Anna Maria Island has my heart.
We “beach week” here every year to kick off summer. There’s not many things better than a week spent being complete beach bums and welcoming the summer with sandy feet and sun kissed skin.
Anna Maria Island is located on the Southwest coast of Florida. It’s only about an hour away from Tampa International Airport and 30 minutes from Sarasota Bradenton International Airport. It is an absolute perfect little hidden gem as far as Florida beaches go.
Things To Do
There’s so much more to do on AMI than just being a beach bum, although some days that’s all I want to do. Here’s my list of favorite things to do on AMI other than being a sun goddess on the beach. Anna Maria has some cute and small town fun activities to fill up your week.
1. Visit All 3 Piers:
Rod & Reel Pier, Anna Maria City Pier, and Bridge Street Pier
2. Paint Sand Dollars at Shiny Fish Emporium
3. Ride the AMIbanana.com boat
This is the kid’s absolute favorite part every year. Everything is booked on your phone, then they pick up / drop off wherever you are on the beach as long as you know the closest beach access street. It makes for an easy activity that parents don’t have to do anything.
4. Ride Horses Through the Bay.
This is for ages 3 years old + and can be booked at beachhorses.com
5. Visit the Anna Maria Jail & Museum
This is a quick 15-20 min activity and can be done after lunch at one of the nearby restaurants.
6. Rent Bikes From Beach Bums and Explore the Island
7. Take a Sunset Cruise On The Salty Dolphin 2
8. Henna Tattoos at Shaka Body Art
9. Mini Golf at The Fish Hole then walk over to Anna Maria Oyster Bar for dinner with a view
10. Rent fishing rods and fish off the pier at Rod & Reel pier or Anna Maria City pier
11. Go shopping at all the shops off Pine Ave.
Where To Eat
No matter the vacation, we’re going to find all the best eats in town. Even if it means going to the beach in bikinis after eating an entire tray of nachos. No shame in our eating all-the-things game. All these restaurants are a short golf cart drive away from us on the North End of AMI.
1. Waffle Press for some bagel breakfast sammies.
2. For a sugar filled breakfast treat, Donut Experience lets you order donuts however your heart desires.
3. North Shore Cafe is our go-to for a light and refreshing breakfast or lunch. They offer filling smoothies and açaí bowls.
4. Harry’s Grill for their lunch chili nachos, yes only lunch. Otherwise, their fish tacos come in thin crispy shells that I enjoy!
5. Ginny and Jane E’s for their pancakes and crème brûlée French toast…do I need to say more? This is a cafeteria style restaurant.
6. The Sandbar is a classic AMI restaurant located on the beach, perfect for sunset.
7. The Waterfront quickly became one of our favorites. It’s a little more upscale for island life, but very kid-friendly still. Their Scallops and Pork Belly Fried Rice is my favorite.
8. Ocean Star Sushi for your weekly sushi fix.
9. One we frequent a couple times is Pizza Social. You won’t regret getting the BBQ Chicken and Taco Pizzas.
10. Poppo’s Taquiera has fresh tortilla chips, guacamole, and a burrito big enough to share!
11. The Ugly Grouper is a great outdoor restaurant on the island, but not on the beach.
12. Rod & Reel Pier for some fresh fish and chips. This gives very “hole in the wall” vibes.
13. gRub Tropical BBQ was not a favorite, but it was brand new when we first tried it. I will say the Mojo Pork empanadas were tasty!
14. When I say we are AMI ice cream experts, I kid you not. Two Scoops reigns supreme each summer for us, while Dips is a close 2nd. Both usually have long after-dinner lines.
Where To Stay
One of the things I love most about Anna Maria Island is that it’s not commercialized. It is very much still a beach village, with almost no hotels and chain restaurants. That can make it very difficult to find a place to stay. We always rent a house while we’re there and we have used a few different vendors to do so.