16 Best Things To Do In Gasparilla Island, Florida

From white sand beaches to historic Old Florida resorts.

<p>Getty Images/Wiltser</p>

Getty Images/Wiltser

Nestles on the scenic Gulf Coast of Florida—just south of Venice and north of Sanibel Island—Gasparilla Island forms a small finger out into the ocean, lending idyllic ocean surroundings. This relaxed oceanside haven of beautiful tree-lined boulevards and pristine beaches is the perfect spot for a weekend getaway when you just want to relax. Home to “Old Florida” resorts as well as on-point street food vendors, the locale is the perfect weekend retreat for those who’ve seen it all in the Sunshine State and just want to chill out beachside.

Check out the best things that Gasparilla Island has to offer, including where to eat, stay, shop, and play.

Related: The 14 Best Places For A Weekend Getaway In Florida

Things To Do

<p>Getty Images/benkrut</p>

Getty Images/benkrut

Enjoy the Beautiful White-Sand Beaches

Gasparilla State Park and the Barrier Island Parks Society is the place to go for access to their four beaches on the island. Expect to find quiet, white sand beaches with crystal blue water and less foot traffic than you’d think you’d fine on the beach during peak season. The park access points begin at the Range Lighthouse, just south of 5th Street, and includes additional points south. 

floridastateparks.org, 880 Belcher Rd., Boca Grande FL 33921

Learn a Bit of Local History

If you need a break from the beach, hit the Port Boca Grande Lighthouse Museum where you can learn about local history and peruse the historic artifacts found in the area. Housed in a lighthouse from the 1890s, this is the place to soak up the local history and catch the water views from a unique vantage point.

bips.org, 880 Belcher Rd., Boca Grande, FL 33921

Try Out Paddle-Boarding

The certified staff at SUP Englewood provide land-based paddle-board instruction to Boca Grande if you want to head out on the water. They provide all the equipment and safety gear, as well as dry bags to keep your belongings safe on the water. You need to make reservations in advance to secure your spot for adventure.

Best Places To Shop

<p>Courtesy Sunsets of Boca Grande</p>

Courtesy Sunsets of Boca Grande

Brush Up on Fishing Gear

Boca Grande Outfitters has been in operation since 2004 and is the spot for fly fisherman to get kitted out. They sell the whole range of salt water fly fishing tackle and equipment, fly lines, and an assortment of flies for large tarpon, snook, redfish, and trout. Have a last minute fishing adventure planned? Get all your equipment here so you can catch the fish that frequent this part of Florida.

Broke something on your last expedition? The shop is the place to replace what you lost in your last struggle to land the big one. Bonus: The shop has qualified staff who offer guided fly fishing trips on their own boat. 

bocagrandeoutfitters.com, 375 Park Ave. #1, Boca Grande, FL 33921

Pick Up the Daily Catch

Since 1949, Hudson’s Grocery carries fresh fish caught daily, butcher carved meats, and fresh produce. Taking a picnic to the beach with you? Three chefs put together prepared meals every day that you can grab and go to the park with. Hudson’s gets fresh bread in store twice a week. Deceptively small, this independently owned grocery store is very well stocked. Bonus? They also cater.

facebook.com/Hudsons-Grocery, 417 Park Ave, Boca Grande, FL, United States, Florida

Find a Beach Read

Opened in 2019, The Tide Bookstore is the place to get both sunny day and rainy day items. Find this season’s best beach read, as well as non-fiction and children’s books. Their selection of Florida-specific books, cookbooks, and coffee table tomes make the perfect present for friends and family. They also sell children’s toys, puzzles, greeting cards, and jewelry by local artists. 

instagram.com/thetidebg, 321 Park Ave, Boca Grande, FL 33921

Related: 50 New Beach Reads To Add To Your List

Check out Local Artisan-Made Goods

Sunsets of Boca Grande has fashionable basics by the celeb-loved brand, Catherine Gee, as well as one-of-a-kind jewelry made by local artists, Shelling Bags by an island resident artist, the locally-made Sunsets of Boca Grande Beauty Products formulated by a local aesthetician, and their popular Mason Pearson hair brushes and combs.

facebook.com/sunsetsofbg, 433 4th Street West #2 Box 927, Boca Grande, FL 33921

Pick Up a New Frock

The Palm on Park is a Lilly Pulitzer Signature Store that will dress you up in the colorful, paisley prints you love from the brand, that blend perfectly with the relaxed-but-preppy Florida lifestyle the brand is known for. Here you can get all your going-outfits to look the scene in a traditional, old Florida aesthetic.

facebook.com/thepalmonpark, 444 4th St., Boca Grande, FL 33921

Where To Eat

<p>Courtesy Tortuga Mexican Street Cuisine</p>

Courtesy Tortuga Mexican Street Cuisine

Grab a Filling Breakfast

With a menu full of morning staples, Keylime Bistro delivers your culinary kick-start with salmon benedict, bistro-style corned beef and eggs, and a classic take on quiche with a side of Texas toast. Established as a sister restaurant for family-favorite spots on Captiva Island, Keylime Bistro is the perfect spot for tried-and-true breakfast and brunch classics you already know and love. 

keylime-bistro.com, 433 4th St. W., Boca Grande, FL 33921

Hit Up a Flavor-Packed Food Truck

David Mota is the mastermind behind the popular and ever-busy Tortuga Mexican Street Cuisine food truck, located conveniently outside of an ice cream shop called The Pink Pony, and sharing their address. Crowd favorites include the standard Mexican classics and lines can reach down the block. They do take phone orders if you want to avoid the line. 

471 Park Ave., Boca Grande, FL 33921

Plan Dinner at the Inn

The Pink Elephant, while it is part of the Gasparilla Inn and Club, is a standout destination for relaxed upscale dining for lunch or dinner. Find creative interpretations of fresh and local seafood as well as Florida style comfort foods that have been influenced by the region. 

the-gasparilla-inn.com, 491 Bayou Ave., Boca Grande, FL 33921

Don't Miss Out on the Local Catch

Right in center of town, you’ll find The Temptation. The restaurant opened in 1947 and remains popular with the locals for their fresh-caught fish and steaks. Make sure to try the pan fried snapper, which is cracker encrusted and pan sautéed with lemon, garlic, and apple juice, then finished with a citrus beurre blanc. Make your reservations in advance of your trip: there’s sometimes a three-month waiting list during the winter season.

facebook.com/temptationrestaurant, 350 Park Ave, Boca Grande, FL 33921

Where To Stay

<p>Courtesy The Gasparilla Inn and Club</p>

Courtesy The Gasparilla Inn and Club

Get a Feel of Old Florida Glamor

Booked out a year in advance, the Gasparilla Inn and Club is an Old Florida-style resort that has everything you need right on-site—and a bit more that includes private spa service, several highly-acclaimed restaurants. The inn also offers a range of accomodations from their main inn suites, to beach cottages, villas, and petite houses where you can spend days that are rainy or too sunny for the beach in luxury. 

the-gasparilla-inn.com, 500 Palm Ave., Boca Grande Fl, 33921

Related: The Gasparilla Inn and Club Has Perfect The Art of an Old-Fashioned Christmas

Stay at a Fishermen's Favorite

If you’ve come to Gasparilla for the fishing, you want to stay at The Innlet. This is where guests come every year to stay during their fishing excursions so the hotel fills out several months ahead during peak season—you’ll want to book at least four months in advance. Popular for the dockage and bayou location, which are prime for Carping season, this casual hotel has a locally-loved restaurant called The Outlet, where you can get breakfast all day while taking in the views of the Mangroves. Not to miss? The Shrimp Po’ Boy. 

theinnlet.com, 1251 12th St. E, Boca Grande, FL 33921

Book a Classic Beach Room

This 20-room hotel is the ideal place to stay if you're looking for basic amenities and good location at an affordable price. It’s the perfect spot to sleep during high season when you know you’re going to be spending most of your days on the beach!

bocagrandehotel.net, 5800 Gasparilla Rd, Boca Grande, FL 33921

Stay Like a Local

There are plenty of short-term rentals available on the island—via vrbo or Airbnb—where you can stay in a cottage like a local and have all the luxuries of home. This is the perfect option if you’re entertaining friends and want to try a recipe you found in that cookbook you scored at the local bookstore.

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