Located along the Gulf Coast of Florida, Anna Maria Island is a barrier island that has become known amongst tourists around the world for it’s beautiful beaches. The heart of the island is the resort city of Anna Maria, though there’s plenty to do on the island both in and out of the city. From visiting one of the island’s beautiful beaches to venturing into the uniquely secluded paradise of Egmont Key State Park, join ViewCation as we take a look at some of the best things to do on Anna Maria Island, Florida.
Visit One of Anna Maria Island’s Beautiful Beaches
Anna Maria Island is home to a multitude of pristine beaches, and we’ll be taking a look at two of the best of them in this video. The first beach that you’ll hear most people talking about when Anna Maria Island comes up in conversation is Holmes Beach. Holmes Beach is the most popular beach on Anna Maria Island. While this might mean that Holmes Beach can be a bit more crowded than some of the island’s other beaches, it’s often worth facing the crowds in order to experience the beautiful Floridian coastline.
On top of the beautiful beach itself, there are also numerous attractions surrounding Holmes Beach that make a visit to the popular beach a total blast. There are numerous restaurants and shops lining Holmes Beach, and each of these offers something unique for tourists to experience. There are also plentiful opportunities to engage in watersports, with several venues offering the opportunity to either rent or take guided tours utilizing kayaks and jet skis. If you’re interested, you can even try out parasailing!
Another advantage of Holmes Beach’s popularity is that there’s a free trolley that will take you to the beach from the city, and also take you around to different areas of the beachfront. This makes Holmes Beach a good deal more accessible than some of the other beaches that can be found on Anna Maria Island, and this accessibility has understandably contributed to the beach’s popularity.
Whether you’re spending the day relaxing on the beach itself or perusing the numerous store, eateries, and attractions that line it, there’s so much to do while visiting Holmes Beach that you’ll never get bored. Another of Anna Maria Island’s most popular beach is the expansive Coquina Beach, which features over 20 acres of beautiful, white sand. While Holmes Beach is certainly the top choice for families looking for fun attractions, Coquina Beach may be better suited for tourists seeking a more relaxing experience.
Explore the Beach Market at Coquina Beach
Depending on what day of the week and what time of the year you’re visiting beautiful Coquina Beach, you may get the opportunity to experience the Anna Maria Island Coquina Beach Market, which is also sometimes referred to as the Beach Market at Coquina Beach. Whatever you call it, the experience is fantastic! Halfway between a farmers’ market and a flea market, the Anna Maria Island Coquina Beach Market features more food and goods than the average tourist could possibly imagine! There are plentiful options for gourmet eats, and even more vendors selling unique arts, crafts, and other goods that might just make the perfect souvenir for you to take home with you from your visit to Anna Maria Island! The local flavor and variety of goods that the Anna Maria Island Coquina Beach Market offers to tourists can’t be described, with the marked featuring hundreds of unique vendors all offering something different.
Amongst the hundreds of vendors occupying the various stalls lining the Anna Maria Island Coquina Beach Market, you’ll find such crafts as woodworks, pottery, and jewelry, all of which will have a uniquely Floridian feel. If shopping isn’t your things, then you’ll still likely find plenty to enjoy when it comes to the market’s options for food. The Anna Maria Island Coquina Beach Market takes it’s food just as seriously as it takes it’s goods, and you’ll find a staggering variety of local dishes and gourmet food items being sold. The market is certainly worth a visit, though it’s not open everyday. For most of the year, the market is open two days a week, though these days change depending on the season. It’s open Sunday and Wednesday from December to March and Wednesday and Friday from April to July, though it’s sadly only open for the solitary day of Sunday in November.
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Visit the Bridge Street Pier
While the Anna Maria Island Coquina Beach Market is only open a few days a week at best, the Bridge Street Pier is open everyday! The beautiful pier has become one of the more popular landmarks on Anna Maria Island for tourists to conglomerate both on and around, and there’s plenty to do and see while you’re visiting it. As one would expect, there’s no shortage of locations for tourists to grab a bite to eat or shop for souvenirs. There are plentiful shops offering local goods, and multiple eateries offering fresh seafood. For fishermen, there’s also a pretty impressive fishing pier.
Bridge Street Pier also has a good deal of local culture and history to offer tourists, and that’s part of why the pier is sometimes referred to as the Historic Bridge Street Pier. The pier has been standing since the beginning of the 20th century, and it’s still one of the area’s most bustling locations. On top of all the other great things to do at the pier, there are also some incredible photo opportunities.
Visit Bradenton Beach City Pier
While Bridge Street Pier is arguably a bit more of a sought-after location due to it’s historical appeal, there’s no denying that the Bradenton Beach City Pier gives that venerable historical pier a run for it’s money, and it may even surpass it in the eyes of a handful of tourists. The pier is located on the banks of Sarasota Bay, and is incredibly popular.
As with the aforementioned Bridge Street Pier, the Bradenton Beach City Pier is a particularly popular destination amongst local Floridian fishermen, as well as the plethora of tourists that come year-round to visit the area. Due to it’s location closer to the city, the Bradenton Beach City Pier is typically a good deal more crowded than the Bridge Street Pier, though both draw plenty of visitors.
Another thing that the Bradenton Beach City Pier shares in common with the Bridge Street Pier is that there are plenty of awesome shops and eateries nearby, with the eateries once again offering some of the freshest seafood that you’re liable to find in Florida. In particular, you’ll find lots of oysters being served, and they’ll be some of the tastiest you’ve ever had.
Experience the Beauty of the Leffis Key Preserve
All of the aforementioned activities that we’ve explored are liable to put you in the midst of significant crowds. Thankfully, there are a few great places on Anna Maria Island for tourists to get away from these crowds and catch what might be a much-needed break on their vacation. Arguably, the very best place to get some peace and seclusion while visiting Anna Maria Island is the Leffis Key Preserve, which is a stunning nature preserve. The nature preserve consists of dense marshes, which you can view by walking along carefully constructed boardwalks that wind through them. If you’ve never experienced this kind of Floridian wilderness, you’re in for a treat! The lush, wet, and swampy scenery is a slightly different kind of nature than the kind you’ll find throughout the majority of the United States.
There are numerous trails winding through the Leffis Key Preserve, and all of them offer visitors the chance to get a close look at some of the most beautiful natural scenery that Anna Maria Island has to offer. Besides the numerous trails, there are also a few scenic overlooks that will grant guests the opportunity to take in the preserve’s beauty as a whole.
Experience Some Unique Floridian Dining Opportunities
There are many, many places on Anna Maria Island to grab a bite to eat, and some of the best include the Anna Maria City Pier Grille, the Rod and Reel Pier, and the Donut Experiment. The cream of the crop is arguably the Anna Maria City Pier Grille, which has stood as an Anna Maria Island institution for well over a hundred years. Besides it’s amazing food, the restaurant also functions as a bait-and-tackle shop. One would expect the Anna Maria City Pier Grille to serve local seafood, and it certainly does! However, there’s much more on the menu, and there are a few options that you likely won’t find anywhere else nearby. Some of the restaurants more unique offering include it’s pies and gelato.
The Rod and Reel Pier is much more of a typical seafood restaurant than the Anna Maria City Pier Grille, and it has been serving locals and tourists on Anna Maria Island since the late 1940s. While the restaurant is frequented predominantly for it’s local seafood, it also serves chicken and pancakes. Finally, the Donut Experiment is a unique place to grab some desert, offering visitors the opportunity to have a donut custom-made just the way they like it!
Visit the Secluded Paradise of Egmont Key State Park
Besides the Leffis Key Preserve, another great place to experience some of the plentiful bits of natural seclusion that Anna Maria Island has to offer it’s tourists is Egmont Key State Park. The park spans over 400 acres, and rests upon the banks of Tampa Bay. This location is only accessible by boat, which makes it all the more secluded. Visitors will get the opportunity to see plentiful amounts of both beautiful scenery and unique Floridian wildlife, with the land being carefully preserved thanks to the area’s state-park status. The area is also home to the historic ruins of Fort Dade, which have been sitting since the Spanish-American War.
There are a staggering amount of things to do while visiting beautiful Anna Maria Island, and we’ve taken a look at some of the most fun activities in this video! Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that there are numerous great fishing piers on Anna Maria Island, and that the island is home to some ruins from the Spanish-American War? As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more globetrotting ViewCation videos are on their way!