Sunset On Longboat Key, Florida

sunset longboat key florida

Sunset on Longboat Key is spectacular but it isn’t the only reason to visit the lovely barrier island just minutes away from downtown Sarasota. If you are thinking of an island getaway, you don’t have to fly off to the Caribbean, just head to the west coast of Florida and visit Longboat Key.

sunset longboat key florida
Sunset On Longboat Key, Florida

Longboat Key, with the Gulf of Mexico on one side and Sarasota Bay on the other, has 11 miles of beautiful white sand beaches and clear turquoise water. There are lovely resorts, small beach cottages and old time Florida motels, lots of four star restaurants and seaside seafood shacks, boutiques and souvenir shops as well as plenty of nature and water sport activities for an enjoyable visit. For my husband and I, sunset might be reason enough to drive across the state of Florida to Longboat Key.

A couple of months ago, a magnificent sunset was the perfect ending to a day long adventure to a part of Florida we had never visited. After reading about the Sunrise To Sunset Florida Coast To Coast Road Rally through the Space Coast Porsche Club of America, which my husband is a member of, we immediately signed up.

coast to coast road rally
Starting The Sunrise To Sunset Road Rally In The Rain (Photo:Robin Hoffman)

Driving across Florida from Melbourne, where the rally started in the rain, to Longboat Key where it ended, would normally take about 3 1/2 hours. However, we were allowed 6 1/2 hours to find all the clues and complete the event. The “Evil Rally Masters”, actually they were very nice, had some interesting challenges and some that unfortunately were impossible for us to find.

I wish I could say we won but we felt like winners anyway when we checked into Zota Beach Resort after finishing the rally. The contemporary yet casual beachfront boutique hotel is right on the Gulf of Mexico. The glass walled lobby is decorated with a fun and colorful mix of furniture and art work, there is even a sandcastle under the staircase.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slideshow. 

We loved our beautiful accommodations with the great view from the corner room. Amenities included a coffeemaker, minibar, flatscreen TV, evening turndown and bottled water which was replace daily. The bathroom had a large walk-in shower and plenty of counter space for the two of us.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slideshow. 

From the wraparound balcony, we had a view of the hotel’s lovely palm lined infinity pool and hot tub. Dozens of lounges line the pool and there are several cabanas with ceiling fans, comfortable seating, flatscreen TV, a minibar and even a safe that guests can rent. What we loved most, however, was the wonderful view of gulf and the white sand beach lined with seagrass, flowering shrubs and palm trees that we enjoyed from the balcony’s comfortable lounge chairs.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slideshow. 

After checking out our wonderful room and a quick change of clothes, the final stop on our road rally was for an awards banquet. (No we didn’t get one of the many trophies but did well for our first try.) Dinner was at the Beach House Waterfront Restaurant where the outdoor deck is “the place” for a cocktail as you watch sunset. Everyone is hoping to see the “green flash” as the sun slowing sinks into the Gulf. I only wish my camera could have captured what the sky looked like in person, it was beautiful.

beach house restaurant longboat key
Sunset At The Beach House Restaurant

After breakfast the next morning in the hotel’s restaurant, we decided to explore the island. The resort’s location is in the center of the island in a quiet residential section. It’s just a short drive north for casual shopping, entertainment and restaurants. Head south to St. Armands Circle shopping district for upscale boutiques, galleries, outdoor cafes and restaurants. From there, simply cross a bridge and you have access to downtown Sarasota with the Ringling Museum of Art and the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.

We discovered that there are many options for vacationing on the island, from a resort stay like ours to a weekend at a small beach cottage or an airbnb. For longer stays, most visitors rent a condo for a week or more, they seem to be available at a wide range of prices. January through April is the high season, with prices higher than the rest of the year so keep that in mind if you are planning a trip to Florida to escape winter.

Ask anyone where you should go for lunch and they all recommend Mar Vista. It is a laidback bayside restaurant that serves “Old Florida” cuisine. Sit out back underneath the shady buttonwood trees by the water or on the covered patio. Order a delicious grouper sandwich, fried seafood or oysters along with your favorite cocktail, beer or wine.We enjoyed our lunch, the view, the breeze and the fast, friendly service.

We made reservations before leaving home for dinner at a recently opened restaurant just a few minutes drive from Zota. Shore, a popular restaurant on St. Armands Circle, opened a second hip and extremely popular restaurant in a residential neighborhood on the north end of Longboat Key. It seems to be “the place to dine” right now so I suggest making a reservation ahead of time.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slideshow. 

We were given a table outside but it seems that every table at Shore, both inside and out, has a great view of the bay. The restaurant has a modern menu that specializes in local seafood that has an Asian flair. We had a delightful dining experience with before dinner cocktails and rosemary olive bread and spreads of smoked salmon, goat cheese and a spinach eggplant dip. For entrees we had red snapper with wilted spinach and arancini cake and miso marinated black grouper with sticky rice cake and shiitake mushrooms. All delicious but too dark to share photos of the food. I have to thank the manager Matthew Horan for taking and sharing some beautiful photos he took with his iPhone for me that evening…talk about service!

If you love fresh, seasonal seafood, days spent on white sand beaches, tranquil evenings with soft breezes and beautiful sunsets on a sophisticated yet causal tropical island, then Longboat Key is for you. For those not participating in a 6 1/2 hour road rally, Longboat Key on the west coast of Florida, is just a 30 minute drive from the Sarasota airport, a little over an hour from Tampa’s Airport and 2 1/2 hours from the city of Orlando.

sunset on longboat key
Sunset From The Balcony Of Zota Beach Resort, Longboat Key


The sunsets on Longboat Key are stunning, the turquoise blue Gulf waters and white sand beaches are wonderful and there is an array of good restaurants in every category. We soon learned that the island and neighboring Sarasota, with The Ringling, which is home to one of the preeminent art and cultural collections in the U.S. has so much to offer that I’m hoping to return soon…perhaps next time with friends. Road trip anyone?

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I travel the back roads of the world, sharing great food and interesting places and enjoyable pastimes.

35 thoughts on “Sunset On Longboat Key, Florida

  1. What great fun! I’d want a tequila sunrise to go with the last beautiful sunset.
    Some of those hotel rooms have a great 60s feel to them, I’m surprised to didn’t run into James Bond and Felix Leiter.

  2. We lived in Tampa for a bit over a decade starting in the mid-1990s, and love those Florida sunsets! We drove down to Longboat Key and Siesta Key numerous times — fun places to visit.

  3. Sounds like a fun way to see the west coast. My parents retired to Bradenton and we spent many happy hours on it’s barrier islands and we (usually Bev and Pat) go to Marco every fall for a couple of weeks and some gorgeous sunsets are always on hand.

  4. I love that area. I used to live in Naples Florida and worked for Gulfshore Life magazine. St. Armands was a territory I covered for advertising. We are heading to Naples the middle of the month and I am looking forward to sunsets and seafood!

  5. This sounds like such a fun time — and with a great ending, too. What a haven in which to rest and the restaurant looks wonderful! Thanks for stopping by the other day — lovely to see you!

  6. What a beautiful place to stay with those stunning sunsets! No matter where you go it looks like such fun! Life in Florida agrees with you!

  7. I have read about Longboat Key before, but now I think I must travel to see it for myself. If for no other reason, stunning sunsets would be enough. Of course, a beautiful boutique hotel, resort, or condo would be icing on the cake. Fresh seafood is always a win. Thanks for sharing, Karen!

  8. Hello Karen.

    So beautiful , wonderful and gorgeous sunset. We have never been to that side of Florida, only on the Atlantic side. Great place for road trips. Thank you.

    Have a wonderful day!

  9. We did, briefly, see some of that coast a lot of years ago, Karen, and from your photos it’s no less beautiful now. Looks like you did it in style 🙂 🙂

  10. Breath Taking views Karen. We are so glad you were able to go and enjoy in on the rally too, that sounds like fun. We always say, “any crappy day in Florida is better than any gorgeous day in Michigan.” Sad, but so true, right? Hope you are doing well and next time we visit we have to try the West side of the State.

  11. We were planning to go to Florida in February this year, but had a couple of scheduling conflicts. I think I’ll show Bill your post as Longboat Key looks like a great destination for next winter!!

  12. Oh how I love the Gulf side of the Florida Coast. We’ll have to check out Longboat Key. It looks gorgeous. A few years ago, we stayed at a VRBO on St. George Island in the panhandle area. It was beautiful and I’ve always wanted to go back and explore more. Thanks for sharing this adventure.

  13. This is just what I needed to see on a grey and very cool day in Ontario, Canada. Actually, the temperatures are quite mild for this time of year, but I’m ready for winter to be over. I feel warmer for having seen your beautiful photos!

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