Welcome to Longboat Key, a distinctly upscale barrier island off the coast of Sarasota and Bradenton in central west Florida, boasting a unique timeshare resort called Little Gull Cottages.
Stretched out between the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Sarasota Bay, Longboat Key is an ideal retreat from the noise and hustle of everyday life — yet only a few miles from the city delights of Sarasota. Rarely too hot or too cold, Longboat offers quiet pleasures, seclusion, gentle luxury in a beach and bayfront setting that is hard to beat.
At the northern tip across the Longboat Pass bridge (connecting Longboat Key to Anna Maria Island) you’ll find a hooked spit of land called Greer Island Park (aka Beer Can Island), a relatively unused area perfect for those who treasure a little solitude and quiet. It is a popular place for fishers to anchor their boats and wade ashore to cast a line. No restroom or snack bar is provided, so bring your own refreshments; and bring some shade, too, as many of the grand Australian pines that once shaded the beach have fallen prey to time and the forces of nature.
Located at the south end of Longboat Key is a world-renowned marine research center, the Mote Marine Aquarium, including a 30-foot Touch Tank and a 135,000-gallon Shark Tank that brings visitors face to face with a variety of shark species, fish and other marine life.
Though the Gulf of Mexico, the Bay and the Intracoastal Waterway provide an astonishing variety of water related activities, you will not be lacking for land-based activities either. Golf is available, tennis, biking and rollerblading, or just strolling along those perfect beaches with a latte as the rising sun turns all around you to gold.
Longboat Key has no shortage of shopping, though you won’t find a strip mall or a neon sign anywhere. Whether you’re looking for a new bathing suit, a straw hat or elegant evening wear, you will discover Longboat Key has an eclectic mix of exclusive and casual shops. A favorite area is the Avenue of the Flowers on the southern half of Gulf of Mexico Drive. A lushly landscaped shopping area that makes it a pleasure to linger, this center offers men’s and women’s apparel, restaurants, a grocery store and more.
About mid-island you’ll find the Centre Shops, with lots of art galleries, jewelers, specialty boutiques and interesting restaurants such as The Lazy Lobster, a perennial favorite that pretty much requires reservations. Heads up: They serve Lobster Mac & Cheese with fresh steamed lobster meat, macaroni, and white cheese sauce topped with toasted crumbs and truffle oil!
If you are into serious fine dining, you will not be disappointed either on or off the Key. Nearly every establishment, from the casual to the elegant, offers a lovely view.
Do you want a little more of the big city kind of excitement? Head inland across Lido Key to Sarasota, which offers a full array of whatever you’re looking for.
Want to exlore some arts and cultural attractions? The acclaimed Sarasota Ballet of Florida offers a repertoire of classical and modern dance performances throughout the year; the Asolo Theatre is home to an excellent theatrical company from November through June; the Players Theatre, featuring nationally known musicians, large-scale Broadway productions, and live plays; and of course there’s the famed Circus Sarasota, a one ring European-style Big Top that unites circus artists from around the globe to present world class family entertainment.
Sarasota is also full of little pockets of historically preserved buildings offering boutiques, jewelry, art, and antique galleries, as well as the Women’s Exchange (a treasure trove of expensive, recycled merchandise– don’t miss it!). These areas can mostly be found on Palm, Orange, and Pineapple Avenues. For the die-hard bargain shopper, North and East of Sarasota are Flea Markets and Outlet Malls with brand names at seriously low prices.
A favorite place to stay on Longboat Key is at the casually elegant Little Gull, a dual RCI/Interval International-affiliated timeshare resort tucked up above a lovely beach in a pocket of lush landscaping. Reviews at Tripadvisor give it a solid 4 1/2 stars, which says a lot.
The resort’s Cape Cod style cottages anchor a red brick road that wanders from the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico to Sarasota Bay.
Little Gull offers fully furnished, luxury one, two, three and four bedroom cottages with four-poster beds and wood burning fireplaces. Each cottage has a fully equipped kitchen, two cable televisions, linens, central heat and air, private phones, and laundry facilities either in the cottage or free on site.
You’ll also find an outdoor heated pool, a children’s playground, fishing, and a boat dock, and it is conveniently both near enough to and far enough away from the “action” to make it a perfect choice.
Soft sea breezes rattling the palms outside your door, colorful sea life begging you to snorkel just off the beach, and all the comforts of home besides.
I could get used to it. How about you?
Websites with information on the area:
- http://www.longboatkey.org/ – The official government site
- http://www.sarasota.com – The definitive site for the region
- http://www.visitlongboatkey.com/ – Good information source on Longboat Key
- http://www.longboatkeychamber.com/ – Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce
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