25 Best Things to Do in Anna Maria Island, FL

Anna Maria Island, FL
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The gorgeous Anna Maria Island is known for its laid-back vibes, beautiful white sand beaches stretching to wherever one's eyes can reach, restaurants serving excellent dishes, and buildings that exude old Florida's charm.

The island is spread over seven miles and comprises three cities.

With so much to offer its visitors, Anna Maria Island has become a very famous beach destination for tourists in recent years.

It is next to impossible to visit this island and not feel energized.

From horseback riding to parasailing to meeting bottlenose dolphins, there's always something fun and exciting to do on Anna Maria Island.

Are you ready to visit this slice of paradise and have the time of your life?

Check out this list of the best things to do on Anna Maria Island, Florida:

Explore Anna Maria Island's Amazing Beaches

Bean point beach in Anna Maria Island
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Being an island destination, Anna Maria Island is abundant with beaches.

It is home to a total of six divinely beautiful beaches that will take anyone's breath away.

Each having a charm of its own, all the beaches on Anna Maria Island are different from the others in some manner.

Birds near the pier at Tampa Bay
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With their turquoise, crystal clear waters and vast expanses of white sand, these beaches undoubtedly offer visitors a great experience.

Bean Point is one of the most visited beaches on Anna Maria Island and is considered to be a hidden paradise.

This beach is located on the island's northern end and offers breathtaking views.

It is ideal for enjoying the best sunsets on the entire island.

Fishing at Holmes Beach
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Bayfront Park is another beach that is ideal for enjoying views of nearby attractions such as Tampa Bay, Egmont Key, and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

This beach has additional amenities such as a vast playground, pavilions, well-managed picnic tables, and food grills.

Holmes Beach is the beach located right in the middle of the island.

It is the perfect place to enjoy surfing on the tides of Anna Maria Island.

The beach is quite famous among tourists and is a great place to get in touch with different cultures.

Holmes Beach is also surrounded by many service providers who rent out surfing equipment.

Manatee Beach is another beach located in the island's central area.

It is the most famous and busiest beach on the island and has the highest number of public facilities, such as cafes, lifeguards, and various rental services.

This beach is also a great place to search for seashells.

Stunning sunset at Manatee Beach
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Bradenton Beach is located in a small community area.

This beach is perfect for enjoying snorkeling.

Just like Manatee Beach, it is also famous for its cafes.

Coquina Beach is the sixth and last beach on Anna Maria Island.

It is situated in the southernmost part of the island.

Aerial view of the turquoise water at Coquina Beach
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This beach is long and narrow and is therefore great for finding shells.

It is less crowded than the other beaches and has excellent amenities for visitors.

It is advisable that you visit early in the morning or after 3:00 p.m., as the beaches are more tranquil and beautiful when they are less crowded.

Enjoy the Unique Experience of Horseback Riding in the Water

Horseback Ride in Anna Maria Island
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As unique and adventurous as this idea sounds, finding such a facility on a small island is quite uncanny.

However, Anna Maria Island provides excellent services to allow you to enjoy the beautiful views around the beaches.

Tourists on a horseback in the middle of the beach at Anna Maria Island
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C Ponies is a service provider that has made this possible.

The service provider has some well-trained horses who can take you for a ride in between the ocean waves.

This is hands down one of the most unique and enjoyable experiences on Anna Maria Island, and you should definitely try it out.

Stroll on the Charming Streets of Pine Avenue

Pine Avenue is a place on Anna Maria Island that provides shopping, oceanside views, and excellent food, all within one mile.

The avenue is famous for its unique boutiques that provide custom-made clothing and jewelry options.

You can also enjoy the great local food served in the eateries.

Pine Avenue is loaded with shops and other beautiful structures that give it a very likable view.

It is easily the most charming street on the island.

Get a Taste of Local Living at the Anna Maria City Pier

Entrance of Anna Maria City Pier
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A famous historical landmark on Anna Maria Island, the Anna Maria City Pier was originally constructed in the early 1900s.

The pier has planks covered with beautiful messages from family members, friends, and other loved ones of its makers.

Located between beautiful clear waters, the pier is great for taking casual strolls when you don't feel like doing anything else on the island.

This pier has a very lively vibe around it.

View of the long Anna Maria City Pier on a sunny day
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The area is filled with vendors who sell food and locally produced crafts.

You can also catch some live music performances on the pier.

The place is also great for fishing.

You can also spot the Tampa Bay marine life via the pier.

With all these offerings, the Anna Maria City Pier is definitely one of the most heavenly places on the island.

Observe Aquatic Life at the Mote Marine Library & Aquarium

If you are fascinated by the life in the water, the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is the perfect place for you.

It is a vast aquarium designed in the form of an institution.

The aquarium is also quite important when it comes to researching and rescuing wildlife on Anna Maria Island.

It allows the visitors to closely experience details of the sea and the creatures that call it home.

The aquarium has more than 12 exhibitions that showcase various aquatic animals.

It also allows visitors to experience wildlife in the open waters.

The Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is an excellent attraction on Anna Maria Island that is undoubtedly worth your time.

Enjoy Fresh Seafood at the Rod and Reel Pier

Rod and Reel Pier
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What's a trip to an island without digging into some fresh seafood?

The Rod and Reel Pier is one of the most beautiful and unique dining spaces on Anna Maria Island.

This place is famous for serving delicious breakfast, lunch, dinner, and light snacks on the ocean.

The food served here consists mainly of old Florida cuisine and seafood.

The place is specifically known for its seafood, and you should definitely try it out.

You can also enjoy fishing on the dock by paying a small charge.

Catch a Breathtaking View of the Sunset at The Sandbar Restaurant

Entrance of Sandbar Restaurant
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The Sandbar Restaurant is a very popular restaurant on Anna Maria Island.

It is one of the most visited places on the island.

The restaurant is located on the northern end of the island and allows you to have your food while your toes are in the sand.

The Sandbar Restaurant is famous for its unbeatable location and is a perfect place to watch some of the island's most beautiful sunsets.

Offering the perfect mix of stunning sunset views and an excellent menu, this restaurant is a must for your Anna Maria Island itinerary.

Treat Your Taste Buds to Delicious Mexican Cuisine at Poppo's Taqueria

Poppo's Taqueria offers local Mexican street food that is made with all-natural ingredients.

Along with the food being organic, the restaurant's sodas are made without fructose corn.

They also serve their own kombucha tea, which is brewed locally.

Poppo's Taqueria is definitely an ideal place for casual dining and enjoying healthy alternatives.

Dig into Fresh Crabs at Blue Marlin

Blue Marlin is a famous restaurant on Anna Maria Island.

It is a perfect spot for people looking for simple yet delicious food, warm hosting, and great company.

Blue Marlin only serves crabs freshly caught from the sea.

What makes this restaurant different from others is that it has its own recipes and unique ingredients, which provide an unbelievable taste to all its dishes.

Perfect for lunch, dinner, and dessert, this restaurant serves excellent food that's always prepared with love.

Don't miss out on a chance to dine at one of Anna Maria Island's top-rated restaurants.

Create the Donut of Your Dreams at The Donut Experiment

Opened in the year 2012 as Anna Maria Donuts, this donut shop is a unique boutique-style shop where people can create their own donuts as per their preferences.

As customers embraced their make-your-own donut concept, the store's name was fittingly changed to The Donut Experiment.

The donut shop allows you to create your own donuts, mix your favorite flavors, sprinkle whatever you want, and fall in love with this warm delight.

The Donut Experiment offers a lot of flavors and toppings, making it a unique and delicious experiment.

Go Parasailing and Enjoy a Bird's-Eye View of the Island

If you are visiting a beach destination, parasailing is an activity that you should definitely try out.

This experience is one of a kind.

Even if you are not very adventurous, parasailing is quite safe and has a very low-risk factor.

While you're up in the air, you may even spot various sea animals enjoying the water.

If you're hesitant, take comfort in knowing that the fresh breeze may just be enough to take all your fears and doubts away.

You are highly recommended to try parasailing when you visit Anna Maria Island.

Take the Anna Maria Island Trolley and Explore the Island's Hidden Gems

Biking in Anna Maria Island
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It is always advisable to rent a bicycle and take it through the island's streets to explore the area's hidden gems.

Apart from cycling, there are several other ways for tourists to explore the island's nooks and crannies.

Bikes parked on a sandy shore at Anna Maria Island
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Taking the Anna Maria Island Trolley or a Monkey Bus Service is always a great idea.

Opting for one of these services will allow you to avoid the hassle of driving, traffic, and parking while you are still on the roads and enjoying the island's beautiful streets.

The prices are reasonable, and the entire experience is one of a kind.

Enjoy the Best of Anna Maria Island's Shopping on Pine Avenue and the Historic Bridge Street

The small island of Anna Maria has a large number of specialty shops.

These boutiques are ideal not only for shopping for souvenirs for your friends and family but also for buying items for yourself.

From jewelry shops to luxury boutiques to art galleries, the shops on Anna Maria Island are places straight out of every girl's dreams.

The unique handmade goods, specially designed jewelry, and boutique items are things that you will not be able to find anywhere else.

The two most famous places to find these specialty shops are Pine Avenue and the historic Bridge Street.

These places are loaded with many beautiful, unique, and dreamy shops selling reasonably priced items.

Some of the most famous shops are Pink & Navy, Olive Oil Outpost, The Uptown Lot, Back Alley Treasures, and Bridge Street Bazaar, among many others.

Join a Dolphin Tour and Spot Adorable Bottlenose Dolphins

Taking a dolphin tour on Anna Maria Island is definitely a very fun activity that shouldn't be missed.

A famous service provider, Anna Maria Island Dolphin Tours, allows both adults and kids to have fun with dolphins and befriend them.

One major reason to take this tour is that Anna Maria Island is home to a huge bottlenose dolphin population.

These dolphins are very friendly and love to spend time playing with humans.

Go for a Hole-in-One at The Fish Hole

The Fish Hole is a place where you can enjoy golfing on Anna Maria Island.

Located on the historic Bridge Street, it is a small miniature golf course with an 18-hole facility.

Surrounded by tropical palm trees and other shade plants on all corners, the golf course has a stunning nautical decor that enhances the beauty of the area.

A really well-maintained golf course, the Fish Hole offers very reasonably golfing options.

Hang around St. Armands Circle

It’s no secret that Anna Maria Island is home to many great places to eat and relax and has a flair for entertainment.

While these things are great, there are other little treasures waiting to be discovered if you know where to look.

Around Anna Maria Island, you will find hidden places like the grassy, palm-filled St. Armands Circle, which is made up of four quadrants of shops and restaurants.

This colorful shopping center is an excellent destination for everything from large shopping trips to romantic dates with your partner and an excellent spot for a midday meal.

It’s just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Sarasota but still close enough that the drive could be made during lunch or on your way home.

One can find this premier shopping, dining, and beach destination just off mainland Sarasota in a small key known as St. Armands Key, right next to Lido Key.

Visit Anna Maria Island Historical Society Museum

Graffiti on the walls of Anna Maria Island Historical Society Museum
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The Anna Maria Island Historical Society Museum is an excellent place to stop for those who are interested in local history and want to get the most out of their trip.

Located at Pine Avenue, this museum is not far from most Anna Maria Island condos, cottages, and vacation rentals.

A cottage at Anna Maria Island Historical Society Museum
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If you're staying nearby, you can use the free trolley to reach the museum.

The Anna Maria Island Historical Society Museum is home to a large collection of Native American artifacts and Spanish relics which offer insight into the long and storied history of this island.

Jail building at Anna Maria Island Historical Society Museum
Paul R. Burley , CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Here, you can learn all about the history of Anna Maria's friendly and warm community.

In 1893, George Emerson Bean started it all with his son along with the first pioneers, among whom was the inventor of the “Fig Newton” Charles Roser.

Kayak Anna Maria Island's Mangroves

Kayaking in Anna Maria Island
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Kayaking the mangroves of Anna Maria Island year-round is by far one of the most fun activities here.

After all, it's always nice to be surrounded by natural beauty and sun-kissed beaches no matter what time of year it is.

Luckily, you don’t need a crystal ball to see that the weather here is always sunny and warm, so you can plan — kayaking mangroves in pretty much any month.

Kayaking around Anna Maria Island can be done in a variety of ways.

There are several kayak rental and drop-off points, as well as kayak tour companies like Happy Paddler that cater to visitors looking for a more guided experience.

If interested in this option, it is important to note that some tours include areas where you'll have the opportunity not only to see marine wildlife such as dolphins or manatees but even turtles if you visit at the right time of year.

Though Anna Maria Island is famous for its sandy beaches, it doesn't shy away from showcasing local art.

The Artists' Guild Gallery is proof of this.

The Artists' Guild of Anna Maria Island manages this gallery.

Formed in 1989, this organization seeks to gather artists of every field, including writers, visual artists, and performing artists, in one place.

Its gallery showcases works from over 50 artists in different mediums.

You can see these all and even purchase them as art souvenirs.

Choose from local books, greeting cards, photography, and even sculptures.

You can find the Artists' Guild Gallery on Marina Drive in the city of Holmes Beach.

Explore the Marsh Vegetation at Leffis Key Preserve

Daytime view of Leffis Key Preserve
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When you're on Anna Maria Island, your outdoor escapade never ends.

Leffis Key Preserve is a unique destination in Bradenton Beach because it's the only nature preserve throughout the whole island.

Although small in size, it's a decent spot to bask in nature and spot wildlife.

The preserve features 1,500-foot boardwalks and pathways that zigzag along mangroves.

Boardwalk at Leffis Key Preserve
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It also offers a full view of Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico from atop a high hill.

Don't forget to bring sturdy shoes for your hiking spree and a pair of binoculars to help you study fowl and native animals that consider this place their home.

You can get to Leffis Key Preserve via Gulf Drive South.

The waters of Leffis Key Preserve
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Bask in the Quaintness and Exclusivity of Bridge Street Pier

Sunny day at Bridge Street Pier
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Get your daily dose of waterfront vistas when you come and hang out at Bridge Street Pier.

One of the island's major piers, it also goes by the name Bradenton Beach Pier.

This modern pier exudes an Old Florida nostalgic charm that has visitors coming by again and again.

One of its iconic features is a clock tower painted all in white and a multitude of restaurants, one of which is the famous Anna Maria Island Oyster Bar.

The pier is also open to boat tours around the surrounding bodies of water within the northern section of the island.

The 1920 Bridge Street Pier is in Bradenton Beach.

Check Out the Island’s Unusual Bars

Anna Maria Island is a hotspot of lounges and bars.

And for this reason, bar-hopping is an absolute must.

But did you know that the island has its fair share of unusual and eclectic bars?

One of these is the Doctor's Office on Holmes Boulevard, which is exactly like nothing as its name suggests.

This bar has a wide selection of house cocktails and other Caribbean-inspired beverages.

The Tiki bar Kokonut Hut welcomes you to its varied menu while you get to lounge with sand beneath your toes.

You can find this bar on Gulf Drive.

D Coy Ducks Bar & Grille gets you on a poker adventure along with its live music.

And there are more bars—more hidden gems—you can find all over the island!

Hang Out with Friends as You Listen to Music at Symphony on the Sand

Symphony on the Sand is one of the most-awaited events on the island.

This annual event blends in gourmet food and live music.

While savoring fine dining cuisine, bask in the picturesque views of the Gulf of Mexico.

This special event lasts for about three hours.

To serenade you at your elegant dinner are members of the Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus & Orchestra.

It's truly an event for the books.

Symphony on the Sand takes place every November at Coquina Gulfside Park in Bradenton Beach.

Final Thoughts

If you're looking for a getaway that feels like the trip was a million years ago, then Anna Maria Island is worth your consideration.

This island has some of the most beautiful beaches in Florida filled with white sand and blue seas.

This old town has a much slower pace than mainland Florida and its historic charm beckons you to tarry.

There are many shops to explore as well as galleries at which to take interest in whatever your heart's desire may be.

Before you leave, make sure to venture down memory lane to learn about this wonderful getaway.

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