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.
31 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.
The remarkable US Gulf Coast sunsets are one of the best nature spots in Florida for photos.
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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
Posted by Charles McCool on Friday, December 1, 2017
My new office. Anyone fancy a meeting?
Posted by Charles McCool on Sunday, December 3, 2017
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.
Hikes Near Anna Maria Island
Besides walking the seven miles of gorgeous US Gulf Coast beaches, on and between the piers, and elsewhere on the island, head east on Manatee Avenue for some really nice hiking spots.
Neal Preserve is a 120 acre wetland habitat with an observation tower. It is a fantastic spot for bird watching and sunsets.
Perico Preserve is another wetland habitat that is wonderful for bird spotting and getting away in nature. It features a nice boardwalk and observation decks.
Robinson Preserve has three separate sections. One is along the causeway (Manatee Avenue) on the east side of Perico Bayou. The other two Robinson Preserve areas can be accessed off 75th Street. The upper and largest section (off 17th Ave) has a great observation tower. The other section (off 9th Ave) has an excellent playground (The Nest), kayak storage, and excellent hiking trails.
Look for migrating wood storks in the winter and eagles all year.
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.
There are usually several produce vendors, one or two fresh guacamole stands, a seafood vendor (with seafood salads and chowders), the local turtle rescue organization, and a few craft booths (one local artist makes jellyfish planters out of seashells).
For fresh produce and food (eggs, etc.), also try Geraldson’s Family Farm across the bridge in northwest Bradenton.
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
Posted by Charles McCool on Saturday, December 2, 2017
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
Posted by Charles McCool on Saturday, December 2, 2017
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
Some of the best Anna Maria Island hotels I will try on future #USGulfCoast trips include Waterline Marina Resort, Anna Maria Island Inn, Rod and Reel Resort, Anna Maria Beach Resort, Bali Hai, and Bungalow Beach Resort.
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.
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40 thoughts on “31 Cool Things to Do in Anna Maria Island Florida”
I think you will do better to head back toward Bradenton. I hear amazing things about Abuela’s Kitchen. Enjoy!
My wife and I just booked a place on Anna Marie Island for the week of the 4th of July and have one burning question. Where would you recommend for an authentic Cuban?
Thank you, Devesh. Appreciate the nice words. Hope you visit Anna Maria Island one day and try flyboarding.
Your most loved shoreline looks truly cool. A considerable amount of things to keep you occupied from dawn to dusk in Anna Maria Island. Obviously the nightfall looks dazzling and the shoreline perfect for an early morning excursion, tuning in to the music of the ocean and feeling the delicate sand on your feet. Flyboarding resembles an incredible experience choice while the decisions for sustenance and drink look tempting as well.
I am all about that food. In fact, I am ready to go back and do more culinary research. For you and my readers, of course.
How did you miss it? Oh well, I love that you have been along the FL Gulf coast but did not go there. It means that it will remain relatively less visited for awhile. People will really have to seek out Anna Maria Island.
Totally recommended. Hope your 2018 trips are enjoyable and happy.
Sounds good, Kemkem. Much to do in Florida outside Miami and the theme parks.
Oh, you gotta try it, Elaine. So fun! The music is also a fun activity, a little more low key.
What is your favorite beach? I hope you can visit Anna Maria Island in 2018 and compare.
We can see why you like Anna Maria island so much. It looks like a wonderful place to visit, and the food is quite tempting. Thanks for sharing all of the delicious pictures. It makes us want to plan our own escape.
So much to do on Anna Maria! I love it all especially the music and have always been curious about flyboarding. You’re braver than I!
Beautiful sunset and the food looks really delicious. I wouldn’t mind hanging out there. I have only ever been to Miami. So many places..so little time :-). Perhaps our next trip state side.
Looks like my kind of place. I haven’t gotten to Sarasota yet, but it’s next up on my list for Florida places. So maybe I’ll visit Anna Maria Island when I’m there.
I was sold on Anna Maria Island from the get-go, but then you brought up Cuban egg breakfast sandwich. Yes, please!! Seriously, I have spent a good portion of my life along Florida’s Gulf Coast but seem to have missed out on Anna Maria Island. I will have to change that!
I can see why Anna Maria Island is your favourite beach. The beach and the views are beautiful. And the food looks pretty great too. My mouth is watering and I just finished lunch!
We will also be in Florida next month, in the same area. We gotta talk.
Oh man, this place looks awesome. I thought it was down in the Caribbean. I have never heard of this pace, but now we are going to add it to our Florida road trip itinerary next month!!!!
Who know, I might even meet you there. Let me know when you visit Florida again!
Next visit I will try more water activities. Being surrounded by water means so many different things to do. Then again, hard to get me off the beach.
This is a part of Florida not visited by the masses. That is why I like it!
This beach seems so bubbling and full of good things yet remains remote and off the usual touristic track! Never been to Florida, but it looks like a good beginning for falling in love with it!
Such an amazing Island and thanks for your introduction about the Anna Maria island. Glad that you found your very own favorite and it looks like there are a lot of things to see and do there! Would love to join the Bradenton Blues Festival some day, try out the oyster bar, and hang out in the beautiful rental house! @ knycx.journeying
Hmm… I wasn’t familiar with this island before, but the super cute bakery and flyboarding got my attention. Who knows, maybe if I’m ever in FL again, I’ll check it out.
Oh, AMI is definitely on my mind also this winter. It would be lovely to be there now.
Glad to intro you two to each other. What Florida destinations do you like?
Yep, funky, that is perfect. AMI has a little more funkiness than other Florida Gulf coast beach destinations, if that is your sort of thing.
AMI certainly does not have a monopoly on sunsets, as they are all along the Florida Gulf coast.
Flyboarding is so fun. Hope you have an opportunity to try it some time.
David, that last line was exactly what I struggle with. I want to keep this gorgeous spot all to myself. Take solace, though, in that there are always empty spots on AMI because people are too lazy to walk.
Will you be in Florida much longer, Sara? We are headed back down to the Gulf coast in a week!
My sister–an Orlando local–rented a beach condo there last summer and raved about it. It was already on my radar, but now, with long days of winter still ahead of me, it’s looking even more enticing (if possible!)
Had never heard of this Island. Totally intrigued!
Those lobster dishes look amazing!! I haven’t explored nearly enough of Florida and hope to change that. Anna Maria Island has lots of fun and funky places to see, added to my wish list!
Beautiful photos! Gotta love sunsets along the west coast. Have spent time in Siesta Key and Sarasota and have seen the turn off to St. Armonds and northward, On the list to drive 789 all the way up to there on another visit. Thanks for sharing all the to-do’s!
Your favourite beach looks really cool. Quite a lot of things to keep you busy from sunrise to sunset in Anna Maria Island. Of course the sunset looks gorgeous and the beach ideal for an early morning jaunt, listening to the music of the sea and feeling the soft sand on your feet. Flyboarding looks like a great adventure option while the choices for food and drink look enticing too.
I am currently in Fort Myers Beach and am making note of Anna Maria Island on a future visit. It looks like you found great beaches and I must say a photo of you fly boarding would have been epic! I also see that you enjoy a good doughnut shop, as I do.
Have to agree totally that Anna Maria Island is a gem in many ways. With beaches that rival other top-rated locales but without the crowds, with eclectic shops without the vehicular clog, and food that ranges from fast and easy to full course recasts, this island has it all. The only complaint I have with your article is that more people will discover this idyllic spot.
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