25 Best Things To Do On Anna Maria Island [Florida]
Disney Land is not the only happiest place on Earth in Florida. Step foot onto Anna Maria Island, a 7 mile-long stretch on the western coast of Florida and you might want to cancel your flight back home. If the intimate white sand beaches, crystal blue waters, and Instagram-worthy sunsets don’t make you wish to stay on the island for good, then we don’t know what will. Here we share the 25 Best Things To Do On Anna Maria Island.
Aside from basking in the glorious Floribbean sun, there are a string of other activities to do in Anna Maria Island. The island is the holy grail of shopaholics and those who need a little retail therapy: boutiques, souvenir shops, art galleries, antique shops, clothing stores, yard sales, and flea markets are all aplenty here in Anna Maria.
Here's a quick intro for those that don't know the island
Where Is Anna Maria Island?
Anna Maria Island is a barrier island situated around 50 miles south of Tampa on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
The island is around 7 miles long (north to south) and a couple of miles wide at it's widest point.
Anna Maria Island Weather
Here are 25 experiences you should not miss when visiting AMI!
Things To Do On Anna Maria Island - No 1
Horseback riding on the beach (Horse surfing)
Horseback riding on the beach is on so many people’s bucket list. So why not check it off during your stay on Anna Maria Island? Palma Sola Bay, on Manatee Avenue, is one of the few places in Florida where you can legally ride your horse on a beach.
The calm waters and flat sandy bottom of Palma Sola Bay make it possible to ride on a horse that is swimming. Maybe along the way, you get to catch a glimpse of a manatee, stingray or dolphin swimming by.
This is a unique experience with highly trained animals that are suited for families, romantic couples and anyone that loves to create amazing memories.
Things To Do On Anna Maria Island - No 2
Paddleboarding on Anna Maria Island
What better way to explore the Anna Maria Island than by paddleboarding?
With beautiful scenery, warm Gulf waters, gorgeous bay and natural beauty all around you, paddleboarding is the best mix of getting in shape and having fun at the same time. The sport originated in Hawaii as a new kind of surfing and even thousands of years before that. Stand up paddle boarding is an easy and exhilarating thing to do while spending your holiday here.
So let’s catch a few waves and swells, shall we?
Things To Do On Anna Maria Island - No 3
Fishing with captain Mike
Many visitors of the island love to spend their day fishing on the relaxing waters of the Gulf Coast.
With places like Sarasota, Anna Maria Island, Sarasota Bay, Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, the region has its share of pristine inshore or offshore waters that are amazing for fishing. Captain Mike from Captain Mike’s Fishing Charters is someone that we love to recommend as he has over 35 years of experience with fishing in Florida.
He uses a specialized flats boat to access the flats and backcountry waters where tarpon and other game fish frequent.
Current rates are as folows
$500.00 Half Day (4-5 hrs)
$700.00 Full Day (8 hrs)
$500.00 Evening Tarpon (4 hrs)
$500.00 "Beat the Heat"
5PM - Dark. Sharks and other Rod Benders!
Capt. Mike's Charters
Kingfish Boat Ramp
752 Manatee Ave W
Holmes Beach FL 34217
For more info call - 941-778-1404
Things To Do On Anna Maria Island - No 4
Tour de Turtles
Spending your holiday on Anna Maria Island is a synonym for escaping the dazzling rat race you face every day.
Live your life on a lower and more relaxing pace. And how slow can you really go if you are watching the Tour de Turtles, a competition in which 20 sea turtles are tagged and released from beaches in Costa Rica, Panama, Nevis and Florida.
The turtles then compete in a “marathon,” a competition for which turtle swims the most miles during the three-month “race.”
The Anna Maria Turtle season starts officially on the first of May. It's around then that the turtles swim ashore, work their way up the beach and lay their eggs. You will see mainly Loggerheads but 4 other types of sea turtles that also have been known to visit the island.
Things To Do On Anna Maria Island - No 5
Scuba diving or snorkelling
The Bradenton Beach shipwreck of the Regina makes is Florida’s 10th Shipwreck Underwater Archaeological Preserve.
It was built in 1904 in Ireland, sank during a nasty storm in 1940 in about 20 feet of water just off Bradenton Beach, Anna Maria Island. The dive site sits approximately 175 feet offshore at about 7th Street in only about 20 feet of water and is marked with a buoy.
The wreckage itself is over 200 feet long. When booking with Anna Maria Island Condo Rentals – 601 Gulf Dr. N. Anna Maria Island, Florida 34217, you are able to dive or snorkel directly across from your vacation property.
Things To Do On Anna Maria Island - No 6
Enjoy free transportation
Having your own car available during your holiday is an easy way to get around. However, some visitors choose not to have their own vehicle.
Fortunately, the island offers plenty of free transportation options. The Anna Maria Island Trolley Service is transportation service running every day of the year from six in the morning until ten thirty at night. Along the way it makes many stops all over the island, making it a good way to see the island.
Another option is Island Beach Monkeys, a company whose drivers, all island residents, work for tips only. They have a 24h service.
Things To Do On Anna Maria Island - No 7
Visit craft breweries
Anna Maria Island is home to several craft breweries that are worth visiting during your stay.
Darwin Brewery is located on 17th Avenue West at Bradenton and brews traditional ales and lagers. Their speciality lies in the German and Belgian style.
Motorworks on 9th St West is Bradenton’s first craft brewery. It was built as an automobile dealership and besides enjoying their craft beers, there is plenty of entertainment and food to be tasted.
Keys Brewing Company is a smaller craft brewery that sells their beer in house only. This allows them to brew what they want when they want. They experiment with fun, new recipes and release 2-3 new beers a week. Specializing in West Coast and German recipes using local strawberries, oranges, grapefruit etc.
Here you won’t find a sports bar or restaurant with table service, rather a craft brewery and family-friendly eatery in an inviting and relaxing atmosphere.
Things To Do On Anna Maria Island - No 8
Go on a walking tour
One of the best ways of exploring new places is by going on a walking tour. On Tuesday or Thursdays, downtown Bradenton can be enjoyed with a walking tour that leads you through some of its historic neighbourhoods.
The best thing about this tour is that you will not only get to learn about its history but will experience the place with your taste buds as well. A visit to popular and unique restaurants makes this one of the best tours in Bradenton.
Things To Do On Anna Maria Island - No 9
Attend a Beach ‘n Food Truck Festival
This fun family festival is an all-day celebration that takes place along the bright blue Gulf waters and white sandy beaches at the south end of Coquina Beach, just south of the trolley turn around. With plenty of opportunities for shopping, showcasing vendor booths with unique, one-of-a-kind handmade crafts, lots of jewellery items, local artists’ works, collectable items and much more, this is an event not to be missed.
The artisans are talented and the goods are of great quality and value. Local bands will be performing live music to keep you jamming all throughout the day and into the evening. The festival will also feature an amazing car show, The Bill Mergens Memorial Car Show, with over 100 classic, antique, custom and muscle cars on display from 10am until 3pm.And of course, the stars of the show, a variety of Food Trucks serving delectable eats and treats. There is sure to be something for everyone.
Refreshing adult beverages will be available – from wine, margaritas, rum runners and cold beer to soft drinks and water to quench your thirst.
Things To Do On Anna Maria Island - No 10
Visit the Ringling Museum
No art museum or building filled with historic artefacts this time. The RINGLING museum is a museum dedicated to circus owner and art collector, John Ringling and his wife Mable.
The couple built this as their home “The Ca’D’Zan” almost a century ago. Their 36,000 square foot home/mansion has 41 rooms and 15 bathrooms. When John Ringling died in 1936, the mansion became the property of the people of Florida.
New buildings were added and nowadays it serves as an Art Museum, Circus Museum, Education Center, Historic A solo theatre and beautiful Bayfront Gardens. While the grounds and art museum are free to enter, admission needs to be paid to enter the Circus Museum.
The RINGLING museum can be found across the street from Bradenton Airport.
Here's what people say about the Ringling (from Yelp)
“The grounds are beautiful, the rose garden, and the John & Mable Ringling mansion is fantastic.”
“The Circus Museum is very interesting and has tons of history, interactive exhibits, and a miniature circus.”
“My granddaughter loved the scavenger hunt given in the Tibbals learning center, where she looked for feathers and letters to solve a puzzle.”
Things To Do On Anna Maria Island - No 11
No activity is more relaxing than a session of wellness. Whether you are looking for a manicure/pedicure or just looking for a total spa experience where you can relax and are being pampered, Anna Maria Island has them all.
A full spa experience in Body and Sol includes massage, yoga, Acupuncture, body scrubs and wraps, organic skin care products, facials, manicures/pedicures, waxing, hair services, make-up, bridal and private parties.
Truly a unique island experience.
Things To Do On Anna Maria Island - No 12
Enjoy a waterski show
Since you are spending your holiday on an island, there is no surprise that watersports are the main thing here.
But instead of getting wet yourself, why not enjoy some performance of a themed and spectacular one-hour water show with thrilling jumps and tricks, beautiful ballet and swivel lines as well as breathtaking pyramids.
During spring season (February 4 to May 6, 2018 ) FREE weekly Water Ski Show is to be enjoyed every Sunday at 2:00 pm. The show is near Mote Marine Aquarium on City Island.
Things To Do On Anna Maria Island - No 13
Staying fit when travelling is no easy task. It is something every long-term traveller will acknowledge. However, being in shape requires lots of training and determination, and it would be a shame to get out of shape during your stay on Anna Maria Island.
Fortunately, there are few ways on the island we can offer to stay fit. The AMI Health and Fitness is a 24 hours full-time fitness center offering group fitness, free weights, circuit training, cardio equipment and personal training.
For those who are more into yoga, there are yoga classes offered at the north end of the beautiful island, all of them in a unique and serene setting with views on white sands and turquoise waters.
Things To Do On Anna Maria Island - No 14
Visit the Florida Maritime Museum
This is small, but interesting museum housed in the former Cortez village school on the Cortez Nature Preserve is located in the historic fishing village of Cortez and has some wonderful exhibits that tell the history of the only fishing community left in Florida dating back to pre WWII.
Founded on the importance of the regional commercial fishing industry, the museum tells a number of stories pertaining to all aspects of Florida’s maritime history.
The museum is just a short walk from Anna Maria Island Condo Rentals and is one of the museums you should not miss to visit.
Open Tuesday - Saturday
4415 119th Street West
(P.O. Box 100)
Cortez, FL 34215
Closed: Saturday, June 30 and Wednesday, July 4
Things To Do On Anna Maria Island - No 15
Visit the Florida Aquarium
When on a family holiday with children, it is best to have some activities on the side that interests your kids. Visiting some museum or dining in a fancy restaurant isn’t what they are typically after.
The Florida Aquarium, on the other hand, might well be. The Aquarium is a one hour drive from most condos on Anna Maria Island and makes a great day-trip on a rainy day. The Aquarium is divided into different territories including the Florida Wetlands Trail, where you can see free-flying birds, otters, turtles and alligators.
Madagascar, on the other hand, allows you to see ring-tailed lemurs, hissing cockroaches, and colourful chameleons.
While a visit to the Florida Aquarium is nothing less but an exciting trip, most visitors are just awed when passing through the Coral Reef Gallery, an impressive exhibit existing of a 500,000-gallon tank with viewing windows and a walk-through tunnel giving you the illusion you are in underwater depths.
It is full of coral tunnels and caves, reef fish, eels, sand tiger sharks, barracudas, green sea turtles and dozens of other exotic fish and sea animals.
Here's what people on Yelp have to say about the aquarium
“We adore the touch tanks and spend most of our trips at the rays touch tank or watching the large sharks in the predator tank.”
“Also there is a great splash pad outside, so make sure you bring swimsuits and towels.”
“There is also a sting ray touching tank, and there is a few other different touching tanks where you can touch star fish and coral.”
Things To Do On Anna Maria Island - No 16
Stroll through the Palma Sola Botanical Garden
Palma Sola Botanical Garden is a ten acre botanical garden at the end of a residential area in the heart of NW Bradenton. It is designed around three ponds with two attractive “Old Florida style buildings” as well as several nice gazebos.
There is an enclosed picnic pavilion, a small playground for children and lovely shelled walkways and bench areas. Despite not being an overly large park, it is a great place to walk along the paths running throughout the sculptured gardens that show off rare palm trees, fruit and flowering trees and a butterfly garden.
You can relax with your lunch and a good book and enjoy nature while sitting beside one of the three sizeable ponds. Along the way, you can see some very unusual things including, native and tropical plants, a succulent garden, lotus pond and an exotic fruit tree section.
Things To Do On Anna Maria Island - No 17
Hunt for sharks’ … teeth
There would be nothing more adventurous than hunting for sharks, but let’s face it, the chances that you would live to tell the tale or close to nothing.
Hunting for shark’s teeth, on the other hand, might not be as thrilling but is a fun way to spend your afternoon. While strolling on the beach, some people find themselves some sharks’ teeth.
The beach accesses south of the Venice Jetty including Casey Key, Sharky’s Beach and Caspersen Beach. Nokomis Beach is a good option since sand and water here are impeccable and the beach is generally very low in seaweed.
You will find lots of shark teeth here either washed up on shore with the seashells or by sifting in the sand just a few feet into the water. Don’t forget to bring a shovel.
Things To Do On Anna Maria Island - No 18
Dine at the Rod & Reel Pier
Anna Maria Island is known for its Old Florida charm and the old pier is one of the best places to feel the history and see the true beauty of the Island.
Rod & Reel Pier is one of the most renowned Anna Maria Island Restaurants and is one of the Islands hidden treasure dining experiences. It is located on the North end of the Island in the City of Anna Maria on one of the oldest fishing piers in the United States.
Built in 1947, it serves hundreds of thousands of visitors each year serving traditional fare, local favourites and famous fish specials. Experience the appeal of not just dining near the water, but over the water where the pier extends into the Gulf. The views are phenomenal with indoor and outdoor seating.
Dining on the quaint covered outside deck will give you a true Old Florida experience.
Things To Do On Anna Maria Island - No 19
Visit some unusual local shops
Anna Maria Island is home to several unusual local shops.
Do you like taking a look at weird stuff, then a visit to The Sea Hagg on Cortez Road is an interesting stop. Even before entering the shop you will see many interesting pieces.
The front yard referred to as the Salvage Garden, you will find old boats, sculptures and probably something that no one else has. So many eclectic items and nautical themed salvage. Located a short walk across the Cortez.
The inside of The Gift shop is amazing.
You will see some of the most interesting floor to ceiling Nautical curiosities, antiques and gifts. If you’re looking for an unusual, one-of-a-kind piece, this place will have it.
Another location is the Village of the Arts in downtown Bradenton. This is an area full of 1920’s restored bungalows. These colourful bungalows are home to galleries, restaurants, studios and speciality shops. This vibrant art community has lots of unique venues.
The Village offers an eclectic mix of art, ranging from pottery, paintings, metalwork, jewellery music, gourmet cuisine, fashion and literature.
Things To Do On Anna Maria Island - No 20
Cycling around AMI
With several bicycle-friendly pathways and bike rentals available, cycling is the way to go on Anna Maria Island.
Fun and More Rentals offer outstanding service and fast delivery. They will deliver bicycles anywhere on the island, along with helmets, bike passenger seats and bike trailers. In addition to standard cruisers, they also offer kid’s bikes, adult tricycles, tandems and bikes equipped with a co-pilot trainer.
They pride themselves on being the premier rental agency on the Beaches of Anna Maria Island. Other options are Beach Bums and Pathways.
Things To Do On Anna Maria Island - No 21
Search for pink flamingos
The flamingo is one of Florida’s famous trademarks and even today I still hold that image and think that by some miracle I will see a flamingo flying overhead or prancing nearby on one of our beach walks.
However, flamingo’s are quite rare in the Sunshine state. Seeing them into the wild is nearly impossible, but there are plenty of zoos to check them out.
If you really want to see a pink bird in Florida, go to the nearby Robinson Preserve. Here you can see some Roseate Spoonbills, a type of large wading bird and just as pink as a flamingo. Not as tall or as svelte as the flamingo, their body is similarly light pink with an almost coral hue.
Things To Do On Anna Maria Island - No 22
Travel by golf cart
We already mentioned the free transportation of the Anna Maria Island Trolley Service instead of the traditional car rental as a way of transportation.
However, there is a third option available that might be fun to do. You can travel the scenic seven-mile stretch of Anna Maria Island by golf cart.
Is there a better way to explore the island than with one of these popular, safe, eco-friendly electric carts on the streets. Yes, Golf carts are street legal on any street where the speed limit is 35 mph or less which includes all roads on Anna Maria.
Click on the photo above for more information
Things To Do On Anna Maria Island - No 23
Living on an island during the stay of your holiday means you will get in touch with some great watersports.
Because of its beauty, Florida is the most popular place in the United States to go parasailing. Hitting the skies on a parasailing adventure is a thrilling experience to do with your teens or family.
Gently floating high above the clear, blue water of the Gulf of Mexico, parasailing off the coast of Anna Maria Island is like sailing in paradise.
From Yolo tours...
AMI: 135 Bridge St, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217
Parasailing trips are the same for everyone. The whole trip from dock to dock will take an hour. Flight times range from 10-15 minutes, we use 800ft of line and you will be at a verticle of 400ft in the sky (If any other parasailing company tries to sell you on something else, they are just trying to nickel and dime you, FAA regulations do not let us fly any higher than 400ft). The price of a parasailing trip is $79 per person. We have not changed our prices in over a decade. Our ultimate goal is to put a smile on your face by sharing one of our favorite past times with you.
Things To Do On Anna Maria Island - No 24
Go on a sunset tour
There is something magical about seeing a sunset in a paradise-like setting.
Maybe it is because you just saw a dolphin appear above the water minutes before sunset kicked in.
While there are many different places to experience an amazing sunset, we can highly recommend going on a sunset tour. You will cruise the waters on board of a catamaran vessel while the captain shares his knowledge of the island. His experience of living on the island will help you get the best views to take photos of the colourful Anna Maria Island.
Settle in to watch the tropical magic of the flaming sun as it meets the horizon and sinks into the Gulf of Mexico. A sunset cruise is perfect for families, couples, honeymooners, and kids alike!
Paradise Boat Tours – 200 Bridge Street, Bradenton Beach 941-465-8624 paradiseboattours.com
Prices are as follows ….
• Children ages 3 to 13 are $20 and Under 3 is free
• Seniors are $25
• Adults $30
Advertised on their website — 95% of Tours see Dolphins and great for all ages. Very safe and stable catamaran.
You are allowed to bring food and beverage (including alcohol) on board with you.
Things To Do On Anna Maria Island - No 25
Experience Bridge Street
Anna Maria Island is known for its laid-back Florida charm and as you walk along Bridge Street you will experience that feeling first hand.
Bridge Street is a walkable community with spectacular water views from both the pier and the gulf beach. To the East at the end of Bridge Street, is the Pier which at one time was a wooden bridge and the only way on or off Anna Maria Island from the mainland.
Bridge Street nowadays is one of the best places to hang out in the local bars, have dinner in one of the restaurants or go shopping in the boutique style shops.
Things To Do On Anna Maria Island - No 26
Anna Maria Island caters to both adventure-seekers and faint-hearted alike—as well as everyone in between. If you feel like you are more of the former than the latter, then flyboarding in Anna Maria should be under your bucket list, and, ultimately, ticked off. Those who find thrill in snowboarding would most probably love its marine cousin. Both activities use the balance of your body to control the board, and both boards feature boots and straps to guarantee that your feet are safely strapped on the board.
However, in flyboarding, your Flyboard is attached to a hose that links it to the jet exit of the jet ski. Propelled water jets from below the apparatus, the water it pumps out is what gives the thrust to shoot you out of the water and keep you up in the air. How high you go is controlled by the water pressure from the watercraft/jet ski.
TOP GUN Flyboards in Anna Maria is the top name in the area that offers this activity, and you may book their services through: Top Gun Flyboards — 9715 Manatee Ave W Bradenton FL — 941-565-1727 topgunflyboards.com
Things To Do On Anna Maria Island - No 27
Anna Maria Island may be known for its flourishing marine wildlife, but it does not necessarily mean that its wildlife wonders don’t go outside of the waters. At Perico Reserve, a hidden oasis in 176 acres of woodlands, serves as a haven for wading birds. Do not forget to bring your binoculars to see the picturesque view and a charming 1.5-mile stroll through the preserve, alongside the boardwalks for a one-of-a-kind encounter with birds, like pelicans, ducks, egrets, ospreys, herons, and even bald eagles. This is where you get to see an undisturbed ecosystem of flora, fauna, and wildlife living together in perfect harmony.
Things To Do On Anna Maria Island - No 28
Light Sport Aircraft Flight
Helicopter tours are great, but if you want a more intimate flying experience to see the exquisite beauty of Anna Maria Island, the Discovery Tours aboard the Light Sport Aircraft is for you. In this tour, you will experience the marvel of flying over the entire island. The aircraft has an open cockpit design so you can have a greater view to see all there is to see in and on the island. The aircraft might seem too light to be safe, but these vehicles are stable and certified by the FAA. Only one passenger can fly with the pilot at a time, though. The pilot is also trained to answer any questions about Anna Maria Island.
So, there you have it,
A marathon of relentless shopping and sight-seeing would probably leave you famished. Not to worry, though. The island offers a mecca of seafood choices, fine-dining restaurants, burger joints, and pubs that allow you to choose your beer from a coffin—I kid you not.
The party scene is also very much alive in Anna Maria Island. Once you’re done with your coffin beer, or you need to burn those extra sugars from Joe’s Eats and Sweets’ delectable ice creams, you can head off to the beach patio and party with the locals and tourists alike.
You can also hop on a boat and enjoy the crystal clear blue waters and the salty air while fishing, bird and manatee watching, or parasailing. You could also take on snorkelling and shelling tours to enjoy a more intimate encounter with marine wildlife endemic within the area.
In a nutshell, boredom is not an option here in Anna Maria Island, with the plethora of activities and attractions that the island offers.
Hurry! Pack your bags before the word spreads! Enjoy the intimacy and privacy of this island and head off there now!
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