Siesta Key, Longboat Key & Anna Maria Island
The Central Gulf Coast of Florida is truly a magnificent area. From its white-sand beaches with spectacular sunsets to its laidback lifestyle, there is plenty to love about this area.
Spend your Florida vacation shelling along family-friendly strands, shopping for yourself or souvenirs, connecting with Florida’s lush and tropical nature, and dining on the freshest seafood while watching the sunset into the calm Gulf waters. These are just a few of the delightful experiences that wait for you and your family.
Siesta Key is a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico, just off the coast of Sarasota. Its beautiful Siesta Beach offers sparkling shallow waters, a playground, and tennis courts. Crescent Beach and Turtle Beach are also popular places to enjoy sugary sands and picnics. After enjoying a day Gulfside hit Siesta Key’s elegant St. Armand’s Circle for an evening of dining and shopping. Name-brand stores, as well as unique boutiques, offer clothes, jewelry, art, and gifts that you could spend an entire day browsing. When you are ready to sit down and feast on a delicious meal, (there is plenty of wonderful outdoor dining) there are many restaurant choices the whole family can enjoy.
Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island
Like Siesta, Longboat Key is a beautiful barrier island. It stretches almost 10 miles long with Anna Maria Island (AMI) just to its north and ending near Siesta Key to its south. In the 1920s John Ringling (see the Sarasota blog) bought hundreds of acres on the south end and planted Australian pine trees along Ringling Boulevard (now known as Gulf of Mexico Drive) from one end of the island to the other making this stretch of land particularly special and alluring.
Longboat Key has stunning beaches. The long lengths of sugar-white sand have very few public access points lending more of a private feel to the beach experience. Peace and quiet are what you’ll find here so when you want to spend time relaxing under the sun and just chilling out, this is where “laidback lifestyle” really comes into play.
Holmes Beach and Manatee Beach on Anna Maria Island are very popular, family-friendly beaches that center around lots of action and activity. Coquina Beach, located on the southern tip of AMI, is perfect for beach recreation. The park has a shady picnic area lined with looming Australian pines. You could also dine at the beach cafe and enjoy your meal with a side of cocktails and sunshine.
Both Longboat Key and AMI offer a variety of outdoor activities including biking, boating, kayaking, and paddleboarding. Birding and shelling are also favorite pastimes so remember to bring a pail and a pair of binoculars. The keys and islands of Florida’s Central Gulf Coast are full of natural beauty and wonderful amenities, but there’s also a unique “beach town vibe” that lingers in the air…and stays with you even after you leave.