Sometimes called Anna Marie Key, this beautiful island is located just off the coast of Bradenton and just south of Sarasota. Anna Marie Island is comprised of three cities: Anna Marie, Holmes Beach, and Bradenton Beach. Each area has its own unique charm and all of them have terrific restaurants and access to stunning beaches, attractions, and activities. Friendly and laid back, living on Anna Marie island attracts families looking to kick back their heels and relax in a less commercialized setting. Robinson Nature Preserve, a favorite among locals, is just up the road and is a great place to kayak, hike, or maybe catch a jumping mullet or two. There is even a 53 foot tower with a panoramic view of Tampa Bay!
One of the most prestigious residential areas on Florida's west coast, Bird Key is a barrier island in Sarasota Bay. Located just south of the John Ringling Causeway. This Florida key gets its name from the large population of birds that flocked to the island before it was developed for residential use. Once the home of John Ringling North, nephew of John Ringling, this coveted area is now home to 860 residents covering about 9.3 miles. Surrounded by Sarasota Bay and in between downtown Sarasota at St. Armand's Circle, it's tough to beat the location of Bird Key in Sarasota, Florida.
Lido Key is located in between Bird Key and Longboat Key and is home to St. Armand's Circle, a beach hub comprised of elegant shopping and dining. Once home to the Lido Beach Casino, Lido Key developed a reputation as a cosmopolitan seaside paradise. At first glance, you will want to sink your toes in the soft and powdery white sands of Lido Key. The varied shoreline around the island is a big draw for kayaking and paddleboard enthusiasts. Ted Sperling Park is home to the Lido Key's famous mangrove tunnels, where you can spot any number of fascinating and unusual wildlife...and you might just catch some bottlenose dolphins and manatees too.
When I was younger, my father lived on Longboat Key and I would spend hours biking or rollerblading across the island. With the Gulf of Mexico on one side and Sarasota Bay on the bayside, Longboat Key has some of the most visually stunning scenery in Florida. Longboat Key is divided between Sarasota and Manatee counties, and offers waterfront golf, miles of white sand, and a variety of fine dining and luxury resorts. One of my favorite childhood memories was to visit the Mote Marine Aquarium. Of course, we would also grab a blackened grouper sandwich at the Old Salty Dog across the street. I'm already getting hungry!
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Casey Key is located in between the cities of Sarasota and Venice. Just across from Casey Key on the mainland are Osprey and Nokomis, Historic Spanish Point, the Legacy Trail (a popular 10-mile paved biking pathway), and Oscar Scherer State Park. Nokomis beach is Sarasota County's oldest public beach too. Oscar Scherer State Park is also home to the elusive Scrub Jay, the only native bird species to spend its entire life cycle in the state of Florida.
Siesta Key is home to one of the world's best beaches. Seriously. It has also been named as the #1 beach in America several times. Comprised of almost 100% fine quartz, the sand is cool to the touch and feels like you are walking on feathery clouds. Sounds over the top, but Siesta Key is that amazing. Siesta Key is made up of four main districts: Siesta Key Village, Turtle Beach, Crescent Beach, and Siesta Beach. Siesta Key Village is a terrific place to spend the day too. Great food, retail shops, and a beachy feel make Siesta Key a top destination in Florida.