Anna Maria Island, Florida: Trip Review (with Video!) (2024)

Those dreary winter months tend to get depressing. The cold, rainy, snowy, and windy weather (depending on your location) could always use a little sunshine and a warm beach! This year, we were talked into visiting some of our 'snow-birding' grandparents who were staying on Anna Maria Island from February to April. (They really had to twist our arms...)

Excited by the opportunity to sneak away for a long getaway weekend, we made some arrangements for the kids and ventured down to the Gulf Coast of Florida, ready for some rest and relaxation.

When We Visited

We visited Anna Maria Island (AMI) in late February 2020. This time of year AMI weather is usually pleasant with highs in the 70s. But it can dip down into the 40-50's, which of course happened while we were there. Luckily, we brought layers and some light weight winter coats. We should have brought our winter hats for those brisk, windy beach walks. But that didn't stop us from our coffee walks on the beach!

Where We Stayed

We stayed in a cozy three bedroom beachfront rental, on the north side of the Island near Bean Point. Rooming with our grandparents called for daily runs to fetch donuts and newspapers from the general store (always first in line when they opened their doors), beach walks, card playing, and watching the sunset every night.

Anna Maria Island, Florida: Trip Review (with Video!) (2)

Sunset view from our rental on Anna Maria Island, FL

Where We Ate/Drank

  • Rod and Reel Pier - We kicked off our weekend with a nice beach walk (where we saw dolphins just offshore) that led us to this gem. It's an ultra-casual little bar/restaurant that is out on a pier and allows people to fish from the outside deck (but beware of Pelicans that camp out waiting for your fish on the end of the line! See the clip in our video.)

  • The Waterfront Restaurant - This restaurant had rave reviews from our grandparents and was where we made reservations our first night (well in advance because snow bird dining during the winter is popular!). It lived up to the hype!

  • The Donut Experiment - Daily donut runs from grandpa to this create-your-own-donut place were special. Even as adults, we love a sweet treat in the morning almost as much as our kids do. This is would be an awesome spot to take the kids for a fun breakfast in town.

  • North Shore Cafe - A brand new coffee shop that also serves breakfast and lunch. They literally opened the week before we got there and we're so glad we found this place! They have barista-style coffees and a wonderful outdoor seating area on a little waterway with Adirondack chairs and palm trees - yes please!

  • Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe - During some daytime exploring, we took the AMI trolley to Holmes Beach and found this cute little concession stand with a tropical beach bar. Fish and chips with some tropical drinks (and our feet in the sand) was just what we needed to take away our winter blues.

  • Blue Marlin - Located a bit south in Bradenton Beach, this place was just incredible. Great service, great food, great fish town-y atmosphere. They even had an outdoor tiki bar area with live music that opened onto the sidewalk.

  • The Sandbar - One of our favorite restaurants on this trip - and maybe of all time! We stopped in for an early lunch and enjoyed a beautiful view of the beach, with piña coladas and Bloody Marys. We could have stayed there for hours... but this place gets crowded so we exited onto the beach and took our food euphoria for a walk!

  • Waffle Press - We stopped here the morning we were leaving because we didn't want to miss this fun place. It's a gourmet waffle pick up window with a cute outdoor seating area for a quick breakfast before you hit the beach!

  • Bridge Tender Inn - This was another "favorite" on this trip. Our last stop before heading home...we were exploring on foot around the Bradenton Historic Street Pier, and found this waterfront dining area serving brunch! There is also an inside restaurant and bar. Mimosas and Bloody Marys with bacon, eggs, and pancakes was a nice way to say goodbye to AMI.

Other Activities & Highlights

  • Body & Sol Spa and Wellness - To complete our R&R getaway weekend, we decided to get a couples massage. We loved this adorable little spa. The staff was super friendly and made us feel like locals. They also offer other spa services, hair styling and coloring, manicures/pedicures, etc.

  • Dips Ice Cream / Anna Maria General Store - This was our daily newspaper pick up spot! They also have general grocery items like sunscreen, bug spray, non-perishables, etc. but they're expensive. Island pricing is marked up big time! Dips is at the front of the store (a combined store experience) which wasn't open when we were there at 8am. The kids would have loved this vacation sweet treat at the end of a long day on the beach.

  • Beach Bums Recreational Rentals and Gift Shop - We stopped in here on our first day and set up plans to rent some kayaks for later. Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate and was too windy for us to go out, but we highly recommend this place for friendly and accommodating staff and a beachy gift shop.

More Photos from the Trip

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Anna Maria Island, Florida: Trip Review (with Video!) (2024)


Is Anna Maria Island worth going to? ›

The quaint feel of Anna Maria Island makes it the perfect place to eat grouper sandwiches and kayak with dolphins. While you're here visit Bean Point Beach, tucked away on the north end of the island — a cozy paradise with an Old Florida vibe.

Why do people like Anna Maria Island? ›

The sunrises and sunsets are incredibly beautiful.

The sunsets at Anna Maria Island are some of the best I've seen in Florida. Even cloudy sunsets are prettier than most! But the great thing about Anna Maria Island is that it's an island, which means you can catch both the sunrise AND the sunset if you'd like.

Is Anna Maria Island for old people? ›

Anna Maria Island is ideal for seniors looking for a relaxing and enjoyable trip. The pristine beaches and nice weather make it a great place to stay.

Can you swim in the water at Anna Maria Island? ›

Anna Maria Beach

If you are looking for a quiet place to swim or catch up on some reading in the Florida sun. Check out the Rod and Reel Pier when you're done for food or try your luck at fishing.

What month is best to go to Anna Maria Island? ›

The best time to visit Anna Maria Island is all year round depending on why you are visiting. Our tourism score for weather is very high January, February, March, April, October, November and December. May and September are shoulder tourism scores with June, July and August half of May and September.

What is the average age in Anna Maria Island? ›

In 2021, Anna Maria, FL had a population of 944 people with a median age of 65.3 and a median household income of $85,729.

Why am I coughing at Anna Maria Island? ›

People experience respiratory irritation (coughing, sneezing, and tearing) when the red tide organism (K. brevis) is present along a coast and winds blow its toxic aerosol onshore. CAUTION: People with severe or chronic respiratory conditions (such as emphysema or asthma) are advised to avoid red tide areas.

What's so special about Anna Maria Island? ›

Boasting arguably the whitest and most pristine seven miles of beach in the US, Anna Maria Island on the west coast of Florida just south of Tampa is a coveted destination for Floridians and global travelers alike.

What is so special about Anna Maria Island? ›

Anna Maria Island, a seven-mile-long barrier island on Florida's Gulf Coast west of Bradenton, is brimming with history, arts, and culture, and its award-winning beaches draw visitors from near and far looking for a laid-back getaway.

Is Anna Maria Island safe to visit? ›

Anna Maria is generally considered a safe destination for travel. However, like anywhere, some petty crimes such as pickpocketing or minor theft might occur. It's always wise to keep an eye on personal belongings and not to leave them unattended.

How walkable is Anna Maria Island? ›

Anna Maria Island is an extremely walkable island. You can go out for leisurely strolls, walk to dinner, and enjoy a healthy jog or bike ride as the sun comes up or goes down. Find an Anna Maria Island vacation rental that has a parking space, and leave the car in it. You're on vacation.

How do you spend a day at Anna Maria Island? ›

Must-Sees & Dos for Your First Visit to Anna Maria Island
  1. Bean Point. Bean Point may be our favorite beach on Anna Maria Island. ...
  2. Rod and Reel Pier. ...
  3. Anna Maria City Pier. ...
  4. Bridge Street Pier. ...
  5. The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature. ...
  6. Anna Maria Island Historical Museum. ...
  7. The Ugly Grouper Statue. ...
  8. Bridge Street Market.
Jan 17, 2024

Why is there a no swim advisory in Anna Maria Island? ›

Such advisories are issued when enterococci bacteria levels exceed federal guidelines for safe swimming, as contact with the water at the site could make beachgoers sick.

What is the least popular beach in Florida? ›

5 Less Crowded Beaches in Florida
  • Canaveral National Seashore.
  • Ormond Beach.
  • Fort De Soto Park.
  • Santa Rosa Beach.
  • Sanibel Island.
Mar 15, 2024

Can you drink on the beach in Anna Maria Island? ›

Don't Bring Prohibited Items

Beachgoers should also remember not to bring prohibited items to the beach. Some prohibited items include: Alcoholic beverages.

Is the water clear on Anna Maria Island? ›

North of Siesta Key and West of Bradenton, Anna Maria Island is another gorgeous beach with clear water and emerald green hues. You'll find it much quieter than Siesta Key and it also neighbors Bradenton (another small town).

What is Anna Maria Island Florida known for? ›

The island is known for its many beautiful beaches, from Coquina on the south end to Bean Point in the north. “Manatee Public Beach is the first spot you hit after driving onto the island. It has free parking and is great for people-watching.

What is the vibe on Anna Maria Island? ›

A Caribbean vibe prevails with balconies overlooking pristine blue waters and a sprawling, zero-entry pool flanked by palm trees. Reserve a poolside or beachfront cabana for privacy and easy dips in the ocean. Remember the name Anna Maria. Just don't tell the locals you heard about it from us.


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