If it’s an upmarket retreat you’re after, where the most taxing thing you’ll have to decide is what factor suntan to use that day, then Longboat Key holidays are for you. Longboat Key is an 11-mile-long strip, with the turquoise waters of the Gulf on one side and Sarasota Bay on the other, giving way to stunning beaches. But if it’s action you want after a hard day stretched out on the sand, then Sarasota, with its theatres, shops and museums, is only a few minutes away.
That means you get the best of both worlds – and it’s the reason Longboat Key is so popular with second-homers and holidaymakers alike. There’s a real community feel to it; and because the people who come here care so much about the place, it’s beautifully kept, with manicured lawns and smart buildings. Not that the Key’s man-made attributes can really compete with the exquisiteness of its pristine white beaches and sparking seas – but at least they can try.
If you fancy a break from the demands of relaxing, then there’s a range of diversions on offer. Anglers can make the most of excellent off shore and backwater fishing, while there’s plenty of watersports for anyone wanting to pit their wits against the waves. The number of top-class golf courses in the area will keep fans of the greensward happy, while both courts and coaching are available over at the Public Tennis Center and at Cedars Tennis Resort.
For shoppers there’s a tough choice between the Key’s sprinkling of upscale boutiques and galleries, and the many temptations of Armand Circle – although if it’s too big a decision to make, you can always duck into a top-class spa instead. And once the sun has set, there’s fabulous food and cool cocktails aplenty, to round off yet another fantastic day.
This long strip snakes the length of the Key and its smooth paved shoulder is just made for riding a bike along or for in-line skating. Stop off at any number of points along the way to drink in sensational views over the Gulf and Sarasota Bay, or to cool off with a swim. It’s the perfect way to explore.
At the southern end of the Key is the fascinating Mote Laboratory and Aquarium, where you can view manatees, sea turtles, dolphins, sharks and more, and learn all about the Lab’s work. Best of all, you can take a guided boat trip into the Gulf alongside the Lab’s experts to see the local marine life up close.
Known as the Rodeo Drive of Florida, this is the place to come both to see and be seen during Longboat Key holidays – and to get stuck into some serious shopping and food. Stores range from boutiques to fine art galleries and master jewellers, while multiple eating opportunities span ice cream, oysters, pizza and the very best in Floribbean cuisine.
Just across the causeway is culture-laden Sarasota, with its excellent performing arts venues and absorbing museums. Don’t miss the estate of circus magnate John Ringling, where you can explore his impressive art collection, his mansion in the style of the Doge’s Palace in Venice, and a fascinating museum dedicated to the history of the travelling circus.
Golfers in this part of Florida are spoilt for choice. There’s a wealth of top-notch public and semi-private course to exercise your swing at – over 30 in the Sarasota area alone, including four that have been voted among the top ten places to play in the whole State.