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On Florida’s Western “Suncoast” there is a lot to see and explore. It is centered around the city of Sarasota and several beautiful outlying islands or locally called ‘keys’. One of the quietest and most beautiful is the lengthy, 11 mile stretch of land known as Longboat Key.
The island is beautifully manicured with golf courses, developments, grand homes and gated communities on both sides of its long stretch. There is one main road that runs North to South that only connects to the mainland at each end of the island, thus limiting traffic. It can get quite packed in high season with a 40 minute wait to get off the island between 4:30-6pm.
There are a few shopping centers and general stores, but like everything here it is well tucked away so as not to distract from the scenic beaches and prominent foliage that lines the streets. For cyclists it is a perfect place to ride up and down the long and straight stretches of road. And the extra wide sidewalks are perfect for runners and walkers alike.
Much of the island is developed for private homes and communities and one driving along might get the impression that the beach is entirely sectioned off for private use, there are public access points however which are marked by little blue and white signs, one just has to pay attention or know more or less where they are in order to see them. It will often be a tiny dirt road leading to a small parking area on the beach.
In all there are actually eleven access points open to the public for the Gulf of Mexico beach on Longboat Key. Most do not have any facilities such as bathrooms, showers or lifeguards. The Bayfront Park area is the only one with such amenities. The beaches do not allow alcohol or pets on them and the width of the beach depends on the tide. It is a mix of sand and shells. There is an ample amount of shallow sandbar in the waters which can allow one to move out in relative comfort. Here are the access points:
2825 Gulf of Mexico Dr. Parking available at Town Hall (501 Bay Isles Rd.)
3175 Gulf of Mexico Dr. Parking available on site
3355 Gulf of Mexico Dr. Parking available on site
3495 Gulf of Mexico Dr. Handicap Accessible on site
4001 Gulf of Mexico Dr. Parking available at Bayfront Park
4711 Gulf of Mexico Dr.
4795 Gulf of Mexico Dr.
6399 Gulfside Road Parking available at General Harris Street
6847 Gulf of Mexico Dr.
Broadway Access 100 Broadway St. Handicap Accessible parking on site
7055 Seabreeze Ave. No parking available