Looking for the best things to do on Anna Maria Island? From fun and touristy activities to secluded ones, we’ve got all of them in this post.
Known for its sugar-white beaches and old Florida vibes, Anna Maria Island is a gem in Florida for those who want to take in the sun and ocean while enjoying the tranquility of a small-town feel yet also just a few miles from big cities like Tampa.
With hot summers and mild winters, people flock to Anna Maria Island all year round to either enjoy the best of the summer or to escape the winter cold in other parts of the country.
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Though it’s famous for its beaches, they aren’t all there is to Anna Maria Island, and we’re here to show you that there is plenty more fun in store.
If you’re looking for things to do in Anna Maria Island Fl, this guide is for you! We’ve compiled a list of 23 fun things to do on Anna Maria Island for every type of traveler.
From spots to get ice cream to nature preserves and the best Anna Maria Island attractions, we’ve got you covered for your island vacation.
Best Things to Do on Anna Maria Island
Here is a list of our favorite Anna Maria Island things to do that you’ll enjoy too!
1. Shop and Dine at The Historic Bridge Street
Spending time strolling through Historic Bridge Street is one of our favorite things to do on Anna Maria Island!
Located at the Southernmost end of the island in Bradenton Beach, this shopping street is a treasure trove of quaint art galleries, boutiques, bait shops, gift shops, cafes, bakeries, bars, and local restaurants.
The area has a lovely Old Florida vibe which is lots of fun to explore or unwind after a long day out in the sun.
We strongly recommend popping by to do some souvenir shopping or to grab lunch or dinner and as you shop, be sure to stop by the Bridge Street Clock Tower.
The area also hosts plenty of seasonal and community events during festive periods like Christmas and the summer holidays.
2. Check Out the Historic Bridge Street Pier
Also known as the Bradenton Beach City Pier, Bridge Street Pier is one of Anna Maria Island’s must-visit spots and it’s worth popping by when you’re in the area.
Originally built in the 1920s, the pier has been around for a long time and is now a popular destination for grabbing a meal at Anna Maria Oyster Bar, (a restaurant on the pier) shopping, fishing, and relaxing, as well as a base for booking and enjoying water activities.
If you’re in search of some Old Florida vibes, this is the place to go. The pier also offers some amazing sunrise and sunset views.
3. Explore the Historic Green Village
Located on Pine Avenue, the Historic Green Village ranks high on our list of what to do in Anna Maria Island.
Strategically located in one of the island’s hot spots and close to many of Anna Maria’s top attractions, the Historic Green Village is a unique, environmentally-conscious quaint village (one of the 100 places around the world with a Platinum LEED certification) established by a couple who vacationed here and fell in love with Anna Maria Island.
Explore the village’s many historic buildings, gift shops (perfect for souvenir shopping), and local eateries.
And if you’re looking to rent some gear for recreational activities, pop by Beach Bums, a popular rental store where you can rent everything from kayaks, paddleboards, bikes, golf carts, beach umbrellas, and more! You can also opt to get your equipment delivered to you from the shop.
Related Post: 7 Airports Near Anna Maria Island
It will be a shame to just spend time on the beaches yet there’s much more to explore out in the sea. The waters of Anna Maria Island thrive with an exciting underwater world and wildlife, including dolphins!
If you’d like to catch a glimpse of these gentle creatures, be sure to leave enough time in your itinerary for this dolphin-sighting tour.
Take on the sea by hopping on a cruise and keep your eyes out for playful bottlenose dolphins — the year-round Florida residents that can be spotted in all seasons of the year!
If you’re lucky or visit during the right time, you may also get to see other wildlife such as sea turtles, manatees, eagles, osprey, and more.
These tours are lots of fun for people of all ages and are available as private tours (perfect if you’re traveling with family or friends) or join-ins.
Prefer something a bit more romantic? How about a sunset cruise instead? The sunsets of Anna Maria Island will always have a soft spot in our hearts.
Nothing beats the calming feeling of watching the sun slowly sink below the horizon as the sky turns into a canvas of yellow, orange, and pink.
While you can also catch a beautiful sunset from the beach, you can elevate your sunset experience by hopping on this Sunset Cruise!
Sunset cruises here are especially popular amongst couples, and there are lots of options for you to choose from but this is the one we recommend.
Cruises depart from many popular beaches on Anna Maria Island, so depending on where you are, you can book from either beach. You can even opt for a private cruise, or a cruise with live entertainment, drinks, or even dinner.
Besides watching beautiful colors dancing in the sky, if you’re lucky, you might see some dolphins, manatees, and other wildlife too.
6. Kayak in the Mangroves
Next up on our list of Anna Maria Island activities is kayaking! Besides just kayaking in the ocean, we suggest experiencing kayaking through the mangroves.
Anna Maria Island is home to many mangrove tunnels that provide a tranquil setting for a kayak adventure.
While you can easily rent a kayak and explore the mangroves on your own, we suggest joining this tour guided by a knowledgeable guide for a more complete experience.
Your guide will teach you how to navigate the waters properly and even point out local wildlife along the way. This is one of our top recommended family things to do in Anna Maria Island.
If you love cycling, you’ll be delighted to know that Anna Maria is a bike-friendly island!
Not only is it fun to explore the island on two wheels, but cycling also promises good exercise and is an affordable way to get around Anna Maria Island.
Besides cycling between beaches or places of attractions, there are a handful of nice bike trails and cycling hot spots dotted around the island.
Some of our favorites include the Coquina Bike Path, Robinson Preserve, Lake Manatee State Park, or just cycling along the Gulf Drive.
There are many bike rental shops around the island where you can rent a bike and all the required equipment for cheap, so you don’t have to worry about bringing your own.
Anna Maria Island has beaches for all types of vacationers, each with its charm and fun to offer.
If you’re looking for free things to do on Anna Maria Island, spending time at one of the many beaches is almost always at the top of every visitor!
One of the island’s most popular and well-loved beaches is none other than Coquina Beach.
On top of the white soft sand and clear waters, Coquina Beach has pretty much everything you need, from cute cafes to picnic tables, biking trails, water fountains, cabanas, and beach activities.
You can also pick up some souvenirs from the Coquina beach market which takes place on Sundays in November, Sundays, and Wednesdays from December to March, and on Wednesdays and Fridays from April to July.
Located close to Coquina Beach, Cortez Beach is also very popular despite its slightly different vibe.
The beach is most recognizable for its three iconic piers that extend into the ocean, designed for protection against heavy rain and storms.
Cortez Beach is great for relaxation, but it’s mostly known for being a great place for activities like swimming (the waters are generally calm), fishing, surfing, and hiking.
While you’re here, take some time to check out Robinson Preserve, a lovely loop trail that offers plenty of activities such as kayaking, birdwatching, and biking.
10. Enjoy Some Tranquility on Bean Point Beach
If you’d much prefer a quieter stretch, Bean Point Beach may just be your cup of tea.
Unlike other more bustling beaches on Anna Maria Island, Bean Point Beach is rather secluded and offers a peaceful respite and stunning views of Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
You likely won’t see kids running around here since it’s more preferred by couples looking to spend some relaxing time away from the crowds.
Do note though that Bean Point Beach isn’t as well-equipped as other public beaches.
We suggest bringing along your picnic mat and some snacks if you’d like to stay longer as there are limited amenities along the stretch.
The beaches of Anna Maria Island are far from boring. Besides getting a good tan and indulging in the ocean breeze, you can fill your day with the water sports of your choice.
From jet skiing to parasailing (we can’t recommend this parasailing tour enough), surfing, fishing, and snorkeling, your fun options are vast.
If you have a diving license, make sure you don’t miss out on the opportunity to check out the Regina Wreck, a gem of a scuba diving zone that thrives with exciting sea life.
Since it’s located just 200 yards out from the shore in shallow water, the wreck is accessible for all levels of divers, making it a popular must-do in the area.
13. Take a Day Trip to Longboat Key
If you’re up to venture out of Anna Maria Island, we highly recommend planning a day trip to Longboat Key.
Laid-back Longboat Key is Anna Maria Island’s neighboring barrier island in Sarasota that’s connected and reachable by a bridge.
The island has a slow, secluded, laid-back beach town vibe (the kind of place we don’t mind retiring in to live a slow, sun-drenched life), and is perfect if you’d like to escape the sometimes-crowded beaches of Anna Maria for a bit.
Besides its beaches, Longboat Key is also a popular spot for waterfront golfing, so if that’s your sort of thing, be sure to pack your golf clubs and get some swings at one of the island’s four golf courses.
So, if you were looking for the best things to do near Anna Maria Island, this is one you shouldn’t miss.
Located on the island of Egmont Key and accessible only by boat or ferry, the Egmont Key State Park is another fun day trip option from Anna Maria Island.
It’s great for activities such as wildlife viewing, swimming, fishing, shelling, picnicking, and snorkeling. In fact, it’s one of the best snorkeling spots on Anna Maria Island.
There are also a handful of historic sites to check out while you’re here — including a lighthouse that was built in the 1850s!
You should however note that the Egmont Key State Park is located on a remote and secluded island with limited amenities so make sure you bring along some water and snacks if you’re planning to stay long as the water on the island is not drinkable and there are zero stores.
15. Relax on Manatee Public Beach
We promise it’s our last beach on this list! Manatee Public Beach is another lovely place to enjoy the sun, sand, and sea.
Many people enjoy coming here as it’s well-equipped with facilities such as sand courts (great for friendly volleyball matches), restrooms, rinse-off stations, souvenir shops, restaurants, ample free parking, picnic tables, and more.
It’s also located very strategically just off the Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach, making it very accessible and easy to get to.
Pop by the iconic Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe for all-you-can-eat pancakes and you’ll want to visit again before you even leave.
They also serve everything from fish platters to hand-dipped ice cream, sausages, and specialty drinks.
If this is your ideal beach, we have a dedicated post on how to visit Manatee Public Beach you may find useful.
Fancy a game of golf? The Fish Hole is an 18-hole miniature golf course located on Historic Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach and ranks high on our list of fun things to do on Anna Maria Island.
This family-focused waterfront mini-golf spot is fun for people of all ages and you’ll enjoy it even if you’re a total golf beginner!
Featuring a lush landscape and summer-friendly features such as cooling mist devices and shaded seating areas, it promises a few hours of fun if you’re already bored of the beach or just want to do something different. Prices are affordable and it’s very popular amongst families.
There is also a koi fish pond nearby where kids can feed the fish by buying fish food from the dispenser.
If you think Anna Maria Island goes to sleep after the sun goes down, you’ve got it wrong. There’re still lots of spots you can hang out at if your spirits are still high at night.
While it’s not known for glitzy clubs and rowdy bars, Anna Maria Island has a pretty chill and fun nightlife with nice bars and beachfront bistros for you to wind down with a drink and good live music.
Some of the best Anna Maria Island bars you may want to check out include the Bamboo Island Bar, Kokonut Hut, The Doctor’s Office, Sandbar Seafood and Spirits, The Ugly Grouper, and Freckled Fin Irish Pub.
You can also head to the strip along Bridge Street for a bar crawl! The famous strip is lined with a great selection of local bars where you can get a taste of everything from specialty cocktails to game nights.
Fishing is a fairly popular activity on Anna Maria Island. There are many places to cast your line, from tranquil bays to nice piers and sandy beaches. You can even charter a boat out for a fishing adventure, or head out on a kayak!
If you’re new to fishing or prefer somewhere accessible, we recommend basing yourself at popular fishing spots such as the Historic Bridge City Pier, Rod and Reel Pier, Sarasota Bay, Coquina Beach Jetty, or the Manatee River.
Most public beaches, jetties, and public docks allow fishing too as long as you have a fishing license but even if you don’t have one already, it’s pretty easy to get it from the Florida Fish and wildlife conservation commission.
Plan your fishing adventure early in the morning or in the evening before nightfall to avoid the heat! Most fishes also tend to be more active during these hours.
Nestled in northwestern Bradenton, Robinson Preserve is a nature lover’s haven on Anna Maria Island. This huge coastal preserve occupies a space of over 600 acres and is a great place to indulge in the great outdoors and do some birding.
Featuring hiking trails, picnic spots, preserved mangrove forests, kayak waterways, tranquil lakes, and more, Robinson Preserve is open daily from sunrise to sunset.
Make sure you climb to the top of its famous 50-foot observatory tower for stunning views of Tampa Bay and the Skyway Bridge!
If you’re visiting with kids in tow, we also suggest checking out the NEST and Canopy Zone, a fairly new fun play zone with shaded areas, rope bridges, slides, and climbing nets for the little ones.
Here’s another fun activity on Anna Maria Island for nature lovers. Despite being on a smaller scale, Leffis Key Preserve is well-loved by locals and tourists alike and boasts some scenic views and a great range of fun activities.
Located just across the street from Coquina Beach, Leffis Key Preserve is great for nature walks after spending time by the beach.
Home to diverse flora and fauna, you can spot plenty of native plants and wildlife, including blue crabs, sea hares, migrating songbirds, beach sunflowers, sea daisies, and more.
The boardwalks here are well-maintained and serve as great viewing platforms for Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, allowing for nature walks regardless of age or fitness level.
Want to add a unique attraction to your Anna Maria Island bucket list? The Anna Maria Island Historical Society Museum is your best bet!
Constructed in 1920 as an icehouse, the building has served many different purposes over the years — an automotive garage, sea turtle hatchery, and a public administration building, amongst others.
Today, it’s a free museum filled with exhibits, records, and archives detailing the island’s rich history and stories about the first people who called Anna Maria home. This is indeed one of the must-visit places on Anna Maria Island!
Besides the main museum, be sure to also check out the Old City Jail, a building that once served as a jail but it’s today one of the most photographed attractions on Anna Maria Island.
Know what’s best on a hot day out on the beach? Ice cream. The best spot on Anna Maria Island to get your sweet tooth cravings satisfied is none other than Small Town Creamery.
Located in Holmes Beach, Small Town Creamery may not have been around for very long but they sure know how to make amazing ice cream.
Take your pick from a large selection of flavors such as cookie dough, banana cream, stellar coffee, and toasted coconut, and enjoy your sweet treat in a freshly-made waffle cone!
They’ve also got delicious homemade kettle-churned fudge made the old-fashioned way, as well as coffee, candies, and more.
If ice cream can’t fully satisfy your sweet cravings, you’ve got to make your way to The Donut Experience on Pine Avenue.
This legendary donut shop opened its doors as “Anna Maria Donuts” in 2012 when the owners traveled to Anna Maria Island on a couples’ trip and were surprised to find out that there wasn’t a single donut shop on the entire island.
Today, this quirky boutique donut shop is where you can get fresh, made-to-order donuts assembled based on your choice of icing, toppings, and drizzle.
Whether you’d like yours topped with Oreo, fruity pebbles, cinnamon sugar, rainbow sprinkles, or even bacon, it’s your choice. They’ve also got some amazing specialty donuts that you won’t regret ordering.
If you’re looking for where to have breakfast on Anna Maria Island or just a quick afternoon snack, this is one place not to miss.
Last up on our list of things to do on Anna Maria Island is one for those who love food and views.
There’s nothing like having a memorable meal by the beach, and there are many beachfront restaurants and bistros that allow you to do so on Anna Maria Island.
Some of our favorites waterfront restaurants on Anna Maria Island include Rod & Reel Pier (enjoy traditional fare and fresh seafood with ocean views), Anna Maria Oyster Bar, Ginny’s & JJane E’s Cafe (come here for amazing cinnamon rolls), Caddy’s Bradenton, Wicked Cantina Bradenton Beach, The Waterfront Restaurant, Coquina Beach Cafe, Sandbar Seafood and Spirits, and Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe.
Whether you’d like to catch a sunset, feast on fresh seafood, or just get a refreshing cocktail, there’s definitely a spot for you here.
Final Thoughts on the Best Things to Do on Anna Maria Island
We hope you liked our guide on the best things to do on Anna Maria Island!
We’ve tried our best to include both popular attractions and lesser-known gems so you can plan a trip of your liking. We wish you a fun time on this beautiful Floridian Island!
But before you go, consider sharing this list of the best things to do on Anna Maria Island if you found this article helpful!