Must-Sees & Dos for Your First Visit to Anna Maria Island

| January 17, 2024

Welcome to Anna Maria Island, a small bit of paradise off the coast of Florida. The Island, steeped in history, is home to beautiful beaches, captivating culture, delectable dishes, and so much more. We want your time here to be magical, and we have compiled our Must-sees and Dos for your first time visiting Anna Maria Island. 

The Miss Anna Maria and The Downtown Duchess 

Start your stay with beautiful ocean views with a ride to the Island via catamarans, The Miss Anna Maria, or The Downtown Duchess. These stunning new ferries have just started running since the fall of 2023. Commissioned to make travel to the Island more accessible, these boats also help decrease local and tourism traffic on the Island, which helps with overall air quality and emissions. The ferries run between Concina Beach, Bradenton Beach, and Anna Maria Island. 

Ride the Free Trolley Around Anna Maria Island

A free trolley on Anna Maria Island stops at Bradenton Beach, Coquina Beach, and the City of Anna Maria. These trolleys run from 6 am-9 pm at twenty-minute intervals and are a favorite for tourists and locals alike. These trolleys allow for easy transportation around the Island while helping combat additional traffic. Relax and take in the sights as the air-conditioned cars make your travel on Anna Maria Island that much easier. Train schedules are available online or via the myStop app, which is available on Apple and Android. 

Don’t Miss These Beaches

Sugar sand beaches and a vivid oceanic pallet paint picture-perfect getaways on Anna Maria Island. Anna Maria Island is home to unmatched beauty spread through numerous diverse beaches and parks that will surely have something for everyone during your stay. 

Bean Point

Bean Point may be our favorite beach on Anna Maria Island. Grab your beach read and prepare for peace, relaxation, and some serious sun. Bean Point is the northernmost beach on the Island and is known for beautiful wildlife and warm gulf waters that are ready for swimming. Get here early. Parking is limited. 

Bonus Beach! Visit With Your Pets! Palma Sola Causeway Park

Palma Sola Causeway Park is our beach pick for those of you visiting Anna Maria Island with your pets! This park features a pet-friendly beach that is not only dog-friendly but horse-friendly, too! Get ready to spend your beach day with your best friend and live your best AMI life. 

Horseback Riding On the Beach

Is anything more romantic or freeing than a horseback beach ride adventure? There are multiple packages available on Anna Maria Island to experience the magic for yourself. 

Horseback travel company CPonies’s most popular package takes riders to Bradenton Beach, where, according to their website, it starts with a relaxing ride into the bay and ends with several swims with your horse. Nothing that (they) have been told by (their) riders, “it feels like you’re flying.”

Explore Picturesque Piers

Rod and Reel Pier 

Rod and Reel Pier is a famous pier for fishing, but it is the Rod & Reel restaurant that has people coming back to this particular pier time and again. The Rod & Reel, while newly renovated, has been a local staple since 1947 and serves traditional fare alongside daily fish specials while boasting some of the best views on the Island. You won’t want to miss out on experiencing Rod and Reel. 

Anna Maria City Pier 

The City Pier is a day-tripper’s dream destination. From picturesque views and delightful boutique shopping, the Anna Maria City Pier should be on every AMI visitor’s to-see list. The old wooden structure is a reminder of Old Flordia’s charm, which is now home to The Sandbar Restaurant and boutique gift shops. Admission to the Pier is free, though parking can be limited. 

Bridge Street Pier 

The Bridge Street Pier was once home to the bridge that served as the only access to the mainland. Now, however, it functions as a tourist attraction for travelers from around the world visiting Anna Maria Island. The Bridge Street Pier is a popular fishing spot for locals, and its position is a highly walkable, family-friendly community with shopping, dining, outdoor activities, and more. 

Catch Up On Local Culture and Don’t Miss These Must-Visit Museums 

The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature

Looking for some indoor fun and a chance to get up close and personal with some of the local wildlife? The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature is home to the Parker Manatee Rehabilitation habitat, a planetarium, and a selection of permanent and limited exhibitions. Permanent exhibitions include fossils, wildlife, studies, and early cultural artifacts.  

Anna Maria Island Historical Museum 

Anna Maria Island is rich in exciting stories, and the Anna Maria Island Historical Museum is a must-stop for those interested in learning more about the Island. Learn about early life on the Island and see heirlooms and antiques from Old Florida’s past. The Old County Jail is a favorite for tourist pictures, and the historical Mangrove Park is within walking distance. 

Don’t Forget to Treat Yourself

The Ugly Grouper Statue 

According to the website, The Ugly Grouper Statue is “3,180 pounds, 20 feet long, 14 feet tall, and 10 feet wide and crafted out of components from used cars, motorcycles, and other various found objects. This statue sits outside the restaurant, The Ugly Grouper, and is well worth the stop for fresh seafood or craft cocktails.

Bridge Street Market

 If you are visiting in the April – November months and want a real taste of the local life, you should put Bridge Street Market on your must-see list. This vendor market happens every Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm and features local food vendors, artisans, crafters, and more! This is the perfect place to pick up souvenirs for everyone back home or something special for yourself to remember your time on Anna Maria Island forever. 

Sea-renity Beach Spa & Bou-tiki

After a long day of fun on Anna Maria Island, nothing is more decadent than treating yourself to a massage directly on the beach. Take in spectacular views as you give into ultimate relaxation. Sea-renity offers the only beachside massage on the Island. This spa is located in Bradenton Beach and offers solo massages, couples massages, and other packages. These book up fast, so make sure to call for a reservation. After your massage, you can visit the bou-tiki for themed and unique gifts for everyone on your list.

While these are some of our favorite must-sees and dos of Anna Maria Island, they are just a drop in the bucket of what the Island offers. Plan your stay on Anna Maria Island with Serendipity, and we are sure that this will be the first of many visits to your new favorite home away from home on Anna Maria Island. 

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