With scenic natural sights on the coastline and inland via expansive parks, Longboat Key is one of Florida’s hidden gems. Look forward to sun and sand, as well as numerous opportunities for educational family fun. Head to the marina and rent water crafts for a day out on the water. Stay on land and enjoy peace and quiet in nature parks and gardens that are home to a diverse array of flora and fauna. Book a stay at a Longboat Key vacation rental today. Check out the most exciting kid-friendly things to do in Longboat Key.

1. Greet the Marine Life at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium

Located in Sarasota, just across the water from Longboat Key, Mote Marine Laboratory is a kid-friendly facility that boasts hundreds of species of fish, marine mammals, and other wildlife. Let your kids get up close and personal with their favorite sea creatures, and watch professional trainers and biologists swim with dolphins and sea turtles. Stop by the touch tank to interact with tide pool dwellers like anemones and sea stars.

2. Relax on Coquina Beach

Head a few miles north along Longboat Key’s narrow stretch of land to arrive at Coquina Beach. This white sandy beach tends to be a little less crowded than other popular beaches in the area and offers a good amount of shade to protect you from the sun. Book a vacation rental in northern Longboat Key for easy access to this beach and the adjacent park, both of which are ideal for picnics and sunbathing.

3. Rent a Boat From Cannons Marina

Cannons Marina is a family owned marina in Longboat Key that offers affordable boat rentals and family activities. Choose from a range of boats that you can take out on your own, or with an experienced captain. For added fun and excitement, rent an inner tube or a set of water skis and head out on the water.

4. Hike the Myakka River State Park

Myakka River State Park covers 57 acres of land including forests, meadows, and wetlands. Put on your hiking boots and spend a day traversing one of the easy or moderate trails through this lush patch of wilderness. Break out the camera and catch a glimpse of the many interesting species of birds, mammals, and reptiles that call this park home. Stroll along the canopy walkway, a suspended “trail” that reaches heights of up to 100 feet off the ground.

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5. Explore the Sarasota Jungle Gardens

Located west of Longboat Key in on the Florida mainland, the Sarasota Jungle Gardens are a beloved outdoor attraction for the whole family. Take a walk through this habitat where flamingos roam free across the paths. Pet a real alligator while a professional animal wrangler supervises. Take younger kids to the petting zoo to visit with chickens, goats, and other farm animals.

6. Experience Quirky Florida History at the Ringling Circus Museum

Established in 1948, the Ringling Circus Museum houses numerous artifacts from the heyday of circuses in the early 20th century. Take the kids to the museum to explore the exhibits and experience circus life firsthand. Check out one of the many kid-friendly workshops offered by the museum, including arts and crafts activities, live readings, and performances.

7. Get Creative at the Sarasota Children’s Garden

A fun, innovative playground structure bordered by dense, shady bamboo, the Sarasota Children’s garden is a great environment to let younger kids roam free and enjoy an afternoon of active play. Participate in one of the educational workshops where kids can learn more about the plants and animals in the garden. Create unique arts and crafts or listen to a story, all while surrounded by lush green plant life.

8. Take a Kayak Tour

Sign up for a sea adventure and take a kayak tour around the mangrove trees that border the water in South Lido Park. Learn from an experienced guide, then paddle at your own pace during one of these group expeditions. Spot manatees, dolphins, and other Floridian marine creatures all while learning more about this fascinating coastal ecosystem.

9. Stay on Land in the South Lido Nature Park

If your kids aren’t feeling up to kayaking yet, head inland to South Lido Nature Park and take a walk down one of the trails or boardwalks that lead through this marshy landscape. Spot exotic species of birds and plant life including the picturesque mangrove trees. At the end of the boardwalk, enjoy a beautiful view of the coast that makes for excellent sunsets. The skyline of Sarasota is also visible at certain points in the park, adding to the interesting contrast between urban and wild Florida.

10. Get a Taste of Florida at Mixon Fruit Farms

Head north of Longboat Key to Mixon Fruit Farm in Bradenton to experience Florida produce as fresh as it comes. Sample the delicious fruits including numerous varieties of citrus, or for an even sweeter treat grab a handmade ice cream cone. Watch the koi fish swimming peacefully in the pond while you eat. Enjoy a tram ride through the orchards during the busiest months of the year to get a first-hand look at where your produce comes from.

11. Make Memories at the Manatee Viewing Center

A vacation rental in Longboat Key puts you right in the heart of Florida manatee country. Take a drive south of Sarasota to meet some of these majestic and friendly creatures at the Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach. Manatees congregate here due to the slightly cooler water produced by the local power station.

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