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Landmarks, Parks, and Nature: How to Have the Perfect Family Getaway in Anna Maria Island

Published on March 12, 2019 by Rick Puskus
Girl walking on the beach

It’s hard to plan a family reunion. Families are spread all across the country, living different lives in different time zones. For some families, the logistics of getting everybody together can be a nightmare or even seemingly impossible.

But you’ve committed to planning a getaway that will bring together your cousins in Idaho, your parents in Arizona, and your sister in Vermont.  One sure-fire way of uniting a spread out family is planning a vacation no one will want to miss.

Enter: Anna Maria Island, a picturesque paradise tucked in the Gulf of Mexico.

Florida is great, but between the theme parks and the tourist-packed beaches, it can start to feel awfully commercial. When planning your family reunion, whisk them away somewhere that they can truly “get away from it all.”

What lies in store for your family vacation? Read on to find out what to do on Anna Maria Island. The possibilities are endless.

A Place to Lay Your Head

After you’ve done the impossible and convinced even your great aunt in Alaska to come to Anna Maria Island, you’ll need to follow through on your promise of “the best vacation ever.”

While there’s no shortage of things to explore by day, everyone knows half of a great vacation is where you lay your head at night.

Anna Maria Island is full of luxurious vacation rentals capable of holding your massive family (or at least most of them). There are a variety of locations available on all parts of the island, many of which have four or more bedrooms.

Choose rentals on the waterfront with a cinematic panorama of the gulf outside your window or something closer to the middle of the island so you can ditch your car and walk to your favorite destinations.

What to Do on Anna Maria Island for Your Family Getaway

Anna Maria Island is isolated from the real world by more than just distance. Upon arrival, you’ll notice the island is free of fast food franchises, chain clothing stores, and even stoplights. 

This does not mean that Anna Maria is a desolate island; far from it. The island has a wealth of activities to participate in and locations to see that extend far beyond the lounge chair at your beach of choice.

For this article, we’re going to focus on events and destinations that are the perfect size for the whole family to partake in.

How to Spend a Summer Day

Don’t get us wrong, Anna Maria Island is a great destination year round, but to really capture that fun in the sun atmosphere that Florida is known for, you have to experience Anna Maria Island in the summer.

Before beginning your day, it’s recommended to stop by the Anna Maria Visitor’s Center to ask the friendly locals for advice on the wheres and whats of the island.

All Roads Lead to the Beach

Naturally, newcomers to the Sunshine State will want to hit up the beach. Lucky for them, Anna Maria has beaches to spare. There are three public beaches each with varying amenities and vibes.

Manatee Public Beach is the spot where most families decide to spend a day.  You can go there practically empty-handed! Chairs and umbrellas are available for rent and a beachside cafe is located right along the shore.

Those looking for a more secluded place to catch a tan or finish off a good book will be drawn to Coquina Beach. 

Both Manatee and Coquina beach offer space for volleyball and family picnics, making them the perfect place to host a tournament or family potluck. They are also conveniently located on the trolley route.

The beachfronts are also popular hotspots for shell and stone collecting. The white sand beaches make it easy to find unique treasures that have washed up from the gulf. It’s not uncommon to find shells, calms, and sand dollars lying around.

If you’re looking to get away from the family for a night, consider an escape to Bean Point. Bean Point is a private beach and boasts no facilities or lifeguards but is the best spot on the island to catch a sunset.

A Place for the Kids

It happens every vacation.  There comes a point when you’ve finished your book, the sunscreen has worn off, and the kids are sick of the beach. Luckily, Anna Maria Island is in no shortage of activities to keep children of all ages entertained.

Smaller children will enjoy a few rounds of minigolf at the 18 hole course, The Fish Hole. This course is so well built and entertaining that whoever draws the short straw and has to chaperone might just have fun too.

Kids will also enjoy the Shiny Fish Emporium, located right next to the gulf, where they can paint and take home their own sand dollar, so they’ll always remember Anna Maria Island. 

That takes care of the younger set, but what about something for the more mature youngsters along on vacation?

Got a group of teens looking for some time away from the prying eyes of mom and dad? Pack their preferred set of wheels and send them off for a totally extreme day at the Holmes Beach skate park.

A girl jumping for a balloon on Anna Maria Island.

Located just along the trolley stop, the skate park is a great way to let the older kids create their own vacation memories. The ramps are varied and well-maintained, and the park is closely monitored by local law enforcement.

If everyone is drained at the end of the day, kick back every Wednesday with a free movie at City Pier Park. The park is screening family-friendly movies until this summer, giving you a great way to unwind after sunset.

Take a Trip to One of the State Parks

If you’ve got nothing but time and money, consider setting sail to Egmont Key State Park. The park is accessible only by private boat, so you’ll have to arrange that before you go. However, admission is free!

Egmont Key features unfinished battlements from the Spanish-American war and a still functional lighthouse. This secluded island at the mouth of Tampa Bay has a history that will interest adults and roaming wildlife to enthrall the kids.

With less to learn about but as much to explore, Myakka River State Park boasts miles of diverse natural beauty, from wetlands to prairies, all with their own indigenous creatures to discover.

A bit further of a trek off Anna Maria Island is De Soto National Memorial in Bradenton. 

There’s no limit to the number of visitors, no booking in advance, and no short of things to explore, making these state parks a good bet for a day well spent.

Spending a Day Indoors

Despite the always-sunny stereotype, Florida does indeed have a rainy season, typically late summer through the fall. It also, believe it or not, get’s unbearably hot. For whatever reason, you might just want to spend a day inside.

The Mote Marine Aquarium offers an unforgettable experience for both adults and children. Watch science happen in real time in the Mote’s viewable laboratories.

Demystify the creatures of the ocean with a tour through this expansive aquarium, featuring a massive shark habitat, sea turtles, manatees, and two touch tanks the kids are sure to love.

To learn more about the island, visit the Anna Maria Historical Society Museum. The museum is accessible by trolley and admission to the museum is absolutely free. Come on a Wednesday to try the island famous Settler’s Bread.

And for those looking to bring some of the flavor of Anna Maria Island home with them, take a stroll down Pine Avenue to visit some of the local shops and boutiques. 

The Food Scene

No matter how big your family is, you can’t do a cookout for every meal.  And with the diversity of eating options on Anna Maria Island, why would anyone want to?

On the north side of town is the Rod and Reel Pier, one of the most renowned restaurants on Anna Maria Island. Eat fresh and traditional seafood with the gulf literally right beneath your feet.

For a small fee, visitors can fish off of the dock the leads to the restaurant.

Pine Avenue is home to an array of sweets and desserts shops you’ll be sorry if you miss, especially local favorite The Donut Experiment. If you find yourself aching for something sweet while walking the pier, hit up Two Scoops for an ice cream cone.

If you want to get a good meal and take in the local art all at once, hit up Ginny and Jane E’s Cafe and Coastal Store. The store is known to have a long line, especially on the weekends, but it’s well earned.

In addition to the food, art and souvenirs from local vendors are proudly displayed.

If you feel like cooking for the whole family, Tuesdays on the island are host to the Anna Maria farmers market at City Pier Park. Locally grown produce will be available along with flowers, herbs, and baked goods.

Gather up the Family

Do you really need any further convincing? Unite your family, book your summer vacation, and have a reunion to remember on the beautiful shores of Anna Maria Island.

As summer approaches, now is the time to start calling out to your family, from California to the New York islands. When you’re ready to begin the summer vacation of a lifetime, contact us. We’ll hook you up.

What to do on Anna Maria Island? Anything you want!