Looking for the best things to do in Anna Maria Island? We have you covered.
Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Anna Maria Island is known for its white sandy beaches. Coming in at only seven miles long, the barrier island is home to around 8,500 people, but has lots of visitors throughout the year.
Anna Maria Island is just a short drive from Sarasota, Florida, and we think it is very much worth a visit. You can find great shops, great food, and great beaches, making it the perfect vacation destination. So yes, if you are on this page wondering if you should visit the answer is a resounding hell yes!
With year round temperatures ranging from the low 70’s to the mid 90’s, there is not a wrong time to go catch some sun. Here are our top 25 activities and attractions on Anna Maria Island. Keep reading for exactly what to do on Anna Maria Island during your vacation!
25 Best Things To Do in Anna Maria Island You Can’t Miss
Anna Maria Island has structures still standing from 1910, so we love the historic feel of the island.
1. Historic Bridge Street
Historic Bridge Street in Anna Maria Island has all the best dining and shopping you can find. The laid back atmosphere is great for unwinding and relaxing.
Anna Maria Island FL is 7 miles long, but there is a free trolley that will take you the entire length of the Island through Historic Bridge Street. You can get off at 80 different stops to eat, drink, get back to your hotel, or go to the beach.
2. Beach Market at Coquina Beach
If you are looking for fresh produce, jewelry, or other souvenirs, look no further than the Beach Market at Coquina Beach. We love the beach here, of course, but we also love wandering around markets with a variety of vendors.
You never know what exactly you will see here, but you will definitely have a good time searching. We recommend grabbing a cup of coffee and strolling through the market in the morning before spending the rest of the day at the beach.
It is much easier to find a parking spot earlier in the day, so leave the car parked and spend the day at Coquina Beach. The trees provide great shade from the sun while you are walking through the market. Everyone is quite friendly, so be sure to stop and talk to the vendors while you are strolling.
3. Anna Maria Historic Green Village
The Historic Green Village is an eco-lovers paradise. They are one of only 100 places in the world that have reached platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and have a net zero campus.
Within the village, you can find an art gallery, jewelry shop, a bakery, and an outdoor equipment store. We think it is so important to reduce your carbon footprint and do everything you can to help the environment, so we love supporting the Historic Green Village.
As you will notice throughout this article, eco-friendly and sustainability are at the forefront of many things on Anna Maria Island, making it an even more attractive destination for your next trip.
4. Bradenton Beach City Pier
The fishing pier and restaurant are worth a visit while you are at Bradenton Beach.
This is a great spot to see some local birds, and is conveniently located next to one of our favorite beaches on the Island – Bradenton Beach. If you like to fish then this is the place to do it.
You can rent a fishing pole from the pier (you don’t have to even worry about getting a fishing license!) so you do not have to worry about lugging your own around.
See more: Things to do in Bradenton
5. The Fish Hole Miniature Golf
Miniature golf is a family favorite for any beach trip. The Fish Hole is no exception. They have an 18 hole golf course for lots of family fun. Prices are reasonable at only $10 per person. They also use real golf putters rather than the typical mini golf putters.
There is a koi fish pond on site, giving the name of The Fish Hole. You can buy food to feed the koi fish. The course is also attached to a candy and ice cream store, making it perfect for a family night out.
If the kids enjoy the course and want to go through it again after you are done, it only costs an additional $2 per person, rather than another $10.
6. The Island Players Community Theater
Founded in 1949, the Island Players Community Theater is the oldest of its kind in Manatee County, Florida.
The building has been standing on Anna Maria Island since 1912. They do 5 performances each year between October and May.
In March, they have “A Comedy of Tenors” on show. They are also hosting auditions for “The Psychic,” so if you live in the area and you love theater you should check this place out. If you are just visiting, go see a show and support a Florida Heritage Site.
Learn a little while you are on the island to fully understand what makes Anna Maria so amazing.
7. Anna Maria Island Historical Society
The museum has exhibits on the early settlers of Anna Maria Island and their influence on the Island today. There are also exhibits on fishing and baseball, both of which have importance in AMI.
Elsewhere in the Historical Society are the Belle Haven Cottage, Mangrove Walks, and the Old City Jail.
Entry is free, making it one of the best free things to do in Anna Maria Island. If you are a budget traveler coming to the area – this is a ‘must do’ attraction.
8. Island Gallery West
Although not technically a museum, we love this art gallery. The Island Gallery West opened in 1990 by a community of local artists. It is currently an artists co-op with around 30 members.
You can find paintings, drawings, photographs, mixed media, ceramic arts, pottery, decorative tiles, jewelry, and glass mosaics. We love supporting local artists, so be sure to check out some of the amazing work that Island Gallery West has on offer.
Outdoors and nature
The main reason you want to go to Anna Maria Island is the beaches, and we know that. Here are our favorite outdoor activities to do on our trips.
9. Coquina beach
This beach is typically less crowded than some of the other beaches on Anna Maria Island and provides a great venue to watch for dolphins.
There is a cafe and live entertainment on the beach, as well as changing rooms, showers, and restrooms. We love watching the sunsets on Coquina beach, they are the best so be sure to catch at least one sunset while you are there.
Sunsets in the Gulf Coast are some of the best in Florida. If you are into epic sunsets you might also like to check out these beaches for some stunning sunset options: Naples Beaches, Bonita Springs Beaches and Marco Island Beaches. Some of the best things to do near Anna Maria.
10. Kayak Sarasota Bay & Mangrove Tunnels
There are many different kayaking experiences on Anna Maria Island, and you really can not go wrong. From clear kayaks to journeys that take you to different locations, we think kayaking is a great way to connect with the beautiful nature on the island. You might even get to see a dolphin while you are in the water.
This experience is hosted by a Florida Master Naturalist for Coastal Systems, so you will learn a lot while enjoying the stunning views.
Tip: If you love kayaking, make sure you take a manatee tour while in Florida.
11. Paddleboard Yoga
This 90-minute experience is so unique and so much fun. 30 minutes of your time will be spent paddleboarding and the other 60 minutes will be spent doing yoga on the boards.
If you want to relax while also getting a workout in, we think you will love this. 60+ people have given this experience excellent so we had to include it on this list.
12. Dolphin Boat Tour
We love dolphins and we know you will too. Take this boat tour to see some bottlenose dolphins, sea turtles, Florida manatees, eagles, and osprey.
You will learn a lot and we think it is neat to experience the island from the water. The experience lasts between one and a half to two hours. Tours are available year-round, but some animals are only seen seasonally.
13. Cortez Beach
North of Coquina beach is Cortez beach, one of the most popular beaches on the island.
Another fantastic place to watch the sunset, Cortez beach is great for families and has crystal clear water. You can fish, collect shells, or simply enjoy swimming and sunbathing.
14. Leffis Key Preserve
Leffis Key Preserve is home to a 26 foot tall hill that provides excellent panoramic views of Sarasota Bay.
There are trails and boardwalks to walk through and connect with nature. You can learn about all the ecosystems here through the signs sprinkled around the preserve.
There are all native species of plants and animals in this beautiful area, making it a great place for a hike.
You can not visit the Gulf of Mexico and not go snorkeling. There are a few different companies that offer snorkeling excursions and you really can not go wrong.
We recommend working with a locally owned company so you can support entrepreneurs on the island. You can find anything from an hour long adventure to a full day adventure, so it is up to you how you want to experience the waters.
16. Bean Point Beach
This area was home to the first settlers of Anna Maria Island. In 1892, George Emerson Bean began construction on a 182-acre homestead. He died in 1898 and left the development of the city to his son, who then worked with Charles Roser to develop streets, a functioning water system, homes, schools, churches, and a community.
The original structures are no longer standing, but it is worth a visit to experience the sheer beauty of this area. Important to note – there are no parking lots or lifeguards here, and it is a bit of a walk from the nearest facilities.
17. Bayfront Park
On the north end of Anna Maria Island is a bayfront park that offers great views of Tampa Bay and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. It is one of the most popular parks and beaches in Anna Maria because of its convenient location and gorgeous nature.
You can swim, rent kayaks or paddleboards, fish, have a picnic, or let the kids play on the playground. The park itself has grills, pavilions, and benches. There are also outdoor showers, restrooms, and water fountains.
18. Anna Maria City Pier
Located just a few minutes from Bayfront Park is the Anna Maria City Pier. This 100 year old pier was originally used to receive passengers crossing from Tampa Bay by steamboat.
The pier has been destroyed multiple times – in 1975, 1988, and 2012, but was fully restored and revitalized in 2016. It was unfortunately badly damaged again in 2017, but there are plans to completely rebuild it currently in the works.
Parasailing is an unforgettable adventure of a lifetime and for sure one of the best things to do on Anna Marie Island. Rather than attaching lines to a standard boat, this company uses a boat that was made specifically for parasailing, so you know safety is of the utmost importance. They are also concerned about their impact on the environment and use fuel that reduces emissions.
The experience costs $119 per person and you get 10 to 12 minutes of air time 350-400ft above the water, but could be on the boat for up to 90 minutes. The boat holds up to 12 people, so the length of the boat ride depends on how many people want to go up.
You are in foodie heaven on Anna Maria Island. Here are some of our favorite restaurants and bars that you need to visit on your next trip. You can also check out some nearby Sarasota restaurants if you want a greater selection.
20. Ginny and Jane E’s Cafe and Gift Store
Located in the middle of the historic Anna Maria is a great little coffee shop and gift store. We love espresso and all things coffee, and if you do too, you will definitely want to give this place a try.
Their bakery is made fresh every morning, so you are guaranteed excellence every day. The sisters that opened this store wanted a unique place to buy local art and enjoy a great cup of coffee or pastry, and they absolutely succeeded.
21. Small town creamery
Small Town Creamery considers itself the happiest place on the island, and we would have to agree. Their award-winning ice cream will leave you wanting more.
We recommend taking your ice cream to a nearby beach or boardwalk to enjoy while soaking in the sun. Everyone raves about how kind the staff is and the excellent variety of ice creams to try. Make sure you stop in on your next visit to AMI.
22. The Seafood Shack
Just on the other side of the bridge to Anna Maria Island is The Seafood Shack. This waterfront restaurant is home to some excellent seafood with even better views.
We love the stuffed flounder with their award winning coleslaw. You really can not go wrong at the Seafood Shack, so make sure to try all kinds of different things.
23. The Waterfront Restaurant
This unique restaurant takes classic flavors and gives them a twist. We love how much they care about the environment and the emphasis they put on sustainability and recycling.
Pretty much everything you see on the menu is prepared on site, which makes this restaurant a great choice for people with allergies. They can accommodate just about anything. We have heard the blackened grouper sandwich is the best on the island, so try it out and let us know what you think.
24. The Sandbar Restaurant
If you want to eat delicious, sustainably sourced and local ingredients, then look no further than the Sandbar restaurant. This family run restaurant is one of the best on the island.
It is conveniently located right on the beach, so you can take a seat in chairs right on the sand and sip on a delicious cocktail or eat some fresh fish.
25. Beach House Restaurant
The Beach House Restaurant is owned and operated by the same person who owns the Sandbar, so you will definitely get great quality food here.
The Beach House has an entire environmental commitment plan to reduce its impact on the environment, including everything from sea turtle friendly lighting to biodegradable to-go containers. The staff is extremely friendly and everyone raves about the tacos and sandwiches here.
Where to stay in Anna Maria Island
The Anna Maria Island Dream Inn – There are only a few hotel on the island with The Anna Maria Dream Inn being one of those. It is a clean and comfortable hotel, nothing too fancy with a waterfront patio and heated swimming pool. The prices are generally reasonable here.
The Mainsail Beach Inn – Here is another choice on the hotel which has much better ratings but also tends to be slightly more expensive than the Dream Inn. I guess you get what you pay for rings true. This Inn is catered well for families too with larger 2 and 3 bedroom suites available. The oceanview rooms at this place are to die for. Absolutely stunning.
The Bali Hai Beach Resort – Our top pick for couples traveling to the area. It is an absolutely stunning property set over two acres, it also has it’s own private beach, which is amazing. Everything at the resort is beautiful and upmarket – the perfect place to treat yourself. Go on, you deserve it!
Bungalow Beach Resort– Another great property in Anna Maria Island with consistently awesome reviews. The deck chairs outside remind me of one of the final scenes in the movie beaches – such a great movie. Sad, but great.
- Where is Anna Maria Island? It is a stunning barrier island in Manatee County which is situated in the Gulf Coast of Florida near some of Florida’s top beach cities like Sarasota.
- What is the best month to visit Anna Maria Island? Florida is warm pretty much all year round. For that reason, it is nice to come in mid January – March (after the Christmas rush) as prices are cheaper and there are less crowds.
- What is Anna Maria Island known for? The area is known for its incredible white sand beaches with clear water. If you are looking for incredible Florida Beaches, this is one of the best spots. Sanibel Island is another choice if you want awesome beaches.
- What is better Anna Maria Island for Sanibel Island? If you prefer quieter beaches, Anna Maria is your girl. It also tends to be slightly more affordable here. We like to think of it as a hidden gem in Florida.
At the end of the day…
Anna Maria Island feels like a tropical and exotic destination but is just a short drive from downtown Sarasota.
The barrier island is home to excellent beaches and even better restaurants, making it the perfect getaway. Whether you are a solo traveler, have a large family, or going with friends, we think you should add Anna Maria to your bucket list and check out the wonders that the Gulf of Mexico has on offer.
Have you been to Anna Maria Island? We would love to hear from you! Comment below or message us and let us know your favorite Anna Maria island things to do.
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