Fun Things to Do in a Small Town!
There is no shortage of high-end designer stores, places to eat, or fun things to do in our small town of Longboat Key. Although you won’t find large shopping malls on the 12-mile island, you will find one-of-a-kind boutiques, restaurants, and plenty of water sports sprinkled throughout, which perfectly showcase the unique and sophisticated island of Longboat Key, Florida.
The information below is a list compiled for public use as a guide for what to do on Longboat Key. The goal is to provide quality recommendations and support local businesses. If you are a Longboat Key business owner or know of a reputable provider you feel should be included on the list, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Whether you are a resident living a vacation that never ends or on a staycation, here are some of the best things to do in Longboat Key.
1. Beach Day
Nothing is more relaxing than listening to the waves crash against the shore while soaking up some Florida sunshine. If you enjoy an active lifestyle, you will appreciate a jog along the beach, hunting for seashells, building a sandcastle, or taking part in some surfing.
After a day at the beach, make sure to check out some of the best local restaurants. It’s the perfect way to end your day.
At 100 N Shore Road, Whitney Beach, on the north end of Longboat Key, provides public parking with several beach access areas. Although the beach offers no amenities, beachgoers will enjoy sparkling blue waters and soft white sand.
Beer Can Island
Beer Can Island, situated at the northern tip of Longboat Key is a hidden oasis that can be reached at low tide.
Its driftwood-lined shores are a beautiful spot for picnics, swimming, and relaxing.
Beach Access Points
Blue and white signs along Gulf of Mexico Drive indicate beach access points for Longboat Key residents.
- 100 N. Shore Road (Parking available)
- 7055 Seabreeze Avenue (No parking available)
- 6847 Gulf of Mexico Drive (No parking available)
- 2825 Gulf of Mexico Drive (Parking at Town Hall
To explore one of Longboat Key’s best-kept secrets, visit one of the island’s parks. You will discover acres of nature’s beauty with walking and biking trails, fishing, playgrounds, sports courts, butterfly gardens, and kayak launches.
Dog friendly parks include Bayfront Park and Recreation Center, which offers a lovely view of the Sarasota skyline.
201 FL-789, Longboat Key, FL 34228
Open 5 AM – 11 PM
Heading north into Longboat Key, as soon as you cross the New Pass Bridge onto the island of Longboat Key, take a sharp left into the small parking lot, where you will be greeted with amazing views of the Gulf of Mexico.
Locals love to fish off the 100-foot long pier, but it’s also a perfect place to watch dolphins, enjoy a sunset or just relax and take in the fresh air.
This historic landmark is where John Ringling started construction on what was to be the Ritz Carlton Hotel but never completed the project. The vacant structure was later dubbed the “Ghost Hotel.” Learn the story behind how the Ghost Hotel got its name.
Quick Point Nature Preserve
Open 5 AM – 10 PM
100 Gulf of Mexico Drive
With serene Sarasota Bay views, this 34-acre park is a perfect place to relax and take in some Florida sunshine. It features winding paths great for short walks or fishing, as well as a small private beach area where you can enjoy the native plants and nesting ospreys.
2730 Gulf of Mexico Drive
This beautiful butterfly garden is a must-see on your visit to Longboat Key. With its many benches, it’s the perfect spot to relax and take in the views. Annuals are planted on a yearly basis to provide color and beauty.
Bicentennial Park is a popular spot among cyclists, walkers, and nature lovers. The park offers lovely scenery, perfect for a leisurely stroll or picnic lunch.
Bayfront Park and Recreation Center
4052 Gulf of Mexico Drive
Bayfront Park is a wonderful community gathering spot offering amenities for all ages. The 1,350 recreation center comes complete with a playground, a basketball court, shuffleboard courts, a multi-purpose open field, pickleball courts, and a tennis court. Plus there are electric car charging stations and picnic tables for enjoying an al fresco lunch as well as restrooms and parking. And if you want to spend even more time outdoors, the public beach access is located just across the street.
Joan M. Durante Park
The 32 acres is situated two miles from the north entrance to Longboat Key at 5550 Gulf of Mexico Drive. It features a children’s playground made from recycled materials and a pavilion which can be rented out for $25 per event.
The park also features a fishing pier, walking, and bike path with stopping points overlooking Sarasota Bay. This is the perfect spot for a family day out.
Take in the beautiful Gulf Coast views while biking the 9.47 mile trail that runs through Longboat Key, starting at the island’s south end.
Bikers must adhere to two rules, a ding bell to warn pedestrians and a 10-mile speed limit. There is no better way to combine sightseeing and exercise all in one.
Bike paths can also be found at some of Longboat Key’s nature parks.
For bike rentals, helmets, toe clips, and bike locks visit the Backyard Bike Shop located at 5610 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Unit 1B.
4. Boating Tours & Charters
The island of Longboat Key is a boater’s paradise. Canal front homes are plentiful and provide easy access to Sarasota Bay with many homes having their own private docks. For others, there are marinas throughout the key. A number of restaurants on the island have docks for guests as well.
If you don’t own your own boat, there are plenty of opportunities to navigate the waters with a local boat tour or private charter.
Catherines Florida Charters
700 Broadway Street, Longboat Key, FL 34228
Longboat Bay Charters
518 Bayview Dr, Longboat Key, FL 34228
Ultra Yacht Marine Lifestyle Store
522 Cedar Street, Longboat Key, FL 34228
5. Boat Ramps
Experience a first-hand view of Longboat Keys’ natural beauty by boating the sparkling waters that surround this tropical paradise. Whether by motorboat, sailboat, kayak or paddle board, the sights will be breathtaking.
Ken Thompson Park City Island
Located at 1700 Ken Thompson Parkway is an 84-acre park offering three boat ramps.
The Coquina Beach South Boat Ramp
Parking is located immediately north of Longboat Pass at 1465 Gulf Dr. S, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217
Longboat Key Club Moorings
(Membership in the Resort at Longboat Key Club required)
Located at 2630 Harbourside Drive, Moorings is a first-class yachting resort featuring 291 boat slips, marina services, 24-hour security, and amenities, including a Harbourmaster and dock crew.
Whether fishing on or offshore, don’t miss out on Longboat Key’s fabulous fishing. Discover snook, flounder, ladyfish, pompano, snook, speckled sea trout and more.
4052 Gulf of Mexico Drive
Bayfront Park is a wonderful community gathering spot offering amenities, including a kayak launch, dog park, pickleball, tennis courts, walking and biking paths, a children’s playground, and a fishing pier.
Fishing Pier Behind Mote Marine
Although you will find people fishing off the Longboat Key New Pass Bridge, which connects Longboat Key to St. Armand’s, there are several nearby fishing piers as well. Immediately south of the bridge is a Fishing Pier behind Mote Marine located at 1704 Ken Thompson Pkwy, Sarasota, FL, 34236
Longboat Key Pass Bascule Bridge
(The bridge that connects Longboat Key to Bradenton Beach).
If you’re looking for a challenge, try fishing from the Longboat Key Pass Bascule Bridge.The bridge holds broad concentrations of fish, including pompano, bluefish, sheepshead, snook, and snapper.
Longboat Key Public Pier
If you like fishing off a pier, try the Longboat Key Public Pier located at 5 4th Street, Bradenton. You will also enjoy beautiful views of the Gulf of Mexico and Longboat Key.
Longboat Key Club Golf
Longboat Key offers two private courses, Islandside and Harbourside. These courses are only available to members and guests staying at the Resort at Longboat Key Club.
Bordering the Gulf of Mexico, the Islandside course features an 18-hole, links-style course. The Harbourside borders Sarasota Bay and offers three nine-hole courses.
For additional golf opportunities, view a list of 29 golf courses in the Sarasota area.
Take a look at some of the most amazing houses on Longboat Key’s magnificent golf courses.
There are many things to do in Longboat Key, Florida, but one of the best is kayaking. You can explore the local mangroves and keep an eye out for manatees, dolphins, birds, and all kinds of incredible wildlife. Plus, it’s a great workout and a lot of fun. So get out there and start exploring!
Island Adventure Outfitters
6844 Gulf of Mexico Drive
If you’re looking for a great way to explore Longboat Key, Florida, then be sure to check out Island Adventure Outfitters kayak tours. You’ll get to see all the best that the area has to offer, from the beautiful beaches to the amazing wildlife. So grab your paddle and get ready for an adventure.
The Resort at Longboat Key Club
Tennis is one of the most popular things to do in Longboat Key, Florida.
Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned player, the island has multiple tennis courts that everyone can enjoy. For tennis membership information to the Resort at Longboat Key Club, feel free to contact us. We are happy to assist.
Longboat Key Public Tennis Center
Map & Directions
Located at 590 Bay Isles Road, the tennis center offers ten open courts, tournaments, Round Robin League, tennis lessons, and clinics. There is also a pro shop on site with equipment and apparel sales.
Bayfront Park and Recreation Center
4052 Gulf of Mexico Drive
The facility offers public tennis courts for residents.
Court usage is on a first-come, first-served basis. When others are waiting to use the court, single players are limited to one hour of play and doubles players are limited to one and a half hours. From November 1st to April 30th, courts can be used until 10PM. However, from May 1st to October 31st, the lights will be turned off for turtle season.
10. Marine Life
Learning about different types of ocean life can be captivating and one of the most fascinating things to do. There are sea turtles, manatees, dolphins, and more. Where can you see these magnificent creations?
Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium
1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy, Sarasota, FL 34236
This is a hands-on marine life museum where you can touch stingrays, see sharks, and learn about sea turtles. They have over 100 aquariums and tanks with all kinds of fish, eels, coral, and more.
Public Turtle Walk
Turtle walks take place on Saturday mornings in June and July at 6:45 a.m. at the public beach access entrance on 4795 Gulf of Mexico Dr., Longboat Key. These walks are open to people of all ages and require no registration, so feel free to attend them.
Participants of the Turtle Walk may assist volunteers in locating and identifying sea turtle nests, while also learning about their life-cycle and local beaches. On these walks, guides will also show participants how Mote’s Sea Turtle Patrol and LBKTW volunteers are trained to locate sea turtle nests.
You’ll learn about the different actions they take to protect female turtles and their hatchlings too. Attendees will learn about the many ways that they may aid in the protection of sea turtles and also discover what simple actions they can take as individuals to keep these magnificent creatures safe.
For updates on future turtle walks, visit Longboat Key Turtle Watch.
11. Restaurants & Coffee Shops
From Italian to seafood, there is an array of restaurants on Longboat Key that are sure to please any pallet. For a categorized list of all the greatest restaurants and coffee shops in Longboat Key, click here.
Whether you are looking for something to do on a rainy day or just love to shop, Longboat Key offers a variety of quaint shops and boutiques. From art galleries to beachwear, there is something for everyone.
Avenue of the Flowers Town Plaza
525 Bay Isles Parkway
This shopping center has several stores, including Publix, CVS, and a nail salon.
Discover your artistic side with a visit to the quaint downtown Sarasota, also known as Florida’s Cultural Coast, where you will find theaters, museums, art galleries, and performing arts venues.
201 Gulf of Mexico Drive
Located next to Chart House, Exit Art boutique offers everything from jewelry to sportswear.
515 Bay Isle Parkway
This retail chain offers fashion and accessories for both men and women.
Longboat Ace Hardware
4030 Gulf of Mexico Drive
Located mid-key, Ace Hardware recently added a wonderful gift shop with beach-themed decor.
Longboat Key Framing and Art Gallery
6828 Gulf of Mexico Drive
Publix Super Market
525 Bay Isles Parkway
Located in the Shoppes of Bay Isles, Publix offers the freshest meats, local produce, and sustainably sourced seafood. If you are looking for a great deli sub, look no further!
5380 Gulf of Mexico Drive
Located in the Center Shops, this fun little shop offers everything from jewelry to collectible furniture.
3170 Gulf of Mexico Drive
Excellent selection of brand-name products at reasonable prices.
St. Armand’s Circle
Beyond Longboat Key’s New Pass Bridge, heading south is the posh St. Armand’s Circle with 130 shops, spas, boutiques, and restaurants.
Whitney Beach Plaza
Stores include a cafe, hairstylist, Italian restaurant, a beach shop, exercise center, kayaking, and a Homeopathic Shop for dogs.
13. Ski A Rees
Map & Directions
1602 Ken Thompson Pkwy, Sarasota, FL 34236
Head on over to the Mote Aquarium grounds to watch skiers practice for their upcoming competitions! This show starts in mid-September and is always enjoyable and informative.
Yoga offers physical and mental health benefits for people of all ages and what better place to start your day than with some yoga on the beach. If you prefer a yoga class, Longboat Key offers this option as well.
Feel Good Yoga Studio & Massage
UPDATE: The new location is 3840 S Osprey Ave, Sarasota, FL 34239,
Offering a variety of techniques for any age group or shape, Feel Good Yoga specializes in helping you feel your best. And it doesn’t stop at yoga — massages are available too.
15. Thing to do in Longboat Key at Night
Relaxation is the name of the game on Longboat Key; therefore, there is not a wide array of nightlife. If you are looking to stay on the island for the evening, the Hayloft at Euphemia Haye provides music, dessert, and drinks after dinner hours.
Whitney’s also offers live musicians until 9 pm. Click here to check out their calendar of nighttime music events.
If you would like to venture off the island, be sure to visit the nearby downtown Sarasota or Southside Village in Siesta Key for things to do at night.
16. Where to Stay in Longboat Key
For those who want to immerse themselves in the island lifestyle, spending a night or two is a must. The beachfront hotels along the sparkling waters of the Gulf of Mexico bring the term elegance to new levels. If you are in need of a hotel for your next visit, you can start your search here.
For snowbirds who plan Longboat Key as their extended winter get-away, browse these vacation rental options:
Gina Ursini is a VRBO Parternerized affiliate program member and earns a small commission from qualifying purchases.
Additional guides and resources:
- Rising Insurance Costs: Embracing Resilience in Florida’s Real Estate Market
- Island Hopping: Explore 6 Islands Near Longboat Key
- Coastal Living: Longboat Key’s 5 Alluring Attractions
- Intriguing Stats About the Longboat Key Zip Code
- The Longboat Key Real Estate Market – July 2022
I am Gina Ursini, a realtor in Longboat Key, Florida and the owner of Brista Realty. I am passionate about real estate and design and love sharing my knowledge through my real estate blog. When you are ready to buy or sell a home, we hope you will find this information of value. Please reach out or connect with me on Facebook and Instagram.