Welcome to beautiful Anna Maria Island, Florida!
(2019 Update: We visited Anna Maria/Bradenton in April 2019 & had a wonderful trip, once again! I wrote all about it in this post, here. If you’re not able to go for a long trip, I have some ideas for things we did in this post! Enjoy 🙂
This seven-mile barrier island off the Gulf of Mexico boasts such turquoise waters, white sand, and relaxed vibes that her residents and regular visitors hesitate to disclose AMI’s beauty for fear that some of her magic may be lost.
No high rises here: Strict regulations prohibit such craziness from veering too far from the 60s/70s-influenced architecture that is alive and well. On AMI, you can unhurriedly step back in time to a truly laid-back way of life; an aura of old Florida, if you will.
Explore the small towns of Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach, and Anna Maria. You’ll have to remind yourself you are still in the U.S. and you didn’t venture unknowingly to the Caribbean.
Breathe in the fresh air. Unwind in the salt water. Relax in the sun. Vacation like you never have before. But if you really must do something, here is your go-to list for 10 things to do on Anna Maria Island:
1. ) Leave your car parked! Rent a bike and/or golf cart to motor around the island! Take a boat tour or charter. Bonus: Anna Maria Island has a FREE trolley that runs north and south on Gulf Drive (e.g. It will take you basically anywhere you would need to go).
2.) Pick your choice of amazing restaurants! Our picks:
- Breakfast: Ginny & Jane-e’s, Anna Maria Beach Cafe, Rod & Reel Pier
- Lunch: Skinny’s, Poppo’s Tacos
- Dinner: The Waterfront, Sandbar, Beach House, Anna Maria City Pier, Blue Marlin, Beach Bistro for upscale
- Treats: Donut Experiment, Two Scoops
3.) Look for shells and lounge on the beach! p.s. Rent everything you need from Fun & More!
4.) Explore the piers! The Anna Maria Island City Pier and the Rod & Reel Pier! Both piers have great restaurants! In the southern part of the Island, you can explore The Historic Bridge Street Pier, overlooking Sarasota Bay. Eat at the Anna Maria Oyster Bar that’s on the pier. Tip: Keep your eyes open for manatees, dolphins or turtles! 🙂
5.) Stroll down Pine Avenue in Anna Maria or Historic Bridge Street in Bradenton. Shop, eat, drink, explore.
6.) Watch the sunrise AND the sunset! Best restaurants from which to watch the sunset? Sandbar or Beach House topped our list!
7.) Take the kiddos to a park! Bayfront Park offers stunning water views and is just a bit north of the City Pier. We also love the playground by the Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe!
8.) Be active! Play beach volleyball, kayak, paddle board, walk the Coquina Baywalk, or venture to Bean Point!
9.) Peruse one of the local farmers’ markets! You can find a list of them HERE.
10.) Hop over to Cortez Village – a preserved working fishing village. Take in the cottages, boats, and markets. Don’t leave without eating at Starfish and Co.!
What are your favorite Anna Maria Island spots?
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Check out our video we made of our 2019 trip: