Anna Maria Island is on the Gulf Coast of Florida and known for it’s gorgeous sunsets, laid back style and kid friendliness. The Gulf of Mexico is shallow, calm and perfect for little ones of all ages. Guaranteed you will see dolphins every time you go to the beaches here.
Anna Maria Island is perfect for renting beach homes with multiple families or for reunions, anniversary parties, weddings and birthdays. The homes are beautiful and most have private pools and all are a short walk or bike ride to the gorgeous white sand beaches of the west coast of Florida.
How to Get Here
Tampa International is located 6 miles west of Tampa and many airlines fly into this airport. From Anna Maria to Tampa International is about 1 hour 10 minutes depending on traffic.
Sarasota International Airport is a smaller, closer airport but flights can be expensive and tricky to get. From Anna Maria to SRQ it’s about 30-45 minutes again depending on traffic.
Renting a car is not necessary if your children are old enough where they no longer need a car seat and if you plan to just hunker down on the island after arriving from the airport. If you plan to stay on Anna Maria the entire trip and not explore Sarasota and the other Gulf islands, you don’t have to rent a car. There were a few trips we took an Uber from the airport and rented bikes and trailers to tote the kids around to cut down on rental car costs.
Where to Stay
If hotels are more your thing than renting houses, the Waterline Marina Resort & Beach Club is a Marriott property located on Anna Maria.
However we prefer to rent beach houses that have private pools and multiple bedrooms where we can cook a few meals at home. Many of the rentals properties are weekly rentals that start on either Friday-Friday’s or Saturday-Saturday’s due to the Island ordinances.
Our newest and favorite property management company to rent from is AMI Locals. They are about 2 years old and what we like about them is they handle many things remotely such as keyless entry and adjusting the thermostat from their phones. The homes are beautiful and well maintained. We always enjoy having our own private pool and many of the homes even provide you with beach chairs, beach toys and bikes.
We used Instacart on the trips where we did not rent a car and it was fast, easy and convenient. Someone else did the shopping while we played with the kids in the pool. I included our Instacart order to help you. There are items that you need to get when renting a house such as shampoo, liquid hand soap, extra garbage bags and more that aren’t supplied when you arrive. They typically give you a starter kit but it will only last 1-2 days.
Tuesdays there is a farmers market at the north end of the island near the pier. You can stock up on the freshest produce, guacamole, Meyer lemons and other specialty items to cook at your beach house.
Things to Do
Biking – Rent Bikes from Beach Bums or Lazy Turtle. Beach Bums will even deliver to your hotel or home.
Beach – This is a no-brainer and with the right sun shirts, hats and SPF you could do this all day every day. Beach Bums and Lazy Turtle also rents paddle boards and kayaks if you are feeling adventurous.
Hit the Pool – Most of the homes, condos and motels have private pools.
Shopping on Pine Avenue – There are many cute stores on Pine Avenue but we really loved painting sand dollars as a family at Shiny Fish Emporium. It’s $15 per sand dollar and takes an hour to dry but it makes for a unique and local-themed activity that the kids enjoy. It’s such an adorable store with pretty dresses for moms and kids as well as games.
Where to Eat
Our favorite places to eat on Anna Maria Island always include Poppo’s Tacos, The Donut Experiment and the Waterfront. The Donut Experiment has the hottest, freshest donuts I’ve ever eaten. Try the Key Lime and their house special. The Sandbar is always good for fresh stone crabs caught right off the Gulf of Mexico and Eliza Ann’s Coastal Kitchen located in the Waterline Marriott is very good for dinner.
The Doctor’s Office has really unique craft cocktails if you have a chance to sneak away from the kids.
Anna Maria Island is truly a special place and somewhere you will want to return to over and over again with your family. We plan to one day buy a beach home here to spend all holidays as we love it so much and hope you do too!