One thing you’ll never be on Anna Maria Island is bored! There are so many activities in the area, you could plan a full day and never cross over to the mainland! From fishing and wildlife watching to lazing on the best beach in the area, our Local Scene blog has the best of the best in things to do from Holmes Beach, Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach and even farther south into Longboat Key and Sarasota!
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
If you’re looking for great food with a beautiful view of the Intracoastal, take a short ride over the Cortez Bridge from Anna Maria Island to the Seafood Shack.
Located on the western shoreline of the old Cortez Fishing Village on what is called Hunter’s Point, Seafood Shack has been serving up fresh off the boat seafood since 1972.
Today Seafood Shack is as popular as ever with a menu including something for any pallet, fabulous views, and a full service bar. The menu offers great fresh seafood such as bacon wrapped scallops, fish tacos and a grouper sandwich. If you aren’t a seafood fan try out their meat like the NY Strip or the Classic Burger.
Along with fresh caught seafood, local growers such as Geraldson Community Farms provide fresh sourced produce to this fine eatery. Enjoy daily fresh catch specials, or have the chef cook up your own catch of the day with the “Hook to Platter” special. For just $14.99 bring in your own fresh caught and cleaned fish, and the Seafood Shack chefs will prepare it to your liking.
Seafood Shack offers three different venues for banquets along with catering services. Enjoy a gorgeous wedding destination with no detail overlooked at this gorgeous waterfront restaurant.
The Marina offers several first come first serve boat slips for both large and small vessels. The Marina offers fabulous amenities including shower/bathroom facility, free wireless, boat/trailer storage and nearby gas and diesel. If you aren’t arriving by boat, experience the area with one of Seafood Shacks suggested charters.
Anna Maria has a new walk up snack option with the Waffle Press, located next to Pineapple Junction at 425 Pine Ave. This cozy spot specializes in Liege waffles, a sweeter and smaller cousin of the well-known Belgian waffle. Liege waffles are dough based and yeast raised, caramelized on the outside and with crunch of pearl sugar throughout. Each fluffy, crispy bite is amazing!
Waffle Press has a few yummy creations to choose from such as the Grand Slam which includes peanut butter, chocolate and bananas yet you can still create your own masterpiece with any mixture of toppings. If you are a purist, order the aptly named Purist which is a simple waffle with a sprinkling of cinnamon or sugar. It may have a simple name yet the taste is anything but simple! During my visit I opted for the Canadian which had maple butter and bacon on top of the hot freshly made waffle. There are also savory options and my friend tried the Birdie which included turkey, bacon, avocado and tomato jam. Both were amazing!
Smoothies, coffee including espresso and cappuccino are featured as well. Nondairy mylk options are available plus a few locally sourced baked goods. The day I was there the bagels looked amazing and I was tempted to indulge yet resisted, knowing I can go back.
Stop in the Waffle Press next time you visit AMI for breakfast, a snack or maybe dessert after enjoying dinner at any of the island’s fantastic eateries.
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.
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
The fresh Fish Market on Anna Maria Island in Holmes Beach is a great local shop to purchase really great, fresh local fish. They offer a wonderful selection of fresh catches such as red snapper, salmon, shrimp, and much more. The selection changes daily with the availability of the fish. They only offer the freshest fish, thus the name Fresh Fish Market!
When you order your fish, they fillet it for you right on the spot and also offer some really great recipe ideas. If you are unsure of the best cooking methodology just ask, they are pros and can give you plenty of ideas on how to cook your fresh Anna Maria Island seafood.
The Fresh Fish Market located in Holmes Beach often has several seafood recipe cards sitting out for ideas on what to have for dinner or lunch. On our most recent visit the Ahi Tuna with Mango & Avocado recipe card caught my eye and will be our next seafood cooking adventure.
The Fresh Fish Market of Holmes Beach, Anna Maria Island has more than just raw fish, they also offer a selection of fresh made soups such as New England Clam Chowder. The Fresh Fish market also has a variety of fresh spices and organic foods provided by Front Door Organics.
If you are looking for a quick bite to eat they have a small spot to sit and offer fresh made to order salads that can have freshly prepared fish or shrimp added on top! Wonderful selections of hot chocolate, vegetables, and fruit.
The Fresh Fish Market of Anna Maria Island is a must visit if cooking fresh seafood is on your list of things to do while on Vacation!
5604 Marina Dr. Holmes Beach, Fl 34217 941-567-6130
Want more choices for fresh fish? Two great options are both located in Cortez, Florida. Just off Anna Maria Island in the Village of Cortez. Starfish Company is a great choice and just to the East of Starfish Company is the Cortez Kitchen. Both sell raw seafood that you can grab and cook.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.