There’s no reason for the summertime blues on Longboat Key. Sure, the weather is hotter than hot, but the Key and its beaches, shops, restaurants and roads are yours to explore without the crowds.
If you’re looking for a way to spend those summer days and nights, consider the following:
1. STROLL ST. ARMANDS CIRCLE
If shopping’s on your list, head to St. Armands Circle.
You’ll find the luxury boutiques and salons, along with high-end restaurants for which the shopping destination is famous.
On a budget? Not a problem.
Enjoy a cup of coffee at one of the Circle’s many restaurants with outdoor seating, then stroll the Circle, including St. Armands Circle Park, at its center.
2. EXPLORE MARINE AND BIRD LIFE
Mote Marine Laboratory, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, and Save Our Seabirds, 1708 Gulf of Mexico Drive
At 11 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Mote Aquarium visitors can watch shark-training sessions, while listening to narration from the shark trainers. At the aquarium’s new Fossil Creek attraction, visitors can play marine paleontologist by buying a bucket of sand for $5.99 and sifting out hidden fossils from a mini-waterway using a sieve. You might find sharks’ teeth, stingray tails or ancient gar scales. All discoveries are yours to keep.
Stop by Save Our Seabirds, next door to Mote, which is home to approximately 250 resident birds and cares for 2,000 sick and injured birds annually.
3. GET A HISTORY LESSON
There’s more to Longboat’s history than condominiums.
If you want the shortened version, consider walking or biking the Historic Village of Longbeach walking tour, which a group of residents developed last summer. The tour begins on Broadway, near Moore’s Stone Crab Restaurant and Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub, and is less than one mile. For the route, visit the Longboat Key Historical Society’s website, longboatkeyhistory.com.
If you want a longer lesson, consider biking the Key and stopping at each of the seven historic markers. The southern-most marker is at Overlook Park; the two markers furthest north are on Broadway.
The seven markers will take you from the days of Calusa Indians and Spanish explorers in the 1500s to the World War II years, when the military used the Key as a bombing range.
4. COUNT YOUR TURTLES AFTER THEY HATCH
Longboat Key Beaches, starting in August
Longboat Key’s first turtle nest was found April 30, which means that nests will begin to hatch in late June, after a 55- to 60-day incubation period.
Two or three days after a nest hatches, volunteers excavate the nest to check for straggling hatchlings, then count the number of eggs that hatch. It’s part of the extensive documentation that goes into protecting the endangered species.
Longboat Key Turtle Watch, which patrols the island’s Manatee County beach, is one of the few turtle-watch groups that invites the public to watch.
The Key currently has six waterfront restaurants that are open to the public for diners who want to savor the sun along with their food and drink:
Bayou Tavern, 6850 Gulf of Mexico Drive
Chart House Restaurant, 201 Gulf of Mexico Drive
Dry Dock Waterfront Grill, 410 Gulf of Mexico Drive
Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub, 760 Broadway
Moore’s Stone Crab Restaurant, 800 Broadway
Pattigeorge’s, 4120 Gulf of Mexico Drive
1/4 a tank
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