We are so fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful places to visit. People come from all over to visit our beaches. It was always our little secret until publications like Southern Living starting promoting our hidden gem of an island. It wasn’t until I was older and was able to travel to other areas that I really appreciated the beauty of the sand and water in our area. I honestly didn’t realize how lucky we were to have Anna Maria Island in our backyard. We have become frequent day trippers to our favorite little island.
Anna Maria Island Itinerary
Breakfast at The Donut Experiment
If you have followed me for any time now, you know that my most favorite place is The Donut Experiment on Anna Maria Island, where every donut is your creation! They start with a delicious, fresh-made cake donut and then you pick from their huge selection of icings and toppings. You take your pick from chocolate, vanilla, maple, or caramel to name a few. Toppings range from crushed Oreo, to Fruity Pebbles, or sprinkles! Yours can be as simple as you want or they have a variety of specialty donuts such as key lime or Sriracha. I have always loved their donuts, but I love their coffee just as equally. On occasion, you may have a bit of a wait. Many times someone from out of town will ask if I have been before and if it is worth the wait, my response is always the same. YES!! I live 15 minutes away and I will still wait as long as they say! I tell anyone that is local or visiting that The Donut Experiment is a must!
Sand Dollar Painting at The Shiny Fish Emporium
I cannot believe we have never visited this little gem of a shop until now. We will definitely be going back very soon, especially if Audrey has anything do with it. We could hardly get her to sit down to paint the sand dollars because she was so inthralled with some of the most unique toys for kids, stickers, beautiful jewelry, cotton candy colored beach attire, furniture, candles, and more! She and I were on a sensory overload with everything about this shop.
We all were able to choose our unique design to paint on the sand dollar. Or if you are not quite the artist like I am, there were hundreds of options to choose from all of the creative customers before us! All four of us had so much fun coming up with our creations and then they finish them off with glitter and ribbon. We have all decided they will make the perfect ornaments on our Christmas tree this year. It is the perfect momento to remember this day by.
Exploring Pine Avenue
With so many shops, restaurants, and boutiques Pine Avenue has become one of the most popular streets on Anna Maria Island. The street is adorned with busy sidewalks and colorful buildings. You will know you are in the perfect little beach town. At the end of Pine Avenue, you will find the historic Anna Maria Island Pier. You can easily travel the avenue by strolling, bicycling, or renting a golf cart to explore the island.
Lunch at Anna Maria Oyster Bar on the Pier
Located on the historic Bridge Street Pier, the Anna Maria Oyster Bar overlooks the Intracoastal waterway. They are Bradenton’s destination for Florida seafood, family dining, and great service. They have a coastal and American-inspired menu that showcases traditional favorites like fresh seafood, lobster, crab, steaks & chicken, pasta dishes, hearty soups and fresh salads, Gulf-fresh fish specials and more. Their specialty, of course, are the oysters and Kris will vouch they are delicious.
Everything we had to eat was delicious. Audrey had her tried and true chicken fingers and gave theirs two thumbs up! And she is a chicken finger expert. We started with the tuna tartare, and we were fighting for who got the last bite. I love a good clam chowder and theirs did not disappoint. And Kris and I both got the grouper sandwich. And I am dying to go back for another.
Not only can you dine at the Pier, but the city pays for you to be able to fish off the pier. And another place to see some amazing local wildlife while you enjoy your meal. You can arrive by boat or car.
Written on the wall of a couple of their restaurants is Jimmy Buffet’s quote, “Be Yourself, Be Pleasant, Play Hard and Have No Regrets.” I know for a fact the owner and managing partners care for their employees and customers. It shows throughout every aspect of the restaurant.
Exploring Manatee Public Beach
Anna Maria Island has some of the most beautiful beaches. You do not have to walk too far to find the white sugar sand at your feet. The Manatee Public Beach is one of the most family friendly beaches on the island. It has everything you would need for a fun filled day at the beach. On the weekends the Beach Cafe has all you can eat pancakes. Along with the cafe, there are grills, picnic tables, restrooms, showers, and changing cabanas. And of course, it has ice cream. It is also located right next to one of our long standing favorite surf shops, West Coast Surf Shop.
- The Anna Maria Island Public Beach
- Holmes Beach – On the weekends, they have all you can eat pancakes! One of the most popular and accessible beaches. With facilities, restaurant, and icecream.
- Bradenton Beach
- Bean Point – Most days you have crystal clear Caribbean water and don’t be surprised to see a Manatee or dolphins swimming by.
- Coquina Beach
- Beer Can Island – If you are looking for the perfect, instagrammable picture, Beer Can Island is the place.
Putt-Putt Golf at the Fishing Hole
Located on historic Bridge Street, one of the most unique putt-putt golfing experiences we have had. All of the Florida native plants are marked for you to enjoy and you can also feed the Koi fish while you putt-putt. Unless you are in a fierce competition of miniature golf.
There are so many more places to explore and visit while on Anna Maria Island that we were not able to fit into our day trip. There are some must sees and places you cannot miss while visiting the island.
- Anna Maria Island Jail – The jail was used up until 1940 until a fire burned the wooden parts of the jail. What remains of it can be found on the property today, with various slogans painted on it. It is considered to be one of the “must see” sites on Anna Maria Island. The island museum in at it’s location today.
- The Anna Maria Island Pier – Recently renovated after Hurricane Irma damaged the pier. It is over 100. years old, built in the early 1900’s. It is located on the northern point of the island with panoramic views of the Gulf. You can fish, look for local wild life, or catch a sunset.
- Bean Point – It is one of the most exclusive and private beaches on the island, located on the most northern point of Anna Maria Island. Where the Gulf meets Tampa Bay and in my opinion, one of the prettiest beaches you will ever step foot on. With it’s pure white, soft sand, you will have a hard time finding a beach with so much sugar sand and the prettiest sunsets.
- Bridge Street Pier
- Coquina Beach
- Bradenton Beach
- Holmes Beach
- The Waterfront Restaurant
- Rod & Reel Pier Restaurant
- Smoqe House BBQ – Hands down the best BBQ you will ever eat. Locally owned and operated.
- The Sandbar Restaurant
- The Beach House Restaurant
- Ginny and Jane’s
- The Ugly Grouper
- Duffy’s – Our family’s favorite burger joint on the island. It is always a must when we hit the beach for the day.
- Hurricane Hanks
- Eat Here
- Beach Bistro
- Harry’s Grill
- Original Sand Dollar
- Pink & Navy
- Shiny Fish Emporium
- Island Cabana
- AMI Coastal Outfitters & Gear
- Island Bazaar
- The White Egret
- Island Charms
- Sun and Surf Beach Shop
I huge thank you to VisitFlorida for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.