Oh what a lovely beach this is! If you guys have never been to a beach on the Gulf of Mexico, you absolutely need to go. The white shimmery sand and crystal clear blue water is just remarkable! It would be really hard to find another beach that is prettier than one on the Gulf of Florida. Every year we usually go to Panama City Beach, Destin or Fort Walton Beach Florida. Those places are phenomenal. But we decided to do some more adventurous travelling this year and try a new beach. So here we are at the lovely Anna Maria Island. And it did not disappoint! Check out all the things to do on Anna Maria Island Florida.
Anna Maria Island, Florida
Anna Maria Island is an island on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The entire island is only about 7 miles long and 2 miles wide. This makes it easy to get around and enjoy all of the wonderful things that Anna Maria Island has to offer.
Where we stayed
We stayed at a BEAUTIFUL beach house we rented through Air bnb. It had everything we needed. We got an amazing deal on it we felt like we were living in luxury. This house was right on the canal so you could fish in the sea right off the back porch. The pool and Jacuzzi tub were awesome over looking the water. This house had a pool table and plenty of space for all 11 of us to stay!
The island may be small there is so much to do. Honestly though, you probably wont want to leave the beach because it is just so pretty. You can have the best time not going anywhere but just relaxing on the beach.
Visit the beaches on Anna Maria Island
We really enjoyed beach exploring while we were here. We visited 3 different beaches and loved them all. We went to Coquina Beach, Manatee Public Beach and Bean Point Beach. They were all crystal clear with gorgeous white sands. We were here July 4th week so it was a little more crowded than usual but not near as crowded as Destin or Panama City!
Bean Point Beach
Bean Point Beach was really the coolest beach. It is very private and exclusive. We spent the whole day there with no one else anywhere around us. I also think this was the prettiest of all of the beaches but honestly they were all so pretty that it is hard to get any clearer. Not a lick of seaweed anywhere.
We were told that you can often see manatees at Bean Point and go in the water and swim with them. And what do you know, just as we were leaving two enormous manatees swam by! I tried to jump in the water to swim with them but by the time I laid my stuff down they were too far out.
Since Bean Point is a hidden gem, check out this site for more info on how to get to get there.
Rent a golf cart on Anna Maria
One of the best things to do in Anna Maria Island is rent a golf cart. It seems like that is what everyone did. There were some limo sized golf carts that looked like they could hold 12 people! It is so fun to just ride around the town. The town is so small that once you get there, you can just rent a golf cart and never even take your car anywhere.
Get Ice Cream on Anna Maria
Sweet Creamery Ice Cream
Lots of local ice cream shops here! We really liked Sweet Creamery. They even had toys in the shop. Smart marketing, ha!
Shopping on Anna Maria Island
Pine Avenue Shops
The shops on Pine Avenue were great. Nice local shops and boutiques. Easy little walk between shops. Very unique gifts and souvenirs too!
Take a Trolley Ride
There is a FREE trolley that will take you up and down the island all day long. The Anna Maria Island Trolley stops every 2-4 blocks. No need to take your car anywhere.
Drive to Longboat Key, Florida
Okay so after this amazing trip to Anna Maria Island, we just couldn’t get enough. So two weeks later we drove 20 minutes further to Longboat Key Island and had the most amazing time. Check out this full blog post on it HERE!
Places to eat on Anna Maria Island
The Ugly Grouper
The Ugly Grouper Restaurant was so cool! Definitely the place to go to have a good time! Great food and tons of family games that everyone can enjoy. They had a really cool ring toss game set up on each side of the restaurant to keep your entertained while you wait on your food. They also had a big block table where the kids could build whatever they wanted. Check out my pic below of the HUGE grouper statue made of scrap metal. You gotta go check it out. When we come back, we will def be coming back to the Ugly Grouper.
The Donut Experiment
Never thought in my lifetime that I would wait 50 minutes for a donut. Yes, a donut. But I did and I’m not regretting it one bit. To be honest, I tried to get everyone to leave due to the wait but I am SO glad we stayed. Now keep in my we went on July 4th so it was probably exceptionally busy.
This place is so unique and different. You start with a cake donut (yum) and then everyone gets a piece of paper where you write down your glaze and your toppings. So many to choose from! I got caramel glaze and oreo for one donut and caramel glaze with graham cracker for my second one. I was with 11 people and we all got something different. My favorite was my moms chocolate glaze with chocolate chips. It was so melty chocolaty (I think I just made that phrase up).
Isola Bella Italian Eatery
My whole family LOVES Italian food. So when one of the locals told us about an authentic Italian restaurant on the island, we knew we had to try it. It doesn’t get anymore authentic than this. The server gave us a little back story on the owner. I believe she is from Sicily. She imports many of her ingredients and even hand picks all the wines from her area. They hand make all of their pasta fresh and even have their own grown spices on site.
I didn’t realize the taste difference in homemade pasta noodles vs store bought. The difference is just incredible. Oh and did I mention you get some amazing bread with oil and spice dip as well. I could of made a meal off of that alone! We did order some bruschetta that ended up being a little to fancy for my taste but everyone else loved it. I just can’t eat something that I don’t recognize.
There was one thing that disappointed me BUT it ended up working out for the better. I am a big fan of fettuccine alfredo. I noticed it was not on the menu but it was on the kids menu. So I asked if I could order that and was told no that only children 12 and under can order off of that. I said I would pay whatever but I just really wanted alfredo. She still said no. I was a little annoyed that they wouldn’t accommodate my request for alfredo. But in the end, I ended up getting spaghetti with meatballs and it was nothing short of spectacular. I’m glad that this pushed me to get out of my comfort zone and try something else. Besides, my son got alfredo and I tried it and mine was much better anyways.
All in all, this ended up being one of the best restaurants I have ever been to. Not just in Anna Maria, but anywhere!
The Rod and Reel Peir Restaurant Anna Maria
Now I usually don’t write about places we didn’t actually go to but this places seemed really cool. We were going to go there but unfortunately couldn’t make it. I heard so many great things about the Rod and Reel Peer. We heard from many locals that the food was great and it had gorgeous views. I also heard the manatees often swim here so you can see some cool sealife.
Hurricane Hanks Anna Maria
This place is tucked away in a cool little plaza with a beach store beside it. This restaurant was my least favorite but everyone else loved it! I don’t eat seafood so I got Chicken Parmesan. Unfortunately, my food was really bland. But don’t let my opinion stop you because this was a favorite among most everyone else. My husband got fish n chips and loved it. My mom doesn’t eat seafood either and got chicken fingers and said they were great. One thing to note, there isn’t much of a kids menu here. There got a choice of grilled cheese or noodles with butter or red sauce. They liked it though.
Freckled Fin in Anna Maria
This is the place to go if you are looking to go out and have a good time. We didn’t realize it was a big live music bar when we originally sat down. We sat outside to enjoy the sun and music. Unfortunately, as soon as our food was getting delivered, the bottom fell out of the sky. We had to scurry and grab our food to go and eat it at the house. But I will say, the food was incredible. I would def visit Freckled Fin again just probably not with children.