Florida without Mickey Mouse?

Natalie Alcraft on 19 May 2020
Can it be done? Well in my experience it’s a resounding yes! I have been travelling to Florida regularly over the past 7 years and have only seen Mickey twice? This part of Florida to has no McDonalds, no fast passes, and the main attraction is the beach, the wildlife, amazing food and lovely people.

Longboat Key is a true bolthole, it is located south of Sarasota on the Gulf Of Mexico and it is equally split between Manatee and Sarasota counties. The beach runs the stretch of the island with the lagoon cushioning the other side. Dolphins are seen daily in their natural environment playing in the sea, we have had many come super close to the shore over the years and I remember one baby dolphin jumping out of the water at sunset (that felt rather like Disney Magic). There are also hundreds of manatees that live in these waters, often seen in the lagoon early morning whilst you are managing the jet lag, and also in the sea throughout the day. These huge sea cows move slowly, often allowing us to walk alongside them walking down the beach, much to the children’s delight. They are hugely protected in this area and rightly so, they are gorgeous big lumps of loveliness and something we don’t get to see back home.

The beach stretches as far as the eye can see, often uncrowded and the evenings for us on the beach usually involve taking over a glass (bottle) of wine to watch the sunset whilst the children play once more in the sand and surf. I have countless images of that sun set and it never gets old.

Both Anna Maria Island and St Armands Key neighbour LBK. Anna Maria is another beautiful rustic island with beach shacks and beach side restaurants, 2 beautiful boardwalk piers (great for spotting sea life) an amazing ice cream parlour named Two Scoops. Anna Maria’s laid-back beach vibe makes you feel like you are in the Caribbean, or the Floribbean as its affectionately known. St Armand's Circle is another must, great shopping in their rows of boutiques, an array of restaurants form Italian to sushi to 5* dining. They also have Mote aquarium which gives a great insight to the marine life that live along these shores.

America is renowned for great food and this region doesn’t disappoint. Sea food is king, with scallops like hockey pucks, the freshest catch of the day either served in a paper box, not half an hour from being brought in off the fishing boats, or served more eloquently in a rooftop restaurant watching the sunset.

All in all this part of Florida makes for a stunning destination and one lesser known to the UK market – the best kept secret in Florida? Well I am biased but of course I agree, it is a stunning place in its own right or can be twin centred for a beach stay, following the madness of the parks. Either way its worth a visit and I’m almost positive you will want to go time and time again.