You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking for the best things to do in Anna Maria Island. Anna Maria Island is one of the barrier islands on the Gulf Coast of Florida. The beautiful island is probably best known for its gorgeous wide sandy beaches. While the beaches are beautiful but there are tons of other Anna Maria attractions to enjoy when you want a break from the beach.
On the island, there is a much more relaxed and slow-paced lifestyle. There are shops, galleries, and restaurants to explore as you walk along some of the major streets on the island. The island also has a few historic piers which date back as far as 1911 and historic homes. It’s also a great place to enjoy the beautiful Florida weather with outdoor activities and adventures. So let’s take a look at some of the best things to do in Anna Maria Island!
15 Best Things To Do In Anna Maria Island You Shouldn’t Miss
Coquina Beach is one of the prettiest beaches in Southwest Florida and is absolutely one of the best beaches near Anna Maria Island. The beautiful sandy beach is 22 acres and is a public beach. So anyone and everyone can come and enjoy a refreshing swim in the crystal blue waters. You can find it at the Southern end of Anna Maria Island.
What makes Coquina Beach so popular is the additional amenities there. Along with plenty of space for sunbathing and swimming, the beach has plenty of other amenities. There are changing cabanas, a beach cafe, space for outdoor games, and even a gift shop. If you’re planning to spend the entire day at the beach, don’t worry. There are bathrooms, showers, picnic tables, pavilions, and even grills. The beach is a great family thing to do in Anna Maria Island as well.
Part of nearby Coquina Beach amenities is the Coquina Baywalk. The Coquina Baywalk is an easy trail that meanders along the sandy shore of the beach. The trail is part of the Leffis Key, which is between Longboat Key and Bradenton Beach. The entire trail is less than a mile, but it’s a beautiful, easy, and short hike. That’s what makes it one of the best Anna Maria Island activities.
As you stroll along the shell path and boardwalks that make up the trail, you’ll walk through some beautiful scenery. The trail goes through mangrove tunnels and along the shore of the crystal blue Gulf of Mexico and Sarasota Bay. While the trail is wheelchair and stroller friendly, dogs are not allowed on the trail. So keep that in mind before you stop at the trailhead.
Anna Maria Island Historical Museum
While you’re visiting, consider learning more about the island at the Anna Maria Island Historical Museum. The museum can be found in a 1920 building that was originally an icehouse. Throughout its life, the building also served as other important parts of the community. It was a garage, a sea turtle hatchery, and an administrative building before becoming the home of the museum of 1992. Throughout the museum, you’ll learn about the first settlers on the island around 1845.
The island also has a unique baseball and fishing history that you’ll be able to learn more about. On the grounds, there is also the island’s original jail, as well as the Belle Haven Cottage, which is a fun Anna Maria Island attraction. The Belle Haven Cottage was originally built in 1920 on the pier. At one point it even fell into the water where it was pulled out and turned into a family home. It stayed there for over 50 years but was eventually moved to the historic park in 2001 to save it from demolition.
Historic Bridge Street
One of the most popular Anna Maria Island activities is a trip to Historic Bridge Street. Historic Bridge Street is the place to go if you want to enjoy a shopping trip while you’re exploring the island. You can find Historic Bridge Street at the Southernmost end of Anna Maria Island, in Bradenton Beach.
On the historic shopping street, you’ll find plenty of things to do and see. There are unique boutiques, gift shops, and art galleries. While you’re there, you can also enjoy a meal at one of the many locally-owned restaurants on the street. There are, of course, plenty of seafood options as well as bistros, coffee shops, and bakeries. After spending some time shopping and dining, try a round of Putt-Putt Golf or head to the beach.
Kayak In The Mangroves
You can kayak around Anna Maria Island all year long. With continuous beautiful weather, it is absolutely one of the most fun things to do in Anna Maria Island. There are a bunch of places you can kayak, but we think one of the most picturesque places to kayak is in the mangroves. The mangroves are areas where shrubs and trees grow up out of the water.
Around Anna Maria Island there are several mangrove areas that you can kayak. There is the Robinson Preserve, Bimini Bay, and the South Lido Mangrove Tunnels. If you want a more guided experience, there are also several companies on the island that offer guided kayak tours. If you go that route, you won’t have to bring your own kayak or rent one as it is included in the tour price. Some of the tours even include areas where you’re more likely to see wildlife like manatees and sometimes even dolphins.
Small Town Creamery
When you need a break from the heat, we suggest getting a scoop of ice cream from the Small Town Creamery. Small Town Creamery is locally owned and has been open since just 2017, but is already an incredibly popular Anna Maria Island attraction. You can stop by the creamery every day and find it open in the afternoons and evenings. The only time it’s closed is on major holidays.
The creamery has over 50 flavors to choose from and all of them are very unique. They have fun names like Mackinac Turtle and Calypso Crunch, as well as more classic flavors like Vanilla and Chocolate. The ice cream is made fresh with local ingredients and is absolutely delicious. If you want something other than ice cream, they also have coffee, milkshakes, fudge, nuts, and candy. It’s one of the best family things to do in Anna Maria Island.
Take A Sunset Cruise Around The Island
One of the more romantic things to do in Anna Maria Island is a sunset cruise around the island. There are a few companies that offer sunset cruises around the island throughout the week. You can choose to schedule a private tour or join a group on one of the standard tours. While you sail around the seven-mile island, you may also get the chance to see some wildlife like dolphins and manatees.
They typically last anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours. There are also options that serve dinner and drinks or just drinks. Towards the end of the cruise, you’ll be able to see a famous stunning Florida sunset. A sunset cruise is easily one of the best romantic things to do in Anna Maria Island. If you’re looking for the perfect date night activity, this is it.
One of the most popular beaches near Anna Maria Island is Cortez Beach. Although the beach is only 140 feet of ‘undeveloped beach’, it is easily one of the prettiest beaches on the island. There is parking available at the beach and it’s open from 7 am to 10 pm. It is a public beach, so it’s free to enjoy, but you may need to pay for parking.
Cortez Beach is often a favorite beach for visitors and locals. It is kept clean, is hardly ever busy, and has beautiful light sand and crystal blue waters. There is also a small pier near the beach where you’ll often see fishermen. You’ll be able to find some pretty seashells as you walk along the beach too. If you want to stay close to the beach and enjoy it for a few days, there are cabins nearby.
Leffis Key Preserve
The Leffis Key Preserve is the small island preserve on Anna Maria Island. The Key is open daily from 8 am to sunset. On the preserve, you’ll be able to enjoy hiking, short nature trails, and places to stop and observe the local wildlife. The island preserve was at one point overgrown with non-native plants and was actually harming the wildlife around it as a result.
After being rid of the non-native invasive plants, there were over 20,000 marsh grasses planted, as well as several other plant types. Now it is a favorite Anna Maria Island activity for visitors. In the middle of the preserve, there is a 26-foot high hill that you can walk up. At the top of the hill, you’ll get to enjoy beautiful 360 views of Sarasota Bay.
Beach Market At Coquina Beach
Throughout the year, on different days depending on the season, you can shop at the Beach Market at Coquina Beach. The Beach Market is one of the best things to do in Anna Maria Island. The market typically runs from 10 am to 4 pm, and is closed completely in August, September, and October. This closure is due to Hurricane Season being in full swing during those months.
At the market, you’ll find many unique items. All of the items are made by local artisans. You’ll find jewelry, baked good, fresh produce, art, high-quality crafts, and more. While you shop, you’ll also get to listen to the local AMI String Band as they play for a few hours. The market is situated near the Coquina Cafe, so you can grab something to eat after you’ve explored the market.
Take A Snorkeling Tour
If you’ve ever wanted to go snorkeling in Florida, Anna Maria Island is a great place to do that. You can rent your own snorkeling gear and head to any one of the beautiful beaches near Anna Maria Island. But if you want to see the best spots for sealife, we suggest booking a snorkeling tour. There are several companies on the island that offer tours.
On your snorkeling tour, you’ll be taken out by boat to a bit farther off the shore. There you’ll learn the basics of snorkeling before jumping in the water. You’ll have plenty of time to swim around and observe the sea life around coral structures. You may even see a sea turtle or other large marine creature while you’re swimming. It’s one of the best family things to do in Anna Maria Island as well.
Anna Maria Historic Green Village
One of the best family things to do in Anna Maria Island revolves around the history of the island. The Anna Maria Historic Green Village is a great place for you and your family to learn more about the island’s history. You can find the historic village on Pine Avenue in Anna Maria City. Throughout the village, you’ll find homes and buildings that all have historic roots to ‘old Anna Maria Island’.
Many of the buildings are over 100 years old. Some have also been moved to the village as a way to preserve them. All of them have been restored to show what they would have looked like when they were first built and used. There are homes, shops, and art galleries open for you to explore. If you are looking for ways to learn more about the area, and fun family things to do in Anna Maria Island, this is a great option.
Bean Point Beach
Bean Point Beach is a bit of a local secret spot, and it’s one of the best beaches near Anna Maria Island. In fact, getting to Bean Point Beach is a bit of a secret too. You won’t find any large signs pointing the way. Instead, you’ll head north of the Anna Maria City Pier, on North Bay Blvd. At a crossroads, you’ll find the entrance to the beautiful beach. You can reach the entrance via car or bicycle, down a tree-lined path.
The beach is also one of the best places to experience a beautiful Florida sunset. There is also plenty of local wildlife to admire while you’re there. It is a fairly quiet beach, so if you’re looking for romantic things to do in Anna Maria Island, consider packing a picnic to watch the sunset. You can of course enjoy swimming or just walking along the shore as well.
Bradenton Beach City Pier
You can find the Bradenton Beach City Pier on the Northern end of Sarasota Bay. It’s a fun family thing to do in Anna Maria Island when you visit. The pier is actually a historic structure. It was originally a bridge that connected pieces of the island. But when a modern drawbridge was built, part of the old wooden bridge was turned into a fishing pier.
It’s a favorite spot for locals and visitors to visit. You’ll get to look out onto the ocean, see fishermen, and at sunset, you’ll get a great view. There is also a restaurant on the pier. After suffering severe damage in a hurricane in 2004, the structure was completely refurbished and opened again to the public in 2007. On the pier along with the restaurant, there are also bathrooms, a retail store, and a floating dock.
Take A Sealife Boat Tour
One of the best things to do in Anna Maria Island is a sealife boat tour. A sealife boat tour is one where you sail a bit away from the shore. Once out away from the swimming crowds, you’ll look out for dolphins, manatees, or other large marine life swimming by. There are tours specifically for animals like dolphins and manatees. Or you can take a tour that looks for a few different animals.
The tours usually last anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours. You’ll also sail out in the morning or afternoon. Those are typically the best times to see marine life swimming by your boat. You can choose to take a private boat tour or join a group. It’s easily one of the most fun family things to do in Anna Maria Island and it’s sure to be a fun time for everyone.
There are so many fun things to do in Anna Maria Island. That makes it hard to pick just one Anna Maria Island activity when you’re planning your trip. We suggest trying a few of the attractions on this list to make your trip to Anna Maria Island memorable! We’d love to hear from you if you’ve done any of these Anna Maria Island attractions, so tell us about it in the comments!