longboat Key Village

Longboat Key Village

Step back in time and immerse yourself in the rich history of Longboat Key by paying a visit to the enchanting Historic Longboat Key Village.

Nestled at the northern tip of the island, this charming enclave is a hidden treasure trove of old-world charm, offering visitors a captivating glimpse into the intriguing past that has shaped the island's character.

As you explore the village, you'll also discover a trio of restaurant options that offer not only great food but also a connection to the area's heritage. Mar Vista, which was once known as the Jordan House, is steeped in its own history, having served as one of the oldest remaining cottages from the 1920s. This charming establishment provides a direct link to the past, as the Jordans were Longboat Key landholders from 1911-1940.

Best restaurants on longboat key

Whitney's, on the other hand, presents a unique twist to your dining experience. Housed in a former Chevron Station, this restaurant seamlessly blends the nostalgia of the past with modern culinary delights.

And then there's the Shore, a modern-day restaurant that offers a different perspective on Longboat Key's culinary scene. While not rooted in the village's history like Mar Vista and Whitney's, The Shore provides a contemporary dining experience that complements the area's evolving identity.

Quick Point Nature Preserve

For those seeking a more intimate encounter with nature, Quick Point Nature Preserve is a true hidden oasis. Located at the southern tip of the island, this serene sanctuary boasts a network of trails that wind through mangroves, salt marshes, and tidal flats.

During your walk through the natural habitat, you'll have the chance to observe an array of marine life. Keep an eye out for whelks, conchs, and juvenile crabs, as well as a vibrant array of small fish like mullet and black drum. Beyond the water's edge, the lagoon area offers a haven for wading birds to flourish.

While meandering through the landscape, be sure to watch for the elegant Snowy Egret, the graceful White Ibis, the majestic Great Blue Heron, and the determined Osprey. The Herring Gull and Great American Egret are among the other fascinating bird species that call this lagoon home.

As the sun dips below the horizon, the preserve comes alive with the vibrant colors of the twilight, offering an unforgettable experience on Longboat Key for nature lovers. However, it's important to note that pets are not allowed in Quick Point Nature Preserve, ensuring the tranquility and preservation of its delicate ecosystem.

Location: 100 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, FL

Things to do in Longboat Key, Florida: Bayfront Park

Bayfront Park

Bayfront Park is a serene waterfront destination that captivates locals and visitors alike. Positioned on mid key, along the picturesque Sarasota Bay, this park offers a blend of natural splendor and recreational amenities such as shuffleboard courts, sports fields, picnic tables, restrooms and complimentary parking. Easy access to the white sand beaches is directly across Gulf of Mexico Drive.

With stunning bay views and well-kept green spaces, Bayfront Park provides an inviting atmosphere for relaxation and picnics. Walking paths invite leisurely strolls, allowing you to bask in the refreshing breeze. The park's basketball, tennis and pickleball courts cater to both casual players and enthusiasts, offering friendly matches against the backdrop of the bay's tranquil waters.

Families with young children will appreciate the playground, designed for fun and exploration. Additionally, the park features a dog park for your pet. Whether you seek a tranquil escape, active recreation, or a chance to connect with nature, Bayfront Park Longboat Key offers an experience that embodies the island's coastal charm.

Location: 4052 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, FL 34228

Things to do in Longboat Key, Florida: Joan M. Durante Community Park

Joan M. Durante Community Park

If you're a nature enthusiast seeking tranquility away from the hustle and bustle, Joan M. Durante Community Park is your haven on Longboat Key. Spanning 32 acres, this picturesque park offers a sanctuary of walking trails that wind through mangrove tunnels, salt marshes, and coastal hammocks.

The boardwalk invites you to take a leisurely stroll, allowing you to connect with the vibrant flora and fauna that thrive in this serene environment. Enjoy bird watching, cast a line off the fishing pier and if you're lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of a graceful manatee or playful dolphin in the nearby waters.

Location: 5550 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, FL 34228

Longboat Key Tennis Center

The Longboat Key Public Tennis Center, situated in the serene coastal town of Longboat Key, Florida, is a premier destination for tennis enthusiasts of all skill levels.

Featuring 10 well-maintained tennis courts, the Longboat Key Tennis Center caters to both casual players and dedicated athletes. From novices looking to learn the basics to seasoned pros seeking competitive matches, there are options for everyone. The center also offers professional coaching and lessons, providing an opportunity for players to enhance their skills and refine their techniques.

Additionally, the center hosts a Round Robin league each day at 3:30, allowing players to engage in friendly matches and enjoy the camaraderie of fellow enthusiasts. Whether you're a local resident or a visitor seeking an active and engaging pastime, the Longboat Key Public Center offers a gateway to an exceptional tennis experience.

Address: 590 Bay Isles Road, Longboat Key, Florida

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

For those captivated by the mysteries of marine life, the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is an absolute must-visit. This renowned research facility and public aquarium provide an immersive journey into the marvels of the Gulf of Mexico's marine ecosystems.

Engage with interactive touch tanks, and lose yourself in exhibits showcasing majestic sharks, gentle manatees, graceful sea turtles, and ethereal jellyfish. Beyond the captivating displays, Mote Marine Laboratory serves as a powerful advocate for conservation efforts on Longboat Key, inviting visitors to understand the significance of safeguarding marine habitats for future generations.

Location: 1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy, Sarasota, FL 34236.

Downtown Sarasota

The Ringling Bridge Causeway Park

The Ringling Bridge Causeway Park, nestled in Sarasota, Florida, is a captivating recreational haven that seamlessly blends natural beauty with urban sophistication, all while offering stunning vistas. Situated along the John Ringling Causeway, this park presents a unique opportunity for visitors to immerse themselves in the splendor of Sarasota Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, and the city skyline.

The Ringling Bridge Causeway Park offers more than just stunning views – it's also an excellent place for various recreational activities. It's a hub for walking, jogging, and running enthusiasts who wish to enjoy their workouts amid a captivating setting.

The park boasts a small beach area where visitors can swim, fish, and unwind in the embrace of the Gulf waters. Notably, pups are warmly welcomed in the park, making it a friendly space for both two-legged and four-legged explorers.

Location: John Ringling Causeway, Sarasota, FL 34236

Fishing at Harts Landing

Conveniently nestled near downtown Sarasota, at the base of the John Ringling Causeway, Harts Landing holds the distinction of being the city's oldest bait and tackle store. With a diverse selection of live and frozen bait options catering to both Sarasota's bays and the Gulf of Mexico, it stands as the premier destination for an enriching saltwater fishing experience.

Accessible by both automobile and boat, the establishment's rustic building exudes the charm of "Old Florida," creating a captivating contrast against the modern downtown Sarasota condominium skyline. Boasting expertise in live saltwater fishing bait and an extensive range of tackle, the knowledgeable staff ensures patrons are well-equipped for a rewarding day of fishing amidst the splendid waters of Sarasota.

Things to do in Longboat Key, Florida: Fishing off a fishing pier

Notably, the establishment's location next to the T.J. "Tony" Saprito Fishing Pier – Sarasota County's largest – promises hours of gratifying saltwater fishing. Set within a park-like ambiance, anglers are afforded abundant fishing opportunities along the seawall and walkways that link Harts Landing and the Saprito Pier.

This tranquil setting features serene benches and a charming gazebo, offering ample space for relaxation and leisure. Additionally, the facility houses public restrooms, adding to the convenience of visitors.

Harts Landing: Directions

Resort Accommodations

If you are wondering where to stay in Longboat Key, Florida, the Longboat Key Club Resort and Zota Beach Resort stand as two premier accommodations that epitomize luxury and relaxation. Each is situated along the island’s beautiful beaches.

Nestled on the captivating Longboat Key, the Longboat Key Club Resort and Zota Beach Resort are two premier accommodations that embody luxury and relaxation. Each of these destinations graces the beautiful white sand beach of Longboat Key, offering guests a haven where they can indulge in the finest comforts and unwind amidst the serene coastal beauty.

Longboat Key Club Resort offers an exclusive retreat surrounded by the azure waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Sarasota Bay. With world-class amenities, including golf, a marina, and exquisite dining options, it promises an upscale experience that seamlessly merges recreation and relaxation.

On the other hand, Zota Beach Resort boasts its private beachfront balconies, direct access to white sand beaches, and a prime beachfront location that embraces the Gulf of Mexico's breathtaking beauty. With contemporary design and a focus on modern comfort, Zota Resort offers an elegant escape where guests can unwind and revel in the allure of Longboat Key's coastal charm.

The Endless Secrets Awaits

Longboat Key is a paradise that beckons to those willing to explore its best-kept secrets. Beyond its well-trodden tourist paths, this barrier island offers a tapestry of experiences that encompass nature's wonders, artistic expression, culinary delights, and a profound connection to history and wildlife. These hidden gems will help you explore Longboat Key's undeniable charm.

So, whether you seek quiet contemplation by the shores, immersive encounters with marine life, or culinary journeys that delight the senses, there are so many things to do in Longboat Key that promise a memorable escape to transcend the ordinary.

Come visit Longboat Key and embrace its secrets, and allow them to weave a tale of enchantment that lingers long after you've returned home.