5 Things to Do in Sarasota During Your Stay at The Resort at Longboat Key Club and Lido Beach Resort
There’s always plenty to do in Sarasota–and if you’re lucky enough to stay at the Opal Collection’s The Resort at Longboat Key Club or Lido Beach Resort, your vacation to-do list just got a lot longer.
That’s because the resorts offer up-close-and-personal beach time, dining, and athletics–and some of those offerings are exclusive to guests or members only.
Florida Culture got firsthand experience with these two resorts during a June press trip, right as Tropical Storm Colin was hitting the Gulf. Somehow, we intrepid writers and PR mavens made it through with enough alcohol and good food to keep us going.
So, here’s our take on things to do when you’re staying at these two iconic resorts–and even if you’re staying elsewhere in Sarasota, we think you’ll find our advice useful.
- Take a beach walk. You’ll have hard-to-beat beach access at either resort. Just take an elevator down, walk a few steps, and you’re on the beautiful Gulf. Bring your smartphone or fancy-pants camera to catch shots of birds, sea life (think: starfish and sand dollars), waves, sky scenes, and people. Make sure to share the shots on social media (the resorts also have their own social media pages–@longboatkeyclub and @lidobeachresort). When the weather cooperates, the Gulf sunsets are stunning.
- Eat. A lot. First, Sarasota is a town that’s passionate about food. Year-round residents as well as snowbirds celebrate their gourmet offerings as well casual dives. At the resorts alone, you’ve got a whole host of dining options, staffed by chefs passionate about your food experience. Lido Beach Resort has Cafe Lido & Tiki Bar with prime views of the sea. Its Lido Beach Grille offers a panoramic view of the area and a more sophisticated experience (some menu highlights: macadamia nut grouper and roasted lamb chops). At the larger Resort at Longboat Key Club, you’ve got your pick of casual dining at Sands Pointe (we liked the red quinoa breakfast dish with ricotta cheese), a farm-to-table focus at Tavern & Whiskey Bar, and fine Italian dining at Portofino, right at the resort’s own marina. Longboat has other dining options spread throughout the resort.
- Enjoy resort amenities. Kayak rental? Check. Stand-up paddleboarding? Yup. Spa time? Check. Pool lounging? Check. A kids’ club? Check. Tennis and golf? Yup, those as well. Although the offerings between Lido Beach Resort and Longboat Key vary–Longboat offers more due to its size–you’ll be hard pressed to find something you won’t enjoy. Longboat also offers special classes throughout the year, such as yoga on the beach and moonlight meditation (on the beach, weather permitting). We got a kick (or a serve, perhaps?) out of our tennis lesson, taught by a coach well entrenched in the Sarasota area’s busy tennis scene. FYI: The Resort at Longboat Key Club’s Tennis Gardens were named one of the top 10 tennis resorts in the U.S. by Tennis magazine; the resort was also a 2015 Readers’ Choice award finalist in Conde’ Nast Traveler magazine. Although Longboat’s amenities are for guests only, you can also glean entry if you become a member of the resort.
- Shop at St. Armand’s Circle. St. Armand’s Circle is, well, a circle dotted with restaurants and shops, all offering a European feel. From offbeat beachy finds (Artisans, our personal favorite) to a world of tea and spices (Spice & Tea Exchange, another favorite) to gelato shops to trendy dining (Shore Diner and Tommy Bahama), you’ll be able to amble your day or evening away at St. Armand’s. In a nod to Sarasota’s circus heritage, the names of various Ringling clowns are seen on plaques that surround the main circle of St. Armand’s. If you want a longer walk, you can trek from Lido Beach Resort to St. Armand’s. The destination is about a 10 minute drive from Longboat Key Club.
- Discover circus heritage at the Ringling Museum. Ringling, as in the Ringling Circus? Yes–John Ringling and his wife Mable lived in Sarasota and built their beautiful Ca’D’Zan (“House of John”) right on the bay. When John Ringling died in 1936, he left his mansion to the people of Florida. Ca’D’Zan is now a backdrop for weddings and special events and attracts tourists year-round. Yet that’s not all. The Ringling complex has an art museum that rivals the art quality in bigger cities (the museum was also started by the Ringlings), a beautiful rose garden, a newer playground, and a circus museum, where you can learn more about the Ringling Circus and its connection to Sarasota. Tip: Admission to the Ringling is usually $25 for adults and $5 for children, but it’s free on Mondays.