This is one of our favorite Florida vacations. This is a great beach town with plenty of rentals available on the island, and there really isn’t a bad location. The island itself has beautiful white sand beaches, and there are multiple beach access entry points. One of the main reasons why we love Anna Maria, is that this island is non-commercial, meaning there aren’t high rises that crowd the beach or town. This also is rings true for restaurants and shops. The eateries on the island are amazing, and each time we go we continue to find more that we love. Here are a few that we love:
Restaurant on Bayside
Ice Cream @ the market
The Ugly Grouper
Finding your way around the island is very easy! The main street into the island will lead you all the way to Bean Point, and from there will take you down the Bay side of the island. Pearl Avenue is the main road that houses shops, North Shore Cafe, restaurants, the market etc. This road goes from the Gulf Coast, to the Bay Coast.
As for location, there really isn’t a bad one. It will all come down to, Beach front, or how close you would like to be to be to a mixture of places and the beach. Each time we have stayed we find our selves leaning towards the location balance. We love to have a short walk to the beach, and a quick walk in the mornings to the cafe or breakfast. The other must have for us is a pool. While one might say, you are at the beach, it is nice to have the option of both. You can spend the day in the sand, and views of the ocean, but still have the option of returning “home” end enjoying a nice swim.
Tips & Tricks:
When looking for a home for your vacation use the popular search engines like Airbnb, and then once you have found your home, search for the rental company in a google search and book directly. You will on average save 6-10%!
When flying into Tampa any rental car location will work. Tampa recently built a new rental car facility, and now requires all airport rental agencies to be located in the sale facility. This means no matter the agency, there are no shuttles, and all in one location.
When making your way into the island, you will come in through Bradenton. Right on the way there is a Publix, that you can grab all of your needs for your stay, before making your way to the house.
While the island offers multiple gulf cart rentals, off you are already renting a car, or have a car, we have found that there is no real advantage to having one, as they are not permitted on the beach, and are required to be parked in a normal lot with the rest of the vehicles.
All bridges are toll roads, and in the last few years many of these have changed to SunPass only, meaning they won’t accept cash/credit. That being said the Skyway bridge is still a cash bridge, so the SunPass isn’t needed if you plan to stay in the area and not travel all around.
Notes for those traveling with Kiddos: Or children love this island as much as we do. With everything being in close proximity, we are able to get out and explore, hit the beach, go swimming, and then walk to the ice cream shop after dinner. There are health kid choices at almost every restaurant, and they actually enjoy the food too! If you are worried about having a pool with the kids, there is a mandate in Anna Maria that requires all exits of a home that are pool access, are required to have “a sounding alarm” on each one. So if a door is opened at any time, a loud would will play!
You can’t go wrong with a trip to Anna Maria island. This laidback beach town has food for all pallets, shops for all styles, and an atmosphere that is welcoming to all.