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Nestled among the coastal treasures of Florida, Anna Maria Island stands as a hidden gem, a cherished secret in my book of favorite destinations! There are so many amazing things to do in Anna Maria Island. But for me, it’s the epitome of relaxation, a place where the frantic pace of everyday life fades into the background, and a sense of calm takes over.
As you traverse this idyllic island, you’ll notice a distinct lack of hustle and bustle; instead, visitors leisurely pedal along on bikes or cruise in golf carts, contributing to the laid-back allure that defines Anna Maria. The crystalline waters that lap against the shores only add to the enchantment, creating a serene backdrop for a truly unwinding vacation experience.
I can’t wait to show you the allure of this remarkable destination and help you uncover the treasures that make it one of Florida’s most cherished secrets!
Where is AMI?
First things first, where is AMI? Located along the west coast of Florida, Anna Maria Island (AMI) is a pristine barrier island that offers a serene and tropical escape. Situated southwest of Tampa Bay, AMI is approximately 60 miles south of Tampa.
The island is easily accessible from Tampa, and the journey typically takes around 1.5 hours by car, depending on traffic conditions. Because it’s so accessible from Tampa, it’s one of my favorite weekend getaways!
Things to do on Anna Maria Island
Tucked away at the northernmost tip of Anna Maria Island lies a hidden treasure known as Bean Point. This secluded paradise offers a captivating blend of natural beauty and tranquility, making it a must-visit if you’re seeking an escape from the crowds.
One of the most enchanting features of Bean Point is its untouched and unspoiled landscape. Here, you’ll find a harmonious coexistence between man and nature, where pristine dunes and sea grasses thrive alongside carefully preserved pathways and cozy picnic spots. As you wander along the beach, keep an eye out for stunning seashells and the occasional glimpse of playful dolphins frolicking in the crystal-clear waters.
Whether you choose to bask in the sun, take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, or simply sit back and watch the breathtaking sunset paint the sky with vibrant hues, Bean Point promises an experience of serenity and connection with nature that is unparalleled.
There isn’t parking in this area, so if possible bike ride to Bean Point.
Go shopping on Pine Avenue
Pine Avenue, the bustling epicenter of Anna Maria Island, is a shopaholic’s paradise brimming with unique boutiques, charming galleries, and quaint stores. Strolling along this picturesque street, you’ll discover a delightful array of shops offering a curated selection of local art, coastal-inspired home decor, fashionable clothing, and one-of-a-kind souvenirs.
Alongside the shopping experience, Pine Avenue also offers cozy cafes and restaurants, perfect for recharging during your shopping spree.
Enjoy a boat day
Elevate your AMI experience with this half-day private boat charter, tailored to your preferences. Step aboard your exclusive 25-foot vessel, reserved solely for your party, and embark on a coastal adventure like no other.
Explore the waters at your own pace, keeping an eye out for playful dolphins and other marine life. Anchor at a serene sandbar for sun-soaked relaxation or a refreshing swim—every moment is crafted to suit your desires. Snacks, water, and alcoholic beverages are included.
Leffis Key Preserve
Discover the tranquil beauty of Leffis Key Preserve, a hidden oasis on the southern end of Anna Maria Island. This pristine nature reserve showcases diverse coastal ecosystems, picturesque trails, and breathtaking views.
With its boardwalks and trails, you can explore mangrove forests, salt marshes, and wetlands teeming with a rich array of wildlife. From elevated observation platforms, take in panoramic views of Sarasota Bay, Anna Maria Sound, and neighboring islands.
There are plenty of activities to enjoy here, from fishing and kayaking to beachcombing and birdwatching! Fishing is also allowed in certain areas with a valid Florida fishing license.
Go Putt Putting
For family-friendly fun on Anna Maria Island, head to The Fish Hole and immerse yourself in a whimsical miniature golf experience. The course’s tropical theme, adorned with colorful marine life, creates a captivating atmosphere.
As you navigate the 18 holes, you’ll encounter interactive obstacles such as cascading waterfalls and spinning windmills, adding excitement to your game. The Fish Hole is the perfect spot for a little lighthearted competition.
Embrace the leisurely pace of island life by renting bikes and venturing around Anna Maria Island. Renting bikes on Anna Maria Island is not only a fun and eco-friendly way to get around, but it also allows you to experience the island at your own pace, uncovering its hidden treasures and creating memories that will last a lifetime.
We rented bikes from Beach Bums. They were super affordable, and they offered free delivery and pickup.
Paddleboard or Kayak
Paddleboarding and kayaking are popular activities on Anna Maria Island, thanks to its calm waters and beautiful scenery. Several local companies offer rentals. Check out paddleboard rentals here.
Visit The Fox Mercantile
Located conveniently on the route to Anna Maria Island, a stopover at The Fox Mercantile can add a touch of quaint sophistication to your day. They offer a selection of carefully curated goods, from vintage finds to modern treasures. Whether you’re looking distinctive home decor, locally crafted goods, or simply a whimsical shopping experience, The Fox Mercantile delivers.
Take your time to explore the thoughtfully arranged shelves, enjoy a cup of coffee, or work productively on their outdoor patio.
Go fishing off of Anna Maria City Pier
For a classic fishing experience on Anna Maria Island, head to the renowned Anna Maria City Pier. Extending into the Gulf of Mexico, this historic pier offers a prime spot to cast your line and enjoy the thrill of angling. Whether you’re a seasoned fisherman or a beginner, the pier provides an excellent opportunity to catch a variety of species, including snook, redfish, trout, and tarpon during their migratory season!
It’s free to fish off of the pier, although you do need to bring your own equipment or rent it from a nearby shop. The pier is open daily from 6 am to 10 pm. Be sure to follow all posted signs and regulations when fishing here. Enjoy the beautiful views, cast your line, and see what you can catch!
Soar above the turquoise waters of Anna Maria Island with a thrilling parasailing adventure. Feel the wind in your hair and the rush of adrenaline as you take flight, suspended high above the beautiful coastline. With panoramic views of the island’s pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters, parasailing in AMI offers an exhilarating and unforgettable experience!
Make an appointment at The Doctor’s Office
Yeah, you read that right, but don’t worry; this Doctor’s Office experience is far more enticing than your routine check-up. Located on Anna Maria Island, The Doctor’s Office is a culinary haven, offering a unique prescription of craft cocktails and gastronomic delights.
Upon arrival, you’re greeted with a shot, setting the tone for a visit that transcends the ordinary. The menu, featuring items like the Anna Marribbean Grouper with coconut and cashew encrusting and the Port-Braised Prime American Short Rib, transforms dining into a symphony of flavors.
It’s not just a meal; it’s an appointment with indulgence, where each dish is a testament to the chef’s mastery. If you’re seeking a taste of the extraordinary, The Doctor’s Office is the prescription you’ve been waiting for!
Indulge in the island cuisine
While we’re on the topic, there are plenty of amazing restaurants in Anna Maria Island! From fresh seafood to fully scratch kitchens there is something here for every foodie. Aside from The Doctor’s Office, my other two top suggestions are The Waterfront Restaurant (we can’t visit AMI without a stop here) and The Porch Restaurant!
I promise you, you will not leave disappointed.
Located on the south end of Anna Maria Island, Coquina Baywalk is a tranquil spot that features 1.5 miles of paved pathways and boardwalks along a gorgeous bayou where you can observe wildlife, take in scenic views, or simply relax and take in the beauty of nature.
Along the way, you’ll find a variety of educational markers that provide information about the area’s history, plants, and wildlife. Plus, the path ends at a scenic beach where you can sit and watch the sun set over the water.
One of the best things about Anna Maria Island is its beautiful beaches, and a beach picnic is a great way to take in the scenery while enjoying some delicious food. There are several local companies that offer beach picnic services, where they will set up a picnic for you on the beach, complete with food and drinks.
Whether you’re enjoying a romantic outing, a family gathering, or a leisurely solo escape, a beach picnic on Anna Maria Island is the perfect way to create cherished memories and embrace the laid-back charm of this picturesque destination.
🧺 Want a picnic setup on Anna Maria Island?Click herе for prices and availability for your dates
Beach Day With The Cabana Club
If you’re looking for a luxurious way to enjoy the sun and sand of Anna Maria Island, let The Cabana Club take care of all of your beach day details. With beachside cabanas, loungers, and umbrellas, they provide an all-inclusive setup service to make sure you get the most out of your day.
Rent a Golf Cart
When picturing Anna Maria Island, one cannot help but imagine cruising along its charming streets in a golf cart, soaking in the island’s vibrant atmosphere.
Renting a golf cart is not only a popular activity but also a fantastic and fun way to explore the island. With the wind in your hair and the sun on your face, you can effortlessly navigate the island’s scenic roads, discover hidden gems, and revel in the island’s laid-back vibe.
Enjoy a day in Sarasota
If you find yourself craving a change of scenery from Anna Maria Island, a day or afternoon trip to Sarasota is a must. There are so many fun things to do in Sarasota!
Begin your adventure at Ca’ d’Zan, the magnificent mansion-turned-museum that once belonged to John and Mable Ringling. Step into the opulent world of the Ringlings as you explore the grand architecture, lavish interiors, and stunning waterfront views. Continue your Ringling experience at The Ringling, a sprawling complex featuring an art museum, circus museum, and beautifully landscaped gardens.
In just a day or afternoon, Sarasota offers a glimpse into its captivating cultural heritage, vibrant shopping district, and serene natural landscapes. From the historic splendor of Ca’ d’Zan to the lively ambiance of St. Armands Circle and the botanical paradise of Marie Selby Gardens, this city is a must-visit!
Where to Stay on Anna Maria Island
Here, you won’t find towering hotels lining the shore; it’s actually prohibited. This adds to the island’s charm, creating an intimate setting that feels like a well-kept secret.
Instead, hundreds of island home rentals dot the landscape, perfect for larger groups seeking a week-long retreat. VRBO is your go-to for charming accommodations with all the comforts of home, check here to see what is available for your dates.
If you prefer the convenience of a hotel, consider the Compass Hotel Anna Maria Sound, located just over the bridge. While not directly on the island, this hotel provides a stunning stay with unparalleled views. We loved our time there, relishing in the luxury and tranquility it offered.
Another delightful option is the Bungalow Beach Resort on Bradenton Beach, just a bike or trolley ride away from Anna Maria Island. Our stay in ‘The Mermaid’ bungalow was nothing short of perfection, offering spacious accommodations, a full kitchen, and access to beachside amenities like chairs, firepits, grills, and a heated pool.
The ocean was literally at our doorstep! It’s the ideal blend of coastal coziness and convenience.
Getting around Anna Maria Island
I’ve already mentioned some of my favorite ways for getting around Anna Maria Island are via golf cart or bicycle, however, if you don’t want to worry about driving because you’ve had a pina colada or two no worries!
When it comes to discovering the vibrant spirit of Anna Maria Island, hopping aboard the Monkey Bus is an experience like no other. This whimsical mode of transportation, adorned with vibrant colors and quirky decorations, captures the island’s laid-back charm and adds a touch of whimsy to your journey.
To have the Monkey Bus take you to your destination call 941-565-6542 to schedule a ride any time between 12 pm to 3 am – 7 days a week. “Rides for Tips” is their slogan, and there is no official charge for this service.
The Island Trolley is another free option we took advantage of during our most recent visit to AMI and it was great.
Are you ready to experience all of the amazing things to do in Anna Maria Island?
I hope this post has shown you there is so much magic not just in the amazing things to do in Anna Maria Island, but also in the island itself. This hidden gem, one of my top spots for a relaxing vacation in Florida, invites you to unwind in its laid-back charm.
I hope your travels are as breezy and carefree as Anna Maria Island itself! Before you go, be sure to check out some of my other blog posts: