Nestled in Sarasota Country on Southwest Florida’s Gulf Coast, Manasota Key is the ideal location for your next trip. This 11-mile-long barrier island is known for its calm and slow pace, making it the perfect vacation spot to rest and relax. There are countless things to do in Manasota Key, FL, including enjoying its beautiful beaches and state parks.
Manasota Key is a hidden gem. It’s not visited as much as busier neighboring beach destinations like Venice or Sarasota, but it’s just as fun and beautiful. Known for its peaceful and quiet demeanor, this secret getaway will only grow more popular with time, so now is the perfect opportunity to visit. Its pristine waters, white sand, and crowd-free beaches make this a prime spot for vacationing.
Not quite sure what to do on your trip? Use this complete guide to Manasota Key, FL, to plan your next getaway!
Things to do in Manasota Key, FL
Englewood Beach is one of the more popular beaches in Manasota Key, known for its turquoise water, pristine sand, and gorgeous sunsets throughout the year. Beach amenities make this a popular destination and include volleyball courts, a basketball court, a playground, horseshoe pits, picnic tables, grills, and covered pavilions. You can also take a stroll along the boardwalk that overlooks the ocean.
Convenient for families, beach chairs and umbrellas can be rented at the nearby “The Beach Guy” beachfront store. You’ll also find restroom facilities that include showers as well as water stations outside. There’s ample parking available which is a rarity in beach towns nowadays.
With so many family-friendly attractions, be sure to plan your perfect day trip to Englewood Beach.
Just a short distance north of Englewood Beach, Manasota Beach is another popular spot for a fun day in the sun. Here you’ll find more than enough outdoor activities to keep you entertained for the day.
Manasota Beach has access to a boat ramp, so you can take your boat or canoe out for some fun on the water. There’s also a boardwalk with a fishing pier for those looking to catch some grouper or snapper.
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Back on land, there’s plenty to do with volleyball courts, grills, and picnic areas. There’s even a nearby hiking nature trail, perfect for wildlife and bird watching!
Blind Pass Beach
With over half a mile of breathtaking shoreline and beautiful water, Blind Pass Beach is one stretch of sand you certainly won’t want to miss. Also referred to as Middle Beach, Blind Pass is unmatched in its allure and beautiful sunsets.
Blind Pass is a charming beach, great for relaxing on its pristine sand or for a tranquil stroll through one of its neighboring nature trails. Here you’ll be able to peacefully hike the trails, admire the mangrove forests, get in some bird watching, or use one of its biking trails for an exciting and freeing ride.
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Once you’ve had your fill of the beautiful scenery, head back to the beach for fun in the sun. Blind Pass Beach has a fishing dock and a kayak and canoe launch, as well as picnic facilities for a family outing.
Stump Pass Beach State Park
Located at the southern end of Manasota Key, you’ll find the perfect blend of marine and land habitats when visiting Stump Pass Beach State Park. The state park is home to a mile of beaches and another 1.3 miles of hiking trails passing through five distinct natural communities, home to wildlife.
While visiting Stump Pass State Park’s beaches, you’ll find unique seashells and might even stumble across washed-up shark teeth on its shores! Take advantage of all the water activities available, including swimming, canoeing, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, and fishing. The majestic angler fish is the prize catch in these waters!
On the hiking trails, you’ll be treated to an abundance of incredible wildlife as you trek through the mangrove forests. You might spot gopher tortoises, snowy egrets, manatees, ospreys, fiddler crabs, and if you’re lucky, southern bald eagles.
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During the winter months at Stump Pass Beach State Park, there are ranger-led hikes available to book.
Lemon Bay Aquatic Preserve
Off the coast of Manasota Key, you’ll find a uniquely fascinating marine habitat called the Lemon Bay Aquatic Preserve. The waters of this preserve make up an ecosystem that’s 13 miles long, consisting of underwater mangroves, oyster communities, mollusk reefs, salt marshes, and seagrass beds.
The aquatic preserve focuses on protecting the marine life and habitats of Southwest Florida waters. By doing so, it ensures that the ecosystems remain intact and healthy, allowing for marine life to not only survive but prosper. These conservation efforts make the Lemon Bay Aquatic Preserve a calm and beautiful area to visit.
When visiting the aquatic preserve, you’ll be able to kayak, fish, beachcomb, bird watch, and more. Visitors often see dolphins and sharks when traversing the waters by boat.
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Enjoy the open waters of Lemon Bay, but don’t forget to take a moment to sit and admire its surrounding beauty. It’s a breathtaking experience that you’ll never forget.
Indian Mound Park
Indian Mound Park is home to a rare and fascinating archaeological Indian Mound site, once inhabited by the natives of the Gulf Coast area. Chosen for habitation because of its prime location for resources and access to the water, Indian Mound Park is a great way to spend the day exploring and learning.
A hike down the Trail of Florida’s Indian Heritage is an ideal way to learn more about the natives, their heritage, and the mound site. The trails at Indian Mound Park are great for hiking and birdwatching as well.
After you’ve had a chance to learn about Florida’s unique past, take a quick trip down to the park’s beach for a fun day on the sand. Here you’ll find canoe launches, boat ramps, picnics, restroom facilities, and more.
Lemon Bay Park and Environmental Center
As an extension of the Lemon Bay Aquatic Preserve, Lemon Bay Park and Environmental Center occupies 210 acres of nature that’s just as magnificent. The park contains nearly two miles of shoreline on the preserve, giving convenient access to its beautiful blue waters. The park itself is an incredible natural habitat that includes flatwoods and mangrove forests.
The nature trails are perfect for hiking, leading you to several great attractions like the butterfly garden and the beautiful environmental center. Here you can learn about the park’s ecosystems, take a guided nature tour, participate in an educational class or go on birdwatching hikes.
Lemon Bay Park and Environmental Center also has picnic facilities, a fishing pier, and a canoe launch for extra activities like kayaking and fishing. Don’t forget to bring your pup—Lemon Bay Park is a pet-friendly park that welcomes four-legged friends!
Where to eat & drink
For fine dining with a casual beach atmosphere, visit Lock ‘N Key Restaurant. This newly renovated eatery is only steps away from beautiful Englewood Beach.
With spacious open outdoor seating and a chic indoor dining room, you can enjoy the sea breeze outside or relax in a comfortable, sophisticated setting inside. The chefs at Lock ‘N Key prepare each entrée with meticulous care, using only the best ingredients, including the freshest meats and daily catches for seafood. Be sure to try the certified premium beef steak or prime rib!
Looking for a fine dining experience with a laid-back twist? Head over to The Waverly Restaurant & Bar. Located on Englewood Beach’s North Beach Rd, the restaurant offers a great experience, tasty cocktails, and delicious food. The parking is spacious and easy, so there’s no drama here!
Once here, sit inside, or choose outdoors, where there’s live music and fantastic ocean views. Try the very berry chicken salad—perfectly prepared blackened chicken with mixed greens, fresh seasonal berries, and candied pecans, all tossed in Waverly’s house balsamic dressing. If you’re looking for something a bit more hearty, go with the pan-roasted black grouper, a restaurant fan favorite!
For an unforgettable fine dining experience, make reservations at Magnolias on the Bay, an upscale and trendy restaurant in Manasota Key. The dining experience includes dinner on the paved patio and covered deck, which offers picturesque views of Lemon Bay. Chefs prepare delicious entrees with great care and attention to detail in an open kitchen, where diners can watch them at work.
Try Magnolia’s specialty, the wagyu filet mignon, a culinary masterpiece. Be sure to dress for the occasion as there is a dress code for dinner. If you’re looking for something a bit more laid back, visit Magnolias on the Bay during the day when it doubles as a coffee shop serving up espressos, lattes, and fresh coffee, along with their freshly baked pastries.
If you are looking for laid-back, casual, and fun, SandBar Tiki & Grille is the place to be! With live music every day and night, you’re in for a fun night of entertainment. SandBar is a restaurant bar and grill located right on the water, offering indoor and outdoor seating with incredible views from the docks.
There’s even seating on the sandy beach, where you can eat tasty dishes and have a cold drink, all while digging your toes into the sand. Try one of their delicious cocktails while feasting on one of their barbeque platters. Order the BBQ combo platter, delivered with a rack of ribs, pulled pork, smoked wings, and smoked brisket!
If you’re looking for an ice-cold drink and a good time in a relaxed bar atmosphere, head over to Calico Jack’s. Known to locals for its great drinks and even better bartenders, you’ll be surrounded by music and a friendly atmosphere at Calico Jack’s.
The bartenders are attentive and always have a smile late into the night. On weekend nights, there’s live entertainment, bringing a fun vibe. Bring a friend so that you can enjoy the pool tables, pinball machines, and dartboards while enjoying their large selection of beers on tap!
Once a resort structure built in the Old Florida style, the remodeled White Elephant Pub is a great place to enjoy food, cold drinks, and live entertainment. If you’re already on the water, simply drive your boat to the pub and park in the deep water harbor for easy access.
During the evenings, you’ll get some of the most spectacular views of the marina while listening to the gentle surf in the background. After you’ve tried their famous fried chicken platter and a few drinks, get ready to hit the dance floor!
Where to stay
Located on the sandy shores, this apartment vacation rental is the perfect place to stay for your seaside getaway. Each unit features a separate living room, fully-equipped kitchen, and terrace.
Perched upon a private beach, this 3-star hotel offers superb beachfront accommodations, with extras like an outdoor swimming pool. Upgrade to one of the seaside rooms to chill out on your own private balcony with dramatic sea views.
Steps from the beach, this two-bedroom holiday home is a fantastic spot if you’re traveling to Manasota Key with friends or a small family. End the day soaking up the rays with a cold drink on the private patio or balcony.