Anna Maria Island
Just south of Tampa Bay, on the stunning west coast of Florida lies the beautiful Anna Maria Island. Quaint, old Florida charm is the very essence of this island’s seven mile stretch of pristine living, with every location just a walk or bike ride away. Anna Maria Island is surrounded by a sugary white coastline where loggerhead turtles like to nest, and exceptional emerald water where dolphins and manatees are spotted. Without high-rises, theme parks and water slides, this little island is a fishing, birding, kayaking paradise where you and your love can truly escape.
The city of Anna Maria is located at the northern tip of the island. Pine Street serves as the main thoroughfare from bay to beach, where charming family stores and cafes are housed in quaint Florida cottages. There is only one shopping center, an unobtrusive marketplace featuring novelty shops, clothing and ice cream. Many artists reside in the area, and the fruits of their efforts can be found in nearby galleries. Be sure to include a visit to Anna Maria Beach, tucked away in the northern part of the island. Enjoy a beachfront view from your choice of cute, cozy rentals. Then hop on over to Anna Maria Bayfront Park, where sweeping views of Tampa Bay and the iconic Sunshine Skyway Bridge are available from almost every angle.
Holmes Beach is at the center of Anna Maria Island. This is the busiest section of the island, as lots of people come here after crossing the bridge from the mainland city of Bradenton. The public beach, known as Manatee Beach, is easily accessed from the bridge, and features a concession stand, volleyball courts, water sport rentals and play yard. Nearby restaurants, shops and boutiques make Manatee Beach a vibrant active community.
Heading south, the village of Bradenton Beach is home to the historic Bridge Street, a vibrant area with interesting shopping and a great restaurant at the end of the pier overlooking Sarasota Bay. There are regular special events, making Bridge Street a fun place to be. You can pamper yourself at a day spa and enjoy fine dining and nightly entertainment. Moving across from Bridge Street and heading south, you’ll find Cortez Beach, followed by Coquina Beach, a 96- acre Australian pine shaded oasis of beauty. At the southernmost point of Anna Maria Island, you’ll discover sandy paths lined with lush foliage leading to Sarasota Bay. The bay is an oasis for many species of shore birds like spoonbills, osprey, least terns, oyster catchers and more.
The charming, small town feel of Anna Maria Island, Florida makes it an ideal place to escape. That’s why it was chosen as the #3 Prettiest City in the Country by Forbes in 2013, one of the Top 30 Islands in the World by Condé Nast Traveler in 2014, and a TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Destination Winner in 2013 and 2014. With its numerous award-winning beaches, restaurants and shops down Old Historic Bridge Street & Pine Avenue, and exciting events, Anna Maria Island is the perfect spot for your next destination wedding or honeymoon.
About Anna Maria Island
At a Glance
There is so much to see and do on Anna Maria Island, both on the water and off. Spend the day at one of the many art galleries, museums or aquariums in the area. Discover the history of Anna Maria Island or explore the variety of fascinating sea life living in the beautiful Gulf waters. Hikers, take note: this unique barrier island is surrounded by natural parks and beautifully landscaped trails. Bring your binoculars, walking shoes or a bicycle and enjoy your very own eco-tour! If you are looking for a bit of low key competition, then Put-Put golf for the day is the perfect diversion. If you work up a sweat playing a little mini-golf, stop off for a treat at one of the local ice cream shops. If you prefer less participatory sports, then take in a professional or semi-professional baseball, football or hockey game. From kayaking to parasailing, horseback riding along the shore to taking a Segway tour, Anna Maria Island is full of activities to keep everyone entertained!
- GET OUT THERE: Take an excursion to Egmont Key State Park. This Florida State Park is located on the key at the mouth of Tampa Bay, and can only be reached by boat or ferry. The Egmont Key Lighthouse and the ruins of Fort Dade, a Spanish-American War era fort, are located in the park. It’s an ideal place to get away from it all.
- SAIL AWAY: Don’t miss a sunset from the deck of a chartered catamaran. Watch the sails fill with a gentle breeze while gliding through the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. These sailing adventures are often accompanied by dolphins, manatees, and a stunning view.
- PICK A BEACH, ANY BEACH: Anna Maria Island has six beaches to choose from, each offering a special atmosphere: Coquina Beach, Manatee Beach, Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach, Cortez Beach and Anna Maria Beach.
- WINE & DINE: For more than 27 years, the Beach Bistro has consistently been awarded the highest ZAGAT scores in the state of Florida for “best food”, and has been honored with inclusion in ZAGAT’s “Top Restaurants in America”. The Bistro’s beachfront location, overlooking the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, has earned Bon Appétit’s acclaim for being one of Florida’s “Most Romantic Restaurants”. Food and Wine magazine acclaimed the Bistro’s waterfront perch as, “almost like being at sea”. The Bistro also boasts a long-standing Wine Spectator Award and is enthroned in Florida Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of Fame”.
- RIDE OFF INTO THE SUNSET: Many a childhood dream comes true with Sandy Hooves Horse Adventures. Immerse yourselves in the ultimate romantic experience of horseback riding on a sugary white beach, looking out onto the water’s glittering horizon.
- EXPLORE BY KAYAK: Get closer to nature while discovering dolphins, manatees, alligators, tropical birds, and all the pristine beauty Florida has to offer with Almost Heaven Kayak Tours.
- YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE: Now is the time to try parasailing, dolphin tours, sunset cruises, or eco-trips. YOLO Parasailing on Anna Maria Island offers everything you’ll need for an unforgettable adventure.
- RESERVE IN ADVANCE: Call ahead to guarantee your accommodations, especially in the busier months of January through April.
- GOOD TO KNOW: Because Anna Maria Island is a popular wedding and honeymoon destination, most resorts have an event/concierge department.
- GETTING THERE: Fly into Sarasota Bradenton National Airport (SRQ) and travel 30 minutes north to Anna Maria Island, or fly into Tampa International Airport (TPA) and drive 1 hour 15 minutes south to Anna Maria Island.
- GETTING AROUND: Transportation options on Anna Maria Island include the free island trolley, local island transportation (they work for tips) rental cars, limos, airport shuttles and taxis.
- CLIMATE: Anna Maria’s tropical temperatures boast average highs in the 70’s in the winter, 90’s in the summer and 80’s in the fall and spring. Nights bring a cool, balmy breeze with plenty of stars in the sky.