Top 10 Things to Do on Anna Maria Island, Florida
Photo Credit: Guy Harvey, AMI Turtle Watch, Food and Wine on Pine
Top 10 Things to Do on Anna Maria Island, Florida
1. Hit The Beaches!
With sand as clear as diamonds, and as soft as sugar, you have to hit the beach no matter what time of year you are visiting. A little insider information, the Gulf waters are emerald blue and extremely clear during the months of May and October, which also coincide with the best rental prices of the year!. Another insider guide tip, head to the beach after a storm or rainfall for the best shelling! There are several beaches to choose from which all have great qualities. Starting from the north end, Anna Maria Beach has quiet stretches of sand with sandbars leading far out into the Gulf of Mexico. It is less populated and also a lot harder to find parking in this area. Many gather at The Sandbar Restaurant to watch the sun go down. Holmes Beach is also a great area catering to the residents of Holmes Beach (was that obvious???). Manatee Beach is a public beach with lots of parking. It also hosts a cafe on the beach where you can find all you can eat pancake breakfasts. Coquina Beach is a little thinner stretch but has The BeachHouse Restaurant to gather at nightly and during the day. Coquina Beach is a nice long beach, so get out your bike and ride along the trail or bring your lunch and enjoy al fresco dining at one of the many picnic tables.
2. Go Boating!
Well since we are on an island, the next best thing to enjoy is boating on the Inter-coastal or the Gulf of Mexico. You will almost always be guaranteed a dolphin sighting and if you are lucky an endangered manatee or sea turtle too. Captain your own boat and head out to snorkeling or shelling at Egmont Key. If you haven’t quite got your Captain’s legs yet, try jumping on a local charter or shuttle for a sunset cruise. (Insider Tip: Check out our Blog post about boating to help you decide what boating options are right for you.)
3. Go Fishing!
Great fishing is one of the reasons why anglers are attracted to this world class fishing site. Try your luck from the Beach, piers or kayak or larger boat. The local captain’s know the best spots to find an abundance of fish. There are no licenses required if escorted by one of our licensed fishing guides or fihsing from a licensed pier. Snook, trout, redfish, snapper and tarpon are the local catch. There is also saltwater fishing right on the canal at your favorite vacation rental dock. The kids will love it!
4. Rent a Golf Cart!
To really slow down and appreciate the Anna Maria Island Beach Life, rent a golf cart. It’s really the best way to appreciate the sights, sounds and salty smells of the island. You can travel the entire length of the island in a golf cart and some retailers have hook ups so you can re-charge while you are shopping. Traveling eco-friendly never goes out of style! If a golf cart isn’t in your budget, try biking. Riding a bike around the island is a great way to admire the beautiful architecture and homes of Anna Maria Island.
5. Get Shopping!
While you are traversing the island in style we suggest heading to the local shops to stock up on island life clothing, jewelry, and more! Our favorite spots to hit are the shops of Pine Avenue in Anna Maria. Walking down this quaint street you will marvel at the steps taken to introduce Green Living through their solar energy savings and green community vegetable patches. Further on down the island we love to stop into the Rader's Reef Shell Shop and The Sand Dollar Boutique. We can’t visit these stores in Holmes Beach and leave empty handed. Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach also has a quaint selection of stores to peruse leading towards their lovely Heritage Pier.
Photo Credit: Visit Florida
6. Get to Know the Local Wildlife
Get to know the locals!.... the local wildlife that is, by taking a free guided tour offered from April to October through the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring group. Anna Maria is known for it’s sea turtle nesting grounds. The sea turtles have found a haven on Anna Maria every May though October and have been monitored since the island has been inhabited. Great steps are taken to protect the sea turtles and shorebirds so please inform yourself of how to be a great vacationer without disturbing them.
7. Get Active!
Parasail, jet skis, kayak, horse surfing and paddle boards are all on offer on the island of Anna Maria. Take a tour with a knowledgable guide to learn about the wonders of Anna Maria. Observe crabs, sea horses, stingrays, birds and manatees in their lush tropical surroundings. If you are staying during the summer, sign your kids up for the Eternal Summer Surf Camp, it’s free and a great way to introduce children of any age to this great sport. It truly is paradise!
8. Get a Little Cultural!
Anna Maria Island has a large community of artists and there are several Art Galleries throughout the island available to explore their many talents. Artspace (Deborah Webster's art appears in our image above), The Island Gallery West, the Artists Guild Gallery and the Anna Maria Island Art league all showcase fine art in the form of paintings, sculpture, jewelry, photography and stained glass. Often they will host ArtWalks on Fridays to invite you into their galleries. The Island Players Theatre has been running for over 60 years. They have regular shows running throughout the year.
9. Get Festive!
Plan your stay during one of the local festivals offered throughout the island. Seafood Festivals, Symphonie in the Sand, Bayfest, The Wedding Festival, and Food and Wine on Pine are just a few of the many festivals that are held on the island throughout the year.
Take a break from cooking! Head to one of many fabulous restaurants on offer on Anna Maria Island. No matter what your budget you will find a restaurant sure to please. The ambiance on Anna Maria Island is hard to beat and there are so many to choose from. You want a great meal directly on the beach, a jazz band under a tiki hut, a no frills fishing pier experience, fine dining in a historic 100 year old building? We’ve got it all and more! Take a look at our favorite restaurant recommendation list here.
One thing is for sure, when you visit Anna Maria Island, if you don’t drop everything and move here... you will definitely be hooked and return to explore all the things that you didn’t have time for. Anna Maria Island is that addictive!
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