Welcome to a little slice of paradise in Florida! Anna Maria Island is an adorable island with plenty of fun things to do for all types of people. With gorgeous coastlines, adorable shops and amazing food, I would say this island has it all!
The island is a little over an hour away from the Tampa airport making it affordable and easy to get to. We rented a car right from the Tampa Airport and I would suggest sticking with a smaller vehicle for easier parking as I can imagine it being tight in the busy season! If you're adventurous, I believe you could get away without a car rental as there is a free trolly right on the island with many stops along the way. There are also affordable bike and golf cart rentals right on Pine Avenue that provide a fun way to see the island up close and personal.
The food scene is incredible on Anna Maria Island! As a foodie I was so excited to try out some places I had heard wonderful things about. You won't find hardly any chain restaurants here, all are owned by locals and have that special touch and incredible dishes.
I traveled with my sisters and my adorable nieces and nephews! They are homeschooled so, many people were surprised to see kiddos at this time of year. Anna Maria Island has many kid friendly things to do and all the things we did were suitable for all ages!
So, let's get to the fun part! I am sharing my favorite things we did on the island and I will also share my personal list of fun "to-do's" while visiting this incredible place.
#1. The Donut Experiment
I've never met a donut I didn't like ;-) BUT these donuts were absolutely incredible! The kids loved picking out their own toppings and watching them be created. My favorite combinations were caramel glaze topped with coconut and vanilla bean covered in oreos.
#2. Painting Sand dollars at The Shiny Fish Emporium
This magical shop has so many trinkets to look at and a cozy island vibe i've never felt anywhere else. For just $15 you get to paint a sand dollar and take it home with you as the perfect souvenir. Dan the shop owners husband was SO fun and wonderful. He was so patient with all the kids and make the experience one to remember.
#3. Dining at "Eat Here"
My nephew celebrated his birthday on Anna Maria Island (lucky guy) so I decided to take him out for a special dinner. Eat Here was an adorable, tiny restaurant playing my favorite romantic 50's music. My mom had the lamb gyro and said it was the best lamb she's ever tasted. I went with the chef's special- brisket tacos that melted in my mouth. All four of us gave our meals 10/10 and the service was wonderful.
#4. Beach day at Coquina Beach
Beach days are hands down our favorite way to spend vacation! Coquina beach is a wonderful place to find shells, build sandcastles and enjoy the amenities of restrooms and a cute cafe. Be sure to check out the beach market that happens Sunday's which is full of small business mom and pop shops. The fish tacos were incredible at the Coquina beach cafe and they offer fruity drinks that wow!
#5. Rod and Reel Pier
This was one of my favorite days on the island and the kids asked to do it twice. For a few bucks you get a fishing rod and bait to fish off the pier. We saw so many dolphins, manatees and pelicans so be sure to watch your bait. ;) Can't forget the grouper tenders which were some of my favorite to date! Rod and Reel Pier is fun for the whole family!
#6. Ginny and Jane E's Cafe
This funky cafe is perfect for homeade breakfast and smoothies! They source local and organic eggs and produce which makes this girl happy happy. There is a fun shop to browse and many things to look at on the walls! My niece loved this place so much.
#7. The Waterfront Restaurant
One evening I took the bike and rode to the Waterfront Restaurant just blocks from our Airbnb. Since I was solo I opted to sit at the bar and felt like I got dinner and a show! The cocktails they make are incredible and filled with fresh herbs and fruits. I went for the Ahi Tuna Steak and have been craving it ever since! While this place is slightly pricier it is worth every penny!
There were so many other places I wanted to try and pictures to take but the days flew by! A few other places I would suggest are...
The Sandbar Restaurant
Shopping @ Pine Avenue
Picture of old Anna Maria Jail
Fish Hole Adventure Golf
Lastly, if you plan to buy groceries be sure to check out the local farmers market for your produce. We were all a little shocked by the grocery prices on the island at Publix! Next time we will try stopping on our way from the airport.
Anna Maria Island was the perfect getaway within the US and I already cannot wait to go back and experience more! We left with a sunburn and many memories to cherish forever.