Travel Guide to Anna Maria Island, Florida
I fell in love with Anna Maria Island the first time I visited with my family for my mom’s 70th birthday. Looking for the perfect gift for someone who loves the beach, I stumbled upon this small town on the west coast of Florida offering beautiful beach house rentals and great food. Less than a 3 hour flight from NJ, we traded in the Jersey Shore for a week long vacation to a part of Florida we had never been, but plan on returning every year!
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Where to stay in Anna Maria Island
Anna Maria Beach Resort
A quiet beach destination comprised of 31 rooms with a large pool, cabanas, and complimentary beach set-ups.
Anna Maria Island Inn
A resort hotel made offering seven different locations from beach front luxury accommodations to poolside family suites.
Bali Hai Beachfront Resort and Spa
Situated on two acres of lushly manicured tropical grounds, the resort boasts views of the Gulf of Mexico on a white sand beachfront.
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Things to do in Anna Maria Island
Well you certainly don’t want to miss the gorgeous beaches! Check out Coquina Beach or Bean Point Beach. Grab a beach chair and umbrella and spend all day relaxing and swimming in the crystal blue water. You can also rent kayaks, jet skis or even a boat.
How about a sunset or a dolphin watching cruise? Book a group cruise or your own private charter.
Not a fan of the water? Rent a bicycle and tour the island. You also don’t need a car to get around the island, as most people rent golf carts. However, depending on where you are staying and what you plan to do, you may want to rent a car. Travel about 15 minutes to Brandenton to play a round of golf at the Manatee County Golf Course.
For history buffs, you can check out the Anna Maria Island Historical Museum, housed in a 1920s building that was previously an ice house.
If you are like me and love to shop, you will want to hit up Bridge Street and pop into the cute shops to find a souvenir or even a new outfit. Check out Howluckyami, a cute gift shop to grab a quality AMI t-shirt and hear a quick story about their brand.
From there, walk down the street to the Sun and Surf Beach Shop to visit the beautiful parrots that line the front of the store.
Places to eat & drink in Anna Maria Island
Ginny’s and Jane’s Cafe and Coastal Store: A must! You will think you are in the wrong place when you initially step into a fun gift shop, but head to the back to place your order. You can takeout or eat in. Don’t leave without trying the cinnamon roll...trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
The Waffle Press: Grab a waffle, waffle sandwich or a smoothie at this walk up window on Pine Street. Try the “grand slam” with peanut butter, chocolate and bananas!
Rod and Reel Pier: We always start our vacation with lunch here. A no frills spot at the end of the pier where you must have the grouper sandwich! Every meal we have had has been delicious. An added bonus, they have a full bar with $3 draft beer specials. Is there any other way to kick off your vacay? Whether you drive your car, golf cart, bike or even boat - parking won’t be an issue.
Sandbar: You will definitely want to plan a dinner here, but come early because they don’t take reservations. Not only will you enjoy a delicious meal and great service, but will have a beautiful sunset. Some tables are even on the beach, allowing you to sink your toes in the sand while you dine.
Two Scoops: Definitely save room for dessert and stop here for the most delicious ice cream on the island!
Donut Experiment: Whether you want a simple glazed donut or a decked out treat with fruity pebbles, stop in here for a one of a kind dessert. Select your icing, topping (sprinkles, bacon, and Reese’s Pieces are just a few options) and drizzle. Yummy!
The Doctor’s Office: A former doctor’s office turned cocktail bar. Grab a craft cocktail or a delicious meal. Try the “once around the aquarium” famous seafood stew.
The Freckled Fin Irish Pub: Great Irish pub to grab a pint or a frozen fruity drink. Stay for some live music or catch your favorite game on the TV.
Need to Know
Looking for more beach vacation inspiration? Check out my guide, A Laid-Back Belize Travel Itinerary.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Florida.