When you stay at Cedar Cove Resort, we understand if you don’t want to leave the property the whole time you’re here. After all, we’re right on the soft white sands of Anna Maria Island, just steps from the refreshing waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Your homey accommodations keep you well rested, and your in-suite kitchen keeps you well fed—whether cooking for yourself or just heating up leftovers.
But just in case you do get the urge to go out and explore, you’re in luck: There are some stunning tropical sights to see without ever having to venture onto the mainland.
In fact, Cedar Cove sits on Gulf Drive, the northern part of one of the best scenic drives in southwest Florida. Travel three and a half miles south on Gulf Drive, past the sand dunes of Coquina Beach, and you’ll come to a charming little drawbridge marking the northernmost part of Longboat Key.
As you cross that bridge over Longboat Pass, the Gulf of Mexico stretching out infinitely to your right, on your left you’ll probably see groups of boaters gathering on a popular sandbar rising up out of the crystal-clear water.
Once you’re on Longboat Key, you’ll quickly come to Broadway Street. On the right there’s a lesser-known little beach access that’s more neighborhood gathering that tourist crowd; turn left onto Broadway and you’re in historic Longbeach Village, known for 100-year-old homes and a wandering flock of peacocks. At the eastern end of Broadway sit two superb waterfront restaurants: Mar Vista and the new Shore Longboat. Take your pick for exceptional, creative fare.
By this point, Gulf Drive has become Gulf of Mexico Drive, the only main north-south road on Longboat Key. There are very few traffic lights on Longboat Key, making it perfect for an uninterrupted tour. If you care to stop, Harry’s Corner Store and Deli is a delightful little gourmet marketplace with fresh sandwiches and hot lunches to go—all linked to the award-winning Harry’s Continental Kitchens restaurant.
Keep going south to see all the Longboat has to offer, including multi-million-dollar homes, renowned resorts, verdant tropical flora and a mobile home park with one of the best views around: Twin Shores, on the left, looks straight across the road to an picturesque stretch of beach. Travel this route near sunset and jaws will drop.
Or, if you like, you can simply keep driving, down all of the 11-mile stretch of Longboat Key, until you hit City Island and Lido Key/St. Armands Circle beyond. There’s lots to explore, but even if you never get out of the car, you’ll enjoy the trip.