15 Best Things To Do In Boca Grande Florida

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Located on the Gulf Coast of Florida, Boca Grande is a charming little town. The charm exudes from the colorful buildings to the stunning water surrounding the island. It’s no surprise that some of the more notable names have passed through this island, from presidents to business tycoons.

Over the years, the island hasn’t lost its charm and today is still one of the best day trips you can do from around the area. Or you can choose to have your stay on the island and really experience everything this town has to offer.

Whichever you choose, here are some of the best things to do in Boca Grande, Florida.

Learn About The History At Port Boca Grande Lighthouse and Museum

Port Boca Grande Lighthouse and Museum in Florida

The history of the island goes all the way back to the early 1900’s when the South end of the Gasparilla Island was used as a deep water port. The port was mainly used for the shipment of the mineral phosphate to domestic and foreign ports. At the time, phosphate was used in fertilizer to replenish the organic materials in soil so it was in high demand in many places.

The discovery of phosphate was made in the late 1800’s and from then on changed the course of Gasparilla Island forever as the construction of the port and town began. Phosphate was mined in central Florida and then transported by train to the port.

For many years, the Boca Grande port remained a bustling, busy port with over 200 ships coming and going every year. However, in the 1970’s, the port slowly began to fade out as companies switched over to the more efficient ports of Tampa. Soon, the port business in Boca Grande came to a complete end.

At the lighthouse, you can learn more about the history of the island in more detail. Along with the history, you can see displays with marine and wildlife of the area. The impressive collection includes large shells and even a bottlenose dolphin skull.

The lighthouse is located at the very south end of the island where you can also enjoy the best beaches the island has to offer.

Take A Boat Out For Tarpon Fishing

For years, Boca Grande has been a hotspot for Tarpon fishing. It’s known as the greatest place in the world for tarpon fishing, but if not the world, certainly in Florida.

This “Silver King” fish puts up a fight and at 80 to 130 pounds, it is a thrill for many to catch one.

Unless you have all of your own licenses and boat, it is best to hire a professional fishing guide. They have everything you need, including the right tackle and bait as well as the best spots for catching tarpon.

Since Boca Grande is such a hotspot for Tarpon fishing, there are many Tarpon fishing charters available to take you out on the water. One of the trusted companies is Gasparilla Outfitters. They are partnered up with some of the best and most experienced fishing captains in town.

If catching a tarpon isn’t on your to do list, there are plenty of other fishing options around the Boca Grande area as well.

See The Lade Of Mercy

The Lady of Mercy Church in Boca Grande Florida

This gem of a church has a beautiful white exterior and is the perfect size for the island. It was originally built in 1950 through a gift of Mrs. Gertrude Gavin.

Design credit goes to one of Florida’s known architects, F. Burrall Hoffman, who also is known for the Vizcaya mansion in Miami.

Over the years it has hosted a good number of events and is a big part of the Boca Grande community.

Enjoy A Day At The Beach

Spending a day at the beach is one of the best things to do in Boca Grande. The water is clear and blue, and the sand is white and soft.

Gasparilla Island State Park has some of the best beaches on the island. This is where the Gulf of Mexico meets Charlotte Harbor so you can enjoy swimming in the beautiful water that the area has to offer.

Spend the day in the sun and then head to town for a delicious bite to eat. A day on the beach is always one of the best things to do in Florida.

Go Kayaking Around The Island

Imagine getting out in the water on this beautiful island on glass-bottom kayaks. With Glass Bottom Rentals it is possible with which you will be able to see all of the marine life swimming underneath you and around you.

They offer kayak rentals or the option to go on a tour where they will guide you through the waters and point out marine life you may have missed on your own.

The launch is from a cove with very calm and shallow water that will allow you to easily paddle. From there, there is access to the nearby Boca Grande sandbar and other islands.

With many options to choose from, including different style of kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and canoes, it is an excellent choice to get out on the water.

Look Around The Whimsical Whidden’s Marina

The Whidden’s Marina is a unique place in Boca Grande. It was first established in 1926 by Sam Whidden and has been run by the family ever since.

It is one of Boca Grande’s oldest marinas and was used as a place of gathering for various events throughout the years.

Be sure to visit the marina gift shop and museum as they are frozen in time and are full of stories to tell. Look around the property too and see what kind of eclectic treasures you can spot.

If you are wanting to go out on the water, this is the place where you can ask about fishing charters. As the marina that helped transform Boca Grande into the “Tarpon Capital of the World”, they will know a thing or two.

View The Gasparilla Island Lighthouse

The Gasparilla Island Lighthouse is one of the best things to do in Boca Grande Florida

The second lighthouse in Boca Grande, the Gasparilla Island Lighthouse, sits on the coast towards the middle of the island. It was built in 1881 by the Phoenix Iron Company and stood in the Delaware Bay area.

After a shifting shoreline, the lighthouse became ineffective and stood inactive for a while. It was then dismantled and shipped to Miami from where it found its final destination on the Boca Grande island.

Today, the tower is open for climbing only a few days every month as an event to celebrate and raise money for the preservation of the lighthouses. It usually costs $5 per person and you can find the exact days on the Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce site.

The climb up tour takes about 20 minutes and you can enjoy beautiful views of the Gulf of Mexico and Charlotte Harbor. Spaces are very limited so be sure to plan ahead.

Drive Through Banyan Tree Street

Banyan Street is a must visit while in Boca Grande Florida

Banyan Street is a canopied street that is lined with the beautiful Banyan trees. It is a short walk from town or you can easily drive through it. (Banyan St, Boca Grande)

The hanging canopies of the trees combined with the lush greenery make the street feel very enchanting.

Dating back to 1915 when they were first planted, these trees have been there for over a century. Weathering through several hurricanes and storms, these trees are a big part of the island’s history.

Walk Around The Charming Downtown

Including the places we are highlighting, the town itself is very charming and a great place to walk around and discover more places to explore.

There are shops, restaurants, and galleries lining the streets with unique finds. The Smart Studio is a charming gallery with original paintings by local artists.

For a refreshment, stop by The Pink Pony where you will find options of ice cream, shakes, smoothies, and coffee.

In the town you will also find plenty of more eateries including the Sisters Restaurant and Temptation Restaurant. Although if you do opt to eat out while on the island, we highly recommend the most iconic restaurant on the island – The Pink Elephant.

Eat At The Pink Elephant

The Pink Elephant is one of the best restaurants on the island and a must try while in town. A part of the Gasparilla Inn and Club, it has been an island tradition.

The upstairs is reserved as a more upscale setting while the downstairs is open for walk-ins daily. There is an option for outside dining too when the weather permits.

Seafood is a big part of the menu since it is so readily available in the area. The smoked fish dip and French onion soup appetizers are delicious as well as the Jumbo Lump Crab & Shrimp “Caesars” and the Bronzed Fresh Grouper Sandwich.

Whichever option you decide to go with, you can’t go wrong, since everything there is cooked to perfection.

The charm of the place is not lacking either. From the pink elephant glass mosaic on the door, to the little pink elephants that come with your drinks, everything is thoughtful, creating a fun and charming environment.

Shop For Souvenirs At Fugate’s

Fugate's Boca Grande Florida

With a great selection of clothing, shoes, jewelry, hats, beach items, gift ideas, and souvenirs, this shop is a fun stop. You will most likely find something in there to get as a souvenir to remember your stay in Boca Grande.

The beachy atmosphere of the store perfectly matches the vibe of this beachy town. If you need any beach essentials, this store will most likely have what you’re looking for.

Rest At Sam Murphy Park

Sam Murphy Park is one of the best gems in Boca Grande

This garden can be easily missed as it is almost hidden amidst the town, but this little oasis is the perfect place to take a rest if you need one.

The lush greenery manicured into an elegant garden with statement art pieces provides a peaceful setting. It is a nice place too just sit and rest on one of the benches or you can even bring a picnic with you.

Recently reviving the garden, the community is set on keeping this place of tranquility no matter how much the town grows.

Have An Old-Fashioned Photoshoot

With charming buildings, vibrant colors, and artsy displays, this town is definitely one of the more instagrammable places in Florida.

Go back in time by the old-fashioned gas pump and let everyone know you visited the Tarpon Capital of the World by posing next to the mural.

The options for a great photoshoot are endless on this island and provide many opportunities for fun and beautiful photos.

Relax At The Johan Fust Community Library

Johan Fust Community Library Boca Grande Florida

The Johan Fust Community Library is one of the first, beautifully colored buildings you see as you drive into the town. The soft pink exterior with the grand wooden doors create a welcoming entrance.

As you walk through, you will notice their collection of books among which are some rare copies.

The special part of the library are the garden and courtyard. You can sit comfortably in one off the relaxing chairs and read the day away.

Marvel at the extensive shell collection with some of the biggest shells you might have ever seen and then take the stairs to have a view over the courtyard and admire the beauty of this special library.

Stay At The Gasparilla Inn

The Gasparilla Inn and Club Boca Grande Florida

The Gasparilla Inn is a historic hotel that has accommodated many well-known people over the years. The chic inn is a treat to stay at with many amenities and activities available.

There are options of golfing, tennis, spa, fitness center, billiards, nature trails, and that’s besides all of the other things you can do while on the island. The Beach Club features a family pool and a white sand beachfront.

Whether you want a quiet stay, or have an event coming up, the Gasparilla Inn can accommodate all of those needs. It is one of the best classic “Old Florida” resorts you can find in the state.