A few weeks ago, my family & I had the opportunity to travel to sunny Anna Maria Island / Bradenton in Florida for a long weekend! Allegiant Air reached out to us to try their inaugural non-stop flight from Columbus (Rickenbacker) to Bradenton/Sarasota and we quickly accepted!
I mean, any chance to see the sun, palm trees, and the beach after a long Ohio winter is a must in our book! It was a quick 2 hour flight from Columbus 🙂 I had honestly never flown Allegiant before but we had a great experience.
We have traveled to Anna Maria Island before, as you may recall in this post, and we have already planned to go back this summer! The island is definitely a happy place for us. I’ve had a lot of readers and friends message me after our trip asking where we stayed and what we did so I wanted to put it all together in a post for you!
WHERE WE STAYED
The beautiful Tropic Isle Inn hosted us for the weekend and our stay was perfect, truly. We had a kitchenette, a pull-out couch, bedroom, bathroom, and a huge porch with a nice table in which we hung out on most of our trip, all while enjoying the gorgeous pool view and snacks, consisting mainly of berries and watermelon. The Inn is right across from the beach. You just have to cross Gulf Drive (the main road of the island) to get there. Tropic Isle had umbrellas, beach chairs, pool toys/floats for us to use! We rented our double jogging stroller and high chair from Fun & More (sooo easy – they drop off your things and pick them up for you).
WHERE WE ATE
With our girls, we ate a ton of meals at our hotel since we had a kitchenette and a poolside dining experience 🙂 We picked up groceries from Publix which was a mere 3 minute drive from Tropic Isle Inn! So very convenient. When we ate out, we had fabulous experiences everywhere we went:
–Gulf Drive Cafe: We had breakfast here the first morning. We hadn’t had a chance to get to the grocery and this place was awesome! We ate outside right beside the beach and it was close to our hotel. We could’ve walked but we didn’t know exactly where we were on the island yet 🙂 I could’ve gone back here every morning. They have a cute tiki bar, too!
–The Donut Experiment: This was the highlight of our Saturday morning! Ava went nuts over these freshly made donuts and so did we! Absolutely delicious and must-stop on the island. It’s just off of Pine Avenue, which is the main street in Anna Maria.
–Island Time Bar & Grill: This is in downtown Bradenton, near their pier. We had wanted to go to the Anna Maria Oyster Bar there but we had 2 hungry kids (and hungry parents), so we needed to get sat quickly 🙂 We stumbled upon this restaurant because they had the happiest live music that was filtering out into the streets. We ended up having a fabulous time because the music completely distracted our girls & they couldn’t stop dancing! Maybe our favorite meal experience of the entire trip! p.s. They have live music all the time!
–Sandbar: We had been here before and we HAD to go back. There’s nothing like this restaurant and the atmosphere around sunset! It’s an event every night! This is definitely a nicer meal but is extremely kid-friendly. This is the perfect spot to have dinner on your last night of vacation.
–Small Town Creamery: Ava & I visited this awesome ice cream/candy shop while Ellie was napping and we had the best time! They have SO MANY ice cream flavor options!!!
WHAT WE DID
There are SO MANY things to do on these islands! If it were Nic & I, I’m sure we would’ve tried to pack alllll the things in on the trip, but we are always forced to slow down a bit with the girls 🙂 Which, is usually a good thing 🙂 On this trip, we:
–Played at the beach, obviously. We love the Gulf because there are virtually no waves, the water is a gorgeous turquoise, and the sand is so white and powdery. All of these things are IDEAL for the kiddos! I enjoyed that in the morning, there was even a lot of shade on the part of the beach where we were (across from Tropic Isle Inn), so I didn’t need to worry about the girls burning at all.
–Swam in our pool at Tropic Isle Inn! Most of the time, we had the pool all to ourselves! It was AWESOME! Ava preferred the pool to the beach because she could swim around in her puddle jumper, so we stayed here a lot.
–Explored the Bradenton Beach City Pier on Bridge Street. There are a ton of restaurants and shops in this area! Very, very cute.
–Walked to Rod & Reel Pier. This place is ADORABLE, you guys!!! We ate here last time and it is the most unique, quaint pier I’ve ever seen.
–Shopped on Pine Avenue in Anna Maria. There are so many cute shops here!
–Played at Bayfront Park. On our way to Rod & Reel, we stopped at this park that we remembered loving the last time we were in AMI. They have a slide, public restrooms, and swings… all the essentials for the girls! Plus, it’s right beside the water so the views are fantastic.
–Watched the sunset. One of my favorite memories from this trip was watching the sky light up in pink and orange hues after dinner, watching my girls play in the sand. It was magical, truly. The neat thing about AMI/Bradenton is that you can see the sunRISE and the sunSET, depending on which side of the island you’re on!
I have a TON more recommendations if you’re interested!
Just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can chat!
We already can’t wait to go back! Thank you, Allegiant & Visit Bradenton for all of your sweet hospitality!