Some of the best things to do in Anna Maria Island include savoring scintillating sunsets, enjoying the cleanest and whitest beach sand in the world, eating amazing grouper tacos with your toes in said sand, and flying above water. What? Yes, flying!
Anna Maria Island Florida is my favorite beach. There I said it. I got that out of the way.
28 Cool Things To Do in Anna Maria Island Florida
Anna Maria Island beach IS, though, my favorite beach. Favorite or best beach is a subjective designation but I really hope your favorite beach is different than mine. Certainly, Anna Maria Island beach may not be my favorite beach forever or even at the end of this year.
Our Anna Maria Island travel guide is based on experiences from several Anna Maria Island trips including one when Bradenton Gulf Islands tourism hosted me (and other travel writers) for a Guy’s Getaway weekend.
Getting to Anna Maria Island FL
Anna Maria Island is about a 25 minute drive from Sarasota airport (SRQ) and 75 minutes from Tampa airport (TPA). If more convenient, make the two hour drive from Orlando airport. Check smaller airlines for nonstop flights into SRQ—like Allegiant (from Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh) and Elite Airways (from Portland Maine, White Plains New York, and Pittsburgh). Here is a convenient and useful resource list of nonstop destinations from SRQ airport.
Three distinct towns make up Anna Maria Island (AMI): Homes Beach, Anna Maria, and Bradenton Beach.
US Gulf Coast Travel tip: Getting around Anna Maria Island is easy peasy on the Island Trolley. With 35 stops, there is one within a block of wherever you stay and want to go. An Anna Maria Island Trolley passes each stop every 20 minutes until 9pm and 30 minutes from 9pm to 10:30pm.
This is especially convenient for people wanting a carless vacation. Fly into Sarasota Airport, take a taxi, Uber/Lyft, or shuttle the 30 minutes to AMI and then relax during your weeklong Anna Maria Island vacation.
Anna Maria Island Activities
Best Things to Do in Anna Maria Island: Sunsets on Anna Maria Island Beach
See also our article Best Places to Watch Anna Maria Island Sunsets.
Anna Maria Island has the loveliest soft sugar white sand which can be found all along Florida’s gulf coast. The sand is cool even on scorching hot days. So nice! Recommended places to watch glorious Anna Maria Island sunsets include near the 65th Street entrance, Manatee Public Beach (directly across from the main bridge entrance to Anna Maria Island), but really any beach will do.
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My latest sunset was a couple of hours ago at Manatee Beach on #AnnaMariaIsland. I know my Twitter peeps are encouraging a #California versus #Florida battle for #SundaySunsets. We can all be friends and agree both states have amazing sunsets. Right? I will keep doing research. . . #seetheworld #traveltheworld #sunset_hub #sunsetbeach #sunset_ig #sunsetporn #travellover #travellife #travelwriter #sundayfun #beachlife #saltlife #loveFL #bradentonarea #menwhoblog #mccooltravel #funness
Head to Bean Point, at the top of Anna Maria Island (north end) for wider beaches, sand dunes, but also breezier winds and multi-directional currents (careful when swimming). In addition to unobstructed sunset views over the Gulf of Mexico, you can see Edgmont Key straight north and the magnificent Sunshine Skyway Bridge to the northeast.
US Gulf Coast Travel tip: Turn left (south) when driving onto Anna Maria Island from the Manatee Avenue bridge and in less than one mile find a parking spot steps from the sand of Coquina Beach. Besides Coastal Mississippi, this is one of the most convenient and FREE places to visit the beach along the entire US Gulf Coast. See also Ultimate US Coastal Scenic Drives Resource Guide
Morning Beach Walks on Anna Maria Island
While sunsets are for socializing with rum drinks—oohing and aahing at the vibrant sky show—beach mornings are for early day activity. Daybreak is a nice time to say hello to temporary neighbors and commiserate about the people “back home” suffering through another harsh winter.
Good morning from Holmes Beach on Anna Maria Island. Yassssssssss! Visit Bradenton Gulf IslandsIsland Real Estate – Anna Maria Island
Anna Maria Island Fishing Excursions
Egmont Key Adventures is conveniently located across the street from the Waterline Marina in the center of the Anna Maria Island commercial district. Egmont offers offshore, nearshore, and inshore excursions. Captain Harrison took us on a half day adventure and we caught plenty of snook, pesky needlefish, redfish, and a trout or two.
US Gulf Coast Travel tip: arrange for take-out sandwiches, amazing sweet treats, drinks, and sides from Scott’s Deli.
Flyboarding in Anna Maria Island
Flying above the water was one of the coolest activities I have done. EVER! I felt like James Bond and Travis Pastrana at the same time. Visit TOP GUN Flyboards to learn about the most fun you can have with your clothes on.
US Gulf Coast Travel note: unfortunately TOP GUN Flyboards is no longer in business but check with activity desks for other Anna Maria Island adventure funness.
Anna Maria Island Piers
Two Anna Maria Island piers offer much different experiences. Both piers are free to stroll or fish from and free parking is nearby.
The historic Anna Maria City Pier is on the upper, northeast terminus of Pine Avenue. A gift shop and snack bar are located in the building at the end and the views of the Sunshine Skyway and Tampa Bay are phenomenal.
The historic Bradenton Beach City Pier (aka Bridge Street Pier) has a lot more activity and commerce leading into it. Excellent views here of the Cortez fishing village, Sarasota Bay, and Sarasota. Anna Maria Oyster Bar is a great restaurant on the pier, for breakfast or fresh seafood later in the day. The comfy swings at the end of the pier are a great way to spend some down time.
Anna Maria Island Events
A great thing to do in Anna Maria Island in December is attend the Bradenton Blues Festival but there are hundreds of Florida Gulf Coast events year round. For a complete and current list of Anna Maria Island and Bradenton area events, check with Visit Bradenton tourism website.
Anna Maria Island Farmers Market
Visiting the farmers market is one of the top things to do in Anna Maria Island.
The AMI farmers market is a fantastic way to support local businesses while also getting fresh food or custom products. The small Anna Maria farmers market is at AMI City Pier Park every Tuesday from mid October through mid May, from 8:30am to 2pm.
On our last visit, there were several produce vendors, a seafood vendor (with seafood salads and chowders), the local turtle rescue organization, and a few other booths.
For the best places to eat in Anna Maria Island, see 11 Spectacular Anna Maria Island Restaurants.
Things to Do in Anna Maria Island: Where to Stay AMI
The vacation rental scene dominates lodging on Anna Maria Island. That is a good thing because, as you probably know, I consider vacation rentals a better value than hotels—lower prices, more space, and better amenities.
sweet Anna Maria Island beach houseAnna Maria Island Beaches | Anna Maria Island | Island Real Estate – Anna Maria Island | Visit Bradenton Gulf Islands
Our vacation rental house was arranged through Island Real Estate. They manage hundreds of Anna Maria Island vacation rentals and the website has convenient search criteria, like gulf front, pet friendly, with pool, and specials.
Fancy a December morning swim? Yes, please. Good morning from Holmes Beach on Anna Maria Island. Island Real Estate – Anna Maria IslandVisit Bradenton Gulf Islands
Anna Maria Island rentals are also available from several other sources including
- Mike Normal Real Estate
- Sato Real Estate
- Anna Maria Vacations
- Anna Maria Island Accommodations
- AMI Locals
- Anna Maria Island Rentals
- Anna Maria Life Vacation Rentals
- Suncoast Vacation Rentals
Right across the bridge and located on Anna Maria Sound is One Particular Harbour, a Margaritaville residential concept. Also attached to this fun Margaritaville location is a Compass Hotel for short term stays. Fins Up!
Future Things to Do in Anna Maria Island
The US Gulf Coast Travel team has not been everywhere on AMI yet. If you know of any activity, shop, or place not mentioned, let us know.
Check out this very vibrant Facebook group all about AMI.
US Gulf Coast Travel bonus: Beer Can Island is at the northern tip of Longboat Key closest to Anna Maria Island, just a 10 minute drive from Manatee Beach. It is a fun and a great Florida hidden gem. There you can swim with dolphins and manatees.
When you drive to Anna Maria Island from Tampa area, make sure to visit the fishing piers connected to Sunshine Skyway Bridge. It costs $3.20 (per vehicle) to visit either Skyway State Fishing Pier (it is a Florida State Park).
BUT (US Gulf Coast Travel tip) you can visit both fishing piers within one hour, so do it! If you only have time to visit one, go to the north fishing pier (it is longer).
Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants
See our article 11 Spectacular Anna Maria Island Restaurants.
Anna Maria Island Day Trips
Located midway between Tampa and Punta Gorda, Anna Maria Island is a magnificent Southwest Florida Gulf Coast island. Sarasota, Naples, Captiva Island, and Indian Rocks Beach are easy day trips from Anna Maria Island.
Plan your Southwest Florida US Gulf Coast getaways with our guides:
- Fun Things to Do in Pass-a-Grille On a Florida Gulf Coast Getaway
- 8 Great Places To Eat in Naples Florida
- South Seas Island Resort: Relaxed Luxury Getaway on Captiva Island
- 15 Fun Things to Do in Punta Gorda Florida on the US Gulf Coast
- 15 Cool Things to Do in Sarasota Florida
- Things to Do in Indian Rocks Beach
Anna Maria Island is one of our favorite Favorite US Gulf Coast Spring Break Destinations for families.
For additional information about things to do in Anna Maria Island, visit:
- Sun, Sand, and Fishing on a Guys Weekend in Bradenton Florida
- Looking For Some Fun In The Sun? Then Head Down To Bradenton Florida
- Five Fun Things To Do on Anna Maria Island, FL
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