As much an international destination as it is a beloved favorite among visitors and residents from all over the U.S., Longboat Key’s span crosses through both Sarasota and Manatee Counties. This magnificent length of shoreline got its first road courtesy of circus magnate John Ringling in 1925. Originally, it extended only from New Pass at the southernmost tip to the Manatee County line, but Ringling envisioned a beautifully landscaped boulevard that would run the full length of the barrier island. Today’s Gulf of Mexico Drive is the magnificently landscaped thoroughfare that Ringling had imagined. It winds past splendid homes and condominiums, lush greenways and parks, hidden driveways and side streets, yacht basins and captivating stretches of the Gulf of Mexico. Along both sides are discreet shopping plazas—filled with upscale shopping and fine dining—and the emerald-shaded fairways that comprise the two championship courses of the Longboat Key Club.
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