Insider's Guide to the Free Trolley
We love, love love the free Island Trolley on beautiful Anna Maria Island. What a great way to get you and the rest of your gang from one end of the island to the other in such a sustainable and budget friendly way. It's a great way to ease up traffic congestion and lets you focus on the gorgeous landscape that makes Anna Maria Island so special.
Here are our favourite stops along the Free Trolley Route, with Insider Tips for you to enjoy your visit to the island.
Anna Maria City Pier
Starting off at the Northern end of the island, jump off the Trolley at Anna Maria Island City Pier. Before you meander down the 100-year-old pier, turn around and go grab an ice cream at Two Scoops Ice Cream shop. There's no better way than transporting yourself back to your childhood like heading down the pier with an ice cream in your hand, while you take a look and see what the fishermen are catching, look for our local dolphins out for an easy bite. The City Pier is also a great place for a sunset cocktail while listening to a local musician playing during the early evenings.
Try to find our plank, towards that last bench closest to the restaurant 'www.annamariaislandhomerental.com'
The Anna Maria Island
City Pier is one of the most recognized sites on the island. It's a great place to take photography
This is an excellent stop to for some shopping therapy on Pine Avenue, Anna Maria. There is something for everyone in the family on this street.
Guys will love the AMI Outfitters shops that have 2 locations on this street. Full of fishing gear, paddle boards, kayaks, clothing, hats, sunglasses, packs and much, much more. After that grab a sample of cheese and bread offered at the Olive Oil Outpost.
Kids will love stopping into the Flip Flop & Candy Stop for a sweet treat. Shiny Fish Emporium is our kid's favourite spot to paint a sand dollar and eat a Hawaiian Bubble Ice Cream that is a unique treat to the island.
Girls will love our favourite shops, Island Cabana, Libby's Jewelry, Pink & Navy, Emerson's Art Gallery and Emporium. There is something for everyone's taste and budget on Pine Avenue.
Eveyone will love a made to order donut from 'The Donut Experiment'. The best donut you will ever taste and ridiculously fresh!
Palm Drive, Anna Maria
The main attraction to Anna Maria Island are the pristine, soft, sandy, beaches. We want you to stop here because the world famous 'The Sandbar Restaurant' is located directly on the beach between Spring Avenue and Pine Avenue. Just head down Palm Avenue to the beach and turn right (north) to walk up to 'The Sandbar'. This place is where the island congregates for a warm sunset dinner, so be warned it gets really busy during holidays and high season. If you get stuck, great alternatives like Rudy's Subs, Slim's Place, Harry's Grill and Sign of the Mermaid are all close by on Pine Avenue.
If you wish to take a stroll up the beach, Bean Point is a great location to look out onto Tampa Bay, Egmont Key, and Passage Key, when it is above water level. It's a bit of a hike about 1 mile north.
To work off any vacation over-indulgence, Beach Yoga is also offered in the mornings on selected days of the week.
White Avenue, Holmes Beach
Surfer dudes, enthusiasts and thrill seekers will want to get off at the CrossPointe Fellowship Church stop at the cross streets of Gulf Drive and 85th Street, Holmes Beach. Head down White Avenue to the public beach access where you can catch the best waves on the island. Surfers have been surfing the waves here forever and if you have a day with nice high waves it's worth the trip just to watch the locals carve up the waves. Most often the waves are tame and it's a great place to teach kids and beginners the basics of surfing.
Turtle Talks are offered at the CrossPointe Fellowship Church ecery Tuesday at 10:00 am during the months of June and July. These are educational sessions and videos about our nesting sea turtles taht call Anna Maria Island home. Given by the Anna Maria Island Turtle and Shorebird Monitoring Group. Location is 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.
Marina Drive, Holmes Beach
One of my very favourite trolley shopping stops on Anna Maria Island is the stop across from the Plaza where Marina Drive and Gulf Drive meet. There are actually 4 mini plazas in this area where you will find beach decor, clothing, shell shops and art galleries. Make sure you hit them all starting at 56th Street and Marina Drive for Saltair Boutique and Raider's Reef Shell Shop. We love Saltair Boutique for their budget-friendly, super-stylish, clothing, jelwelry and handbags. The Sand Dollar is another favourite clothing, beach decor shop. We can never leave these shops without buying something!
Great spots to hit for a cocktail or a bite after a hard day of shopping are Eat Here, Tortilla Bay and The Feast restaurants.
Manatee Public Beach Stop
Manatee Ave, Holmes Beach
The Free Island Trolley stops at the major public beaches which include Manatee Public Beach. Located in the heart of Holmes Beach right off of Manatee Avenue. This is a great beach stop since Manatee Public Beach boasts a huge amount of amenities like the AMI Beach Cafe, famous for their 'All you can eat Pancake breakfasts', gift shop, beach rentals, volleyball, picnic tables, playground and more... Check out our Beach Guide for a full list.
This beach has good shelling, especially after a storm at low tide. You will find coquinas, lightning whelks, angel wings, clams, cockles, olives, conch and more. Please remember to leave the live ones in the water and take only your favourite ones to avoid beach erosion.
Groceries, Pharmacy, and Shopping Stop
East Bay Drive, Holmes Beach
I call this the 'Essentials Stop', pick up your groceries at the largest on island grocery store called Publix at the corner of Manatee Avenue and East Bay Drive. Walgreens and CVS Pharmacies are also located in this large plaza. My favourites shop to buy a tourist t-shirt is Island Bazaar. They have a huge collection of stylish sweatshirts, t-shirts, tank tops, sunglasses, beach bags, and more for eveyone in the family.
Bridge Street Pier Stop
Bridge Street, Bradenton Beach
Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach is another must stop for a historic walk along the pier on the Bay side. We've never seen a more picturesque pier, with pastel buildings, a wooden spire with the town clock on top. It truly is a beautiful thing to see.
Take a stroll along Bridge Street to get there and you will pass pretty boutiques, a cafe and Island Time Grill Restaurant where everyone gathers for a cocktail.
Tide and Moon Jewelry located directly on the pier is a must stop for unique Anna Maria Island silver jewelry.
Bridge Street Pier is a picturesque site on the island. Look for manatees and pelicans. It's a great place to take photography
Coquina Beach Stop
Gulf Drive, Bradenton Beach
Coquina Beach is the last 'Must See' stop on the Free Island Trolley. You can load your bikes on the Trolley and ride the Boardwalk path that stretches the length of Coquina Beach. With a tree lined path, it's a cool way to take in the sights and sounds of beach life. The Australian Pine trees are home to seasonal wild parrots taht truly make you feel like you are in the Carribean. There are lots of picnic tables, grills, and Pavilions to host large family gatherings. This beach also has a cafe, lifeguard stations, and many more amenities. For the full list Click here to access our Beach Guide.
Mote Marine Aquarium is located across the street which is another great stop for kids to experience the local marine life of Florida.
It's a great idea to hit Coquina Beach on a Sunday to coincide with the beach market that is hosted seasonally.
To download and print the Free Trolley Schedule, press this button