Leffis Key

Image Leffis Key

Yes, the County has its own island preserve. This particular island also has a prominent hill where one can get a panoramic view of beautiful Sarasota Bay.

Once a spoil island overgrown with non-native plants that greatly reduced its habitat value, Leffis Key is now a shining example of how government and private interests can collaborate to restore and enhance vital saltwater wetlands, essential to the health of a nationally significant estuary.

One of the unique features of the design is a 26-foot high hill in the center of the restored area. This upland feature offers a breathtaking 360 degree view of Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The hill was planted with native dune and coastal ridge plants such as sea oats, beach elder, dune sunflower, southern red cedar, green buttonwood, sea grape, gumbo-limbo, Hercules' club, Jamaica dogwood and strangler fig. In addition, over 20,000 marsh grass plants, such as smooth cordgrass, saltwater cordgrass and salt jointgrass, were installed along the banks of the tidal ponds. The plant installation was accomplished with volunteer labor that included hundreds of school children, local environmental clubs and citizens.

Site amenities include footpaths that circle and scale the hill, benches, and 1,500 lineal feet of boardwalks that meander through the mangrove forest, with strategically placed viewing platforms penetrating the open water. Interpretive signs describing the various habitats and the respective plant and animal life are located along the paths.

Things to Do

Leffis Key Boardwalk
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Leffis Key Boardwalk

The development and implementation elements of recreation programs appropriate for the Leffis Key Preserve property were determined by requesting input from area conservation groups, including information from the Manatee County Public Works Department, the Manatee County Transportation Department, Manatee County Environmental Action Committee, and the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program.  Input was analyzed by the Board-appointed citizens of the Environmental Lands Management and Acquisition Advisory Committee, coordinated by staff liaisons from the various County departments.  The recreation programs were presented to the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners and approved through a detailed management plan. 

Please Note: Dogs are not permitted at Leffis Key as this preserve is located within Coquina Beach Baywalk. In order to comply with the management plan of the Coquina Beach area, which prohibits dogs, dogs will not be allowed within this conservation property.

Leffis Key Preserve’s recreation plan, which combines all recreational uses on the property, includes the following elements:

  • Hiking and nature trails
  • Environmental education
  • Managed fishing
  • Wildlife viewing areas

HIKING:  Available on all trails.

ACCESSIBILITY: The trails are a combination of packed shell and boardwalks.  BE AWARE: Any area not on a designated trail may have a very soft surface.

FISHING:  Available from the boardwalks along the Intracoastal Waterway.  NOTE: Fishing is subject to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regulations. 

WILDLIFE VIEWING:  A variety of birds and wildlife can be seen throughout the preserve in the restored native ecosystems.

Getting There

Leffis Key Address:
2351 Gulf Drive South
Anna Maria Island

Driving Directions:

  • Directions from Manatee County: Take either State Road 64 (Manatee Avenue West) or Cortez Road west to Anna Maria Island. After crossing the bridge, head south on Gulf Drive. Leffis Key Preserve is on the east (left) side of the road. Enter the preserve via the northernmost (first) entryway.
  • Directions from Sarasota County: Take the Ringling Causeway west over the bridge to St. Armand's Circle. Exit the Circle and head north on Gulf of Mexico Drive. Continue north on Longboat Key. Ater crossing the bridge that connects Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island (across Longboat Pass) you will see Coquina Beach Park. Leffis Key Preserve is on the east (right) side of the road. Enter the preserve via the northernmost (second) entryway.

Contact Information

Open Daily 8:00 a.m. to sunset