Longboat Key was the No. 9 best island in the U.S. in Conde Nast Traveler’s 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards.
Overall Rating: 79.985
This barrier island is the most private of the famed keys alongside Sarasota, which include Anna Maria Island and Siesta Key. Seashell enthusiasts will find a perfect vacation spot on the key, where sand dollars are plentiful just offshore.
Pro tip: The beach is a glorious 10-miles long, but most access is limited to guests staying in resorts on the key. For the full experience, be sure to stay at a hotel along the Gulf.
Getting there: The key is just a 30-minute drive northwest from downtown Sarasota.