Top Activities Off Anna Maria Island

Florida – While lazing on the beach with a cold drink in hand sounds like an amazing way to spend your Anna Maria Island vacation; often most visitors like to explore activities beyond the powder sand and crisp blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico. There’s a plethora of activities to experience on Anna Maria Island; however, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, here’s a list of over 40 activities all less than a two hour drive from the island.

Anna Maria Island
Relax on Anna Maria Island beaches!


The city of Bradenton is located just inland from Anna Maria Island when heading over the Manatee Bridge and Palma Sola Causeway. Known as the friendly city, Bradenton offers great entertainment in the Downtown Old Main Street area. Find Bishop Planetarium, South Florida Museum, The Players Theater and McKechnie Baseball Field where the Marauders play. Find additional things to do at G.T. Bray park,  Manatee County Parks and Mixon Fruit Farm.


The city of Cortez is located just over the Cortez Bridge when leaving Anna Maria Island. One of the countries oldest fishing villages, Cortez is a fabulous place to explore old Florida charm, quaint shops, and find fresh off the boat seafood. Be sure to visit Starfish Company restaurant for dockside views, and the best Florida seafood you’ll ever taste. If you visit in February be sure to check out the annual Cotez Fishing Festival. Find some of the areas most delicious sweet Tylers Ice Cream. Learn all about the history of Cortez Fishing Village at the Maritime Museum.


A truly beautiful city, Sarasota is located approximately 30 minutes south of Anna Maria Island. You’ll find a large selection of activities in Sarasota including Theaters Van WezelMcCurdys Improve and comedy house and the Sarasota Players. Enjoy fine art at The Ringling or beautiful Florida Flora and Fauna at Sarasota Jungle Gardens. The internationally known Sarasota Film Festival offers many events annual in April. Siesta key and St. Armands Circle offer fabulous shopping, or explore Florida’s aquatic life at Mote Marine Aquarium.

Lakewood Ranch

Heading 45 minutes East into Manatee county brings you to Lakewood Ranch. This area offers an outdoors shopping area along Main Street with a few other activities surrounding. Visit the Lakewood Ranch cinema followed by a great meal at Polo Grill and Bar. Play a round of Golf at the prestigious Legacy Golf Club University Town Center is a great indoor mall with fabulous shopping opportunities not found on Anna Maria Island.

St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg is about a 45 minute drive north over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge from Anna Maria Island.  St. Petersburg has a growing art scene with ton’s of galleries, studios, boutiques and entertainment. Check out the Sundial shopping district along with the great waterfront restaurants. Enjoy fine works by artist Salvador Dali at the Dali Museum.


The city of Myakka is just a little over an hour drive from Anna Maria Island, offers one of the nicest State parks found locally. Myakka State Park offers many activities including boat tours, nature watching and bike trails to name a few. While in Myakka support your local farmers with a tour of Dakin Dairy.


Tampa offers many fun attractions perfect for a day trip from Anna Maria Island. Just about an hour drive brings you to the famous Florida attraction Busch Gardens. The Car Museum of Tampa is a fun stop for old car enthusiasts.


Orlando is about a two hour drive from Anna Maria Island, and offers tons of family friendly activities. Check out our list of fun things to do in Orlando below:

Downtown Disney

Blizzard Beach

Typhoon Lagoon

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Disney’s Hollywood Studio

Disney’s Epcot

Disney’s Magic Kingdom

Walt Disney World 

Universal Studios

Islands of Adventure


If you are looking for all the big retail stores you are accustomed to Westfield Mall has what you are looking for. Brandon is about an hour drive east of Anna Maria Island toward the Tampa area.


Ruskin is a quiet small Florida town with a fabulous old Drive in Theater. Just under an hour drive from Anna Maria Island, the Ruskin Drive in provides hours of inexpensive entertainment.

Plant City

If you visit Anna Maria Island during the spring months then you may be lucky enough to catch the Florida Strawberry Festival. A large event lasting around 10 days, The Strawberry Festival has been celebrated since the 1930’s.


Top 10 Anna Maria Island November Activites

Anna Maria Island November Activities are fun for the entire family! Fall is a great time of year to visit the island with your friends and loved ones. Give thanks island style this November while you try out these top 10 activities.

Anna Maria Island November Activities

Once you visit the island in November, you’ll want to spend every fall here! Follow our Top 10 Anna Maria Island November Activities guide, and enjoy paradise too.

1. Fall Shell Hunt

For some, the gulf starts to get a bit too cold for swimming in November. Visitors from the north might disagree, however everyone can agree on a November shell hunt. Walk along the beach and look for Fall colored seashells for a taste of Florida November.

Anna Maria Island November Activities
Find Fall colors with Anna Maria Island Sea Shells!

2. Cortez Stone Crab Festival

Join in on a tasty fun time with the 5th Annual Stone Crab Festival in Cortez Fishing Village! You’ll find fresh off the boat Stone Crab, live music, kid zone, artists and a beer tent. This event also benefits the Manatee Chapter of Fishing for Freedom. Visit Nov. 5th and 6th from 9am-6pm.

Anna Maria Island November activities guide
Visit the Cortez Stone Crab Festival.

3. Venice Chalk Festival

Head off island for one of the countries best Chalk Festivals. Located in Venice, about an hour from Anna Maria Island, this street art festival is truly impressive. Over 100 artists from all over the world create temporary master pieces with chalk. Attend this event Nov. 11-14.

4. Arts Hop

Anna Maria Island offers a two weekend long arts event in November. You’ll find tons of arts related events and participating organizations during Arts Hop! Events include art walks, plays, demonstrations and more. Visit Nov. 11-13 or Nov. 18-20.

Anna Maria Island November Activities
An island wide arts event for the entire family!

5. Sunbathe on the Beach.

Anna Maria Island air temperatures range from the upper 70’s to the upper 50’s during November. In fact, you can even get a Fall sun burn if you aren’t careful! Enjoy laying out on the beach and soaking in the sun.

6. Pick Veggies at Hunsader Farms.

Less than an hour drive from the island, Bradenton’s Hunsader Farms is great for picking your own fresh produce. During the month of November you can pick a great selection of veggies. Black eyed peas, eggplant, green beans, Okra, purple hull peas, tomatoes and zipper peas too! Fields close at 3:30 Monday through Saturday.

Anna Maria Island November Activities
Pick Florida Fall Produce at Hunsader Farms.

7. Go for a Trolley ride.

We may not have hay rides on Anna Maria Island, but we do have a fantastic free trolley! Enjoy November on Anna Maria Island and comfortably go sightseeing too. The free trolley runs almost the entire length of the island. Typically one will pass by every 15-20 minutes.

8. Do Thanksgiving on AMI.

Gather the entire family for a Florida Thanksgiving at one of the many great Anna Maria Island beach rentals! There’s nothing like eating turkey while digging your toes into powder soft sand.

Anna Maria Island November Activities
Give thanks for Anna Maria Island Vacations!

9. Avoid Black Friday – Shop online!

Who needs the Black Friday headache? Crowded stores, looking for parking spots, searching for that perfect something. Avoid it all this year and shop online! If you haven’t planned your Anna Maria Island vacation, now is a great time to check out your options! Relax at home, shop on, and buy vacation experiences instead of more stuff!

Anna Maria island beach rentals thanksgiving
Coquina Sands is a great Thanksgiving Anna Maria Island beach rental. Sleep up to 6 guests with a pool and spa! Click on the image to learn more about Coquina Sands.

10. Thanksgiving Nature Walk

Burn off all the food you ate on Thanksgiving with a family nature walk at Leffis Key. Located on the southern end of the island, Leffis Key is less than a mile long. Enjoy views of Sarasota Bay, Mangrove marsh and wildlife while walking the shell and boardwalk paths.

Give thanks and enjoy Anna Maria Island November Activities!

Anna Maria Island Activities November
Visit Anna Maria Island for November!


Out of Town Activities for All Ages

Anna Maria- Even though Anna Maria has extremely fun activities, it’s nice to find enjoyable things to do out of town. With so much surrounding the island you’ll have no problem finding something the whole family will enjoy. Here is a list of some of my favorite things to do off the island.

Out of Town Activities


Sarasota is located about 40 minutes south of Anna Maria Island. If you’re looking for a fun mind game, visit Escape Countdown located off of Tamiami Trail. Here you get to pick a themed room such as Jail Break or Mad Hatter and find clues to escape it. The challenge, however, is the 60 minute time limit. You may have up to three clues for free and each added clue takes off two minutes of your time. It’s a lot of fun to do with family and friends and you can have a group of up to eight people. You can reserve a time online or just walk in. Sarasota Lanes is the perfect place to go for anyone who loves bowling, or visit Stardust for a pleasant afternoon rollerskating.

escape countdown is out of town
Break out of jail at Escape Countdown!


Ellenton is about 30 minutes away and is home to Ellenton Premium Outlets and Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex. The Premium Outlets offers shops such as Aeropostale, Michael Kors, and Vans. With around 120 different shops, there’s definitely something for everyone. After shopping outside all day, cool off at the ice rink and enjoy one of their two hour long public skates. Wristbands are only $15 and includes rental skates.


If you love golfing, Top Golf is the perfect place for you! Located about an hour away from the island, Top Golf is one of the coolest places to go play golf. Imagine dart boards all over the ground, but instead of throwing darts you’re trying to hit the bulls-eye with a golf ball. Also in Tampa is the Adventure Island Water Park. Here you can find tons of cool water slides, a lazy river, and fun pools to play in.

Overall there’s so much to do on and around the island you’re sure to never get bored. Make sure to check these places out at have fun on your vacation!

Best 4 seafood restaurants around Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria- If you’re looking for exceptional seafood, you’re at the right place! With water surrounding almost all of Anna Maria, it’s no doubt our restaurants have access to the best seafood. All within 20 minutes of the island, here are four restaurants that you’re sure to love!

Seafood Restaurants

1. The Ugly Grouper Bar & Grill

Located on the island, The Ugly Grouper is right across the street from our Marina Drive office. They serve delicious food such as grouper sandwiches and mahi fish tacos along with meals for people who don’t care as much for seafood.  Also, all of their fish is fresh off the coast of Anna Maria, so you’re sure to get fresh fish. The Ugly Grouper has a history here on Anna Maria Island, as it was previously The Barefoot Tiki Bar and even before that a gas station! Take a look at the menu here.

The Ugly Grouper seafood restauraunt
Stop in for a bite at the Ugly Grouper! Photo courtesy of

2. Derek’s

Found on Manatee Avenue, Derek’s is prided on its ever-changing menu and good food. They serve wild pink shrimp pasta, blackened salmon and much more. Whether you want to have a causal luncheon or a fancy dinner, Derek’s is the perfect place to go. They do accept reservations and are open from 5am-10pm Monday-Saturday.

Derek's seafood
Photo Courtesy of

3. Mar Vista

Mar Vista resides in Longboat Key and is casual place to get great seafood. Some of their best dishes are a Grouper sandwich and Scallops Mar Vista. Another cool aspect of Mar Vista is its history on Longboat Key. It was one of the first structures built by Rufus Jordan in 1912 and has withstood hurricanes and erosion. Still in the original building, Mar Vista is an extremely interesting place to visit that has tasty food!

Mar Vista seafood
Enjoy yummy food along with a historic atmosphere at Mar Vista! Photo from

4. Starfish Company Market

If you’re wanting to cook your own or buy already cooked seafood Starfish Company is the perfect place to go. Located off Cortez, they sell locally caught seafood such as fish, scallops, and shrimp. Starfish Co. was started in the 1920’s and sits on one of the few remaining working waterfronts. With an absolutely gorgeous view, Starfish Co. is a must visit when vacationing here on Anna Maria.

Seafood at Starfish Company
Come visit Starfish Company for delicious food and a great view!

De Soto National Memorial – Bradenton

Bradenton – The De Soto National Memorial was created in 1948 to commemorate the 1539 expedition of Spanish conquistador Hernando De Soto and the impact he made on the American Indian societies of the southeast. Open all year long, De Soto Memorial Park offers many different outdoor activities along with educational opportunities to learn about the controversial history of the area.

Map of De Soto Memorial
De Soto National Memorial Map

Canoeing and Boating

Located in Bradenton on a 26 acre plot of land where the Manatee River meets Tampa Bay, De Soto National Memorial offers fabulous kayak and canoeing opportunities along the 3000 feet of shoreline offered by this park. Launch your kayak, canoe or paddle board from the northwest shore of the park or from Riverview Point Preserve located just south of De Soto Memorial. If you paddle north across the river you can explore Emerson Point Nature preserve, or head west through the shallow grass flats to the Intracoastal waterway and Anna Maria Island. De Soto Memorial does not offer a boat launch, but does offer a temporary anchorage area in the small cove east of De Soto Point.

Walking Trails, Beaches and Picnic Area at De Soto National Memorial

The nature trails at De Soto Memorial offer opportunities to experience different Florida ecosystems including Mangrove wetlands. Walking trails have signage explaining the both the natural history of the area along with information about the 1539 expedition. Bicycles are not allowed on the nature trails, but pets are welcome.

There are several areas for enjoying the beach at De Soto National Memorial with an areas located west and south of De Soto Point. Beach goers are urged to swim with caution as there are no lifeguard stations. The beaches south of De Soto Point are more popular as they don’t experience the strong currents sometimes found on the western beaches.

A picnic shelter can be found near the parking lot on a first come first serve basis. Grills and alcohol are not permitted in the park or picnic area.

Seasonal Events

De Soto National Memorial offers several seasonal events great for the entire family.

December through April the parks living history area “Camp Uzita” is open. Camp Utzita is a recreation of a 16th century Native village complete with living history reenactments and educational information.

In the winter the park offers several special events including a Halloween themed event called “Desoween”. This is for adults and kids 7 years and older. In December luminaries light the trials for one night and information is available describing how people from the 16th century celebrated the winter. February brings a music festival to the park, March offers a five centuries of history event, and April brings a live reenactment of the Landing of the De Soto expedition.

May through October the park offers Ranger led kayak tours discussing how early settlers utilized the bay and estuary along with an explanation of Florida’s unique ecological systems.

In June and July a kids Junior Ranger program is also available to teach kids 6-10 years of age about the history ecology and conservation of the park.

De Soto National Memorial
De Soto National Memorial. Photo Credit: De Soto National Memorial Facebook Page.

General Park Information

The visitor center is open daily 9am-5pm with the parking lot closing at 5pm; however, the park is open dawn to dusk. Any cars left in the parking lot after 5pm will remain locked in the lot until the next morning. Cars are subject to ticketing. The park is closed New Years day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Entrance into the park is always free, but donations are welcome. Groups may visit the park, but should register ahead of time. For additional information about the park call 941-792-0458 or visit online.

De Soto National Memorial is located at:
8300 De Soto Memorial Hwy
Bradenton, Florida 34209

Bradenton and Anna Maria Island vacation rental homes

If you are looking for the perfect vacation rental home while visiting the area Island Real Estate has almost 300 properties to choose from!

vacation rental
Click on the image to view Bradenton vacation rental Perico Bay Club 1279 Edgewater Circle.


Set Sail to Cortez with the Privateers!

Cortez – The Anna Maria Island Privateers invite you to set sail on their Cortez Pub Crawl Saturday, August 22 starting at 2pm. Get a chance to bar hop via the Privateers beloved pirate ship parade float for a good cause. Meeting at Mexicali Border Cafe on Cortez Road, the ship will continue on to ports of call at RJ Gators, Clancy’s Irish Bar, Cortez Clam Factory, Cortez Kitchen, Swordfish Grill and then back to Mexicali Border Cafe. Tickets cost $40 per person with limited space available. Proceeds will go back to helping kids and the community.

Reserve your spot aboard Skully Wag by calling Dan Hill at 941-812-8318 or Dianne Gritzmacher at 941-705-1325. Guests are encouraged to wear their best swashbuckling attire!

Anna Maria Island Privateers. Photo Credit

Experience Anna Maria Island wildlife with AMI Bird Nerd

Anna Maria Island – Bird Watching on Anna Maria Island is a must for visitors! Home to a wide variety of migratory and year round species, the Island is teaming with Birds from small passerines and large waders to the most common and rare. Bird Watchers on Anna Maria Island are never disappointed by their findings.

AMI Bird Nerd is here to assist visitors in choosing places to Bird watch and provide tools to effectively find and learn about local birds and wildlife. AMI Bird Nerd provides Binocular Rentals, Free Informational Mobile Apps and suggested places to find birds.

AMI Bird Nerd is committed to providing Anna Maria Island vacationers the opportunity to learn about and view local wildlife and birds. AMI Bird Nerd intends to fulfill this commitment in several ways. First, by providing Free Mobile Apps featuring local birds, birding tips, the importance of Florida ecosystems like Marsh and Mangrove, and navigation instructions through local nature viewing locations. Secondly, by providing Binocular rentals to visitors so they can experience wildlife up close from a distance and; therefore, helping alleviate the disturbance to species in their habitat. Last, AMI Bird Nerd will contribute 10% of profits to local and international wildlife conservation efforts.

Co-owner Bonnie Ferran elaborates on AMI Bird Nerd. “The challenge for beginning bird watchers is overcoming frustration. Often times, at first, bird identification can be overwhelming making the hobby too difficult to enjoy. Our intention is for AMI Bird Nerd to assist beginners in learning skills to better identify birds while avoiding frustration. Beyond birds, We want to help educate Anna Maria and Manatee County locals and visitors about vital Florida ecosystems and safe wildlife viewing practices”.

 Click HERE for rent your bird watching binoculars today!


Robinson Preserve, something for everybody in the month of February

Bradenton – Just over the Manatee bridge leaving Anna Maria Island is one of the areas most popular nature preserves attracting visitors year round. Coming up are two reasons among many to enjoy Robinson Preserve while on vacation.

Robinson Wagon Tour

On Saturday, February 7th from 8-10am, a tour guide while cart you around Robinson Preserve while explaining the preserve’s history, wildlife, flora and fauna. The tour is suitable for all ages and seats are on a first come, first served basis.

Valentine’s Date at Robinson

Start your Valentine’s celebration early on Tuesday, February 10th from 6-8pm  with a master naturalist and two chef’s. Melissa, the master naturalist, and chef’s Brian and Aedan will take you and your partner on a date at Robinson Preserve. You’ll enjoy a sunset from the observation tower where you get learn what really happens iwth the birds and the bees. You’ll also discuss the courting strategies of the preserve’s wildlife. You’ll finish the night up with a delicious desert over a campfire. The night is recommended for ages 16 and up. To reserve call 941-748-4501, ext. 6039.

Directions: Take SR 64 (Manatee Avenue) east from Anna Maria Island to 75th Street West. Turn north on 75th Street West and drive to 17th Avenue Northwest. Turn left and continue to the end of the street. Robinson Preserve is located on the corner of 17th Avenue Northwest and 99th Street West

Address: 1704 99th Street Northwest, Bradenton, FL 34209

Phone:(941) 748-4501 ext. 4602

January events at Robinson Preserve

Bradenton – The weather is beautiful and although you don’t need a reason to be outdoors, there is always something in the area that helps you figure out what to do once you get out of the house. Robinson Preserve is hosting a series of free events this week to give you a taste of the beautiful Manatee County sights and sounds.

Robinson Preserve Nature PReserveOn Thursday January 15th from 10am-11am experience a Tai-Chi and Qigong class. Suitable for beginners and experts, it will include an exploration of both styles of martial arts. Reservations are required. Call 941-742-5757 ext. 6.

Enjoy a Master Gardener tour on Sunday January 18th from 9am-11am with Master Gardener Sam Starrett.

The annual Robinson Preserve Race at Couch to 5K takes place on Tuesday January 20th from 5pm-6pm. The walk and run program starts out slow and is good for runners of all experience levels 13 and up. Reservations are required. Call 941-748-4501 ext. 6044.

The Preserve Ambassadors for Robinson Preserve are joining on Wednesday January 21st from 2pm-4pm. They will be hosting a course designed to help volunteers learn more about Manatee County’s preserve system. The first course focuses on Robinson Preserve’s history, habitats and wildlife. All participants will receive a certificate of completion and pin for this course. Reservations are required. Call 941-748-4501 ext. 6039.


TreeUmph Adventure Courses

Bradenton – Don’t miss out on trying TREEUMPH Adventure Courses just off the island in Bradenton. Enjoy a day of outdoor play in the trees at Southwest Florida’s only elevated adventure course. Bring the family, get together with friends or grab a group from the office for an adrenaline-pumping activity that has something fun for everyone ages 7 and older.

>>> Ages 7 to 9 challenge themselves on our child only course – about a 1.5 hour experience.
>>> Ages 12 and over experience 5 adventure courses and our giant zip line – typically a 3 to 4 hour excursion!
>>> Ages 9 to 11 experience 3 of the 5 courses and our giant zip line – a 2 to 3 hour tour!

Plan. Play. TreeUmph! Book your reservation, come prepared, then swing into action on wobbly bridges, hanging nets, bungee swings, swinging logs, foot bridges, Tarzan ropes, ZIP lines and more. Book your adventure now!


Treeumph adventure courses