Although Bird Key boasts an incredible location in the middle of beautiful Sarasota Bay, it offers a lot more for the people who live in this waterfront neighborhood. Just a few minutes from the city life of Downtown Sarasota, the world class shopping and restaurants of St. Armand’s Circle, and the beaches of Lido Key, Bird Key is an exclusive 250-acre island consisting of 504 homes and roughly 1,000 residents.
A boaters’ paradise, over 300 homes are waterfront properties, located either directly on the bay waters or in deep water canals. Bird Key also features one of the state’s finest yacht clubs, the private and recently remodeled Bird Key Yacht Club. Membership at the club includes access to the 42-slip marina, three Har-Tru clay tennis courts, an Olympic sized swimming pool, a full-service fitness facility, waterfront dining, and reciprocal golf memberships at Laurel Oak Country Club or Sara Bay Country Club.
Additionally, the Sarasota Yacht Club is just down the street, and the tree-lined John Ringling Causeway is all that separates Bird Key from Bird Key Park, a popular location to fish, exercise, bird watch, and enjoy the sunset over Sarasota Bay. The park features a bicycle trail, kayak launch, picnic tables, and dogs are welcome.
Not all Bird Key residents are members of the yacht clubs. They are a diverse mix of working professionals, retirees, and even a few celebrities. And, of course, not all of the homes are like the 13,000 square foot waterfront mansion on Meadow Lark Drive, yet they are all on streets named after birds. Bird Key includes a number of 1500 square foot ranch-style homes and a variety of homes between. However, Bird Key was the first of the Sarasota Bay islands to feature an expensive home.
Thomas Worcester started building the New Edzell Castle for his wife in 1911, when the island was only 12 acres. John Ringling’s sister, Ida, lived there when he bought Bird Key in the 1920’s, connecting it to the mainland with the first John Ringling Causeway and opening Ringling Estates in 1926. Arvida Realty bought it in 1959 with a vision to build up the island to allow for 511 lots, both water-fronts and off-water sites, and to include an underground electric utility system, a move that changed Sarasota real estate forever.
When homes in Bird Key started selling in 1960, an advertisement in the Herald-Tribune questioned: “Who hasn’t dreamed of living on a tropical island? Where the climate is always mild, where the beauty is everywhere, where silence is broken only by the rustling of the palms and the sound of the sea as it washes the shore. All of this is yours on beautiful Bird Key, set like a jewel in the waters of Sarasota Bay.” Let’s go find your piece of Sarasota sunshine.