2020 Labor Day Showcase – Soccer Tournament

Soccer. It’s a sport loved and played by many across the world. And the Labor Day Showcase is quickly approaching, which means in just a week an estimated 2,100 athletes and an additional 3,500 spectators will be flocking the area to compete in this youth soccer tournament.

The competition is for boys and girls, ages 7 – 19, and will be taking place at the Lakewood Ranch Premier Sports Campus (5895 Post Blvd, Lakewood Ranch, FL 34211). This location is a 140 acre full-time sports complex, equipped with over 20 professional size fields (all being Celebration Turf), and over 40 acres of parking.

After the competition head over to The GROVE Restaurant just off Main Street for a bite to eat.


Jessie’s Island Store in Holmes Beach Anna Maria Island

Jessie’s Island Store is located on the West side of Marina Drive in Holmes Beach, FL and is otherwise known as the Shell gas station.  Jessie’s is a convenience store that offers all the normal convenience store items.  Milk, chips, beverages including alcoholic, candy, maps, and other items that get you through one day or evening.

Obviously the store allows to kill two birds with one stone because you can pick up gasoline for your vehicle also.  Jessie’s offers very reasonable make to order sandwiches, pre-made sandwiches, pasta salads, potato salads, chicken salad, and hot pressed Cubans.
The central location  on Anna Maria Island offers easy access to pick up a quick lunch on your way to the public beach, Holmes Beach skate park, or one of the piers in Anna Maria city.  A quick picnic with the family is just what the doctor ordered!

5424 Marina Drive
Holmes Beach, FL, 34217
(941) 778-6903

Tide Tables Restaurant and Marina in the Cortez Fishing Village

Enjoy some of the best seafood in the local area while overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway at Tide Tables Restaurant and Marina. Tide Tables is located in Bradenton at the base of the Cortez bridge. This place is definitely a favorite among visitors and locals, and for good reasons. The food is always good, the beers are always cold, and the view is unbeatable.

Lets talk about the menu. For something on the lighter side, go for their soup. They have a delicious gumbo with chicken & andouille sausage, as well as homemade soup du jour. For starters, they offer peel & eat shrimp, grouper bites, conch fritters, etc. Their sandwich options include a shrimp po boy, mojo chicken, fresh grouper, and of course a burger. For the main course, there is scallops, corvina, fish tacos, and more! If you’re not a fan of seafood, go for the BBQ ribs or the mojo chicken entree. They also have a great selection of craft and local brews/ciders that are constantly changing.

Tide Tables is open for lunch and dinner everyday, from 11:30am – 8:00pm.

12507 Cortez Rd W
Bradenton, FL 34210

The Dollar Tree on Anna Maria Island Is Great for Cheap Beach Gear and Household Necessities

The Dollar Tree in Holmes Beach is located in the Benderson Plaza by the Island’s CVS and Ace Hardware. The Dollar Tree is super convenient for those on vacation. If you live here, or have visited AMI enough, then you know how crazy busy Publix Supermarket can be. Need some condiments but don’t want to deal with the crowd at Publix? Head over to The Dollar Tree just down the road. They should have what you need, and for only a $1.00 or less! Who doesn’t love saving a little extra cash, especially on vacation!

Another great aspect is that you can pickup some pool noodles and beach toys. There’s no point in spending a pretty penny on things you’ll only use for the week, so go here first for your beach/pool accessories. Of course they also have the typical household items, cleaning supplies, food, snacks, etc. The Dollar Tree in Holmes Beach is definitely worth stopping by and seeing what they’ve got before you go shopping anywhere else.

3260 E Bay Dr, Holmes Beach, FL 34217
(941) 242-6753

How to find the elusive sand dollar on Anna Maria Island.

Sand dollar on beach

Sea cookies, snapper biscuits, sand cakes, pansy shells, or cake urchins. It doesn’t matter what you call them, we all want to leave the beach with at least one perfect specimen to add to our shell collection.


While many visitors come to Anna Maria Island for the ocean breeze, the turquoise water, and the sunshine, you can also add shell collection to the list. The Florida waters are home to thousands of different forms of sea life that wash up on our shores, but few are more sought after than the elusive sand dollar. They adorn frames, vases, candles, necklaces and so much more. It is often said that the sand dollar is worth more than the real dollar.

I find the best beaches on Anna Maria Island for sand dollars is Bean Point. With some good detective work you can find them on Bradenton Beach, Coquina Beach or Anna Maria City Beach and everywhere between.

Rule #1~ Know and love your tide chart. Sand dollars are often found just slightly beneath the mean low water line. In other words, the lowest level reached by the sea at low tide. They can be found on top, or just beneath the surface of the sand in those areas.

Rule #2~ Use your very best sleuthing skills. Scour the sand for round patches or depressions in the sand. The natural holes around petal shaped middle will allow sand to fall in, creating just a hint of a round depression.

Rule #3~ Gently dig to the very bottom of the natural piles of shells. When the shells aggregate on the shore there is usually at least one hiding in there somewhere.

Groups of live sandollars
And you thought your house was crowded!

Rule #4~ Look for the spare change. (That’s what my family calls the little broken pieces of sand dollars.) Living sand dollars love to hang out together. According to the brilliant folks at The Bishop Museum of Science and Art there can be as many as 600 in a single square yard. If you find a lot of broken pieces in the same place then look a little further out into the water. There just may be an intact sand dollar that hasn’t washed up yet.

Rule #5~ Never, EVER, take a live sand dollar (or anything else living for that matter) from the beach. There are many cities where it is illegal and the fines are substantial. The legality aside, it would be a poor environmental choice. The ocean is a very delicate ecosystem. The clear, clean water we enjoy is brought to you in part by the living sand dollars. Sand dollars feed on small food particles in the sand, typically microscopic algae and tiny fragments of other dead animals. You wouldn’t want to go body surfing in that! If the sand dollar still has spines and feet then gently place it back in the water.

Sand dollars can somewhat tricky to find, but that is why it is so exciting when you find one! Hopefully you learned a trick or two that will help you in your hunting. Worse case scenario~ you spent a great day at the beach!

Your guide to shelling on Anna Maria Island beaches!

Shell on Anna Maria Island Beach

It is storming on the island today. The kind of storm where the rain seems to be falling horizontally and the palms sway with such exuberance that you think they may snap. That is great news for anyone who is interested in shelling on any of Anna Maria Island beaches.

During a storm the wind and wave action can wash up all sorts of treasures. From fossils and bits of coral to some of the more rare specimens. The longer the period of time between storms, the more will wash up. When the waters are calm the shells accumulate on the edges of the sandbars. A good ole tropical storm will break up even the most dense aggregate and send them toward shore. If you walk the beaches hours, even a day, after a good storm you are in for a treat. More than likely you will wander across little hills of shells scattered on the sand. Spend some time gently sifting through the collection. Some of the best finds are at the very bottom!

The tide plays a significant roll in the amount of shells to be found on any given beach as well. You will often find more shells 2-3 hours prior to low tide or an hour or so after. You can access a simple tide chart for Anna Maria Island here. If you want to get really technical, the shelling may be even better if you can go the days closest to the full moon. With the full moon comes the increased gravitational pull that can cause tidal extremes. With those extremes comes the shells that are normally still under water.

Don’t be afraid to do the shell shuffle! I have made some of my greatest finds that way. Stand in the water at about waist high and slowly, gently dig around with your toes in the sand. Proceed with caution, some may be sharp!

While enjoying the bounty the ocean has provided, make sure you do your part to protect it. Any garbage is detrimental to the delicate ecosystem of our oceans. Bring two bags, one for shells and one for litter. Sometimes the litter can be its own treasure. You can make a game of it, like a trash treasure hunt. If you want to get really creative make a scavenger hunt list for each member of the shelling group and the winner gets a triple scoop of ice cream from any of Anna Maria Islands fabulous ice cream shops!

You will find shells on any of Anna Maria Islands fabulous beaches. Most people you ask will have their favorite spot. My personal favorite is the path less traveled, Bean Point on the northern part of the island. If you opt to stay in one of the Anna Maria Island waterfront rentals your favorite spot just may be your ‘front yard’. Happy Shelling!

Top Ten things to do with Pets on Anna Maria Island

We love our furry family members, so why leave your pet behind when Island Real Estate Vacations has so many Anna Maria Island pet friendly properties.  The island is very dog friendly with water bowls randomly placed and lots of restaurants that allow pets in outdoor seating areas.    Unfortunately, Anna Maria Island does not have any pet friendly beaches but there are plenty of other options.  By the way, not sure if this is the exact order but they are all great things to do!

Continue reading Top Ten things to do with Pets on Anna Maria Island

Rhinos, Orangutans, and Panthers, Oh my! – Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa!

What makes for a better family outing than a trip to the zoo? Especially if its the amazing Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa. It is a home to over 1,300 animals, including Manatees, Orangutans, Giraffes, and more! Here, they rescue, rehabilitate, and then care for these animals.

This non-profit zoo is 63 acres, and draws over 1 million visitors each year! Which makes sense, because this place is AMAZING!!

The lush, tropical setting truly makes you feel like you have entered a new, wild world. Experience up-close animal encounters, do a behind the scenes tour, and take part in their seasonal events! Tampa is just a short drive from any of our Anna Maria Island Vacation Rentals! Worth the trip every time.

Address:
1101 W Sligh Ave
Tampa, FL 33604

Enjoy a Family Fun Day at Mixon Fruit Farms in East Bradenton

Looking for a fun family day outing? Tired of hanging out on Holmes Beach? Well then head over to Mixon Fruit Farms in East Bradenton (about a 30 minute drive).

Explore their groves, check out their gift shop and market, enjoy some of their delicious ice cream, or grab a bite to eat at the Groveside Cafe.
I suggest doing all of the above!

Mixon’s also shares a portion of the groves with Wildlife Inc. Here, they provide care and shelter for injured animals like birds, reptiles, and more. They offer a wildlife refuge tour where you can meet the animals and see them up close and personal.

There is also a beautiful pavilion here that can be rented out for events and weddings. So if you or someone you know if planning the big day, you might want to have them check this place out!


Last but not least, make sure you place your order and have some of Florida’s famous citrus shipped home for you. From their grove to your door. It’s like shipping sunshine!



Address:
2525 27th St E
Bradenton, FL 34208

Back Alley Treasures – Coffee, Wine, Craft Beer, and Funky Treasures

Get yourself a cup of coffee or an ice cold beer while you shop for local art and unique gifts to bring back home. Back Alley Treasures is a really cool bar and store located on Bridge Street (across the street from the Fish Hole)

Really, this place is super funky and fun. Find art by local artists, jewelry, clothing, stained glass, etc. Everything in this place is colorful and fun. Even if you don’t buy anything, It’s a great place to get a drink and hangout.

Speaking of drinks, they have tons to choose from. There are coffee drinks, smoothies, frozen lemonade, beer, and wine. Plus, you can make any of their smoothies or lemonades boozy, or ask for your coffee drink to be spiked. On one of our hot summer days, a frozen lemonade with a little (or a lot) of alcohol sounds pretty nice if you ask me.

Back Alley Treasures is open Monday – Saturday from 9AM – 8PM, and open Sunday from 9AM – 5PM.

Address:
108 Historic, Bridge St
Bradenton Beach, 34217