Explore Anna Maria Island with a Local Guide: Museums, Churches, and Markets

| March 26, 2024

Get ready to explore Anna Maria Island! 

Anna Maria Island is a place of beauty, culture, luxury, and more—a slice of paradise, if you will, just off Florida’s Gulf coast. Home to white sand beaches, sunshine days, and natural splendor, Anna Maria Island has a little something for everyone: visitors, vacationers, and locals alike!

The Museums of AMI

Who doesn’t love a museum? They are community points for education, entertainment, history, and culture. Not to mention a museum is a great way to take a break from the summer sun. Anna Maria Island is home to a handful of museums that will inspire wonder. 

Anna Maria Island Historical Society Museum 

402 Pine Ave, Anna Maria, FL 34216

The Historical Society Museum invites you to explore the island’s rich history like you never have before. The museum guides you back to the days of old Florida. Exhibits spanthe early fishing villages, the luxurious lifestyles of the roaring twenties, and the spring baseball camps of the 1970s. The property includes the original City Jail (a must-stop for that perfect selfie!), the Belle Haven cottage, and a native plant sanctuary. 

Florida Maritime Museum

4415 119th St W, Cortez, FL 34215

The Florida Maritime Museum is set to open its doors again this summer (2024) after a six-month construction and building rehabilitation project. If you can’t wait for summer, the museum offers Folk School classes, events, and other school programs. The Cortez Cultural Center is also available for exploration next door. Sticking around til summer? The Florida Maritime Museum features permanent collections such as the Captain’s Corner. This exhibit includes a well-documented sea-life study donated by the estate of Captain Blake Banks. The museum is located in the historic fishing village of Cortez, so it only makes sense that they host a permanent gallery that features displays on maritime navigations, boat building, and the history of the Cortez fishing village. The folk school offers crafting classes that teach everything from basic weaving to exquisite cheese making. 

The Ringling

5401 Bay Shore Rd, Sarasota, FL 34243

 The Ringling is well within day-tripping distances of Anna Maria Island, located on the Florida mainland in Sarasota. The term museum only covers some things this magical wonderland offers. There is a traditional art museum, housing a “robust slate of special exhibitions. These exhibitions feature exciting new artworks from across the globe.” The collection is split into Ancient art, European art pre-dating 1900, modern and contemporary art, non-western art, and Chinese Ceramics. John Ringling started the collection. Yes, that Ringling family. 

Also on the property is what is known as the Circus Museum. Included in the admission to The Ringling, the Circus Museum immerses visitors in the sense of pure imagination inspired by life under the Big Top. Everything from marvelous animal to feats of strength and agility, and even something for those who want to learn more about the business side of running and managing a circus. Located next to the Circus Museum is the Historic Circus Galleries. These galleries are “full of unexpected delights and hands-on learning opportunities” for those wishing to immerse themselves further in circus life. 

If architecture and the opulence of Olde Florida wealth draw you in, you will want to explore the Ca’d’Zan estate. This sprawling mansion will give you a taste of luxury and will transport visitors back to the roaring twenties. 

Guided tours are available to stroll the lush and beautiful Bayford Gardens. Bayford Gardens features a rose garden, a secret garden, a dwarf garden, and an impressive arboretum. Divided into manageable excursions, you can visit multiple times and still not see everything. 

Bishop Museum of Science and Nature

201 10th St W, Bradenton, FL 34205

According to their website, The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature is “the most exciting museum on Florida’s Gulf Coast.” We are apt to agree as it features a planetarium, the Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat, the Mosaic Backyard Universe, and a diverse and constantly changing lineup of special exhibitions. The Bishop also offers after-hours events, yoga with manatees, and other educational and exciting activities that will delight the whole family. 

The Churches of AMI

Looking for a church to call home while you explore Anna Maria Island? Or maybe you just appreciate archetecture and history? AMI is home to many churches ready to welcome you with open arms, but these are a couple of our favorite.

Roser Memorial Church

512 Pine Ave, Anna Maria, FL 34216

The Roser Memorial Church is located directly on the water in the beautiful city of Anna Maria> This church was ordinally a dream of an early developer on the island, John Roser, who hoped to build a house of faith to honor his late wife, Caroline. The church was built to be a welcoming place for locals and visitors alike to connect in worship and prayer. His son, Charles Roser of Fig Newton/Nabisco wealth, helped fund the project and then donated the church to the people of Anna Maria Island under the condition that it should always be a community church and not tied to any particular denomination. 

Now, well over a hundred years after its original construction, Roser Memorial Church still stands, expanded, as a place of historical and architectural importance. Whether you plan your visit around a purely educational experience or you are looking for your home away from home to worship in, The Roser Memorial Church is a must-visit when you stay on Anna Maria Island. 

 Gloria Dei Lutheran Church

6608 Marina Dr, Holmes Beach, FL 34217

If you are looking to admire beautiful woodwork and stained glass while listening to a sermon in a kind and welcoming environment, then look no further than the Gloria Dei Lutheran Church. This congregation prides itself on welcoming people from all walks of life, offering a variety of services and small group study sessions. Located in Holmes Beach, this church is also close to a plethora of dining and shopping options. 

The Markets of AMI

Anna Maria Island is home to a collective of eccentric and irresistible markets that should make a must-visit list in your gift-shopping adventures during your stay on AMI. These are just a few of the locals’ favorite markets:

Coquina Beach Market

1300 Gulf Dr S, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217

Coquina Beach Market is open Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays from 10 am to 4 pm. With over 80 vendors selling handmade and artisan goods from within the community, you are sure to find a gem for that special someone on your list—even if that special someone is you. The market is seasonal and weather-dependent, so make sure to check the website before heading out!

City of Anna Maria Farmer’s Market


This market is located in the heart of the island. Music and joy fill the air here every weekend, but that might just be the smell of delicious snacks you can’t find anywhere else. Get a special look into a little bit more of what our island offers by spending the early hours of the day taking the Anna Maria Farmer’s Market. 

Bradenton Farmers’ Market

400 12th St W, Bradenton, FL 34205

This market is located in the picturesque downtown Bradenton. Just a hop, skip, and jump over to the Florida mainland will have you delightedly stuffing your face with local goodies made by local people while taking in the city’s vibrant culture. This market also features live music, interactive art, and more for all ages. Check out the schedule for this season here. 

Just starting to plan your trip? We are here to help! Reach out to the team at Serendipity here to start planning your getaway today! Want to know more about what Anna Maria has to offer?Check out our most recent articles for more tips and suggestions on how to enjoy your stay on beautiful AMI.

Recent Stories.

Coffee on beach

Coffee Shops on AMI + Transport & Day Trip Tips

Favorite Coffee Shops on AMI Looking for a taste of paradise to take your vacation to the next level? Or maybe your “work-cation” needs a caffeine boost to keep that ...
Read More

Plan Your Perfect Day at Island Plaza on AMI

We love it here on Anna Maria Island and are sure you will, too!  Looking for the perfect thing to do during your stay on Anna Maria Island? From delicious ...
Read More

Plan Your Golf Getaway on Anna Maria Island

Serendipity is here to help plan the perfect golf getaway on Anna Maria Island. It is no surprise that Florida and golf are synonymous. With temperate weather during the winter ...
Read More

Be the First to Know

Sign up for our Newsletter and be the first to know about our updates and promotions.

We’ll make sure your next vacation is relaxing and fun!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.