We spent Easter on Anna Maria Island this year and rented a 3-bedroom beach house for a week. We would have had our glow-in-the-dark egg hunt on the beach but it became too late for our little ones this year.
Anna Maria Island is very kid-friendly, relaxing beach town that caters to families. With crystal white sands, turquoise water and calm, shallow waters, it’s a beach-lovers dream come true. Located on the West Coast of Florida, you can watch spectacular sunsets every evening and if exploring is your thing, Sarasota, & Siesta Key are all within reach as well. See our posts on kid-friendly things to do in Sarasota here.
How to get here
Anna Maria Island is about an hour to 1.5 hours from Tampa International Airport. It’s closer by boat than by car but you will have to rent a car and come across the Sky Way Bridge that has a toll both ways.
Where to Stay
There are a number of good vacation home and condo rentals on the island. Vacasa.com has a variety of homes with private pools and AnnaMariaParadise.com located on Pine Avenue has many beach front homes that are either directly on the beach or a short walk. SatoRealestate.com also has a number of beautiful vacation rentals. Most rentals are weekly starting either Saturday – Saturday or Thursday-Thursday. Check with your rental company on the requirements around the lengthy of stay as Anna Maria has ordinances that regulate this.
We always prefer to get our own single family home with our own pool and gas grill. We hit the Publix on the way into the island and stock up on hotdogs and hamburgers to be able to grill by the pool and save a little on food costs.
Where to Eat & Drink
Donut Experiment has made to order donut’s and is conveniently located on Pine Avenue. These are the lightest, fluffiest donuts I’ve ever had and their coconut latte is my favorite. We recommend the key lime donut. Our daughter loves waking up on the island and headed over here for a treat.
The Doctor’s Office has creative, craft cocktails, beer and wine. This venue was once an old doctor’s office on the island and is now a speciality cocktail bar that opens at 5pm each evening. They torment their own tequilas with jalapeño and make their own banana rum. The blowtorched rosemary and sage made a fragrant and fun drink to sip on.
Poppo’s Tacos is also located on Pine Avenue and all the kids love the tacos, quesadillas and burritos after a hard day of building sand castles and swimming.
The Waffle Press offers local coffee and a variety of waffles. This is a small, take-out type business so be prepared for that.
Waterfront Restaurant is our favorite higher end restaurant on the island. We enjoy the smoke salmon and key lime pie.
Eliza Ann is located in the new Waterline Resort and they are on Open Table for easy reservations. We like their oak fired oysters and fresh catch options.
J. Burns Pizza is also located on Pine Avenue and families love their pizza and salads after an exhausting day of playing in the sun. They don’t deliver but have a small outdoor seating area.
The island is walkable and even if your rental home or condo is 1-3 blocks from the beach we always find it easy to simply walk to the beach and to most restaurants.
Many families enjoy renting a golf cart for their entire stay to cruise around the island with. We recommend renting from Beach Bums on Pine Avenue and to secure yours in advance to make sure they aren’t sold out when you arrive. They have 4, 6, and 8 passenger electric golf carts. The benefit of electric golf carts are they are not as noisy as the gas ones. Beach Bums is unique and nice because they offer hourly rentals, 1-day rentals, 3-day rentals and weekly rentals. They also offer bike rentals, kayaks, paddle boards and more.
Robinhood Rentals has scooter cars for rent by the hour and by the day. We rented one for the day and it was so fun. Our 4-year old had to wear a helmet for for $99 for the day it was fun to zip around and site see in what she labels the “roller coaster car.” They are only 2-seaters but we had fun stopping at the park and exploring Rod and Reel Pier. Just to note you can’t take these over any of the bridges for safety reasons.
Island Beach Monkeys is a free service where their drivers work for tips but you do need to call ahead and book.
Island Trolley is the free trolley service that runs throughout the island.
Things to Do
Have a Crab Bake
For the seafood lovers, during season, you can get Stone Crabs from Cortez Bait & Seafood and have a family feast back at your beach house.
Electric Donut Boats
Rent a donut boat for 2 hours. These fun, electric boats are driven by you and a very unique experience. They hold up to 10 adults and offer shade. You can BYOB and food as well as take the boats to local restaurants to dock and eat.
Speciality Hair Braids & Henna Tattoos
Located next to Robinhood Rentals on Gulf Drive, there is a little shack set up with a variety of henna tattoos and hair glitter and braids for kids.
Beach Bums offers a wide variety of two seater bikes and tandem bikes for rent so you and your family can explore the island via bike.
Shop on Pine Avenue
The shops on Pine Avenue have a high end, speciality feel with reasonable prices. Stroll Pine Avenue shops, grab an iced tea at Home Town Deserts and wander your way down to the pier.
Charter a Boat / Sunset Ride
Captain Kathe (puppy on board) – Captain Kathe offers kid-friendly boating adventures and her first mate is her puppy. Find puffer fish, watch the dolphins play, and hunt for sea critters.
Party Boats for the Kids
With jumping platforms, rope swings and trampolines, this boat is a jungle gym on the water. Fun Life Entertainment owner Edwin Toro sets up in the inlet between Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. every Wednesday through Sunday and is available for private parties, too. Call to book: (855) 438-6543, facebook.com/funlife4all
For more party boats in the area click here.
There is an Easter Egg Hunt on the beach sponsored by Sandbar Restaurant, a bonnet contest and a parade with the Easter bunny. We missed this awesome event this year but we had our own glow in the dark egg hunt at our beach house.
We love Anna Maria and it is such a special place with spectacular sunsets and a relaxing beach vibe. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.