Anna Maria Island is a little slice of heaven! Get ready to travel with my guide for the best places to eat, play, and stay!
ANNA MARIA ISLAND: A SLICE OF HEAVEN
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I received complimentary accommodations, food, and activities to facilitate this post, courtesy of Visit Bradenton. However, my love of Anna Maria Island and all opinions are 100% my own.
Anna Maria Island! I have so much good to say about it, I don’t even know where to begin. So let’s start with where it is and what all it has to offer. It is in the Gulf Coast area of Florida. It is a little island that is just 7 miles long, covered in sugar-white sandy beaches, and the cutest, most charming shops, boutiques, and restaurants, and great hotels. It has blue waters that are warm, have manatees, and make for the perfect place to relax.
I grew up visiting Florida every year to see family. I know where I like to go, and what I like to do when I am there. So I wasn’t sure if I would like Anna Maria Island as much. And I did. I loved it and am hoping to take my boys ASAP.
Based on my visit, here is what I recommend:
When you visit this little slice of heaven, start by staying somewhere the whole family will enjoy, like the Tortuga Inn.
TORTUGA INN BEACH RESORT
It is spacious, has full kitchens and laundry (nice with kids), and has beaches on either side. Everything is close by and screened in porches, cozy pool, and charming aesthetic makes it a great choice for families looking to enjoy Florida.
And if you are anything like me, then plan on enjoying the food scene in Anna Maria Island. It is amongst the best food you will find. From desserts to seafood to tacos. You get variety, and boy it is good.
There is a fun donut place where you can customize what you want on your donuts. It is called the Donut Experiment
THE DONUT EXPERIMENT
The Donut Experiment | 210 Pine Ave, Anna Maria, FL 34216 | (941) 896-3172
Custom, made to order, donuts, that are all the same base (delicious) and topped with some fun and possibly strange combos. These donuts are insane. And the added experience just makes it a must-visit local on Anna Maria Island. Can you imagine how much your kids would love picking their glaze and topping options?
My favorite place for seafood was the Sandbar Restaurant.
THE SANDBAR RESTAURANT
The food is mostly locally caught seafood. You can literally eat with your toes in the sand. The owners and management are friendly and happy to help. The atmosphere is fun. It is nice enough for a fancy dinner out, but you’d be okay to show up in jeans too!
For a quick bite on a day at the beach, you can’t go wrong with tacos, and when in Anna Maria Island, it would be a real tragedy if you missed out on Poppo’s Tacos.
POPPO’S TAQUERIA (POPPO’S TACOS)
Poppo’s Taqueria | 212 C Pine Ave, Anna Maria, FL 34216 | (941) 254-7941
I crave these tacos! And the freshly made chips! And the insanely good guacamole. And the soda that is free from high fructose corn syrup…and the tacos! There are options, you can customize. They even have boar! It is a taco lover’s dream location, and the staff is so friendly.
And my favorite place we ate on the island for atmosphere, food, and service was the Blue Marlin
Blue Marlin | 121 Bridge Street, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217 | (941) 896-9737
When it comes to what to order, all I can say is trust your gut, and you can’t go wrong. The appetizers were so good I just knew I was in for a treat. From fried green tomatoes, to shrimp and grits, to a bourbon pecan pie that will blow your mind, this place has a Southern feel, and food worth going back for! The atmosphere is charming and so beachy-chic, and the service was impeccable. Two huge thumbs up for this place.
If you just need a great treat to cure a sweet tooth, then don’t visit Anna Maria Island without a stop in at Cupcakes Delight
Cupcakes Delight |3324 E Bay Drive, Holmes Beach, FL 34217 | (941) 779-2253
You don’t want to miss the fresh-made cupcakes in fun and hip flavors. The cupcakes are made fresh, and when they are gone, they are gone. The wedding cake one is awesome. Key lime is totally perfect for the area. If you want chocolate and caramel, the Turtle one is awesome. The owner even said if you call in early enough, you can request your favorite flavor and the baker will try to make it for you.
You will probably want a car to get to Anna Maria Island, as it is about an hour from the Tampa airport. When I visited we got to use a Kia Sorento, it was roomy, smooth driving, comfortable, had great AC (a must), and a nice sunroof, which we made full use of. And one huge perk, the seats came equipped with seat coolers, which we loved. I highly recommend this car.
However, should you visit without a car, or don’t feel like driving once you are there, don’t stress because Anna Maria Island has its own Free Trolley that can take you up and down the island. There is also a monkey bus that is free of charge and great for bar hopping.
When it comes to playing on Anna Maria Island, the beaches should be calling your name. But in addition to the beautiful beaches, you definitely want to check out some of the shops and charming boutiques.
My favorite stop: Shiny Fish Emporium
Shiny Fish Emporium | 306 Pine Ave, Anna Maria, FL 34216 | (941) 896-9742
It is a darling shop with cute, unique pieces, and fun things to do. It is owned by a cute couple that works together and designs cute things. You can shop, but you can also do something super fun and unique here: Paint Sand Dollars!
It is a blast. Some people will paint sand dollars for a fun souvenir. Just be sure to wrap them carefully so they make it home in one piece.
Other fun options include parasailing, getting a massage, and of course just hanging out with friends and family!
For more fun info on Anna Maria Island, check out http://www.bradentongulfislands.com/