We absolutely loved our trip to Anna Maria Island, Florida so we can’t wait to go back someday! Its old school Florida charm + gorgeous beaches make it a perfect family vacation destination. Read on to find out the 5 reasons why we love Anna Maria Island and why you should visit too!
A few summers ago, we decided to plan a trip to Anna Maria Island, Florida for our annual family vacation. Our kids were 7 and 5 at the time and it was absolutely perfect for us! The beaches were awesome, the island is laid-back and friendly and there are tons of choices for dining and shopping. Our first day there we saw a manatee swimming by, which my kids (ok and me too!) thought was amazing!
5 Reasons Why We Love Anna Maria Island
Anna Maria Island is located on Florida’s west coast, which is known for it’s beautiful sandy beaches and calm waters. It’s about an hour outside of Tampa, making it a convenient location if you are flying in. It’s one island but it’s broken down into 3 sections with Anna Maria at the north end, Holmes Beach in the middle and Bradenton Beach on the southern end. We stayed on the northern end up by Bean Point and it was perfect! It’s a quieter neighborhood location vs. the busier, more commercial southern end. We liked that better than having tons of restaurants and bars nearby.
We were able to rent a golf cart and felt totally safe with our kids riding around. To save money, we didn’t stay directly on the beach and it worked out totally fine! Every day, we loaded up the golf cart and drove a few blocks over to the beach access points.
The house we rented was amazing! It was relatively brand new and decorated beautifully in the coastal style I love so much. The best part was that they converted the garage into an open air cabana next to the pool, complete with a dining area and an outdoor tv. It was awesome for our family! It was a block off of Tampa Bay but still really close to the Gulf.
Oooohhhhh, we loved the beaches! We mostly stuck to the Gulf-side beaches near Bean Point and then headed down the island to Coquina Beach one day.
Around Bean Point, there’s golf cart parking along some of the side streets with paths that run right along some of the beachfront houses. It can be kind of a hike to get to the water from the paths so just be aware if you have a lot of gear and little kids.
On one of the paths, someone was kind enough to point out some old palm tree stumps that had wild parrots living in them! I think we saw them most days – it was so cool! Definitely something we’d never seen before. I love experiences like that, that teach my kids about the world beyond our backyard.
What we loved most about the Anna Maria Island beaches was that there was always room to spread out. Sometimes you can spend a week at the beach and end up being on top of the people next to you because the beach is so crowded. It was definitely not like that in Anna Maria! We had tons of space and the beach is wide and gorgeous. The waves got progressively stronger as the week went on but that didn’t spoil our fun!
One day we headed down the island to Coquina Beach. I hate to admit that we didn’t love it. It was crowded, the water was rough and it was just wasn’t our scene.
We ended up only staying for a few hours and then went souvenir shopping at The Green Turtle, which I loved. It reminded me so much of the little souvenir stores I loved to shop at when I was a kid visiting my grandparents in The Keys. Then it was on to lunch at a beachfront place called Gulf Drive Restaurant and Tiki Bar. Food was good, kids were crabby. 😉
Looking for more Florida travel guides? Then check out my post all about our trip to 30A on the Florida Panhandle!
Ok, this might officially be the cutest little street ever. It was right around the corner from our house in Anna Maria Island and just a golf cart ride away. We rented our cart from Beach Bums Rentals when we arrived, grabbed takeout + cupcakes from The General Store for a beach picnic one afternoon and the pier is just down the end of street. There are lots of little shops and restaurants and galleries to browse in too!
While we were in Anna Maria Island, we didn’t eat out a ton but we did really enjoy the places that we went to, all of them on Pine Avenue! The Donut Experiment is so, so fun! Be prepared for some long lines but it was totally worth the wait, in my opinion. That maple bacon donut was amazing!
We also got tacos from Poppo’s Taqueria for dinner one night and they were fantastic! And we visited Two Scoops Ice Cream shop quite a few times. Ok, so it was almost every night! The last night we got a banana split to share – my favorite!
On our last morning, we went to Ginny’s and Jane E’s Cafe for breakfast. I can definitely say that it is the most unique restaurant that I’ve ever been to! It’s in a grocery store that was converted into this eclectic cafe and gift shop. The food was really good and the kids liked wandering around the store. It’s a place that’s worth visiting for sure.
One of my favorite things about Anna Maria Island was driving the golf cart over to the beach every night to watch the incredible sunsets. It’s like a big party up on Bean Point, people everywhere, some playing frisbee or football, some people swimming and kite surfing and others just lounging in chairs to take it all in. Half the time we brought the kids in their pajamas but it certainly didn’t matter!
One night I even found a starfish that was missing an arm (or is it a leg?), just buried under the sand.
We don’t really get a chance to see sunsets here at home, so it’s always a favorite activity when we are at the beach!
So, those are the 5 reasons why we love Anna Maria Island! I can’t wait to go back someday!
Have you ever been there? Drop me a comment and let me know if you love it as much as we do!