Local’s Guide to Anna Maria Island, Florida

Welcome to the most complete Local’s Guide to Anna Maria Island, Florida

As a local and avid explorer of the Sunshine State, I’ve created the ultimate local’s guide to Anna Maria Island, Florida to help you make the most of your visit. I have been living in Florida for 18 years now, and t his is your one stop guide to Anna Maria Island. I am bringing all the best things to do, where to stay, best places to eat, how to get around and all you need to know.

Anna Maria Island is renowned for its sugar-white beaches, and emerald green and blue Gulf waters, and is considered one of the most beautiful clear water beaches in Florida. There is no shortage of things to do on Anna Maria Island, from soaking up the sun on the white sandy beaches to experiencing thrilling island adventures.

For more Anna Maria Island reading โค๏ธ:

Local’s Guide to Anna Maria Island: Top Recommendations

๐Ÿš— Recommended Rental Car:ย Discover Car (โญ๏ธ 4.6/5)

๐Ÿ† OVERALL Best Tour | Parasailing Tour (โญ๏ธ 5/5)

๐ŸŒŠ Best Tour with Kids | Clear Bottom Kayak Tour (โญ๏ธ 5/5)

๐Ÿ“ธ Best Guided Tour | Best Half-Day Boat Tour (โญ๏ธ 5/5)

๐ŸŒŸ Best Nature Tour | Manatee Discovery Tour (โญ๏ธ 5/5)

Local’s Guide to Anna Maria Island: Best Things to Do

๐Ÿ–๏ธ BEST BEACHES on Anna Maria Island

  • Manatee Beach
  • Coquina Beach
  • Bayfront Park Beach
  • Holmes Beach
  • Bradenton Beach
  • Bean Point Beach
  • Cortez Beach

Read Next: Best Beaches on Anna Maria Island


๐ŸŒŸTOP Things to Do on Anna Maria Island

  • Rod & Reel Pier
  • Enjoy the Anna Maria City Pier Landmark
  • Go Shopping at Pine Avenue
  • Visit the Landmarks at Pine Avenue
  • Go for a Walk at the Coquina Baywalk
  • Stroll Around the Historic Bridge Street
  • Meet Some Local Wildlife at the Mote Marine Aquamarine

๐Ÿ›ถ Adventure Things to Do on Anna Maria Island

  • Rent a Kayak
  • Go Standup Paddleboarding
  • Explore Anna Maria Island by Bicycle
  • Take a Private Boat to Go Wildlife Watching
  • See Anna Maria Island from Above on Parasailing

โค๏ธ Best Places to shop in Anna Maria Island

  • Sand Dollar:  Eclectic home decor store
  • Island Cabana:  Quaint boutique with trendy resort wear, home decor and more
  • Shiny Fish Emporium:  Creative and fun gift and souvenir store

Read Next: 22 Best Things to do on Anna Maria Island


Local's guide to Anna Maria Island Florida
Local's guide to Anna Maria Island Florida

How to Get to Anna Maria Island

โœˆ๏ธ ARRIVE ON ANNA MARIA ISLAND BY AIR

  • SARASOTA-BRADENTON INTERNATION AIRPORT: Anna Maria Island is located just 18 miles – about a half-hour drive.
  • TAMPA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: Itโ€™s also just 50 miles from the Tampa International Airport, about an hour-long journey.
  • ORLANDO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: is also an option, albeit a longer drive at about 2.5 hours.

๐Ÿš— ARRIVE ON ANNA MARIA ISLAND BY CAR

You can travel from Orlando to Anna Maria Island on a road trip, which takes about 2.5 hours or you can take a flight from Orlando to one of the nearby airports described above.

If you are traveling to Anna Maria Island from Tampa Airport, you will follow signs from the airport toward I-275 South. This is an easy and scenic drive, you will pass by the Skyway Bridge, which is a fantastic local attraction.

If you are traveling to Anna Maria Island from the Sarasota airport, you will take the US-41 exit from the airport towards University Parkway, and follow the signs.

There are 3 ways on and off the island:
1-Cortez Bridge
2-Palma Sola Bay Manatee Bridge
3-Longboat Key Bridge

Where to Stay at Anna Maria Island, Florida

Most of the rental properties at Anna Maria Island are houses. After I had stayed in several different accommodations on the island, my personal preference is to rent a house – considering you have a whole place for you, with a full kitchen, you can choose a home at the beach and have your “private” beach backyard.

๐Ÿ† BEST OVERALL: Compass Hotel by Margaritaville Anna Maria Sound

โญ๏ธ Rating: 9.0/10 (1,8011 Reviews) | Details: Read more on booking.com now!

Set in Bradenton, Compass Hotel by Margaritaville Anna Maria Sound offers accommodations with a restaurant, free private parking, an outdoor swimming pool, and a fitness center.


MID-RANGE: Bridgewalk, a Landmark Resort

โญ๏ธ Rating: 9.0/10 (156 Reviews) | Details: Read more on booking.com now!

Located in Bradenton Beach, 1.1 mi from Coquina Beach, Bridgewalk Resort features accommodations with a restaurant, free private parking, an outdoor swimming pool, and a bar.


BEST-RATED: Playa Esmeralda Boutique Inn

โญ๏ธ Rating: 9.5/10 (160 Reviews) | Details: Read more on booking.com now!

Playa Esmeralda is located in Bradenton Beach, near Coquina Beach and Bradenton Beach Marina. Only a 5-min walk to the beach, with a hot tub, pool, and very comfortable rooms.


TOP LOCATION: Anna Maria Beach Resort

โญ๏ธ Rating: 9.1/10 (101 Reviews) | Details: Read more on booking.com now!

Here you will get treated with a world-class service, featuring 5 stars accommodations, with a million dollars view of the stunning Holmes Beach.


Best Way To Explore Anna Maria Island

If you are planning to visit Anna Maria Island, it is also important to know what are the best ways to explore the Island. Keep in mind that the island has limited parking. I recommend renting a bicycle, or golf cart, or getting there very early if you have a rental car. And by “there I mean anywhere.

If youโ€™re staying on the island for a week or a few days, you donโ€™t really need a rental car. You can rent bikes, or a golf cart, or use the free trolley to get around the island from 6 am to 9 pm.


๐Ÿšดโ€โ™‚๏ธ RENT A BIKE: This is another fun and great way to transportation on Anna Maria Island. Getting to ride a bike on the island offers the opportunity to slowly explore around, and you donโ€™t need to stress because of parking and traffic. You are on vacation, and there is no better way to move around than by renting a bike. Another great option is to rent an electric bike to explore the island.


๐Ÿš— DRIVE YOUR OWN CAR: Driving around Anna Maria Island is not recommended. In order to help the island “move” and avoid traffic, let the locals use their cars to go to work and school, and I recommend renting a bike or a gulf cart if you are planning to visit Anna Maria Island. If you want the flexibility to travel to the surrounding areas, then I recommend renting a car at the airport.  I always use and recommend renting a car with this reliable source.


โ˜€๏ธ RENT A GOLF CART: This is a great and fun way to explore Anna Maria Island and get around. Driving around the island in a car sucks because of parking spots, and the traffic, especially on the weekends. You can book a golf cart online with AMI Golf Carts Rentals. They are a local business, offering reliable service.


๐ŸšŽ PUBLIC TROLLEY: Anna Maria Island has a free Trolley Service that travels daily up and down the island between Anna Maria Island and Coquina Beach, from 6 AM- 10:30 PM, about every 20 minutes. It is a cool ride on a hot day. About every 2-4 blocks there is a Trolley Stop, most have covered seating while you wait. 


Local's guide to Anna Maria Island Florida
Anna Maria Island is very dog-friendly too in case you are visiting with your fur babies
Things to do on Anna Maria Island

Essential Tips to Visit Anna Maria Island

๐Ÿ–๏ธ Alcohol and pets ARE NOT permitted on the beach (bummer…my poor fur babies!)

๐Ÿ–๏ธ Keep in mind that the island has limited parking, so you should get to the island very early if you want to find a parking spot.

๐Ÿ–๏ธ If you plan to stay on the island for a few days or a week, renting a car may not be necessary. Instead, you can opt for renting bikes, or golf carts, or use the free trolley service available from 6 am to 9 pm to travel around the island.

๐Ÿ–๏ธ There are three main public beaches on Anna Maria Island with excellent amenities at Manatee Public Beach, Bayfront Park, and Coquina Beach. Check here for the complete guide for the best beaches on Anna Maria Island.

๐Ÿ–๏ธ During summer months, small stingrays occasionally come to the shallow, so just shuffle as you enter the water you can also invest in water shoes

๐Ÿ–๏ธ I saw a lot of jellyfish in the ocean during my last stay in September, so be aware when you are in the water

๐Ÿ–๏ธ Turtle nesting season is from May through October and one is aware that they are protected by federal and state laws – the nests are marked on the beach, so be careful and help to protect them.

Local's guide to Anna Maria Island Florida

Where to Eat On Anna Maria Island

There are quite a few options to choose from on the island and the surrounding areas, but I have selected the top places for you to visit. Whether you are looking for breakfast, lunch or dinner, below you find some delicious spots.

On this article you will find all the detail information you need for the best places to eat, drink and enjoy the fresh sea food on Anna Maria Island.

GINNYโ€™S & JANE Eโ€™S BAKERY CAFE:  This is a great place to stop for breakfast and a coffee..

THE DONUT EXPERIMENT:  Experiment making your own donut topping and enjoying the results.

POPPO’S TAQUERIA:  Super fresh and amazing tacos. They have great variety and you can get creative with your fillings.

UGLY GROUPER:  Always busy for a reason. They have the best Grouper sandwich on the island.

WATERFRONT RESTAURANT:  This is the place to have fresh seafood, unique and great drinks, great service, and stunning views.

BLUE MARLIN:  Fine dining without being stuffy. Enjoy the live music.

THE OYSTER BAR PIER:  The Anna Maria Oyster Bar is the best place to get oysters, and enjoy the view from the pier at the same time.

OLD HAMBURG SCHNITZELHAUS:: ย When you want some good German fare, this is the place stop. Great selection of draught beers and German wines to accompany your meal.

Read Next: Best Restaurants on Anna Maria Island

Local's guide to Anna Maria Island Florida

Local’s Guide to Anna Maria Island Florida Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this local’s guide to Anna Maria Island, Florida.

Anna Maria Island is a great place to relax and enjoy life. Whether you just want to slow down and disconnect, have some adventure and exploration, or a little of both, this is the island for you. It is easy to spend 1 week discovering what the island has to offer, and you won’t get bored. I have no doubt that it will become one of your favorite vacation spots that you will want to visit again and again.

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