Come soak up the sun with a relaxing island getaway on Longboat Key, Florida. This is your guide to where to stay, what to eat and what to do. Whether you are planning a family vacation, girl’s getaway weekend or couple’s retreat, Longboat Key is just what you are looking for.
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Longboat Key is just outside of my hometown of Sarasota, Florida. I grew up vacationing there and just returned from another trip with my husband and our son.
One of my favorite things about Longboat Key is how quiet the beaches are. Most of the beach accesses are private entrances for resorts or vacation homes. The public accesses don’t have much parking available, so the beaches are never crowded!
Today I’m sharing a few of my favorites on Longboat Key, starting with where to stay. Then get some ideas for amazing restaurants to try, fun things to do and a few day trip ideas as well.
Where to Stay on Longboat Key
For this trip, we decided to get a condo through Airbnb. We were traveling with my brother and sister-in-law, so we needed plenty of space for all of us. The condo we found had a beautiful view of the bay from the balcony and there was a pool and hot tub on site. The beach was just a short drive away!
I’ve been loving using Airbnb for my travels lately. Especially since I have a toddler, it’s nice to get a whole house or condo. I love having a kitchen so that we can do some cooking, and it’s great to have more space than we would get in a hotel room.
If you are new to Airbnb, use this code to get $40 off your first trip!
What to Eat on Longboat Key
Eat with your toes in the sand at Mar Vista! This dockside restaurant serves seafood, burgers and more. It’s a great location for kids because they can play on the beach by water while you wait for your food.
What to order: Mar Vista Tater Tots appetizer and Crab Crusted Scallops for a main dish (pictured above).
The Old Salty Dog
This is another great place to eat on the water. They are famous for their “Salty Dog” which is a 1/4 pound hot dog dipped in their batter and fried to a golden brown. They also have seafood, sandwiches, burgers and more. I was craving their fried grouper sandwich and it hit the spot!
What to order: Fried Grouper Sandwich (pictured above).
The Haye Loft at Euphemia Haye
The Haye Loft is located upstairs above Euphemia Haye restaurant. It is one of our favorite places in the area to go for dessert! When you arrive, the host will take you to the dessert bar (pictured above) and name all of the desserts for you. They have some of the best cakes, pies and cheesecakes I have ever had! The portions are huge, too.
The Haye Loft often has live music and is a great place to relax after an evening on the beach! You can also get the dessert to go if needed.
What to order: Chocolate Ganache Cake.
The Donut Experiment
This one is actually located on Anna Maria Island, which is connected to Longboat Key by a bridge. It’s definitely worth the drive, though! If you have the time, you could make a day trip out of visiting Anna Maria Island.
The Donut Experiment features made-to-order donuts with tons of options for toppings! The donuts are pretty small so you can order several and try different topping combinations.
What to order: Caramel Glaze with Sea Salt or Maple Glaze with Bacon.
This is another one that is on Anna Maria Island, but it’s just a few minutes past the bridge from Longboat Key. They also deliver! Their pizzas are huge and so yummy. It was the perfect dinner for us one night after enjoying a day at the beach and the pool.
What to order: pick your favorite toppings!
Tyler’s Ice Cream
Tyler’s has several locations in the Bradenton/Sarasota area, and I grew up going there after the beach. Their Longboat Key location was just a few minutes from our condo. You can’t leave a beach vacation without making at least one trip to get ice cream! Tyler’s Ice Cream is homemade locally. They have lots of delicious flavors and are always adding more.
What to order: Chocolate Peanut Butter.
What to Do on Longboat Key
Catch a sunset
The sunsets on Longboat Key are stunning! You’ll probably want to spend a lot of time on the beach during your trip, and make plans to come back to the beach after dinner so you can catch a sunset. We did this a couple times during our stay and it was also nice to let my son play on the beach for awhile without worrying about sunscreen.
Mote Marine Aquarium
If you end up having a rainy day or just want to spend a couple hours out of the sun, check out Mote Marine Aquarium. They have lots of exhibits featuring manatees, dolphins, sea turtles and more. This is a great place to go with kids, but my husband and I also enjoyed going to the aquarium for a date before we had our baby.
Go for a walk or bike ride
There is a wide sidewalk that runs the length of Longboat Key. It’s great for walking or bike riding! My toddler had a difficult time napping during our trip, so I ended up going for a walk with him each day and he would fall asleep in the stroller. I really enjoyed walking around and seeing all beautiful scenery and the gorgeous beach houses.
Joan M. Durante Park
If you need a little break from the beach and the pool, Joan M. Durante is a fun place to explore! We spent a morning at this park walking around the trails. Most of the trails are shaded so it’s a good way to beat the heat. There is also a playground for the kids to play on.
St. Armands Circle
Located just before Longboat Key, St. Armands Circle is home to lots of great shops and restaurants. Spend some time shopping here or come for dinner. Some of my favorite restaurants on St. Armands are Crab & Fin, Venezia and Kilwins.
Day Trips from Longboat Key
If you are staying on Longboat Key for a longer trip, you might enjoy taking a day trip or two to one of these nearby areas.
Anna Maria Island
Anna Maria Island is right next to Longboat Key, and they are connected by a bridge. I love exploring Anna Maria by bike or by trolley! There are lots of great restaurants and shops to check out. Head to Pine Avenue or Bridge Street and spend some time walking around shopping or grab a bite to eat.
There is so much to do in Sarasota! Shop at the UTC Mall, visit Ringling Museum, explore Nathan Benderson Park or check out the downtown Farmer’s Market on the weekends. I’ve shared a couple posts about my favorite places to eat in Sarasota! Check out Where to Eat in Sarasota, Florida and the 2nd Edition with even more restaurants to try.
Visit Tampa Bay, about an hour drive from Longboat Key for even more fun things to do. There are lots of theme parks such as Busch Gardens, Lowry Park Zoo and more. I shared some of my favorite things to do and places to eat in Tampa Bay in this post.
We leave in 10 days for our place on Longboat. Can’t wait! I have been going there since my parents bought a condo (which is now shared by my siblings and me) in 1985. We’ve been to nearly all of the places you listed. One of our favorites, too, is the Dry Dock. Their lobster tacos are to die for!
A Savory Feast says
Mmm lobster tacos? That sounds amazing! I’m adding the Dry Dock to my list for next time. I hope you have a great time on your upcoming trip to Longboat Key!
Discover Bradenton says
These are all great suggestions. Thanks for sharing! We’ve been to most of these places, but you’ve given us a few new ideas. Thanks for sharing!
Mary Taylor says
I second the Dry Dock!! Also add the new Shore restaurant at the north end next to Mar Vista and The Chart House at the south end just before the bridge to Lido Key.
A Savory Feast says
I love the Chart House! Shore is one I am needing to try next time.