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Great Places to Retire

Longboat Key, Florida

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Longboat Key is a 10.8-mile long strip of land that separates Sarasota Bay from the Gulf of Mexico. Driving distances into either Bradenton or Sarasota can be about the same – 12 to 14 miles — depending upon your specific location.  The island has nearly 8,000 permanent residents.  http://www.longboatkeychamber.com/

Residents enjoy an average 73-degree year around temperature and all kinds of outdoor activities.  There are miles and miles of sand beach and there is biking, fishing, first-class facilities for tennis, golf, and more.  There is also good shopping and fine dining. It is a popular tourist destination, offering accommodations that include private suites in plush resorts, to condominiums, beachfront cottages, or modest hotel rooms.  The population at peak season swells to 22,000.

Longboat Key is just minutes from the many cultural activities offered in Sarasota.  There is Van Wezel Performing Arts Center, Asolo Theater, Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota Ballet and Opera, a Symphony Concert Series, live theater and more.  Public transportation is offered for trips into Sarasota County.  The area also has excellent shopping and you can find world-class shops on St. Armands Circle, just across New Pass Bridge at the southern tip of the island.

For boaters, there is Sarasota Bay, miles of canals and waterways, and easy access onto the Gulf of Mexico.  The Intracoastal Waterway goes right through Sarasota Bay so boaters can easily set out on a long-range cruise on inland waters.

Arts and Culture

Longboat Key Art Center, located on the north end of the island, provides studios for instruction and varied mediums of art exhibits. The Center has nearly 1,000 members and a talented faculty.

Mote Marine Laboratory is a marine research center and lab, located just north of St. Armands Key.  It is one of the top three visitor attractions in the area. It also runs an extensive number of educational programs.  http://www.mote.org/ 

South Florida Museum, in downtown Bradenton, displays Floridaís history from prehistoric times to the present. The museum also features Parker Manatee Aquarium, home of the oldest manatee in captivity.  http://www.southfloridamuseum.org/

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is the largest museum/university complex in the nation. Donated to the state at the time of the Great Depression, the Museum, which includes 21 galleries of internationally recognized European and American art, is considered the most significant cultural asset of the state. The 66-acre complex also features Ringlingís Circus Museum and his mansion on the waterfront.  http://www.ringling.org

The Asolo Theatre Company performs primarily in the 500 seat Harold E. and Esther M. Mertz Theatre (Asolo Theatre) which was originally built as an opera house in Scotland. Performances are November through June.  http://www.asolo.org/

Selby Gardens was recently named one of America’s Top Ten Botanical Gardens.  http://www.selby.org

Florida Studio Theatre offers contemporary theater at its Mainstage, or The Cabaret which offers fine dining with theater entertainment. It also hosts Sarasota Festival of New Plays each May. http://www.fst2000.org.

The Sarasota Orchestra (formerly The Florida West Coast Symphony) performs more than 100 concerts a year, including Masterworks concerts, Family, Children, and a variety of Pops concerts. Four ensembles also perform in the area.   http://www.sarasotaorchestra.org/

La Musica International Chamber Music Festival joins outstanding musicians from Europe and America to perform each April at Sarasota Opera House.  http://www.lamusicafestival.org/

The acclaimed Sarasota Ballet of Florida performs from September through April.http://www.sarasotaballet.org

The Sarasota Film Festival showcases independent and international features, shorts and documentaries.   http://www.sarasotafilmfestival.com

Sarasota Opera Company presents concerts year-round and is home to a fine youth opera program.  http://www.sarasotaopera.org

Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, renowned for its acoustics, was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Since opening in 1970, it has featured Pavarotti, Leonard Bernstein, Bob Dylan, Cary Grant, The Boston Pops, Willie Nelson, The Chicago Symphony, The Temptations, and many others.  http://www.vanwezel.org

Recreation

Longboat Key has world-class resorts with a full spectrum of recreational amenities, including golf, tennis, swimming, health spas and more.  The island has two championship golf courses restricted to members and guests, or guests staying at the Key Club resort. The Sarasota and Bradenton areas offer more than 50 additional courses.

Bikers and rollerbladers can use Longboat’s 10-mile bike path and there are numerous private tennis courts or public courts at Bayfront Park and Longboat Key Public Tennis Center.  Bayfront Park Recreation Center offers affordable and wholesome activities for youth, adults and seniors. Activities include sporting and special events, educational programs and health and exercise classes.

The Intracoastal Waterway provides a playground for wind surfers, water skiers, jet skiers, and boaters.  There is also good fishing both in the Bay and on the Gulf with many varieties of fish.

Shopping is recreation too.  And everything from high fashion clothing and jewelry to boutiques or beach casual can be found at three main shopping centers on the island and at St. Armands Circle, just south of the island.

Nearby Myakka River State Park is one of Florida’s oldest and largest state parks with 45 square miles of wetlands, prairies, hammocks and pinelands. The river and its two shallow lakes offer excellent birding, canoeing, fishing and wildlife observation. A seven-mile scenic drive winds through shady oak-palm hammocks and along the shore of Upper Myakka Lake.  Over 39 miles of hiking and biking trails and miles of dirt roads provide access to the remote interior.  http://www.dep.state.fl.us/parks/district4/myakkariver/index.asp

Education

Longboat Center for the Arts offers art classes in a variety of media, and the Education Center offers continuing education in more than 100 areas. There are no primary or secondary schools on the island therefore children go to either Manatee County or Sarasota County schools inland.

The University of South Florida Sarasota/Manatee campus in Sarasota serves 2,500 students and offers 29 accredited degree programs and courses in 40 degree programs.   http://www.usf.edu/default/

Ringling School of Art and Design enrolls both full- and part-time students who intend to become professionals in the visual programs leading to a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. It also offers courses, lectures, exhibitions and other art-related services to the local community, including continuing education.  http://www.ringling.edu/

New College is a highly competitive liberal arts college with 650 students and 60 full time faculty.  It offers over 30 arts and science disciplines.  http://www.ncf.edu/

Manatee Technical Institute in Bradenton offers two-year programs.  Their largest programs are Health Professions and Related Sciences, Personal and Miscellaneous Services, Constructions Trades, Mechanics and Repairers, and Computer and Information Sciences.  http://www.universities.com/Schools/M/Manatee_Technical_Institute.asp

Manatee Community College, located Bradenton, offers associate in arts, science and associate in applied science degrees and one-year certificate programs.  It also offers skills upgrade courses, workforce development and adult education classes.  http://www.mccfl.edu/

Senior Programs

The Bayfront Park Recreation Center is a public recreation facility run by the Town of Longboat Key.  Its purpose is to provide affordable recreation for youth, adults, and senior citizens.  Adult/senior activities include AARP driving, arts & crafts, bridge, fitness, model boats, lecture series, softball leagues, Tíai Chi, tennis round robin, Weight Watchers, shuffleboard, and trail walking.  http://www.longboatkey.org/Departments/Rec/rec.htm

Also in Sarasota is the Senior Academy of the University of South Florida Sarasota/Manatee.  Its mission is to promote a continuous peer teaching/learning experience with opportunities to Senior Academy members for a “return to their college days.” Members can use the university library, lunch at the student union, purchase books and software at the campus bookstore at student discount prices, select fields of study, and to become “professors” if they wish to lead a study group.  http://www.sarasota.usf.edu/SeniorAcademy/

Hospitals

There is one medical center on the island, Bay Isles Medical Center, with doctors on staff from 9 to 5 Monday through Friday.  There is also a cardiology center, Longboat Cardiology, with physicians on staff from 8 to 12, and 1 to 5 Monday through Friday.

Bradenton and Sarasota each has primary care hospitals.

Bradenton:  Blake Medical Center is a 383-bed acute care, full service medical     center. http://www.blakemedicalcenter.com/   Manatee Memorial Hospital is a 491-bed acute care hospital.  http://www.manateememorial.com

Sarasota:  Sarasota Memorial is the second largest public hospital in all of Florida, with 685 credentialed physicians and 845 beds. http://www.smh.com/locations.asp
Doctorís Hospital is a 168-bed primary care hospital.  http://www.doctorsofsarasota.com/default.asp

Airport

Sarasota Bradenton International Airport is a convenient 30 minutes from Longboat Key.  A number of the major carriers, and half a dozen commuter-type airlines serve it. http://www.srq-airport.com/

Tampa International Airport, located about an hour away is served by most major airlines.  http://www.tampaairport.com/

Weather

The average year-round temperature is 73 degrees and the Gulf averages 75 degrees.  The average temperature for January is a high of 72 and low of 60.  For July it is a high of 90 degrees and low of 86 degrees.  Average rainfall is 53 inches.  http://www.wxusa.com/FL/Longboat_Key/

Newspaper

Bradenton Herald – http://www.bradenton.com/mld/bradenton/

Property Taxes

http://www.manateepao.com/Home.asp

State Taxes

http://www.myflorida.com/dor/taxes/

Chamber of Commerce

http://www.longboatkeychamber.com/

State Aging Agency

http://www.longboatkeychamber.com/

Distances

Bradenton – 15 miles
Sarasota – 12 miles
St. Petersburg – 39 miles
Tampa – 64 miles
Venice – 31 miles
Fort Myers – 88 miles

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