Readers cast their votes based on quality of activities, ambiance, beaches, friendliness, scenery, lodging and restaurants.
Beauty and Elegance
Longboat Key is an enigmatic blend of natural beauty and the utmost in manicured elegance. Five-star restaurants featuring haute cuisine, renowned top-rated resorts and designer championship golf courses are sprinkled along this secluded barrier island, sharing space with more casual venues as you venture further north. Longboat’s coastal strands remain peacefully devoid of crowds. It’s no wonder that our coveted island captivated the readers of Condé Nast.
But this elite Bradenton isle is not the only one worth bragging about. Anna Maria Island is minutes away yet worlds apart. While Longboat’s homes rival L.A. mansions, Anna Maria’s digs are quaint and colorful. The residents of this quirky slice of paradise are content to fish for grouper, catch a beer at a tiki bar and simply celebrate the sunset.
Prestigious Longboat Key and free-spirited Anna Maria may differ in character, but they share the Gulf coast, and with it, the Gulf Stream. Since both islands stretch out into the balmy ocean current, they are both blessed with the same gorgeous aqua waters. This illustrious effect of the Gulf Stream is the reason that Condé Naste readers cited our “turquoise waters” as a top-scoring factor. It’s also why our estuaries are so abundant and nutrient-rich.
Sunsets, seafood and places to stay
For centuries, artists have tried to capture the ineffable beauty of a Bradenton sunset. But you’ve got to see this phenomenon of nature firsthand to truly appreciate it. You can take in the sunset from such come-as-you-are restaurants as Mar Vista, The Beachhouse and The Sandbar. Or visit the Beach Bistro, the epitome of Florida-chic fine dining. Or enjoy the view from your cottage, hotel or resort. The Harrington House Beachfront B&B, pet-friendly Rolling Waves Beach Cottages and the Hilton Longboat Key Beachfront Resort are great options.
The long and the “shore” of it
Each spot under Bradenton’s sun holds its own special charms. Even the mainland is an international draw. We’re obviously proud of our award-winning island; however, once you explore all of Bradenton and the Gulf Islands, you’ll discover that they’re all winners.
This article was brought to you by the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. To plan your trip to Florida’s Gulf Islands, visit www.annamariaisland-longboatkey.com.