Longboat Key is located in the center of a long barrier island that sits between the Gulf of Mexico to the west and the Gulf of Sarasota and the mainland to the east.
At the time of the last census, Longboat Key had about thousands of inhabitants, and crossed the border between Manatee and Sarasota counties.
The city was founded in the mid-1950s and has always been a favorite destination for sport anglers and nature lovers.
1. Bayfront Park
Bayfront Park is a popular destination for those staying in the area who’d rather not spend an arm and a leg or hours in the car to experience the great outdoors.
The park is a municipal facility managed by the town of Longboat Key, and it’s a big hit with both locals and tourists.
The park has just undergone an expensive and lengthy renovation that has produced more trails, shuffleboard courts, and a variety of sports fields that are generally open on a first-come-first-served basis.
2. Turtle Crawl Inn Longboat Key
Key longboats tend to attract beach lovers, anglers and nature enthusiasts. It sports a decidedly very cool atmosphere that could not be more different from many areas.
Turtle Crawl Inn is a popular destination for those who’d rather forego swanky digs in favor of good value and easy access to a variety of natural amenities.
Though small, the inn’s units feature private beachfront balconies and small kitchenettes that are perfect for couples and small families.
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3. Dry Dock Waterfront Grill
Waterfront Grill offers guests fabulous views too; though they’re stunning for everyone, they’re especially so for those visiting from distant, landlocked states.
From scallops and grouper to stone crabs and jumbo gulf shrimp, Dry Dock Waterfront Grill has a little something for just about every seafood lover.
The restaurant is located on Gulf of Mexico Drive in Longboat Key and tends to fill up quickly during peak times, so plan accordingly.
4. Lake Manatee State Park
Lake Manatee State Park is a premier area attraction for fit outdoor lovers and is comprised of more than 500 acres.
The park is particularly well-known for its great freshwater fishing, kayaking, boating, and swimming areas, and there are a variety of inland environments nearby.
Camping is also popular inside the park, and previous guests have noted that though the campsites were in a natural setting, there were ample amenities, like showers, restrooms, and electricity hook-ups.
5. Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium
Marine Laboratory and Aquarium is a unique research facility that’s dedicated to the study and preservation of the area’s natural environments and wildlife.
The aquarium portion of the facility is open to the public and includes hundreds of species of local marine animals, including turtles, fish, and sea horses, to name just a few.
Sharks are also popular inhabitants, and the aquarium’s staff offer regularly scheduled feedings that are big hits with kids and adults alike.
6. Lido Beach
Lido Beach on Lido Key is just a few minutes from Longboat Key; more so than other local beaches.
Lido Beach’s amenities include a playground and an observation platform that’s accessible to strollers and wheelchairs.
For those who are visiting from out of state, there are beach chairs and umbrellas available to rent.
7. The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall is a local live entertainment icon that seats more than 1,500 guests and his been around since the late-‘60s.
From comedy and dramatic theater to dance and music in a variety of genres, the facility is also architecturally unique.
It has a pleasant mix of old-time charm and up-to-date lighting and sound systems that make it truly one-of-a-kind.
8. Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary
It comes as a big surprise to many first-time visitors to the Sunshine State that there are still panthers living in the wild.
Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary was founded more than 30 years ago and is dedicated to protecting both big cats and other animals that have been abandoned, injured or orphaned.
In addition to its rescue and rehabilitation roles, a big part of what the sanctuary does is provide educational opportunities for visitors.
9. Ed Smith Stadium
Ed Smith Stadium on 12th Street in Sarasota has been the spring training home for Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles.
In recent years, the nearly 8,000-seat stadium has undergone some renovations, including refurbished seats that are actually leftovers from the original Oriole Park at Camden Yards in the team’s home city of Baltimore, Maryland, more than 1,000 miles away.
The spring training season is a great way to catch a few games and enjoy the pleasant Florida weather without paying big-league prices for hot dogs and beer, as you would do during the regular season.
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10. Emerson Point Preserve
The Manatee River is one of the central Gulf Coast’s outdoor recreation centerpieces, and Emerson Point Preserve is a convenient and inexpensive.
The preserve is comprised of more than 350 acres of pristine natural environments and includes a number of historic and prehistoric sites as well.
The preserve’s multi-use trails are open to walkers, bikers, and joggers. For those who’d rather not get wet and muddy.