If tropical breezes and a laid back upscale location is what you are looking for then Longboat Key should be on your "must see" list.
The 11 miles of white sand beaches run from St Armand's Circle in Sarasota County up into Manatee County and Anna Maria. Condominiums are the dominant residences Gulf side with a level of sophistication and finish found in some of the nicest homes and can be upwards of 4,000 square feet or more. Spectacular views and sunsets are had by most. The beaches have very limited access for those not in residence. Upper floors also enjoy the night time views of the lights from Sarasota.
Single family homes are generally located bay side and on canals with access to Sarasota Bay. For boaters, access to the Gulf of Mexico without having to contend with any bridges is an enormous benefit to life on Longboat Key. Price points for interior lots are lower for those on a gulf course but most will have some sort of deeded beach access. At the northern part of the key, there are several areas where pristine gulf and beach front mansions have been erected.
Longboat Key is also one of the very rare barrier islands that has two 18 hole golf courses. So if you just want to hit a few practice rounds between walking the beach and dinner time at one of the eight restaurants, the Longboat Key Club give you a lot of options when it comes to enjoying that ever precious down time.
Access to the mainland is either by St. Armand's to the south or Cortez Road or Manatee Rd to the north side. For day-to-day needs, the shopping center mid-key at Bay Isles offers a fully equipped grocery store that caters to the sophisticated tastes that the well-traveled residents expect.
There are several world class restaurants including The Chart House, Euphemia Haye, and Cafe on the Bay restaurants. There are also 'tropical casual' places to dine just a few minutes away at St. Armand's. You will also find many boutique and specialty shops that cater to an upscale clientele. Anna Maria, Holmes or Bradenton Beaches to the north offer shops and dining with more of a 'beach' town feel.