22 Best Things to Do on Anna Maria Island, Florida (Local’s Guide)

Wondering what are the best things to do on Anna Maria Island, Florida?

Well, look no further! As a local and avid explorer of the Sunshine State, I’ve created the ultimate guide to the best things to do on Anna Maria Island to help you make the most of your visit.

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. Over time, it has become a beloved vacation spot for locals, out-of-staters, and international travelers alike.

In this unique guide, you will find the top things the locals love, the best restaurants on Anna Maria Island, the best places to stay, and all the tips and tricks you won’t find anywhere else! 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 ❤️:

Best Things to Do on Anna Maria Island Overview

🌟TOP Things to Do on Anna Maria Island

  • Make a Beach Day at Holmes Beach
  • Spend a Beach Day at Manatee Beach
  • Visit Longboat Key Beach
  • 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
  • Picnic at Coquina Beach
  • Stroll Around the Historic Bridge Street
  • Meet Some Local Wildlife at the Mote Marine Aquamarine

🛶 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

❤️ Things to Do on Anna Maria Island that the Locals Love

  • Spend the Day at the Hidden-Gem Bean Point Beach
  • Have Dinner at Waterfront Restaurant
  • Get Your Exercise Done at the Beach
  • Take Your Horse to the Beach (or Rent a Horse)
  • Happy Hour at the Beach House Restaurant
  • Rent a Beach House

Top Things To Do On Anna Maria Island


All the beaches on Anna Maria Island are beautiful, but my personal favorite is Holmes Beach. Actually, I am sitting now at the beach while writing this guide (yes, I feel really inspired to talk about the Best Things to do on Anna Maria Island). I rented this house and had access to the beach from my backyard.

Here you can find fewer people, especially during the week – the sand is so soft, you can hear the sounds of the waves, collect some shells, go for a run or walk and watch incredible sunrises and sunsets. Holmes Beach is quieter, especially on weekdays when mostly the locals come.

⭐️ INSIDER-TIP: Check this site for beach access in Holmes Beach or you can find the walking paths, but they have limited parking access.

Things to do on Anna Maria Island


📍 Location: 4000 State Road 64 and Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach

Manatee Beach on Anna Maria Island is popular because it offers great parking spots, and amenities nearby, including lifeguard stations, cafes, a volleyball area, and showers. Besides excellent amenities, it is also considered one of the prettiest clear water beaches in Florida.

Even if you are not staying in Manatee Beach, you can take the free trolley from one side of the island to the other all day. The Monkey Bus is a great option if you decide to stay out later than the trolley runs or if you have a larger group that can fill one of their vehicles. The monkey bus is free and drivers work on tips only!

Things to do on Anna Maria Island


📍 Location:  2825 Gulf of Mexico Dr, Longboat Key, FL 34228

Take a short 20-min drive from Anna Maria Island to Longboat Key, as there is a perfect place for a romantic gateway in Florida – here you can enjoy a serene seashore, combined with luxury shopping and incredible dining choices. I had the best pasta di mare of my life here, at the Venezia Restaurant.

Visit the St. Armands Circle., the aristocratic heritage of St. Armand and Ringling families resonates through quiet gardens and take some beautiful pictures. You can also visit the Ringling Circus Museum, an elegant legacy of art and architecture, and considered one of the hidden gems in Florida.

If you are looking for a quieter and more beautiful beach to just relax, this is the place for you. There are no amenities at this beach, which makes it perfect for a lounge and enjoying the day, with great views and a natural beach setting. Longboat Beach has soft and powdery sand and only a few seashells, being a great place for setting up a beach tent and having a picnic and just relaxing, reading a book, and enjoying the day.

Read Next: Ultimate Guide for all the Beaches on Anna Maria Island


📍 LOCATION: 875 N Shore Dr. Anna Maria, FL 34216, USA

If you want to have the taste and feel of Old Florida, the Rod & Reel Pier is the perfect place to visit while on Anna Maria Island. Here you can see many locals fishing. The water is so clear that you can observe some wildlife from the pier – I saw a school of fish, dolphins, and many different species of birds. If you are lucky, you can also see manatees.

Here you can also find unique dining offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner with an ocean view. Their specialty is fresh seafood dishes and the grouper sandwich. You can also have a draft beer while you watch a sunset or entertain yourself with the wildlife around.

⭐️ INSIDER-TIP: Be sure to head out to the Rod & Reel during sunset hour for an unforgettable view! For a small fee, you can fish right off that pier. This is one of the few places on Anna Maria Island where you can take your puppies with you.

Things to do on Anna Maria Island


📍 LOCATION: 100 South Bay Blvd on the corner of Pine Ave. and bay Blvd.

Anna Maria City Pier was originally built in the 1900s and it has become an Island landmark! You will notice that the pier’s planks are each engraved with messages commemorating family members, friends, and loved ones, making it very unique!

While strolling around you can have an ice cream cone from Two Scoops across the street and take a walk down the pier. An amazing fishing location and a great place to spot Tampa Bay’s marine life. You can also try delicious locally caught seafood at modest prices at the restaurant with some spectacular ocean views and sunsets.

Things to do on Anna Maria Island


Pine Avenue combines shopping, the ocean, and local eateries all within one mile. Here you can go shopping for clothing and jewelry, You can also grab a quick bite to eat at Poppo’s Taqueria for authentic Tex-Mex and try the famous Donut at the Donut Experiment. Pine Avenue also has many famous landmarks to visit. See below…

Things to do in Anna Maria Island

Read Next: 10 Best Places to Go River Tubing in Florida


While you are at Pine Avenue, you also can visit some of the Landmarks on Anna Maria Island. They are some of the most visited attractions in this scenic and walkable part of the island. While you will see history in another part of the islands, here is where you dedicate some time –

Here you can visit the Historical Society Museum where you can get a glimpse of Florida’s history. You can find out how the first homesteader, George Emerson Bean established the community back in 1893. A must-stop is the Anna Maria City Jail, first built in 1927 and it actually didn’t have windows so the prisoners would be punished by being bitten by mosquitos! It’s funny….but a true story!

Things to do on Anna Maria Island


Coquina Baywalk is a one-mile stretch, located just across Coquina Beach, and it is the perfect way to enjoy Florida’s outdoors for free! This is a boardwalk trail that takes you close to Florida’s native plants and animals. The trails offer great views of the bay from observation decks hidden away in the mangroves.

You can walk or jog along the path shaded by the native trees. Discover the amazing mangrove tunnels and hidden coves in the nature preserve also known as Leffis Key.

⭐️ INSIDER-TIP: Make sure to bring your camera, you can take some picturesque pictures from the boardwalk. Dogs are not allowed on the boardwalk. Park your car at the Coquina Beach public parking, the park is just across the street. If you are riding your bike, they have areas to park your bike at the entrance of the park.


📍 LOCATION: 2650 Gulf Dr. Bradenton Beach

Coquina Beach is a great public beach, offering many amenities. Larger parking area, and here you can also park your RV or Motorhome. You can also find showers, bathrooms, a cafe, and plenty of picnic areas in the nice shade of many trees around this area.

⭐️ INSIDER-TIP: If you are lucky, you can catch the Coquina Beach Market. From November – to Sundays only. December – March open Wed and Sun. April – July open Wed and Fri. All markets are 10 am – 4 pm weather permitting. You can go shopping for fresh produce, local foods, jewelry, crafts, books, souvenirs, and more!

Things to do on Anna Maria Island


Visit the clock tower and the Historic Bridge Pier, with a fishing pier and you can see the harbor and bayside from it. This community is loaded with attractions such as Floridian-style restaurants, beachside boutiques, the local pier, farmers’ markets, and town events

This is my favorite area in Anna Maria Island to grab a happy hour or have dinner – with many options for great restaurants, and the feel of the Old Florida around, it makes a perfect spot for an end and fun day at the beach. You can even hop on a free trolley to go to Bridge Street!

⭐️ INSIDER-TIP: One of the most well-known restaurants in this part of Florida is also right on the pier. The Anna Maria Oyster Bar is the place to get oysters on the island! They also have awesome fish and chips, shrimp, and plenty of other seafood options. Plus, the drinks are delicious, refreshing, and very cheap – around $6.50 for a cocktail on the island is not bad!

Things to do on Anna Maria Island


📍 LOCATION: 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, FL 34236 (on City Island)

If you’re curious about some of the sea wildlife in Florida, the Mote Marine Aquarium is a great opportunity to meet them! Here you will find135,000-gallon shark habitat, meet some manatees and sea turtles, and explore coral reefs and other ecosystem displays teeming with diverse fishes, cool crustaceans, and gracefully drifting sea jellies

What I really like about this place, is that they are not only an aquarium but also an important research and wildlife rescue facility. Some of the research include marine conservation and immunology, recovery of coral reefs, and much more.

⭐️ INSIDER-TIP: The tickets must be purchased online in advance and the general admission includes access to Mote Aquarium and its exhibits in the Ann and Alfred E. Goldstein Marine Mammal Research and Rehabilitation Center. Hours are from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday to Monday.

Adventure Things to Do on Anna Maria Island


Anna Maria Island is a great place to bring your own, or you can rent a kayak to go on a mangrove tour. There are many places you can launch your kayak into the water and explore either the clear ocean water or visit some of the mangrove trees, that grow directly in the water, and the tunnels built through these trees are so much fun to explore in a kayak! 

You can go on a tour, where the guides can fill you in on the local wildlife and plant life you’ll see as you kayak through these tunnels. Bring your water shoes, sunblock, and camera for this tour, as Anna Maria Island is one of the best places to go kayaking in Florida.

Things to do on Anna Maria Island


Another great thing to do while on Anna Maria Island is to go standup paddleboarding. The Gulf of Mexico has calm waters and almost no waves, which makes it perfect to enjoy some time paddleboarding. If you don’t bring your own, you can always rent one from AMI Paddleboards – they offer paddleboard and kayak rentals with free delivery as long as you rent for a half-day or more.


This is one of the best things to do while on Anna Maria Island and the best way to “discover” the island in all of its glory. Some of my favorite things about the island are the peaceful neighborhoods, immaculate landscaping, and massive poinciana trees

You can really immerse yourself in the “slow lifestyle” of Anna Maria Island and find yourself cycling along the unbeaten path. A great option is to rent an electric bike for an easy way to get around the island.

Things to do on Anna Maria Island


If you are searching for adventure, the best thing to do on Anna Maria Island is to take a boat on a fun-filled day!

One of the best things to do on Anna Maria Island is to go on a custom Private Boat & Yacht Charter to explore this stunning region. Including Sunset, Sunrise, Dolphin Watching, and snorkeling. It is a perfect activity for the whole family while you are on your vacation.

Things to do on Anna Maria Island


📍 Location: departs from Bradenton Beach, FL 34217

Another great thing to do on Anna Maria Island is to see the island from a different angle – especially if you’ve got a sense of adventure and if are not afraid of heights, parasailing tours offer the chance to see the island from a unique perspective. Enjoy the scenic island while flying through the air! 

Things to do on Anna Maria Island that the Locals Love


This place is incredibly beautiful and it is one of my favorite things to do on Anna Maria Island – Bean Point Beach is the most Northern tip of Anna Maria where the Gulf of Mexico meets Tampa Bay and the lookout point is endless miles of turquoise waters, considered one of the top clear water beaches in Florida. It is one of the best spots on Anna Maria Island to watch the sunrise and sunset.

Here you can find a wild beach feel and it is still most commonly known by the locals there are no obvious signs to get there and very limited parking, another reason renting a bike is the best option on Anna Maria Island. Once you find this hidden gem in Florida, you can have the opportunity to even see some manatees and dolphins splashing around in the water.

Things to do on Anna Maria Island


📍 LOCATION: 111 S Bay Blvd, Anna Maria, FL 34216

If you love fresh seafood, great service, and beautiful views overlooking the pier and the Skyway Bridge you have to dine at the Waterfront Restaurant.

This is one of the best restaurants on Anna Maria Island. The food is superb and the portions are very large, so consider sharing so you can have appetizers and dessert. Pets are very welcome here too, on the outside patio. There is a well-worth it waiting time, just like every other restaurant that is good on the Island. I had the spice margarita and the tuna filet and it was to die for!


I took my puppies to Palma Sola Bay and I end up meeting two lovely local ladies that took their horses to swim at the bay – yes, it is right! And I learned that horses absolutely LOVE playing on the water, just like dogs do!

But don’t worry if you don’t have a horse, or if you cannot bring your horse to your vacation on the island – you can have this experience by going on a tour with the Beach horse. While in the water with your horse, the trainer will teach you how to do some tricks on the horse.

It is so fascinating to watch the magnificent animals having so much fun. This is a great thing to do on Anna Maria Island, especially if you are traveling with kids.

Things to do on Anna Maria Island


The Beach House Restaurant is in a beautiful location, the food is outstanding and it is a perfect place to have a happy hour with the best view. Today the location features a climate-friendly outdoor deck providing beautiful oceanfront vistas

The vision of the restaurant is to have a moderate-priced serving of great seafood, and they offer both indoor and outdoor sitting areas. It is a perfect place to grab a drink, watch the sunset, and if you are hungry, grab dinner – I recommend having the grouper tacos, it is just amazing and fresh!


What is the best way to experience the beach lifestyle than to rent a house on the beach? I have stayed on Anna Maria Island many times, but nothing compares with having your feet in the sand for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or when you feel like you want to just go for a swim in the middle of the day at the amazing ocean, right in front of your door.

I really recommend renting a beach house on Anna Maria Island if your budget permits, the experience is so unique and it is worse for each penny to have the sand right at your door, and to watch the sunrise and the sunset from your porch.

Things to do on Anna Maria Island

22. Catch the Amazing Sunset at the Beach!

Last but not least, catching the sunset at the beach is one of the most amazing things to do on Anna Maria Island. I have watched many sunsets here, and they are all unique and surprisingly stunning.

I love seeing the locals going with their chairs, every end of the afternoon to watch the sunset and make it a routine in their lives. Just slow down, appreciate the view, and feel reinvigorated at the end of a hard day on the island.

Things to do on Anna Maria Island
One of my favorite things to do on Anna Maria Island, and it never gets old!

Best Things to Do on Anna Maria Island Conclusion

Anna Maria Island offers many things to do – from pristine beaches to lots of outdoor activities, and great restaurants with the best seafood options it is a great place to spend a vacation with the family, a romantic gateway, or just a friendly get-together.

Immerse yourself in the laid-back island lifestyle that Anna Maria Island is famous for. With its traditional cottages and friendly community, Anna Maria Island should be included in any Florida itinerary. So, whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat or an action-packed vacation, Anna Maria Island has everything you need.

Here you can really find the Old Florida style – a quaint town with a slow lifestyle, making it a perfect spot for your next vacation. I have been coming back to Anna Maria Island for the past 17 years, and here is my paradise place when I need to just slow down and relax.

I hope you enjoyed this guide with the best things to do on Anna Maria Island, and if you have been to the island before, and want to add any recommendations, please feel free to leave me a comment below.

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8 thoughts on “22 Best Things to Do on Anna Maria Island, Florida (Local’s Guide)”

  1. I’ve been to Florida a few times, but I hadn’t heard of Anna Maria Island before! It looks like a beautiful vacation spot, and I love the look of that soft, white sand as well.

  2. Esta ilha nos remete a uma Cancun na Florida, adorei a estrutura, as praias, as construções…com certeza seria um destino a ser pensado. Lindas fotos e artigo completo.

  3. Wow – the most comprehensive article about this beautiful island!! You’re making me want to visit Florida right now 😍

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