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Anna Maria Island: Summer Vacation - with Video Tours

Updated on June 30, 2013
The clear water at Anna Maria Island is perfect for snorkeling!
The clear water at Anna Maria Island is perfect for snorkeling! | Source

Anna Maria Island Florida

Have you ever been to Anna Maria Island? Looking for great Florida vacations? Consider Anna Maria Island, Florida for your summer vacation this year. It’s a small island located in the Gulf of Mexico, just south of Tampa. It's right off the coast of Bradenton and Sarasota, and it's easily accessible, just a few miles west of Interstate 75. It's a wonderful destination for couples, friends, and seniors, and it’s perfect for family vacations. It's laid back, friendly, uncrowded, and beautiful. If you're accustomed to the crowded beaches and cities like Panama City, Daytona, and Miami, Anna Maria Island will be a welcome change of pace for you. If you need more excitement, you can find it by just crossing one of the bridges back to the mainland and driving a few miles to Sarasota or to Tampa. Anna Maria is quiet, and it has the feel of a private island. The sub-tropical weather is great all year, and the pace here is decidedly unhurried. That, along with the white sands, colorful foliage, and clear turquoise water, will make you think you've landed on a Caribbean isle instead of one in the U.S. Learn more about a summer vacation on Anna Maria Island here!

Anna Maria Island, Florida

Anna Maria Island, FL:
Anna Maria Island, Holmes Beach, FL 34217, USA

get directions

The Anna Maria Island beaches are very kid friendly!
The Anna Maria Island beaches are very kid friendly!
Anna Maria Island is great for bird lovers!
Anna Maria Island is great for bird lovers!
White sand beaches on Sarasota Bay.
White sand beaches on Sarasota Bay.
Anna Maria Island means clear, calm waters - perfect for floating!
Anna Maria Island means clear, calm waters - perfect for floating! | Source
We love the clear, calm water!
We love the clear, calm water! | Source

Anna Maria Island Tour:

Anna Maria Island - Neighborhoods

Anna Maria Island is made of three towns - Anna Maria City (or just Anna Maria), Bradenton Beach, and Holmes Beach. Each community has its own distinct personality and beaches. For example, Anna Maria City, at the northern tip of the island, is a very quiet, mostly residential area. In my opinion, the best beaches are located on this part of the island, especially if you have kids with you.

Holmes Beach is a good mixture of business and residential, in the center of the island. It’s also the largest town on Anna Maria Island, with a long history as a fishing village. The sand at Holmes Beach stretches for three miles and often provides the best shelling on the island.

Bradenton Beach is the touristy part of the island, located on the southern end. This is where the island is the narrowest, so the Gulf of Mexico is on one side of the road, and Sarasota Bay is on the other. It’s easy to fish in the bay and cross over for a refreshing dip in the turquoise waters of the gulf.

Anna Maria Island Rentals:

We find great Anna Maria Island Rentals on VRBO!
We find great Anna Maria Island Rentals on VRBO! | Source
This one has a canal.
This one has a canal. | Source

Anna Maria Island Rentals

If you're looking for an affordable spot for summer vacation, this is it! There is a wide range of Anna Maria Island rentals available, including private rental houses, luxurious homes, cottages, and condos. If you want to spend a bit more, you can rent a gorgeous private villa right on the beach. Also, many of the private homes available for vacation rentals have swimming pools. We rented one a couple of summers ago that has a pool, a hot tub, and a pontoon boat! It's located on a canal with easy access to the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay.

My family and I are returning to Anna Maria Island again this year for our summer vacation, so we checked VRBO for Anna Maria Island rentals. The home we wanted, the one we had rented before, was already booked, so we had to choose another. We narrowed our search down to a handful of vacation homes, but we had a hard time choosing one. We finally agreed on a cheap vacation rental in Bradenton, which is right across the bay from Anna Maria Island. The house is big and beautiful, with four bedrooms, and it has a private pool and is on a canal off the Manatee River. This gorgeous home is just $850 a week! The canal was a big “selling point” with us. The two grandsons who’ll be with us are obsessed with fishing, and they can fish in the canal 24/7 if they want to, and we’ll be able to keep an eye on them from the pool.

Yes, we’ll have to drive a few miles to enjoy the gorgeous beaches, but with the money we saved on the vacation house, we’ll be able to afford some other activities. We’re sending the four guys out deep sea fishing on a private fishing charter, and my daughter and I are going horseback riding at Little Manatee River State Park. She and her husband have also decided to go parasailing.

If you’re planning summer vacations on the island, you’re in luck. Many Anna Maria Island rentals cater to snowbirds, and their peak season is usually in the late winter and early spring. During the summer months, you’ll find that many of the rentals are available at reduced rates. The vacation houses on Anna Maria Island that we’ve rented were all found on VRBO.

Anna Maria Island Hotels - Tortuga Inn:

Anna Maria Island Hotels

Instead of private Anna Maria Island rentals, you might prefer staying in a hotel. You’ll find Anna Maria Island hotels in a wide range of choices and provided amenities. For the most part, the hotels and resorts are small and locally owned, instead of being part of big national chains. Some are on the beach, while others aren’t. Remember that this is a small island, so no matter where you stay, you won’t be far from water. Below is a list of Anna Maria Island Hotels, along with contact numbers:

Anna Maria Island Beach Resort – 941-778-7477

This resort is located in Holmes Beach, near the center of the island. It’s right on the beach, with a heated pool, tropical landscaping, a sun deck, a pier, and outdoor grills. Units with one bedroom and one bath, or two bedrooms and two baths are available. Each unit has a kitchen and living room. Rates were not available for this property.

Anna Maria Motel – 941-778-1269

This motel and resort is located near the beach at the north end of the island. Units include apartments, suites, and studio rooms, all with kitchens. There’s a pool, along with a laundry and outdoor grills. Rates for January through April start at $130 per night, and rates for May through December start at $99 per night.

Anna Maria Pirate’s Den – 941-778-4368

This small resort is located in Holmes Beach, across the street from the gulf. Included are two cottages, each with one bedroom, along with four apartments that have two bedrooms each. Enjoy the pool, the screened-in sitting area, and the loungers, tables, and umbrellas on the deck. Summer rates start at $139 per night, or $895 per week.

Bali Hai Beach Resort – 941-778-6604

The resort is in Holmes Beach, on the beach. All units include large bathrooms, living rooms, dining areas, and full kitchens. Each unit also has a private patio or balcony. One and two-bedrooms are available. There are a swimming pool, tropical gardens, and a laundry. Summer rates start at $105 per night, or $465 per week.

Blue Dolphin Inn – 813-951-5754

This small resort is located in Anna Maria City and includes four units, a heated pool, a fountain, lush grounds, and a tiki bar. The wonderful beaches at the northern tip of the island are just a block away. Two units each have two bedrooms and one bath. One unit has two bedrooms and two baths, and the fourth unit has three bedrooms and two baths. Each building has a deck on the roof that provides great views. Summer rates start at $156.25 per day.

Blue Water Beach Club – 941-778-6688

Located in Holmes Beach, Blue Water Beach Club is directly on the gulf. Rooms, studios, and apartments are available. Each unit includes a private patio or balcony, cable TV, free WiFi, and maid service. The property has a heated pool and shuffleboard courts. Summer and fall rates, including May 1-January 23, start at $121 per night.

Bridge Walk – 941-779-2545

This resort is located in Bradenton Beach, on Bridge Street. It’s across the street from the gulf beaches. The accommodations have a Key West theme and include studios, townhouses, and suites. All units have a screened-in verandah, and most have a Jacuzzi tub. Summer rates start at $159 per night. Weekend nights are higher.

Bungalow Beach Resort – 941-778-3600

This resort is located in Bradenton Beach, right on the Gulf of Mexico. Studios, one-bedroom bungalows, two-bedroom bungalows, and three-bedroom bungalows are available. The gated grounds include tropical landscaping, a pool, a waterfall, a cabana area, and outdoor grills. Fall rates start at $129 per night, summer rates start at $169, winter rates start at $189, and spring rates start at $199 per night.

Cedar Cove Resort – 941-778-1010

This resort and cottages are located in Holmes Beach, on the Gulf of Mexico, on a beautiful stretch of private beach. The grounds include hammocks, palm trees, a fountain area, tiki huts, and lush gardens. One and two-bedroom efficiencies are available. Summer rates start at $189 per night, or at $1,295 per week.

Coconuts Beach Resort – 941-778-2277

Coconuts is in Holmes Beach and is on a private beach. It features a heated pool, picnic tables, and outdoor grills. Accommodations include one and two-bedroom units, each having a separate living room, a kitchen and a private balcony or patio. The kitchens have everything you need: pots, pans, dishes, utensils, refrigerator, stove, microwave, disposal, and dishwasher. Summer rates start at $175 a night, or $905 per week.

Driftwood Motel – 941-778-2111

Driftwood is located in Holmes beach, one block from the beach. The property includes a heated pool, a picnic area, and outdoor grills. Units range in sizes, from accommodation for three to accommodations for six. Each unit includes cable TV, stove, refrigerator, microwave oven, and coffee maker. Complimentary umbrellas and beach chairs are available for guests. You have to call for rental rates.

Harrington House – 941-778-5444

This is a bed-and-breakfast on the gulf, in Holmes Beach. It includes tropical landscaping, gourmet breakfasts, and a swimming pool. Accommodations include rooms, villas, and bungalows. Kayaks and bicycles are provided at no charge. Rates for June, July, and August start at $159 per night. Children under twelve are not permitted in some rentals.

Haley’s Motel – 941-778-5405

This business is located in Holmes Beach and includes motel rooms, suites, studio apartments, cottages, and a luxury family house. The property includes a swimming pool and gardens. Prices for motel rooms start at $149 per night. Studios start at $189 per night, and cottages are $219 per night. The luxury apartment is $399 per night, and the Garden House is $459 per night.

Palm Tree Villas – 941-778-0910

These villas are tucked beneath palm trees and flowering shrubs, in Holmes Beach. A swimming pool, outdoor grills, and laundry are on the property. One-bedroom studios, one-bedroom suites, and two-bedroom suites are available. Each unit includes a kitchen or kitchenette, king-size bed, and free WiFi. Every suite includes a private patio and dishwasher. June, July, and August rates start at $145 per night.

Queen’s Gate Resort – 800-310-7153

Located in Bradenton Beach, this resort has a private beach, a heated swimming pool, a courtyard, an outdoor grilling area, a gazebo, shuffleboard courts, and large grassy areas. Lodgings include double rooms, efficiencies, suites, cottages, and a house. Summer rates start at $125 per night. Weekly summer rates begin at $814.

Rod and Reel Resort – 941-778-2780

This used to be the Rod and Reel Motel. It’s at the northern tip of the island, on the water. Each room includes a refrigerator, a microwave oven, a stove top, a coffee pot, a toaster, a TV, and everything you’ll need to cook and eat. Rates listed on the website are for 2011. They start at $114 per night for the summer months.

Sailfish Beach Resort – 800-778-1924

Sailfish Beach Resort is in Holmes Beach, on a private beach. Four one-bedroom suites are available. Each unit includes a bedroom with a king or queen bed, a living room, a pull-out bed, a dining area, cable TV, a DVD player, and a full kitchen. There are also outdoor grills, a large patio, and a laundry. Summer rates start at $155 per night.

Sea Island Motel – 941-778-2919

Quaint little motel located near the north end of Anna Maria Island. Efficiencies and one-bedroom apartments are available. Each unit has a kitchen area with a refrigerator and a microwave oven. Amenities include a heated pool and free WiFi. Rates for September 15-December 15 begin at $99 a night. Rates from May 1-September 14 and December 15-January 31 start at $109 per night. Nightly rates for February 1-April 30 start at $129.

Sunrise Garden Resort – 941-778-1000

This resort is located in Anna Maria City and has a “South Seas” theme, with tropical plants and patio gardens. It’s a short walk to the beach and the bay. There’s also a large heated pool, along with tiki huts. One-bedroom studios and two-bedroom suites are available. Each unit includes a kitchen area. Available lodgings for June start at $145 per night. Rates for July start at $115 per night.

Tortuga Inn – 941-778-6611

Tortuga Inn is in Bradenton Beach, across the street from the Gulf. Accommodations include villas, studios, and apartments. Some provide views of the gulf, and some overlook Sarasota Bay. The resort includes use of the private Gulf beach, beach toys, beach chairs, umbrellas, three swimming pools, a spa, a laundry, and a dock on Sarasota Bay. Spring and summer rates start at $170 per night. Rates from February 16-April 2 start at $190, and rates from August 1-February 14, 2014, begin at $125 per night.

Tropical Breeze Beach Club – 941-778-2577

This small property is located in Holmes Beach. It’s beachside, but not beachfront. In other words, it’s on the beach, but there’s a building in front of the units. Still, you can access the beach without having to cross any roads or streets. Accommodations include motel efficiencies and one-bedroom cottages. Each unit has a king bed, a large TV, a fireplace, a sofa bed, a kitchen and dining area, and a living room or seating area. Summer prices start at $125 per night.

Tropic Isle Beach Resort – 941-778-1237

This resort is located in Bradenton Beach, across the street from the Gulf. The resort has a private beach area for guests, along with a swimming pool, gardens, a gazebo, charcoal grills, and free use of beach towels, beach chairs, and umbrellas. One and two-bedroom units are available. Each unit has a kitchenette or full kitchen. Larger units include living rooms, dining areas, and/or private patios. Rental rates for studios start at $180 per night for June and July. Rates for August start at $150 a night.

White Sands Beach Resort – 941-778-2577

Located in Holmes Beach, these twenty-one units are right on the gulf. They include rooms, studios, one-bedroom apartments, two-bedroom apartments, and cottages. Each unit has a kitchen, a large LCD television, a DVD player, and PlayStation 2. The grounds include shuffleboard courts, a heated pool, outdoor grills, and picnic tables. Summer rates start at $125 per night or $626 per week.

Go fishing!
Go fishing! | Source
Rent a pontoon boat.
Rent a pontoon boat. | Source
Go kayaking.
Go kayaking. | Source
Enjoy some shelling.
Enjoy some shelling. | Source
Parasailing on Anna Maria Island
Parasailing on Anna Maria Island | Source


The main activities on the island are sunning, swimming, snorkeling, and fishing. There are several awesome beaches, each with its own distinct personality and its own group of patrons. Some of the beaches have picnic areas and playgrounds for the kids, and several are super-safe for kids, with no waves, little undertow, and shallows for yards and yards. That’s one reason I think the island is so awesome for family vacations. Fishing is done off the beaches or at the three fishing piers. Shelling is popular, too, and the northern tip of the island is a great place for finding huge starfish and sand dollars. Don't be surprised if a curious dolphin comes up to see what you're doing!

If you’d like to venture off the island but still focus on the water, you might want to do some charter fishing with a knowledgeable guide. The waters around Anna Maria Island are bountiful, whether you’re fishing offshore, in Tampa Bay, or in the backcountry. Fish for redfish, tarpon, snook, cobia, grouper, snapper, king mackerel, flounder, sharks, and other worthy finned opponents. Below are some of the top fishing guides in the area:

Anna Maria Island Fishing Guides and Fishing Charters

Captain Logan Bystrom – 941-713-1265

Captain Tom Chaya – 941-778-4498

Captain Mike Greig – 941-778-1404

Captain Mark Howard – 941-704-6763

Captain Josh Peurifoy – 941-447-6345

Captain Chris Tesvich – 941-518-3884

Captain Brook Wallace – 941-725-0798

Stray Dog Charters – 941-794-5615

I can’t imagine too many ways I’d rather spend my summer vacation than saltwater fishing, If fishing doesn’t hold your interest,however, but being on the water does, you might want to consider a sightseeing trip or a dolphin-spotting trip by boat. Sunset cruises and explorations to Egmont Key, Jewfish Key, Beer Can Island, and Emerson Point are also available. I’ve included some guides and contact numbers below.

Captain Don’s Cruises – 941-778-4178

Island Pearl Excursions – 941-780-8010

Lil’ Toot Charters – 941-761-3300

Maybe you’d prefer being your own “captain.” If so, rent a pontoon boat, a kayak, or a jet ski from a local marina and explore the area yourself. Pack a picnic and enjoy it on a secluded beach. Take along your snorkel and do some underwater exploring, try your hand at catching dinner, or just relax and enjoy the water, the sunshine, and the ocean breezes. Below are a few marinas at or near Anna Maria Island where you can rent watercraft.

Anna Maria Bike and Kayak – 941-343-7251

Cannon’s Marina – 941-383-1311

Coastal Water Sports – 941-778-4969

H2O Watersportz – 941-538-4290

Just 4 Fun boat and Kayak Rentals – 941-896-7884

Seaduced Watercraft Adventures – 941-779-5228

Wavesplash Watersports, Inc. – 941-822-3351

Here are a couple of Anna Maria Island activities you won’t find everywhere: swimming on horseback and horse surfing! Yep, you read correctly. On the bridge from Bradenton to the island, there are beaches on both sides. The BeachHorses outfit brings their horses here for people to ride into the water and to surf from. Beach rides are offered, too. If you’re interested, call 941-907-7272.

If you want to ride in a more traditional way, contact Kathy and Robert Wolfe of Wolfe’s Born to Ride. They’ll meet you at Little Manatee River State Park with their mounts, and you can enjoy a long trail ride. Their contact number is 941-812-1980. We’re going riding with the Wolfes for my birthday this year!

If you’re feeling really adventurous and daring, you might want to give parasailing a try. I hear the views from above are unforgettable! Personally, I wouldn’t know, as I’m terrified of heights, but my daughter and her husband are going to try it in June, on our summer vacation to Anna Maria Island. If you want to experience this unforgettable thrill, contact the folks below:

AMI Parasailing – 941-778-5000

Bradenton Beach Parasailing – 855-YOU-FLY2

Flight Parasail – 941-795-1000

Yolo Parasail – 941-792-6000

Anna Maria Island Restaurants provide some great grub!
Anna Maria Island Restaurants provide some great grub! | Source

Anna Maria Island Restaurants:

Anna Maria Island Dining - and Nightlife

Like I said, this is a pretty quiet island, but there is some interesting nightlife. Some of the restaurants provide live music, and those on the beach have a great dance floor in the form of natural sand! Of course, you can be in Bradenton or Sarasota in minutes, and you'll find all you can handle at either of these locations!

Some of the fun we have on family vacations is trying out new restaurants, and Anna Maria Island dining is really enjoyable. The fresh seafood is wonderful - especially when the stone crabs come in. A lot of the restaurant owners seem to have a sense of humor. For example, there's a barbecue restaurant called "Mr. Bones" where the beer is served in an ice-filled casket. Another place a fun atmosphere is called "Rotten Ralph's." Still another is the "Banana Cabana." There are also more serious dining venues that serve fine foods in upscale atmospheres, including the Bridge Tender Inn and Beach Bistro. There should be enough restaurants on Anna Maria Island to satisfy you, but if not, just cross the bridge into Bradenton or head to Sarasota for hundreds of choices. Below is a list of Anna Maria Island restaurants, with a short description of each. If we’ve eaten there, I’m including a comment.

Anna Maria Island Restaurants

Anna Maria City Pier – Yes, this is a fishing pier, located at the northern tip of the island. The view is spectacular, and the fried seafood is good.

Anna Maria Donuts – a donut and coffee bar in Anna Maria City. Light, fresh donuts that are finished to order, with lots of choices for coatings and toppings. Expect to wait in line.

Anna Maria Island Beach Café – In Holmes Beach, on the beach. Dine indoors or out. Breakfast, lunch dinner, drinks, and live entertainment. Try all-you-can-eat pancakes for breakfast and the fish tacos for lunch.

Anna Maria Oyster Bar – This one isn’t on Anna Maria Island, but I included it because we love the place. There are two bridges that connect the island to the mainland. To get to Anna Maria Oyster Bar, take the southernmost of the two bridges, which is Cortez Road. Stay on that road – the restaurant is on the left. This is a great place to take kids, and the food is good and inexpensive, with lots of choices.

Annie’s – We’ve never eaten at Annie’s. It’s located at 127th Street West.

Banana Cabana – in Bradenton Beach. Fun, quirky atmosphere. We went with a large group, and the food was inconsistent. The macadamia-encrusted grouper, wings, coconut shrimp, and mango crab cakes were very good, but the plantains and conch fritters were disappointing.

Beach Bistro - in Holmes beach, on the beach, with great views of the gulf. Upscale menu and prices. Offerings include lamb, duck, grouper, beef tenderloin, foie gras, shrimp, and oysters – all prepared in interesting ways. Atmosphere is crowded but cozy. Not the best place to take kids.

Beachhouse Restaurant – in Bradenton Beach, right on the beach near the island’s south end. Serves seafood, steaks, burgers, and chicken. Great place for sunset views. Has outdoor seating and sometimes has live music. Service can be slow. This place is popular, so it's almost always crowded.

Blue Marlin Grill – in Bradenton Beach, housed in a quaint historic cottage. Serves fresh local seafood, along with chicken, beef, and pork. Laid back yet sophisticated atmosphere. Not cheap, but good value.

Bridge Street Bistro – in Bradenton Beach, near the south end of the island. Menu includes soups, salads, grouper, mahi mahi, salmon, lobster, veal, pork tenderloin, filet mignon, chicken, and duck. Great service and beautiful views.

Bridge Tender Inn – in Bradenton Beach. Great views and upscale menu. We’ve never died at the Bridge Tender Inn.

China 1- in Holmes Beach. Mostly a takeout place, but it has a small dining area, too. Food is okay, but not usually seasoned enough for us.

CostaVille Pub - in Bradenton Beach. Serves pizza, subs, and grinders. We’ve never dined here.

Danny’s Pizzeria – in Bradenton Beach. Great little pizza place with friendly staff.

Dips – ice cream and candy shop on Gulf Drive. Good ice cream, but a tad pricey.

Duffy’s Tavern – in Holmes Beach. Cold, cheap beer and tasty burgers, but no fries. Super casual place where you order at the counter.

Eat Here – in Holmes Beach. Interesting menu, offering dishes like lobster and crawfish tacos, bacon-wrapped hotdogs, fried beets, and seafood stew. Nice wine and beer list, with excellent service.

Feeling Swell - in Anna Maria City. We haven’t dined here, but friends have. They describe it as a friendly place with good bison burgers, good grouper fingers, and tasty wings.

Golden Star – in Bradenton Beach. We haven’t tried this one out.

Gulf Drive Café – in Bradenton Beach, on the beach. Great place to have a drink while watching the sunset. We’ve only eaten breakfast here, which was good, but the service was slow.

Havana Cabana – in Holmes Beach. Cuban food, sandwiches, tacos, and quesadillas. Fun atmosphere with cheap food. try the Cuban sandwich with sweet potato fries.

Hurricane Hank’s – in Holmes Beach, on the corner of Gulf and Marina Drives. A great little gem hidden in a strip mall. Expanded bar menu, with burgers, shrimp baskets, sandwiches, wings, mussels, and fries. Atmosphere is fun and friendly, with lots of locals. Give the Cuban sandwich and the pub shrimp a try!

Island Creperie – in Bradenton Beach, serving mostly French cuisine. Salads, bouillabaisse, pork medallions, fish, beef bourguignon, escargots, sandwiches, and crepes. If nothing else, go here for dessert and order a dessert crepe.

Island Spice – in Bradenton Beach, serving Indian cuisine. We haven’t tried this restaurant.

Island Time Bar and Grill – in Bradenton Beach. Bar, burgers, sandwiches, appetizers, and live entertainment. We haven’t eaten here.

Italian Gourmet Grill – in Holmes Beach. Serves seafood, beef, veal, pasta, burgers, chicken, and pizza. Great pizza! Carryout available. Owner and staff really seem to care about their customers.

Kozy Kitchen – in Holmes Beach. We haven’t tried out Kozy Kitchen yet.

Le Petit Café Tortuga – in Bradenton Beach. Mostly French cuisine. We’ve never eaten at this establishment.

Lobstahs – in Holmes Beach, with indoor and tiki hut dining. Offers steaks, veal, grouper, oysters, salmon, Italian dishes, and fresh lobster in a wide variety of ways. Try the crab cakes and the lobster bisque!

Maria’s Family Restaurant – on Gulf Bay Drive. We’ve never eaten at this restaurant.

Minnie’s Beach Café – in Holmes Beach. Small place with a “homey” feel. Very good breakfast.

Mr. Bones – in Holmes Beach. Good, but not great barbecue. If you want salt and pepper, smuggle in your own. The staff won’t give you any. Quirky place where you get your beer and soft drinks from a coffin-cooler.

Ocean Star – in Holmes Beach. Sushi, fried items, salads, soups, and teriyaki dishes are offered. We’ve never eaten here.

Old Hamburg Schnitzelhaus – in Holmes Beach. We’ve never eaten here.

Oma Pizza and Italian – in Bradenton Beach. We’ve tried only the pizza, and it was awesome!

Peach’s Restaurant – in Holmes Beach. This is a great place for breakfast, but the wait times can be long at times.

Poppo’s Taqueria – in Anna Maria City. Small Mexican eatery that uses organic meats and local produce. Food is fresh and tasty, but you’ll pay more than you’d expect.

Relish Café – in Anna Maria City. Great place for breakfast, lunch, or an afternoon snack. Good soups, sandwiches, scones, and waffles.

Rod and Reel Pier – in Anna Maria City, at the northern tip of the island. Great views of Tampa Bay. We’ve only had the grouper sandwich, which was great.

Rotten Ralphs – in Bradenton Beach, at the Bridge Street Pier. Fun, casual place to eat, but the quality of the food is inconsistent. Your best bet is to go for breakfast. Otherwise, order the fish and chips.

Rudy’s Subs - in Anna Maria City. We’ve never been here.

Sandbar Restaurant – in Anna Maria City, near the northern tip of the island, right on the beach. Outdoor and indoor dining. Our blackberry chicken and seafood platters were great. Usually crowded. One of our favorite Anna Maria Island restaurants.

Sharky’s – in Bradenton Beach. Pasta, prime rib, chicken, and seafood, including grilled shark. Noisy and friendly, but service can be slow at times.

Sign of the Mermaid – in Anna Maria City, in an old cottage. Interesting atmosphere, with good food. Be sure to try the stuffed French toast if you go for breakfast!

Skinny’s Place – in Holmes Beach. Laid-back place where you order your food at a counter. Good burgers and dogs. You might not find anywhere to sit, though.

Slim’s Place – in Anna Maria City. Typical sports bar, with a fun, noisy atmosphere. The food is good – not fancy, but good.

Solo’s Pizza - in Holmes Beach. We’ve had their takeout pizza, which had a thin crust and was very good.

The Feast Restaurant - in Holmes Beach. Large portions, but your best bet is to stick with the pizza.

Tortilla Bay Southwest Grille – in Holmes Beach. Mexican food. We haven’t tried this one yet.

Two Scoops – an ice cream place in Anna Maria City. Lots of choices and flavors. Kids love this place!

Vinny and Cheryl’s Italian Kitchen – in Anna Maria City. We haven’t eaten here, but we’ve heard some good things about this restaurant.

Waterfront Restaurant – in Anna Maria City, overlooking Tampa Bay. Serves seafood, beef, pork, lamb, and chicken. Try the grouper tacos and the lobster bisque.

Shopping in Southwest Florida is always an adventure!
Shopping in Southwest Florida is always an adventure! | Source


If you're into shopping, the island's little gift shops, galleries, and boutiques will keep you entertained. But if you're a big-name shopaholic, cross a couple of bridges to St. Armand's Circle, where you'll find world-class shops with names like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Cartier. Huge outlet malls are nearby, too.

If you’re a bargain-hunter, you’ll want to check out The Red Barn Flea Market in Bradenton. It’s 145,000 square feet of fun, and over half is air-conditioned. There’s no telling what you might find when you go. There’s a farmer’s market that sells fresh local fruits and vegetables; stores that sell jewelry, home décor, clothing, and accessories; booths that sell yard sale and flea market items; and live entertainment. There’s also lots of food available, including Italian ices, donuts, gourmet breads, kettle corn, ice cream, jerky, snow cones, pizza, burgers, beer, fish and chips, hot dogs, funnel cakes, Mexican dishes, and more.

Summer Vacation on the island.
Summer Vacation on the island. | Source
We love the water here.
We love the water here. | Source
Our favorite Anna Maria Island beach
Our favorite Anna Maria Island beach | Source
My niece and nephew often join us on summer vacation.
My niece and nephew often join us on summer vacation. | Source
The island is perfect for family vacations.
The island is perfect for family vacations. | Source

Summer Vacation

I would recommend an Anna Maria Island summer vacation to anyone looking for great beaches and beautiful scenery. Of course, with its great year round climate, any time of year is great on the island, but we enjoy taking our big annual summer vacation here because the grandkids are out of school then. We've traveled to a lot of Florida beaches, and we were pleasantly surprised at the affordable prices for lodgings on this small island. The cleanliness and the friendliness also got high marks from us. I’m sure you’ve heard the term “Old Florida” used way too much, but this really is Old Florida, with no theme parks, no fast food chains, and no skyscrapers. Don't forget your camera - you'll want lots of photos to enjoy in the future. I’ll bet once you spend a summer vacation on Anna Maria Island, you’ll come back for more!

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