Hidden Gems: Off-the-Beaten-Path Activities

| April 30, 2023

One thing people love about staying on Anna Maria Island is the activity. More to the point, you have so many options for activity. If you want to stay busy and active, that’s easy to do. You can choose from dolphin tours, riding horses on the beach, or many other things. If you want to relax and be pretty inactive, there is a chair on the beach waiting for you. Just remember sunscreen. As easy as it is to find things to do, there are a few activities that our visiting friends may not notice right away. Here are a few hidden gems around the area that you may want to look into.

Anna Maria City Jail

Yes, we just suggested you visit a jail, but there’s a good reason. The Anna Maria City Jail is no longer a working jail. Now it is a fun, free, and historic stop in your vacation. Believe it or not, once upon a time, our beautiful island needed a jail because of a tavern and dance hall that was getting out of hand. In 1927, the mayor of Anna Maria built a jail to hold people who disturbed the peace near a dance hall on Spring Avenue. The use of the jail dropped off during the Depression and it was damaged by fire in the 1940s. Today, it is a great photo spot for a fun way to commemorate your visit to one of the hidden gems. Fun fact: The jail had bars on the windows, but no glass, leaving “guests” at the mercy of the Florida mosquitos all night. The jail is located at 402 Pine Ave, Anna Maria, FL 34216.  

Florida Maritime Museum

There are many great museums around the area. Some of them are very well known and some are not. One of those lesser-known museums is the next of our hidden gems, the Florida Maritime Museum. The FMM is located in the historic Cortez fishing village, just off Anna Maria Island. The museum is housed in the Cortez Schoolhouse, a brick structure built in 1912. At the museum, you get to see exhibits on fishing, boat building, and the history of one of the oldest fishing villages in Florida. The museum is one part of a bigger site. Also part of the attraction is FISH Nature Preserve, owned by the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage. The Pillsbury Boat Works, an 1890 Waterfront Store, and more are also on-site. This is truly a peek inside Florida’s saltwater roots. The Florida Maritime Museum is located at 4415 119th Street West, Cortez, FL 34215. The Museum is open Tuesday – Saturday from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.

Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My! You can see those and more at the Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary in nearby Sarasota. This non-profit animal rescue provides a permanent home for dozens of exotic animals, offers placement for animals in need, and works to educate the public about animal care and conservation. The Sanctuary does, in fact, house lions, tigers, and bears, along with primates, birds, and much more. There is also a petting zoo for visitors (with goats, not tigers) and animal encounters with species like sloths, wallabies, and foxes.  The Habitat is open Wednesday through Sunday from 12 pm – 4 pm. There is also a café on site. Check their calendar for info on shows and to buy tickets early. It is located at 7101 Palmer Blvd, Sarasota, FL 34240.

These are just a few of the hidden gems you can take advantage of during your stay in one of our luxury beach homes. If you want more suggestions, just contact us. Our local experts know the area well and would love to help you make your trip unforgettable as you venture off the beaten path. 

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