What Are the Best Places to Live in Florida?

Jeff Rhinelander

Florida’s west coast is a smorgasbord of beautiful cities each with its own interesting history, cultural influences, and amazing points of interest. Two of these cities that provide impressive communities and prime residential destinations are Sarasota and Longboat Key located along the Gulf of Mexico.


Sarasota is an affluent community that carries the same name that it was called by the Spanish in the 1700s. There are a variety of things to do and places to go for singles, families, and senior citizens. The city has a visual Scottish influence that began in the 1880s when the game of golf was first introduced. Today, Sarasota has over 30 golf courses from public play to private membership.

The city is well-known for the Ringling Museum and its many exhibits and the beautifully detailed Ca d’zan mansion, the former home of John and Mabel Ringling. In 1926, Sarasota became part of history as the winter quarters for the famous Ringling Brothers circus.

Residents will also have access to pristine sugar-sand beaches, museums, the Asolo Theater, fishing and boating opportunities, and car and boat shows. A bevy of annual festivals takes place year-round such as the Sarasota Fall Fine Art Festival, annual St. Armands Circle Art Festival, and the annual Downtown Sarasota Craft Festival, and the Water Lantern Festival, to name just a few.

Fine dining is always an option in Sarasota with a list of creative restaurants to please the most discerning palate. Shopping venues are equally impressive with a selection of posh, upscale, and upbeat shops and boutiques.

Sarasota has an abundance of highly-rated elementary, middle, and high schools. Four hospitals are in Sarasota including Sarasota Memorial Hospital rated as one of the top healthcare facilities in the U.S. Potential residents also have a wide range of neighborhoods with stunning homes available to suit individual styles with current prices remaining on an even keel, unlike some other Florida cities.

Longboat Key

About 10 miles from Sarasota is the relaxing city of Longboat Key with less than 3,000 residents. While it may be small in population, it is large in popularity as a residential oasis. Its history shows the area was inhabited by Caloosa and Tocobaga Native Americans who greeted Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto when he landed along the coast of the barrier island in 1538.

There are numerous reasons to choose Longboat Key as home; the main allure is the privacy the island affords. Though there are miles of white sandy beach, the majority is under the control of home and condo owners. There are limited access points for visitors to access the public beach area but for the most part, residents are living in their own private luxury oasis.

Longboat Key has homes, resorts, schools, golf courses, restaurants, cafes, grocery stores, and shopping venues. It’s a little piece of paradise on your own semi-remote island. There’s also fun to be had at Beer Can Island, Coquina Beach, Quick Point Nature Preserve, and Joan M. Durante Community Park. With highway entry via Bradenton and St. Armand’s Key and the proposed Longboat Pass bridge, you are just minutes away from the mainland and all it has to offer.


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