20 Things To Do In Anna Maria Island

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A barrier island off Florida’s Gulf Coast, Anna Maria Island has a seven-mile (11 km) stretch of beautiful white sand beaches and is just 20 minutes from Bradenton. The little slice of paradise was once known as “Florida’s Best Kept Secret,” but is now one of the Sunshine State’s most popular destinations.

On top of its stunning beaches, the island is famous for its laid-back lifestyle and small-town feel. The city of Anna Maria has strict construction laws on the amount and type of buildings allowed, so you won’t find any skyscrapers or concrete jungle here. The area is mostly residential, with some historic homes dating back over 100 years.

Because of the city’s commitment to preservation, the entire island is a natural preserve and sanctuary for native animals. You’ll easily find many species of water and shore birds and remarkable aquatic life, such as bottlenose dolphins, manatees and loggerhead turtle nesting sites. So enjoy these things to do in Anna Maria Island, including the best live music spots, a local farmers market and recreational activities.

Anna Maria Island, Florida

Best Tours

20 Things To Do In Anna Maria Island

1- See Some Of Florida’s Most Beautiful Beaches

things to do in anna maria island
Relaxing on a hammock on Bradenton Beach is another of the things to do in Anna Maria Island.

Enjoying the picturesque beaches is the number one thing to do in Anna Maria Island.

The soft sand, crystal clear waters and bright sunshine make for the perfect beach vacation.

Popular beaches on the island are Holmes Beach, Bean Point, Manatee Beach or Cortez Beach.

Each beach has its own vibe.

Some beaches, such as Manatee Beach, offer restrooms, washing stations, and food options, while beaches like Bean Point are more low-key and secluded.

No matter which you choose, you’ll have fun searching for shells, wading in the warm waters or building sand castles on the shore.

  • Holmes Beach is at Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, FL 34217.
  • Manatee Beach is at 4000 State Road 64 and Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, FL 34217.
  • Bean Point is at 793 N Shore Dr, Anna Maria, FL 34216.
  • Cortez Beach is at 698 Gulf Dr S, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217.

2- Hike Around Coquina Baywalk

anna maria island cortez beach aerial view of beach, ocean and buildings
Looking for things to do in Anna Maria Island, Florida? Here are some you’ll love. Coquina Beach is only one of the many beautiful beaches here.

Coquina Baywalk is part of the amenities of Coquina Beach.

This easy hiking trail wanders along the beach’s sandy shores and offers beautiful scenery, including mangrove tunnels and views of the Gulf of Mexico and Sarasota Bay.

Part of the Leffis Key, the trail is between Longboat Key and Bradenton Beach.

You’ll finish this easy hike fairly quickly since the path is less than a mile (1.6 km).

While the trail is wheelchair and stroller-friendly, dogs are not allowed on the trail.

Coquina Baywalk is located at 1465 Gulf Dr S, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217.

3- Check Out The Island’s Oldest Jail 

History buffs in the family will love discovering the island’s secrets at the Anna Maria Island Historical Museum.

The museum was built in the 1920s, originally serving as an icehouse.

It has also been used as a garage, a hatchery for sea turtles and an administrative building.

It became the museum’s home in 1992, and this is where you’ll find information about the first settlers, baseball and fishing history.

There’s also the island’s original jail, which has bars but no windows.

Legend has it that the punishment of being in this jail was the swarms of mosquitoes that would come through the open portions.

The Anna Maria Historical Museum is at 402 Pine Ave, Anna Maria, FL 34216.

4- Browse One-Of-A-Kind Boutiques at Bridge Street

Once you get tired of the stunning beaches and fun wildlife that you find outdoors, you can check out Bridge Street for the island’s best shopping.

At the southern end of Anna Maria Island, Bridge Street is where you will find unique boutiques, gift shops and art galleries.

Shopping at this pace can work up quite an appetite, so be sure to check out one of the locally-owned restaurants on the strip!

Whether you’re in the mood for seafood, American cuisine or a quick cafe bite, Historic Bridge Street has it all.

Bridge Street is in Bradenton Beach, FL 34217.

5- Enjoy The Freshest Tacos At Poppo’s Taqueria

Traditional mexican taco with chicken and vegetables on wooden table.
Eating fresh tacos is one of the pleasurable things to do in Anna Maria Island.

Poppo’s prides itself on friendly, fast service that will keep you returning.

On top of that, your tastebuds will thank you for stopping into this cute, uptown taqueria.

Sink your teeth into made-to-order tacos, homemade chips or a fresh salad bowl as you enjoy the salty breeze on the cozy front porch.

The restaurant has rave reviews from locals and visitors alike.

Poppo’s Taqueria is at 212C Pine Ave, Anna Maria, FL 34216.

6- Rent Bicycles And Peddle Around Town

Most, if not all, of the island is accessible by bike, which makes this activity an adventure in itself.

Peddle around the town as you enjoy the scenery and get some sunshine.

Plus, you won’t have to worry about finding parking at beaches or restaurants.

There are plenty of bike rental companies on the island for this purpose, Beach Bums on Pine Ave has some of the best reviews.

Beach Bums Recreational Rentals and Gift Shop is at 427 Pine Ave, Anna Maria, FL 34216.

7- Make Friends With Marine Life On A Dolphin Tour

things to do in anna maria island with kids three dolphin fins above the water
Going on a dolphin tour is one of the popular things to do in Anna Maria Island, Florida.

Manatees, dolphins, sting rays and manatees are popular wildlife in the area, and the best way to see them is by boat.

You can take a private yacht tour that is perfect for a small group or opt for a shorter tour with a large group.

On each of these options, you’ll be taken around the beautiful waters of Anna Maria Island by your knowledgeable guide to the best spots to view these stunning wildlife creatures.

Either way, this is a definite “must-see” whether you’re single, a couple, or a large group of friends and family.

8- Listen To Live Music By Local Performers

Supporting the local arts is a fun experience, especially when it comes to performing arts.

Plenty of bars and restaurants on the island host live music sessions.

The weekends are the most popular times.

The Ugly Grouper, Bamboo Island Bar, and the Anna Maria Beach Cafe are some of the best spots to listen to locally composed tunes.

  • The Ugly Grouper is at 5704 Marina Dr, Holmes Beach, FL 34217.
  • Bamboo Island Bar is at 119 Bridge St, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217.
  • Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe is at 4000 Gulf Dr, Holmes Beach, FL, 34217.

9- Buy Local At The Farmers Market

A local farmers market is the best way to understand the soul of a city.

Shopping at Anna Maria Island’s Farmers Markets, you will find crafts, fresh produce, and goods from local vendors.

The Island features two great markets, Bridge Street Farmer’s Market and the Coquina Bay Farmers Market.

Bridge Street Market runs every Sunday, November to April, from 10 am to 3 pm.

Coquina Beach Market is held on Sundays and Wednesdays. The Sunday market runs from November to July between 10 am and 4 pm, while the Wednesday market takes place from December to April, also 10 am to 4 pm.

  • Bridge Street Farmers Market is at 107 Bridge St, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217.
  • Coquina Bay Farmers Market is at 2650 Gulf Dr S, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217.

10- Kayak Through Mangroves

things to do in anna maria island area
Kaying through the mangroves is one of the fun things to do in Anna Maria Island.

With beautiful waters and scenery, it’s not surprising that water-based activities fill any list of things to do in Anna Maria Island.

Kayaking is the perfect way to get a workout and explore all the island offers.

The mangroves are among the most popular places to kayak.

Mangroves are naturally preserved areas where shrubs and trees grow out of the water, which creates for a killer experience.

Because of the beautiful weather, you can kayak around Anna Maria Island all year round.

Rent one from one of the many vendors on the island, such as Kayak Jack’s, AMI Paddleboard and Kayak Adventure.

  • Kayak Jack’s is at 5501 Marina Dr, Holmes Beach, FL 34217.
  • AMI Paddleboard and Kayak Adventures is at 12378 Manatee Ave W, Bradenton, FL 34209.
  • Clear Kayak Glass Bottom Day Tour

11- End The Perfect Summer Day With Small Town Creamery

kid friendly things to do in anna maria island two hands and a cone
Eating ice cream is one of the fun things to do in Anna Maria Island for all ages.

Small Town Creamery is your best bet for cold sweet treats when you need to cool down from spending the day in the hot sunshine.

The creamery uses locally sourced fresh ingredients to make over 50 classic and unique ice cream flavours.

They even won the Grand Master Award for exceptional flavour, consistency, and taste.

You can find your tried and true vanilla and fun flavours like “Elephant Ear” and “Mac Daddy.”

Small Town Creamery also has coffee, milkshakes, fudge, nuts, and candy if you’re not in the mood for ice cream.

Small Town Creamery is at 5404 Marina Dr, Holmes Beach, FL 342174.

12- Have A Romantic Date On A Sunset Cruise

things to do in anna maria island fl
Sunset through reeds on beach on Anna Maria Island, Florida.

We recommend a sunset cruise if you want a more romantic experience. 

Cruises typically last anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours and can be booked as a private tour or on one of the standard tours with a group.

While you sail around the seven-mile island, you’ll most likely see marine residents of the area, such as dolphins and manatees.

There are options that serve dinner and drinks or just drinks.

Towards the end of the cruise, one of Florida’s stunning sunsets will appear, setting the scene for a perfect date night.

  • Spice Sailing Charters is at 840 S Bay Blvd, Anna Maria, FL 34216.
  • Captain Sky Cruises is at 1507 Gulf Dr S, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217.
  • Cortez Coastal Cruises is at 4628 119th St W, Cortez, FL 34215.

13- Take In The Views At Anna Maria City Pier

things to do in anna maria island this weekend
The Rod & Reel wooden Pier stretches out into the Gulf of Mexico with the Sunshine Skyway in the background from Anna Maria Island in Florida.

The Anna Maria City Pier is the perfect place to take in the island’s beautiful scenery without getting sandy on the beaches.

Here, you’re likely to see schools of fish, cownose rays, and other wildlife.

The pier is also a great place for some casual fishing.

Anna Maria City Pier is at 100 N Bay Blvd, Anna Maria, FL 34216.

14- Observe Local Wildlife At Leffis Key Preserve

Although we briefly mentioned Leffis Key Preserve while discussing the Coquina Baywalk, it’s important to note that the preserve offers much more.

This small island preserve is home to 20,000 marsh grasses planted and several other plant types.

It’s the best spot on the island to take in nature and wildlife.

There are plenty of hiking trails and a tall hill in the middle of the preserve that gives you a 360-degree view of Sarasota Bay.

Leffis Key Preserve is located at Gulf Dr S, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217.

15- Experience Old Florida Charm At Its Finest In Historic Green Village

Located on Pine Avenue, Historic Green Village is a wonderful place to see history come alive.

The village has buildings that date back over one hundred years that have been restored to show what they would have looked like when they were first built and used on the island.

Today, they serve as homes, shops, and art galleries open for you and the family to explore.

Historic Green Village is located at Pine Ave, Anna Maria, FL 34216.

16- Participate In A Recreational Activity at Holmes Beach Central Park

things to do in anna maria island today
A panoramic view of the sun setting over Holmes Beach on Anna Maria Island, Manatee County, Florida.

Across the street from one of the many canals, you’ll find Holmes Beach Central Park.

The park houses tennis and basketball courts, a baseball field, a skate park and an appropriately named dog park (Scentral Park – get it?).

No matter what your favourite sport is, this is a perfect place to enjoy some beautiful weather and work up a sweat with the whole family.

Holmes Beach Central Park is at 6000 Flotilla Dr, Holmes Beach, FL 34217.

17- Catch A Tarpon On Your Very Own Charter

As we mentioned before, getting out onto the water is the best way to experience Anna Maria Island.

Beginners and avid anglers will love being out on the open waters catching for sport or for dinner.

Specifically, the tarpon in the bay area are second to none for size and sheer numbers.

While the average tarpon is 70 to 140 pounds (32 kg to 64 kg), most of the fish caught from the bay are up to 200 pounds (91 kg) plus.

There are plenty of charter companies in the AMI area, but the top-rated options are Tarpon Fishing Charters, Fishing with Salty, and Just Kickin’ Back Charters.

18- Hangout At Bayfront Park

Bayfront Park and beach is at the northern end of the island, on the bay side.

The park provides impressive views of Tampa Bay and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Bayfront Park is a popular destination because it offers a wide range of activities, such as a playground for kids, picnic greens, kayak and paddleboard rentals, swimming in calm bay waters and fishing.

Bayfront Park is at 316 N Bay Blvd, Anna Maria, FL 34216.

19- Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth At Donut Experiment

The doughnut experiment is a unique experience that lets you create your very own custom doughnut.

The doughnuts are made-to-order right in front of you.

Choose from funky toppings such as fruity pebbles and maple bacon or creative combinations like Key Lime or Sriracha doughnuts.

Donut Experiment is at 210 Pine Ave, Anna Maria, FL 34216.

20- Sip Paradise Worthy Cocktails At Daiquiri Deck

fun things to do in anna maria island
Sipping cocktails while overlooking th Gulf is one of the things to do in Anna Maria Island.

One of the best ways to get into a relaxed vacation mood is to sip a cold drink in a rooftop bar overlooking the Gulf.

Daiquiri Deck is the place to be for their “Legendary Happy Hour.”

Choose from classic and unique flavours in a souvenir cup, tumbler, or beach keg size!

Daiquiri Deck is at 107 Bridge St, Bradenton Beach, FL, 34217.

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Jordan is a freelance writer that has been in the industry for over a year. She graduated from the University of North Florida with a degree in Communications which she used in her marketing career. Her hometown is Philadelphia, PA. Currently, Jordan resides in Central Florida with her family and French Bulldog, Philly. Jordan has travelled many places for fun and even travels for a living as a Flight Attendant. Her favourite destinations include Denver, Reno, and anywhere else with mountains and plenty of good coffee!