Anna Maria Island Guide: A Peek at This Florida Gem
Anna Maria Island is a popular barrier island located off the Gulf coast of Florida. As a popular place for beachcombing and seafood, the island draws visitors year-round — however it still maintains a peaceful setting. Is it time to try a new vacation spot? Read this quick Anna Maria Island guide to decide.
Anna Maria Island Guide for First-time Visitors
Getting Around AMI
Anna Maria Island (AMI) sits south of St. Petersburg and only 20 miles from the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. Those in Florida will notice AMI’s central location easily accessible, while those out of state can fly into Sarasota and drive to the island in about 40 minutes. From Tallahassee, the drive time takes around five hours, and AMI is located four hours from Miami.
When visitors arrive, the island is walkable, but rent a bike if planning to explore the entire area. Guests also have access to a bike route that travels through the island and leads to area attractions and points of interest.
Although it only measures 7 miles, visitors have access to both hotels and rentals. Many vacation rentals in Anna Maria Island offer scenic views, proximity to the beach, private locations and home-like amenities. Sit on the balcony, enjoy salty air and let stress melt away. Other accommodations include resorts, locally owned inns and condo complexes.
The island’s location on the Gulf of Mexico means water recreation reigns here. Clean, white-sand beaches welcome vacationers to spread out, play and swim. For something more adventurous, book a fishing charter, boat tour, or go paddleboarding, horseback riding, kayaking and dolphin-watching. Many companies also rent sailing and motorboats, so visitors can explore on their own.
When out and about, make sure to visit Anna Maria City Pier and Historic Green Village for a sample of local life. Catch the views, browse boutiques, meet friendly people and find souvenirs to take home.
For gifts and locally made trinkets, stop by Anna Maria Rocks, Olive Oil Outpost, and Tide and Moon Jewelry. Anna Maria Rocks offers items only found in the area and lets children make necklaces from gems, beads, stones and charms.
What and Where to Eat
As with most coastal towns, Anna Maria Island offers a rich dining scene. Many restaurants in Anna Maria Island specialize in fresh seafood, however visitors can also try French, German, vegetarian, pizza and burgers.
For local cuisine, check out Waterfront Restaurant and Rod and Reel Pier, both of which have beachside locations and fresh seafood at affordable prices. Other popular spots include Sandbar Restaurant, Sign of the Mermaid, and Ginny’s and Jane E’s Cafe. Guests should also note there are very few chain restaurants in the area, so prepare for fresh local food.
Packing for the Trip
Expect plenty of sunshine with occasional showers. Winter and spring highs average in the 70s with lows in the 50s. In the summer, temperatures can reach as high as 91 degrees in August. In fall, temperatures reach high 80s with lows in the 60s and 70s, depending on the month.
Pack according to the time of year. Bring beach clothes and accessories, swimsuits, sunscreen, hats and sunglasses. Don’t forget the cover-ups, light dresses, flip flops and a light jacket for cool evenings. It’s also a good idea to bring a poncho and comfortable walking shoes if touring the island.
After reading this Anna Maria Island guide, check out the top things to do.