October 15, 2023

Things to Do on Anna Maria Island: Top Attractions and Activities

Anna Maria Island, a beautiful barrier island off the Gulf coast of Florida, offers visitors a laid-back atmosphere and a wide range of activities to enjoy. Whether you're on a family vacation, a romantic getaway, or just seeking some fun in the sun, this charming island possesses everything you need for an unforgettable experience. Its stunning white-sand beaches, vibrant wildlife, and plethora of attractions are perfect for travelers of all ages and interests.

In addition to its breathtaking beaches, Anna Maria Island is famous for its diverse ecosystem and numerous opportunities for wildlife encounters. Visitors can explore the island's picturesque terrain or cast a line on a fishing adventure. Foodies will delight in the numerous dining options available, while shopping enthusiasts will find no shortage of unique boutiques and markets to browse. No matter your preference, there is something for everyone on Anna Maria Island.

Key Takeaways

  • Anna Maria Island is a versatile vacation destination with stunning beaches and diverse attractions.
  • Visitors can engage with the island's abundant wildlife and enjoy outdoor activities, including fishing.
  • The island offers a variety of dining and shopping options to indulge in during your stay.

Exploring the Beaches

Beach Activities

Anna Maria Island, a barrier island off the Florida Gulf Coast, offers a variety of engaging beach activities for visitors to indulge in. The stunning white-sand beaches with turquoise waters are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and beachcombing. For adventurous spirits, there are several water sports options such as kayaking, paddleboarding, and jet-skiing. Guests can also challenge themselves with beach volleyball, sandcastle-building, or simply relaxing on the shore with a good book.

Famous Beaches

This island paradise is home to several picturesque and well-regarded beaches, each with unique qualities.

Bradenton Beach: Located on the southern end of the island, this vibrant and popular beach offers a lively atmosphere along with excellent restaurants and shops within walking distance.

Bean Point: Nestled in the island's northern tip, Bean Point boasts a more secluded feel, making it a perfect spot for nature lovers and those seeking tranquility.

Coquina Beach: Known for its beautiful scenes and soft sand, Coquina Beach is a popular spot for families, picnickers, and sunbathers alike.

Cortez Beach: Situated near the Bradenton Beach fishing pier, Cortez Beach offers a pristine shoreline and convenient access to various amenities.

Holmes Beach: As the island's largest beach, Holmes Beach provides ample space for fun beach activities alongside easy access to the nearby mainland via Manatee Avenue.

Manatee Public Beach: Located in the heart of Anna Maria Island, this easily accessible beach features wide, pristine sand and an array of amenities, making it ideal for a day of relaxation and fun.

Anna Maria Island Beach: Stretching seven miles across the Gulf of Mexico, Anna Maria Island Beach is the perfect getaway for stunning sunsets and enjoyable beach strolls.

Visitors to the Anna Maria Island area can also take a short drive to explore nearby gems like Lido Key and the world-famous Siesta Beach with its gorgeous quartz sand. There is no shortage of beautiful, diverse beaches for all tastes and preferences to experience on and around Anna Maria Island.

Wildlife Encounters

Anna Maria Island is a haven for nature lovers and boasts a wide variety of fascinating wildlife encounters. Dolphins, manatees, and various bird species grace this beautiful island, providing unique experiences for visitors.

Dolphin Sightseeing

Dolphins are truly a delight to observe, and Anna Maria Island offers plenty of opportunities to view these intelligent creatures up close. One popular way to see dolphins is by booking a dolphin cruise, which allows you to venture out onto the water and observe the playful marine mammals in their natural habitat. Keep your eyes peeled as they swim, jump, and play alongside the boat! In addition, many times, dolphins can also be spotted from the shore as they travel in search of food.

Manatee Spotting

Manatees, also known as gentle sea cows, are another unique sight on Anna Maria Island. These slow-moving, herbivorous marine mammals can often be seen in the shallow waters surrounding the island. Manatee-spotting is best done from a kayak or paddleboard, as it allows you to quietly approach these serene animals without disturbing them. If you're lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of a mother and her calf, spending quality time together in the warm, shallow waters.

In addition to dolphin and manatee encounters, Anna Maria Island is teeming with other wildlife like sea turtles, crabs, and an array of local and migratory bird species. So, if you have a keen interest in exploring the natural wonders that this enchanting island has to offer, don't hesitate to include these wildlife encounters in your plans.

Fishing Adventures

Anna Maria Island offers a wide range of fishing experiences for both novice and experienced anglers. From local fishing piers to deep sea fishing excursions, there is something for everyone in this beautiful Florida destination.

Local Fishing Piers

There are several fishing piers around Anna Maria Island that provide a relaxed and enjoyable fishing experience. Two popular piers in the area include the Bradenton Beach City Pier and the Long Pier on Longboat Key. Both piers are easily accessible and offer picturesque views of the surrounding waters.

The Bradenton Beach City Pier is located at the southern end of the island. It is a hotspot for catching various fish species such as snapper, grouper, and mackerel. During peak seasons, the pier can get quite crowded, but there's still plenty of space for everyone to cast their lines. The pier is also conveniently located near many local amenities including shops, restaurants, and parking.

Long Pier on Longboat Key is a favorite among fishing enthusiasts who enjoy the serene atmosphere and productive fishing grounds. This pier extends out into the Sarasota Bay, providing a perfect spot for casting a line and catching local species like flounder, snook, and redfish.

Deep Sea Fishing

For those looking to venture further out into the Gulf of Mexico, Anna Maria Island is an excellent launching point for deep sea fishing adventures. Offshore trips can take you miles from shore in search of larger fish like barracuda, cobia, king mackerel, and sharks.

There are several fishing charters available that cater to various skill levels and interests. Many offer half or full-day trips with experienced captains who know the best spots for catching prized fish. Deep sea fishing excursions not only provide the thrill of reeling in big catches, but also offer stunning views of Anna Maria Island's picturesque coastline.

Whether you prefer fishing from the comfort of a pier or embarking on a deep sea adventure, Anna Maria Island is an angler's paradise. Its diverse fishing opportunities and beautiful scenery make it a must-visit destination for fishing enthusiasts.

Food and Dining

Seafood Restaurants

Anna Maria Island offers a variety of seafood restaurants to satisfy any sea-lover's cravings. One popular choice is the Anna Maria Oyster Bar, where diners can enjoy fresh oysters and other seafood dishes in a laid-back atmosphere. Another must-try seafood restaurant is The Waterfront, which offers high-quality seafood and a stunning view of the ocean.

Patrons interested in a more casual dining experience can visit Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe, an ideal spot for a beachfront meal featuring local favorites such as grouper, stone crabs, and shrimp. For those seeking fresh ingredients, Island Fresh Market should be on the list, as it offers a selection of Key West pink shrimp, blue crab, and more.

Coffee and Ice Cream Shops

For a caffeine fix or a sweet treat, consider visiting one of Anna Maria Island's coffee and ice cream shops. The Donut Experiment is a unique coffee shop that pairs your java with customizable donuts. Choose your donut toppings, drizzle, and icing to create a one-of-a-kind dessert while sipping on a warm cup of coffee.

If ice cream is more your style, be sure to check out Small Town Creamery. They offer a wide range of delicious flavors, all made in-house. Whether you'd like your ice cream in a cone or a cup, this charming shop has you covered.

Shopping Places

Anna Maria Island offers a variety of shopping options for visitors and locals alike. From unique boutiques to lively markets, there's something for everyone to enjoy during their time on the island.

Pine Avenue Shops

Pine Avenue is a popular shopping destination on Anna Maria Island, known for its charming and unique boutiques. As you stroll down this beautiful street, you'll find a variety of shops offering everything from trendy clothing and accessories to handmade gifts and souvenirs. Notable spots along Pine Avenue include the Historic Green Village, an eco-friendly shopping area, which showcases sustainable practices and offers eco-conscious products. With its beautiful surroundings and diverse offerings, Pine Avenue is a must-visit shopping area for any island visitor.

Bridge Street Market

Another great shopping destination on Anna Maria Island is the Historic Bridge Street. This vibrant area is home to the Bridge Street Market, an open-air market that features a mix of local vendors and artisans. At the market, you can find a wide array of items, such as unique arts and crafts, handmade jewelry, apparel, freshly baked goods, local honey, and more. The Beach Market at Coquina Beach is also nearby, providing a similar experience with its offerings of gifts, beauty products, soaps, cosmetics, and food.

Whether you're looking for a one-of-a-kind souvenir or a taste of local flavor, shopping on Anna Maria Island is sure to be a memorable experience. With its lovely streets and markets, you'll undoubtedly find something special to remember your time on the island.

Top Attractions

Historical Spots

Anna Maria Island is rich in history, and one of the top attractions is the Anna Maria Island Historical Museum. This small museum offers an insight into the island's fascinating past, showcasing local artifacts, and photographs. Another must-visit spot is the Anna Maria City Pier, a historic structure dating back to 1911 and a great place to take a leisurely stroll and enjoy beautiful views.

For history buffs, the Historic Green Village in nearby Sarasota is worth a visit. It boasts a collection of historic buildings showcasing sustainable technologies and the area's rich cultural heritage. And if you're interested in walking tours, check out the Historic Bridge Street Pier and nearby historic walking areas to explore the local history on foot.

Natural Preserves

Nature enthusiasts will find a variety of preserves and parks to explore on and around Anna Maria Island. Leffis Key Preserve is a popular destination with unique flora and fauna, boardwalks, and stunning views of the island's waterways. Neal Preserve and Robinson Preserve also provide serene settings for walking, birdwatching, and appreciating the island's natural beauty.

Anna Maria Island offers a plethora of outdoor activities like fishing and water sports. Don't miss Bayfront Park, where you can enjoy picnics, playgrounds, and amazing views of Tampa Bay.

And while you're in the area, be sure to catch a show at the Community Theatre or explore the Anna Maria Island activities suitable for kids and adults alike. Whether you're interested in history or nature, you're sure to find something to pique your interest on Anna Maria Island.

Outdoor Activities

Anna Maria Island offers a variety of exciting outdoor activities for both adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers. With its beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters, and abundant wildlife, the island provides endless opportunities for fun and exploration.


Biking is a great way to explore the pristine beauty of Anna Maria Island, while also getting some exercise. The island's flat terrain and well-maintained paths make it a friendly destination for both beginners and experienced bikers. Rent a bike and pedal through the scenic streets, discovering hidden gems along the way, such as quaint shops and cozy cafes. For a more relaxing ride, consider booking a sunset cruise that will allow you to enjoy the breathtaking views as the sun sets over the water.


Snorkeling is one of the most popular activities on Anna Maria Island, as it allows visitors to explore the underwater world and encounter a diverse array of marine life. Vibrant coral reefs, colorful fish, and even friendly dolphins can be spotted in the clear coastal waters. You can rent gear and venture out on your own, or opt for organized snorkeling tours led by experienced guides. Make sure to grab your underwater camera to capture the memorable moments of this exciting adventure.

When planning an outdoor excursion on Anna Maria Island, consider incorporating a great nature walk into your itinerary. Hike along the serene trails, taking in the sights of Florida's unique flora and fauna, and immerse yourself in the island's tranquil atmosphere. Whether you enjoy biking, snorkeling, or simply strolling through the picturesque landscapes, Anna Maria Island has something to offer for everyone.


Getting Around

Anna Maria Island offers a variety of transportation options for visitors. One popular and convenient mode of transport is the Island Trolley. This free service operates daily from 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., allowing you to easily explore the beautiful areas and attractions throughout the island. With multiple stops along the route, it is a perfect way to enjoy a hassle-free and eco-friendly mode of transportation during your stay.

Rental options are also available such as bikes, golf carts, and scooters, allowing you to navigate the island at your own pace. These options allow visitors to explore off the beaten path and discover all that Anna Maria Island has to offer.


There is a wide variety of places to stay on Anna Maria Island, ranging from luxurious beachfront homes to cozy and quaint cottages. Vacation rentals provide a comfortable and private atmosphere, allowing you to truly unwind and enjoy your vacation. Many of these properties are located within walking distance of the island's main attractions and beautiful beaches.

For those looking for a more traditional lodging experience, Anna Maria Island also features a selection of hotels and resorts, offering amenities such as swimming pools, on-site dining, and beach access. No matter what your preference, you are sure to find the perfect accommodation for your stay on Anna Maria Island.

During your visit, make sure to check out some of the island's top attractions, such as the six pristine beaches and the Beach Market at Coquina Beach. With a variety of activities and diverse accommodations, Anna Maria Island offers a unique and memorable vacation experience for all.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some popular family activities on the island?

Anna Maria Island offers a variety of family-friendly activities. One of the most popular activities is spending time on the beautiful sandy beaches. Families can also enjoy bike rides, kayaking, and fishing. Additionally, children will love exploring the island's parks and playgrounds.

Are there any recommended day trips from the island?

There are several exciting day trips from Anna Maria Island. Visitors can explore nearby attractions such as Sarasota, Longboat Key, and the scenic highway to the Cortez Fishing Village. The Mote Marine Aquarium and the South Florida Museum are also interesting options for a day trip.

Are there indoor attractions for rainy days?

For those occasional rainy days, Anna Maria Island has a few indoor attractions worth visiting. The Anna Maria Island Historical Society Museum offers a glimpse into the island's history, while local art galleries showcase talented regional and national artists.

Where can I find a map of the island's attractions?

A map of Anna Maria Island's attractions can be found on various travel websites and local visitor centers. This includes a complete listing of restaurants, shops, parks, and other points of interest.

What are the top restaurants in the area?

Anna Maria Island has a diverse culinary scene, with many top restaurants offering delicious food. Some popular options include The Waterfront Restaurant, Sandbar Restaurant, and The Sign of the Mermaid. Each establishment offers unique dining experiences and dishes featuring fresh, local ingredients.

What is the best time of year to visit the island?

The best time to visit Anna Maria Island depends on personal preferences. The island enjoys warm temperatures throughout the year, making it ideal for beach trips. However, peak tourist season is typically from December to April, when vacationers seek warmer weather. For a less crowded experience, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of May and September-November.

Charlie Hardcastle
Charlie is Editor-in-Chief of Sea Magazine
© 2024 SeaMag. All rights reserved.