Anna Maria Island is a lovely barrier island in Manatee County, located within the Gulf of Mexico near Anna Maria Sound and Tampa Bay. The seven-mile island has become a major tourist destination along Florida's Gulf Coast today, serving as a bird sanctuary for native shore and migratory bird species such as pelicans, cranes, sandpipers, herons, hawks, and bald eagles. Island visitors can peruse the charming shops, art galleries, and restaurants.
© Olivier JULLY/stock.adobe.com
Bean Point preserves the former homestead of Anna Maria Island founder George Emerson Bean, who chose the site to building his 160-acre estate in 1892. Throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Bean was responsible for crafting many of the city's homes, businesses, and streets and is known as the founder of its water system. For many years, the point has been known as one of the island's most beautiful, scenic, and secluded private beachfront areas. Visitors can explore the beachfront area's beautiful scenery, which offers an alternative to more crowded public beachfront areas on the island. Nature photographers and wildlife watchers can enjoy opportunities to spot interesting native wildlife from the point, including marine line. Visitors should note that no parking lot facilities are offered at the point, though limited street parking is offered nearby on Jacaranda Road and Fern Street.
Coquina Baywalk is one of the Bradenton Beach region's top free attractions, located along the southern end of Anna Maria Island at Leffis Key. The gorgeous baywalk nature preserve protects 30 acres of restored natural habitat at Leffis Key, visible along a a mile-long wooden boardwalk. The region's native Floridian wildlife habitat has been carefully restored to its original condition following the area's natural destruction due to the dredging of the Intracoastal Waterways in the mid-2oth century, which caused the invasion of non-native species and the covering of seagrass beds. Since the 1980s, wetland, mangrove, and seagrass areas have been restored, creating a safe habitat for species such as crabs, hawks, stingrays, herons, egrets, and pelicans. Native plant species include Jamaican dogwood, sea oats, southern red cedars, and dune sunflowers. Interpretive signs along the baywalk detail the flora and fauna found within the habitat.
2651 Gulf Dr S, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217
3.Anna Maria Island Historical Museum
© Anna Maria Island Historical Museum
Anna Maria Island Historical Museum strives to preserve the history and culture of the Anna Maria Island region, housed within an historic 1920s ice house facility. The museum facility, which opened to the public in 1992 under the operation of the Anna Maria Historical Society, is open to the public for free year-round, with the exception of closure during the month of September. Exhibits include a recreation of the city's historic 1920s-era jail, which provides a unique photo opportunity for museum visitors. Other exhibits include collections of artifacts related to the island's history as an indigenous fishing camp, its use as a baseball player wintering vacationsite, and its native plant life. The museum provides scavenger hunt packets to entertain young visitors on an artifact search for unique items held within the museum's collections.
402 Pine Ave, Anna Maria, FL 34216, Phone: 941-778-0492
4.Island Players Community Theatre
© Island Players Community Theatre
Island Players Community Theatre is Manatee County's oldest community theater organization, originally founded and opened to the public on Anna Maria Island in 1949. The theater is housed within the converted family home of William H. Gillette, which was originally constructed around 1912 and has previously served as a church, school classroom, and tourist information center. In the mid-1970s, the theater acquired use of the historic landmark building and brought it up to current code conditions as part of major renovations. Five annual public theatrical productions are presented at the theater, showcasing Broadway-style musicals, dramas, and comedies. One annual presentation is also showcased as part of the island's artsHOP celebration.
10009 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria, Florida 34216, Phone: 941-778-5755
5.Anna Maria Historic Green Village
© Anna Maria Historic Green Village
Anna Maria Historic Green Village preserves environmentally-friendly buildings within the historic downtown district of Anna Maria Island, only one of less than a hundred locations worldwide to have achieved the prestigious Platinum LEED certification, the highest possible environmentally-friendly certification for modern buildings and community areas. More than a dozen buildings are showcased within the district, which is located on the city's main street, Pine Avenue. Historic buildings within the district include the Rosedale Cottage, the Sears Cottage, the Pilsbury Home, and Thelma By the Sea. The village is also home to attractions such as an art gallery, a village bakery, and a fishing and kayaking outfitters store and performance apparel retailer.
6.The Center of Anna Maria Island
© The Center of Anna Maria Island
The Center of Anna Maria Island is a nonprofit community center building located within Anna Maria Island's historic downtown district, offering community recreational and educational programming open to visitors and residents of all ages and ability levels. The center serves as a multipurpose youth/teen center, senior center, fitness center, and recreational center, also utilized as a disaster shelter during hurricane times. A wide variety of cultural programming is open to the public regularly at the center, including yoga, pilates, tai chi, cycling, and meditation courses and drop-in times. Tennis and pickleball courts are available for visitor use, along with a variety of multipurpose outdoor sporting courts. Children's programming includes theater, music, art, and sport camps and after school programming, while adult and senior courses including ballet, karate, and a Lifelong Learning Academy. Annual public special events include a golf tournament, a family fun day, and a murder mystery performance.
407 Magnolia Avenue, PO Box 253, Anna Maria, FL 34216, Phone: 941-778-1908
7.Salty Dolphin Tours
Salty Dolphin Tours is one of Anna Maria Island's premiere island touring companies, owned and operated by United States Coast Guard Master's Captain Ben Webb, who brings more than 45 years of experience and knowledge of the island's water conditions to each company tour. Tours are customized for each tour group, typically spanning two to four hours, and take place aboard the 27-foot Carolina Skiff Salty Dolphin vessel, which is certified according to Coast Guard specifications. Up to 20 adults can sail on any given tour, which offers up-close opportunities to see native marine life species such as manatees, sea turtles, dolphins, and osprey. Tour packages are also offered to explore the island's historic trails or view the region's spectacular sunsets while floating on the water.
4110 127th St W, Cortez, FL 34215, Phone: 941-281-3461
© batuhan toker/stock.adobe.com
AMI Charters offers a wide variety of private fishing and boating charters, owned and operated by regional resident Captain Scott. The company offers all its charters aboard clean, well-maintained, safety-inspected boats, led by a licensed and insured captain. Half, three-quarter, and full-day fishing excursions are offered inshore and nearshore, offering opportunities for participants to catch fish species such as pompano, trout, redfish, tarpon, and snook, along with a variety of shark species. Half-day and three-quarter-day deep sea fishing excursions are also offered, offering opportunities to catch hogfish, grouper, snapper, and kingfish. Other tour opportunities include a nighttime dock light fly fishing trip, family eco-tours, and romantic sunset cruises.
9.Salty Buddha Paddle and Yoga Co.
Salty Buddha Paddle and Yoga Co. is a unique combination stand-up paddleboarding lesson company and yoga studio, owned and operated since 2016 by island native Rachael Croll. The company owns a fleet of Glide Lotus yoga paddleboards and offers courses and instruction on the art of stand-up paddleboard yoga, which is practiced in calm waters when wind conditions are safe and sheltered. As one of the world's fastest-growing sports, many participants find stand-up paddleboard yoga to be surprisingly easy to accomplish and balance on the water. Weekly courses are offered, along with a monthly sunset yoga course and children's paddling camps. The company's indoor yoga studio also features intimate lighting and a Himalayan salt wall to set the ambiance for traditional yoga courses.
Avenue C, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217, Phone: 941-932-3671
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10.Ginny's and Jane E's Cafe and Coastal Store
© Ginny's and Jane E's Cafe and Coastal Store
Ginny's and Jane E's Cafe and Coastal Store is a combination cafe, coffee shop, ice cream bar, and vintage store housed within an old village grocery store on Anna Maria Island, offering a wide variety of unique goods for travelers and tourists to enjoy, including one-of-a-kind island postcards. The store sells a collection of local art piece, antiques, and home goods, including furniture, lamps, and handmade beach jewelry. Beach supplies are also sold, including suntan lotion, flip-flops, and sunglasses. A delicious menu of espresso-based beverages is served up daily, including lattes, cappuccinos, and Italian-style macchiatos available with a variety of milk and flavor options. Hot teas, smoothies, and cold drinks are also served, along with a variety of decadent baked goods and muffins. At lunch and dinner, diners can choose from sandwiches, salads, and side dishes such as fries or chips.
9807 Gulf Dr, Anna Maria, FL 34216, Phone: 941-778-3170
11.The Donut Experiment
© The Donut Experiment
The Donut Experiment is the vision of married duo Cecilia and Shawn Wampole, who moved to Anna Maria Island from Philadelphia and opened the shop in 2012 as Anna Maria Donuts. The company's rebranded name is a nod to its creative, experimental approach to crafting unique doughnut flavor concoctions and delicacies. All creations start with fresh-baked cake doughnuts and allow the customer to pick from a wide variety of icings and toppings. Chocolate, caramel, vanilla, maple, and traditional glaze are available as icings, with a wide variety of topping choices ranging from traditional sprinkles and crushed candy bar pieces to outside-the-box flavors such as bacon, sriracha, and key lime. Hot and iced coffee and espresso-based beverages are also served up throughout the day, including flavored lattes and cold brew.
210c Pine Ave, Anna Maria, FL 34216, Phone: 941-896-3172
12.Two Scoops Ice Cream Parlor and Coffee Cafe
© Two Scoops Ice Cream Parlor and Coffee Cafe
Two Scoops Ice Cream Parlor and Coffee Cafe is a delightful ice cream parlor and cafe located within Anna Maria Island's Bayview Plaza, opened to the public in October of 2007. The cafe has earned the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for its high-quality homemade ice cream flavors and top-notch service and atmosphere. 32 flavors of ice cream are served up daily, ranging from traditional favorites such as pralines and cream and peanut butter fudge to clever varieties such as maple walnut, bing cherry, birthday cake batter, and coffee brandy. Ice cream is available in cups and cones or in signature sundaes, milkshakes, and ice cream floats. Sorbet flavors include lemon, raspberry, orange pineapple, and yogurt and can be mixed into sorbet slushes for sipping. A variety of casual dining options are also served up, including fresh-baked pastries, sandwiches, and breakfast favorites such as French toast and Belgian waffles.
101 S Bay Blvd, Anna Maria, FL 34216, Phone: 941-779-2422
13.The Waterfront Restaurant
© The Waterfront Restaurant
The Waterfront Restaurant is an upscale New American restaurant on Anna Maria Island, opened to the public in 2002 by Jason Suzor. The restaurant strives to craft traditional Floridian dishes using the finest seasonally-available locally-sourced produce and ingredients, with an emphasis on dishes highlighting underutilized finfish species. Creative seafood entrees include maple mustard salmon, grouper cakes, scallops Trovalo, and moqueca, a traditional Brazilian shrimp stew. Land entrees are also served, ranging from Australian rack of lamb to the signature Waterfront burger, served with garlic and herb cheese spread and bacon-onion jam. At lunch, diners can choose from a variety of clever small plates, ranging from steamed clams and mussels to tuna sashimi, queso fundido, and kung pao calamari. Extensive craft beer, fine wine, and cocktail menus are served, including gluten-free beer options.
111 S Bay Blvd, Anna Maria, FL 34216, Phone: 941-778-1515
14.The Sandbar Restaurant
© The Sandbar Restaurant
The Sandbar Restaurant has been an Anna Maria Island institution since 1911, serving up authentic Old Florida dishes alongside new and creative entrees. Since 1979, the restaurant has been owned and operated by Ed Chiles, who has strived to preserve its historic atmosphere while updating its menus to focus on locally-sourced, ecologically-responsible ocean-to-table fare. Chef's specialties available at lunch and dinner range from Southern-style favorites such as chicken and waffles and shrimp and grits to seafood favorites such as Tampa Bay Spanish mackerel and islander scallops served with coconut milk and lemongrass. Classic entrees include thick-cut ribeye steaks, jambalaya, and plant-based Impossible burgers. A wide range of shareable appetizers are served up, along with table-sized Southern side dish favorites such as hush puppies, cheese grits, blistered heirloom tomatoes, and homestyle cornbread with whipped butter. Clever fish tacos are also served at lunch, along with salads and sliders.
100 Spring Ave, Anna Maria, FL 34216, Phone: 941-778-0444
14 Best Things to Do on Anna Maria Island, Florida
- Bean Point, Photo: Olivier JULLY/stock.adobe.com
- Coquina Baywalk, Photo: Inolas/stock.adobe.com
- Anna Maria Island Historical Museum, Photo: Anna Maria Island Historical Museum
- Island Players Community Theatre, Photo: Island Players Community Theatre
- Anna Maria Historic Green Village, Photo: Anna Maria Historic Green Village
- The Center of Anna Maria Island, Photo: The Center of Anna Maria Island
- Salty Dolphin Tours, Photo: jamie/stock.adobe.com
- AMI Charters, Photo: batuhan toker/stock.adobe.com
- Salty Buddha Paddle and Yoga Co., Photo: serguastock/stock.adobe.com
- Ginny's and Jane E's Cafe and Coastal Store, Photo: Ginny's and Jane E's Cafe and Coastal Store
- The Donut Experiment, Photo: The Donut Experiment
- Two Scoops Ice Cream Parlor and Coffee Cafe, Photo: Two Scoops Ice Cream Parlor and Coffee Cafe
- The Waterfront Restaurant, Photo: The Waterfront Restaurant
- The Sandbar Restaurant, Photo: The Sandbar Restaurant
- Cover Photo: Scottiebumich/stock.adobe.com