Best Beaches

Manasota Key – The Laid Back Relaxing Vacation Kind of Place

I don’t know about you, but my favorite type of beach is quiet and uncrowded—one where I can enjoy the moment without too many distractions. A beach to sit back in a chair and read a book without music blaring from the chair next to me. A beach without thousands of people laying on every inch of sand, where the grandkids have plenty of room to run, play and build sandcastles in the sand without me having to worry about them annoying the heard of people around us. John and I found just this type of long stretch of beach on Manasota Key’s south end.

Manasota Key is a barrier island on Florida’s west coast shared by Charlotte and Sarasota counties. With Lemon Bay to its east side and the Gulf of Mexico to its west side, Manasota Key has the best of all worlds for one who wants to balance plenty of activity with time for quiet relaxation. The term I use to describe a place like this is “just enough action without too much distraction.”

John and I visited the south end of Manasota Key during peak season when all the northern visitors are down, escaping the brutal winter of the north. Even at its busiest time of the year, the atmosphere of the area was relaxed and slow-paced. There were no four lanes of heavy traffic on the beach drive to contend with; in fact, there were just as many bicyclists on the road as there were cars. The public beaches did have many people out enjoying them, but it was not so heavily crowded or intrusive. I felt very comfortable and in my own little world, in my space in the sand.

Englewood Beach and Stump Pass State Park

John and I visited two beaches on our trip to Manasota Key, Englewood Beach and Stump Pass Beach in Stump Pass State Park, both a little different but equally great.

Englewood Beach has pay-by-the-hour parking with a pay station. The only issue we had with this is that there was only one pay station, and we had to wait in line for about 20 minutes. It was slightly annoying, but once the parking was dealt with, the rest of the day was perfect. In addition, the beach has a playground for little ones, umbrella and chair rentals, a boardwalk, and restroom/shower facilities.

Stump Pass State Park has minimal parking, so if you don’t get there early, you will have to wait in line until someone leaves or simply have to go to another beach. The beach at Stump Pass is a known prime location for finding beautiful shells and sharks’ teeth, and it is also known by anglers to have some pretty great fishing. Visitors can also explore the two islands on the bay on the park’s east side by kayak. While Kayaking, visitors have opportunities to see birds, gopher tortoises, and manatees.

John and I like to eat, there is no question about that, and we found a great place on the south end of the key, The Sandbar Tiki Grille, where we enjoyed a great meal, had an adult beverage, and listened to some great music.

Manasota Key is a slowed-paced beach community, perfect for families and mature adults alike. It is quaint, with miles of beach cottages, small mom & pop type of hotels, and small condo buildings. There are no tall/large hotel chains along the beach road, but beautiful beach landscaping makes the drive down the two-lane beach highway both scenic and enjoyable.

Nearby airport information:

  • Bradenton-Sarasota International Airport (SRQ) approx. 46 miles
  • Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) approx. 81 miles

We hope you enjoyed our post about our journey to the south end of Manasota Key. To continue with us on our journey as we discover new places and as we find new things to do in our wonderful state of sunshine, then subscribe to our site so we may send future posts to your email inbox. To join the Florida discussion, meet new friends that share your love for Florida and to interactively share our journey, then also join our Facebook group. You can find us at:

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