The Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe

The AMI Beach Cafe is a great toes in the sand dining spot! Imagine this, the beach, the sun, the sand, people watching, AND FOOD! It doesn’t get any better than that!
This is the perfect place for breakfast on the island. Enjoy your cup of coffee, maybe even an order of their all-you-can-eat pancakes, and take in the gorgeous Gulf view. Oh, you didn’t wake up for breakfast did you? That’s okay because they serve lunch and dinner too! Don’t worry they didn’t forget about you late risers.  If you think I skipped telling you about putting on regular clothes, your wrong, I didn’t. You can wear anything here, your swim suit, pajamas, work clothes, wedding dress, anything. Ordering is quick, simple, and fun. Just pick your favorite menu option, place your order at the window, pay for the meal, grab a number, then sit back and wait.

An atmosphere like this is hard to find. Laid back people, sunshine and waves, live music, it is absolute perfection. Chances are, if you’ve been to the Island, you’ve most likely enjoyed a meal at the Beach Cafe. And if you haven’t, then what are you waiting for? There is a reason not only tourists, but locals as well, love this place! They also have ice cream and shopping! Yes, you can cool down with a scoop of cookies’ n cream ice cream for dessert and then stroll right on into the gift shop for some island memorabilia.

 

Oh, and that’s not all!

The Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe also offers beach rentals. They offer rentals for beach chairs, cabanas, and umbrellas. Even better, upon request they offer beach wheelchairs.

 

Where: 4000 Gulf Drive  Holmes Beach, FL 34217
Phone: (941) 778-0784
Hours: Open EVERYDAY from 7:30am – 8pm
Breakfast ends at 11am Monday – Friday, and noon on SATURDAY and Sunday

 

Local Art Events

Our charming little island of Anna Maria and surrounding areas have always been big on art. So it should come as no surprise that there is an abundance of local art events taking place throughout the year. Below is a list of art events on Anna Maria Island, Bradenton, and Sarasota.

 

Anna Maria Island

 

Winterfest:
If you’re free the second weekend of December, head over to Winterfest, a Festival of Fine Arts & Crafts Show taking place at City Hall Field in Holmes Beach. This event is sponsored by the Anna Maria Island Art League and features food, drinks, live music, and of course some arts and crafts you can purchase from local artists.
Plus, admission and parking are free!
Where: 5801 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, FL, 34217
When: Second weekend of December (Saturday and Sunday)
Time: 10am – 4:30pm

 

. Springfest:
Springfest (just like Winterfest) is a Festival of Fine Arts & Crafts that takes  place in Holmes Beach every March. This weekend event features art, activities, food, drinks and live music! Proceeds will benefit the Anna Maria Island Art League which offers scholarships and other art education programs to local students.
Where: City Hall Field  (5901 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, FL, 34217)
When: Second weekend of March (Saturday and Sunday)
Time: 10am – 5pm

 

. Holmes Beach Art District Art Walk
Every year, local art galleries and retail businesses participate in the Holmes Beach Art District Art Walk. The locations participating in the event will be featuring local art exhibits, complimentary refreshments, music, and lots of fun! The Art Walk is a wonderful way to explore and view art from local artists we know and love.
Where: There are different Island businesses that participate every year. You can check the Island Chamber of Commerce website to find what locations will participating in the Art Walk, for the year you ill be attending.
When: Begins the second Friday of January, and takes place every SECOND Friday of the month, until the second Friday of April.
Time: 5:30pm – 7:30pm

 

Bradenton

 . ArtSlam:
“A Celebration of Youth & Creativity!” is exactly how the Realize Bradenton website describes the event ArtSlam. It is a day where local students and artists get the opportunity to take their art from the classroom/studio, and out on Old Main Street in Downtown Bradenton. It is a chance where the community gets to observe and celebrate Manatee County’s talented and creative youth.
Where: Old Main Street in Downtown Bradenton (400 12th St W, Bradenton, FL, 34205)
When: First Saturday of March
Time: 9am – 4pm

 

 

. Mixon Farms Antique Arts and Crafts Fair:
Mixon Fruit Farms in Bradenton hosts a arts & crafts fair every 4th Saturday from April, through September. The fair features local vendors, and is sure to be a fun day for the whole family.
Where: Mixon Farms, 2525 27th Street E Bradenton, FL 34208
When: Every fourth Saturday, from April through September
Time: 10am – 3pm

 

. Mainly Art
If you love art and a good ole farmers market, then you should check out Mainly Art in Downtown Bradenton. It is an event where local artists/craftspeople are able to display and sell their work. Aside from the arts & crafts, there is also live music, and food. The best part is that Mainly Art connects with the farmers market on Main Street.
Where: Main Street, Downtown Bradenton, FL
When: Every third Saturday from October to May.
Time: 9am – 2pm

 

. Fine Arts Festival of Manatee County:
A 2 day event full of spectacular works of art in all different forms is exactly what you’ll find at the Fine Arts Festival of Manatee County! Yet another art event taking place in Downtown Bradenton, this event showcases; ceramics, digital media, drawing, glass, jewelry, leather, acrylic, oil, watercolor, photography, and so much more.
Where: Riverwalk, Downtown Bradenton, FL, 34205
When: Last weekend of February (Saturday and Sunday)
Time: 10am – 5pm Saturday and 10am – 4pm Sunday

Sarasota 

 

. Chalk Festival:
The International Chalk Festival is four day event that takes place typically in Sarasota Florida, or Venice Florida. Watch the largest gathering of extremely talented, and famous pavement artists create masterpieces from start to finish. Other featured activities include food trucks, beer gardens, live music, and interactive art areas.
Where: After six seasons of taking place in Burns Square in downtown Sarasota, the 2017 and 2018 events have taken place at the Venice Airport Fairgrounds. (675 Airport Ave East, Venice, FL 34285)
When: Begins the second Friday of November, and runs until the following Monday.
Time: 8am – 6pm

 

 

 

 

 

. Sarasota Spring Fine Arts Festival:
If you’ve been needing a new art piece for your home, or enjoy collecting art, you want to visit the Sarasota Spring Fine Arts Festival. The event is hosted by Sarasota Downtown Merchants Association and features; paintings, sculptures, jewelry, photography, glass, ceramics, fiber and wearable art, mixed-media, woodworking, etc.
Where: 33 Gulf Stream, Sarasota, FL  34236
When: Second weekend of March (Saturday and Sunday)
Time: 10am – 5pm

 

 

Local Festivals You Won’t Want to Miss

Below you’ll find information on all of the fun local festivals taking place on and off the island! You’ll end up wanting to take part in every single one.

On Anna Maria Island:

. Heritage Day Festival:
The Heritage Day festival takes place on Pine Avenue in Anna Maria City, and is sponsored by the Anna Maria Island Historical Society. If you’re a history fanatic, this event is right up your alley. Ever wondered how to spin wool, make a bonnet, or create a basket out of pine needles? Well you’re in luck! Featured demonstrators will show you how to do all of that. With a children section, collectible sale, and a silent auction, it is sure to be enjoyed by everyone not matter what age they are.
P.S.  Don’t forget to pick up some of the produce, herbs and “Settlers Bread” that will be on sale while you’re there!
Where: 402 Pine Ave, Anna Maria, FL 34216
When: First Saturday of March
Time: Usually 9am – 2pm

 

 

 

. Beach’N Food Truck and Music Festival:
If you’re interested in a food and music festival on a white sandy beach with turquoise waters as your view, then you need to stop by the Beach’N Food Truck and Music Festival on Coquina Beach in the month of April! This all day event is family friendly and entrance is free. There will be a kid zone, car show, live music, adult beverages, and a variety of delicious food trucks.
Where: 2650 Gulf Drive South, Bradenton Beach, FL, 34217
When: The past few years dates have varied, though the event is held on a Saturday in the month of April
Time: 10am – 8pm

 

Winterfest:
If you’re free the second weekend of December, head over to Winterfest, a Festival of Fine Arts & Crafts Show taking place at City Hall Field in Holmes Beach. This event is sponsored by the Anna Maria Island Art League and features food, drinks, live music, and of course some arts and crafts you can purchase from local artists.
Plus, admission and parking are free!
Where: 5801 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, FL, 34217
When: Second weekend of December (Saturday and Sunday)
Time: 10am – 4:30pm

 

 

. Springfest:
Springfest (just like Winterfest) is a Festival of Fine Arts & Crafts that takes  place in Holmes Beach every March. This weekend event features art, activities, food, drinks and live music! Proceeds will benefit the Anna Maria Island Art League which offers scholarships and other art education programs to local students.
Where: City Hall Field  (5901 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, FL, 34217)
When: Second weekend of March (Saturday and Sunday)
Time: 10am – 5pm

 

Bayfest:
We have an entire blog about Bayfest, check it out!

 

Off the Island:

. Bradenton Blues Festival:
A weekend full of exceptional live blues music, food vendors, and local craft beer is exactly what you’re in store for at the annual Bradenton Blues Festival in Downtown Bradenton. This event sells out FAST, so if you’re going to be in town or on the island during this time of year and want to attend this fun filled festival, purchase your tickets ASAP! This event is produced by the non-profit organization Realize Bradenton, and proceeds will support Realize Bradenton’s free youth, art, and music programs for the community.
Where: 452 3rd Ave W, Bradenton, FL, 34205
When: First weekend of December (Friday – Sunday)
Time: Begins 6pm Friday, ends 2pm Sunday
Tickets: Tickets for the festival range from $10 – $100 depending on type of ticket purchased.
For ticket info and pricing please check out the link, http://www.bradentonbluesfestival.org/tickets/.

 

. Florida Strawberry Festival:
If you are visiting Anna Maria Island in the Spring then the Florida Strawberry Festival is a great event to visit.  The Florida Strawberry festival takes place in Plant City, Fl and typically lasts 11 days. There are crafts you can purchase, rides to go on, plenty of choices for lunch or dinner and of course every variety of strawberry dessert you can imagine. The Strawberry Festival is definitely worth the drive!
Where: 303 N Lemon St, Plant City, FL 33563
When: Usually begins the first Friday of March, and continues 11 consecutive days.
Time: The gates open daily at 10am, and close at 10pm
Ticket Price(s): Ages 13 and up are $10, ages 6-12 are $5, and ages 5 and under are FREE with paid adult admission.

 

.Cortez Fishing Festival:
We have an entire blog about the Cortez Fishing Festival, check it out!

 

. Chalk Festival:
The International Chalk Festival is four day event that takes place typically in Sarasota Florida, or Venice Florida. Watch the largest gathering of extremely talented, and famous pavement artists create masterpieces from start to finish. Other featured activities include food trucks, beer gardens, live music, and interactive art areas.
Where: After six seasons of taking place in Burns Square in downtown Sarasota, the 2017 and 2018 events have taken place at the Venice Airport Fairgrounds (675 Airport Ave East, Venice, FL 34285).
When: Begins the second Friday of November, and runs until the following Monday.
Time: 8am – 6pm
Ticket Price(S): For the exact price of tickets for each day please visit, https://chalkfestival.org/events/see-you-in-2017.

 

 

. Sarasota Film Festival:
With over 200 movies screened each year (including documentaries, shorts, features, kid-friendly picks, and more), the Sarasota Film Festival is a wonderful event to attend if you’re a cinema enthusiast. Taking place in Sarasota, Florida, this film festival is among the best in the world. It is a 10 day celebration of film that has been going on for over 20 years, and with how popular it is, it is sure to keep going on for another 20.
Where: 332 Cocoanut Avenue Sarasota, FL 34236
When: This event takes place at the end of March/beginning of April, for ten consecutive days. Make sure you look up the event dates for the year you’ll be attending.
Time: Take a look at the film guide for dates and times of the films being shown and activities taking place.
Ticket(s):

 

 

. Fine Arts Festival of Manatee County:
A 2 day event full of spectacular works of art in all different forms is exactly what you’ll find at the Fine Arts Festival of Manatee County! Yet another art event taking place in Downtown Bradenton, this event showcases; ceramics, digital media, drawing, glass, jewelry, leather, acrylic, oil, watercolor, photography, and so much more.
Where: Riverwalk, Downtown Bradenton, FL, 34205
When: Last weekend of February (Saturday and Sunday)
Time: 10am – 5pm Saturday and 10am – 4pm Sunday

 

. Sarasota Spring Fine Arts Festival:
If you’ve been needing a new art piece for your home, or enjoy collecting art, you want to visit the Sarasota Spring Fine Arts Festival. The event is hosted by Sarasota Downtown Merchants Association and features; paintings, sculptures, jewelry, photography, glass, ceramics, fiber and wearable art, mixed-media, woodworking, etc.
Where: 33 Gulf Stream, Sarasota, FL  34236
When: Second weekend of March (Saturday and Sunday)
Time: 10am – 5pm

 

 

 

Annual Anna Maria Island Bayfest

 

If you plan to be on or near Anna Maria Island in mid-October, than you’ll definitely want to check out the annual Anna Maria Island Bayfest on Pine Avenue in Anna Maria City! This is an extremely entertaining , family friendly festival that will definitely please everyone in your group, no matter their age. The event features; a classic car show, a great lineup of live music, tons of yummy food vendors from popular local restaurants, adult beverages, arts and crafts vendors, a kid zone, and of course plenty of fun.

Bayfest usually takes place the third Saturday of October from about 10am to 9pm, and there is no charge for admission. It’s the longest running  music, crafts and food festival, and continues to be one of the most popular Island events every year. If you don’t already have plans to be here, you should make some!

When: Usually the third Saturday of October
Where: Pine Ave, Anna Maria, FL, 34216
Time: 10am to 9pm
Ticket Price: FREE
Parking Info: There are a few options for parking/transportation:
. Take a ride on the free island trolley to Pine Ave.
You can park at Crosspointe Fellowship Church (8605 Gulf Dr, Holmes Beach, FL 34217) and hop on the free trolley that will be transporting people from the church, to the City Pier at the end of Pine Ave.
. There is some neighborhood street parking but BE CAUTIOUS. Pay attention to the signs that indicate where parking is permitted, make sure all four tires are off the road and sidewalks, and park with the direction of traffic.

Click here for a vendor application

Crowds gather for the Bayfest event in Anna Maria City

Local Easter Events & Church Services

 

If your vacation overlaps Easter Sunday this year, or this is your first Easter being an Anna Maria Island resident, no worries! There are plenty of local Easter events on and off the island to get yourself and the kiddos out of the house and in the holiday spirit. Whether it’s a church service, or some Easter Bunny fun, there is something to do for everyone.

Easter Egg Hunts:

A classic Easter tradition, and certainly the kids favorite, is of course the Easter egg hunt! Luckily one of the best local egg hunts for children 10 and under takes place right here on Anna Maria Island the Saturday before Easter, thanks to the Sandbar Restaurant. The Annual Sandbar Egg Hunt is a favorite for everyone involved and is probably the most well-known activity taking place on the island for Easter year after year. After the egg hunt fun, there is typically a parade right after lead by the Easter Bunny himself down Pine Avenue.
Where: Sandbar Restaurant, 100 Spring Ave, Anna Maria, FL 34216
When: The Saturday before Easter Sunday
Time: Event typically begins at 9am
Who: Children 10 and under

 

Maybe you’ve already done the Easter egg hunt at the Sandbar, and want to check out a different one this year. Well if that’s the case, we highly suggest checking out the Community Easter Egg Hunt held every year at GT Bray Park in Bradenton. Kids get the chance to meet the Easter Bunny and fill their baskets with plastic eggs, which are later turned in for candy. They usually offer other activities like bounce houses, face painting, and more! This is a super fun event and draws thousands of families every year.
Where: 5502 33rd Ave Dr W, Bradenton, FL 34209

When: This event varies every year. It has been done the Sunday before Easter, the Saturday before Easter, and Easter Sunday in previous years. Double check the date for the event for the year you’ll be attending.
Time: Usually 2:30 pm to 4pm

 

 

Easter Worship Services:

Anna Maria Island offers a multitude of Easter services for you to choose from, Including a Easter Sunday sunrise service on the beach!

 

Kiwanis Club’s 49th Annual Sunset Service on the Beach:
Come worship on the beach Easter Sunday.
Where:
 Manatee County Public Beach.
When: Easter Sunday
Time: Typically 6:30am

 

CrossPointe Fellowship (Baptist Church)
CrossPointe offers a service on Good Friday, and a Easter Sunday service.
Where:
8605 Gulf Dr, Holmes Beach, FL 34217
When: Good Friday AND Easter Sunday
Time: 7pm Friday / 10:30am Sunday

 

The Episcopal Church of the Annunciation
The Episcopal Church of the Annunciation offers a service on Maundy Thursday which includes foot washing, stripping of the altar and the vigil in the garden. They also have services on Good Friday, and three Easter Sunday.
Where:
4408 Gulf Dr, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217
When:
Thursday, Friday, AND Sunday
Time: 7pm Thursday / noon Friday / 7:30am, 9am, AND 11am Sunday

 

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church offers services Maundy Thursday, two on Good Friday, and two Easter Sunday including a fellowship brunch in between.
Where: 6608 Marina Dr, Holmes Beach, FL 34217
When: Thursday, Friday, AND Sunday
Time: 7pm Thursday / noon AND 7pm Friday / 8am service, 9am brunch, 10:30am service

 

Harvey Memorial Community Church
Harvey Memorial Community Church will be holding their regular Easter Sunday service.
Where:
300 Church St N, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217
When: Sunday only
Time: 9:30am

 

Roser Memorial Community Church
Roser Memorial Community Church offers services the Thursday before Easter in celebration of the Last Supper, Good Friday, and two services Easter Sunday.
Where: 512 Pine Ave, Anna Maria, FL 34216
When: Thursday, Friday, AND Sunday
Time: 7pm Thursday / noon Friday / 9am and 11am Sunday

 

St. Bernard’s Catholic Church
St. Bernard’s Catholic Church will be holding a mass on Palm Sunday, Holy Week mass the following Wednesday, Mass of the Lord’s Last Supper Thursday. There will be no morning Mass on Good Friday, but there will be a Blessing of Easter Baskets at 10 a.m. and an Easter Vigil Mass at 8 p.m. On Easter Sunday, there will be Masses at 8am and two masses at 10am, one Mass in the church and one in the Parish Hall. Kids will be able to hunt for Easter eggs after the 10am Masses.
Where: 248 S Harbor Dr, Holmes Beach, FL 34217
When: Palm Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, AND Sunday
Time: Usually 8am and 10am Palm Sunday / 8:30am Wednesday / 7pm Thursday / 9:45pm Friday / 8am and 10am Sunday

 

No matter where you are, near or far, have a wonderful Easter from everyone at Island Real Estate

Local Halloween Events

Children participating in Trail of Treats pose for a group photo outside our office

Welcome to Halloween on Anna Maria Island! If you’ve never been on or near AMI during the spookiest time of year, you’re in for a treat. There’s a great selection of local family friendly events that everyone is sure to enjoy.

 

Trail of Treats, Anna Maria Island FL:
Between 4pm and 8pm on October 31st, many island businesses on all three island cities participate in the Trail of Treats. This is an event that gives kids ages 0-12 the opportunity to trick or treat safely, and take part in a fun costume contest. Check in for the Trail of Treats costume contest by 3:30pm, at the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce. This is a super exciting event for the kids and an island favorite every year!
Where: Costume Contest will be held at the AMI Chamber of Commerce (5313 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, FL, 34217)
When: October 31st
Time:  Costume Contest check in ends at 3:30pm, Trail of Treats will immediately follow until 8pm

 

A friendly scarecrow waves hello to visitors at Hunsaders Farm

Hunsader Farm Pumpkin Festival, Bradenton FL:
Probably the most popular event with the locals this time of year is the famous Hunsader Pumpkin Festival on Hunsader Farms in Bradenton. The event has taken place every October for over 25 years and continues to draw in large crowds every time. Usually taking place from 9am – 5pm the last three weekends of October, the pumpkin festival includes activities such as: Craft shows, live music, hayrides, a petting zoo, tons of food, and so much more! Admission is $10, parking is $5, and kids 12 and under are free.
This event is definitely worth the drive from the Island to town!
Where: 5500 Co Rd 675, Bradenton, FL 34211
When: Last three weekends of October (Saturday and Sunday)
Time: 9am – 5pm
Tickets: $10 admission (children 12 and under are free), $5 parking fee



Sertoma Pumpkin Patch, Bradenton FL:

If you want to test out your pumpkin carving skills, check out the Sertoma Pumpkin Patch in Bradenton. They have every size of pumpkin and tons of them to pick from. The pumpkin patch proceeds go to local charities and scholarships, and is open Every day of the week!
Where:  Jesse P. Miller School, 4201 Manatee Ave. West, Bradenton, FL, 34209
When: Typically begins first Saturday of October until Halloween day
Time: Monday to Friday 2pm – 9pm,  Saturday to Sunday  10am – 9pm

Join in on the fun on Anna Maria Island This Halloween!!

 

Tip: If carving pumpkins is too much of a mess and you don’t enjoy pumpkin guts all over your table, a fun alternative is getting some seashells from Raders Reef on AMI (5508 Marina Dr # B, Holmes Beach, FL 34217) to decorate!

 

Fun Christmas Activities on & off the Island

Santa Clause makes a visit to Anna Maria Island in his sleigh

Christmas always feels a bit magical when it comes around each year. Beautiful, colorful, twinkling lights line homes and businesses on every street, and Christmas music plays from every radio station. Anna Maria Island may not be able to offer a white Christmas with snow angels, but we certainly can offer a fun tropical Christmas that will make all your family and friends up north jealous. The Island goes all out for Christmas time with a fabulous parade, a tree lighting ceremony, and more!

Check out the different events taking place during the holiday below!

 

Privateer’s Christmas Parade:
The Anna Maria Island Privateer’s Parade is a wonderful experience and brings joy to everyone viewing and participating in the event. The parade travels the entire length of the island, beginning at Bay Front Park in Anna Maria, and ending at Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach. Once the parade is over, the man in red (also known as Santa) will be handing out gifts to the kiddos. Come out to watch or apply to be in the parade itself. If you want to be a part of the Anna Maria Island Privateer’s Parade you can visit this link, http://www.annamariaislandchamber.org/events/privateers-christmas-parade/, and print out a Parade application to send in!
When: The second Saturday of December
Where: Entire length of Island
Time: 10am – 12:30pm

 

 

Holmes Beach Open House & Tree Lighting:
An evening to stroll the downtown Holmes Beach shopping and art district and a festive tree lighting celebration is a great way to get in the holiday spirit if you ask me. The Holmes Beach Holiday Open House & Tree Lighting event starts off the evening with a beautiful tree lighting celebration in the Anna Maria Chamber of Commerce parking lot, and then it’s time to explore and shop. Crosspointe Fellowship carolers along with Santa and his slay will truly bring out the Christmas spirit.
Where: Tree Lighting will take place at:  5313 Gulf Dr, Holmes Beach, FL 34217
When: First Friday of December
Time: 5pm – 9pm, Tree lighting will be at 6pm

 

 

Christmas on Bridge Street:
Yet another awesome family-friendly event on the Island during Christmas time is the annual event Christmas on Bridge Street. With an abundance of free entertainment, it’s sure to be a blast for every age. Live music, face painting, a visit from Santa, and so much more! Did I mention a variety of food, wine, and beer? Because there will also be plenty of that.
You’ll definitely want to take the whole family to enjoy this fun filled day on Bridge Street.
Where:  Bridge St, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217
When: Third Saturday of December
Time: Noon – 10pm

 

 

Winterfest:
If you’re free the second weekend of December, head over to Winterfest, a Festival of Fine Arts & Crafts Show taking place at City Hall Field in Holmes Beach. This event is sponsored by the Anna Maria Island Art League and features food, drinks, live music, and of course some arts and crafts you can purchase from local artists.
Plus, admission and parking are free!
Where: 5801 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, FL, 34217
When: Second weekend of December (Saturday and Sunday)
Time: 10am – 4:30pm

 

The AMI Privateers aboard their ship for the Christmas Parade

 

 

 

The Annual Cortez Fishing Festival

 

The Cortez Fishing Festival, a local tradition and rightly so with the delicious fresh seafood and old Florida atmosphere it brings. The festival which takes place in Cortez’s historic fishing village is a fun filled day for everyone. Enjoy fantastic live music, nautical art, and plenty of delicious seafood for you to munch on. This event is a favorite for visitors and locals, which is why it draws a crowd of around 20,000 people! The Cortez Fishing Festival certainly keeps growing and getting better each year. The festival is organized entirely by a volunteer committee of the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (F.I.S.H.), a Florida not-for-profit corporation.

*Expert tip: the earlier/later you get to the festival, the less of a crowd there will be. If you don’t enjoy large crowds, avoid going mid-day*

What you need to know:

Where:
Cortez Fishing Village
Cortez, FL 34215

When:
Usually takes place the 3rd weekend (Saturday and Sunday) of February.

Time:
10am to 6pm

Admission:
Adults – $4
Children 12 and under – FREE

Parking:
Every year there is something new at the Festival. Festival goers will want to note that there is a remote parking area in west Bradenton. You can avoid the traffic and enjoy the bus ride with your friends to the Festival ($2.50 round trip). The new parking site is located at G. T. Bray Park (5502 33rd Ave. Dr. W., Bradenton, 34209). Just turn east off of 59th St. onto 33rd Ave. W. You can’t miss it. As in past years, this same shuttle service is being provided from the remote parking area located at Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island. Island folks can take the free trolley to the parking site.

Also, the parking area just east of the village off of Cortez Road has been expanded again this year. But get there early or later in the day as this parking area tends to fill up quickly. Parking spots open up later in the day.

Another option is to park in the western part of town. Many folks manage small parking areas throughout the village with some charging a fee depending on how close they are to the village.

Anna Maria Island Kayak Rentals

Anna Maria Island is the perfect place to experience kayaking! And with tons of local companies that rent them out and offer guided tours, it’s a breeze to get a hold of one.

Anna Maria Island Kayak Rentals are Fun

Kayaking is fabulous fun and great exercise. It is truly beautiful paddling around the gulf or bay side of the island with little man made noises. You may also walk away with a once in a life time dolphin or manatee encounter. Its fairly common and its best to ask the kayak operator for suggestions where to find the natural settings you crave. Kayak tours are fairly inexpensive and you gain a different perspective looking at properties, the shoreline, or canals from a kayak.  There are several kayak rental shops on the island.

Anna Maria Island Kayak rentals
Anna Maria Island kayak rentals are a fun and unique way to explore island waterways.

 

 

Beach Bums: 
Address: 427 Pine Ave, Anna Maria, FL 34216
Phone: (941) 778-3316
Offers kayak rentals and kayak tours

 

Kayak Jacks:
Address: This is a mobile kayak rental company that will come to you
Phone: 941-538-1448
Offers 24 hour and weekly kayak rentals

 

Fun and More Rentals:
Address: 5347 Gulf Dr, Holmes Beach, FL 34217
Phone: 941-462-2719
Offers double and single kayak rentals

 

Surferbus:
Address: 9800 Manatee Ave W, Bradenton, FL 34209 (on the causway off Manatee Ave.)
Phone: 941-527-6355
Offers single and double kayak rentals

 

Happy Paddler:
Address: They use several different local launch sites, no set address
Phone: (941) 773-1920
Offers single and double kayak rentals, as well as kayak tours

 

 

The Beautiful Beaches of Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Island is a barrier island surrounded by beautiful warm waters of both the Gulf of Mexico, and Tampa Bay. Even though the island is only seven miles long, there are some distinct differences in the beach areas. All the beaches on Anna Maria Island are located in Manatee County, are public,  and are open for everyone to enjoy. Guidelines are “dusk to dawn” for beach times. This means after enjoying our world class sunsets, it’s a good plan to pack up and leave the beach until the next day.

The southernmost city on Anna Maria Island is Bradenton Beach. This city has a narrower coastline and is home to the infamous Coquina Beach, where you can find its namesake – tiny shellfish that burrow in the sand as the waves crash back out. You’ll find a fun concession stand with restrooms and showers available at there as well. You may even find some sharks teeth wash ashore toward the southern end of Coquina Beach!

Further north into Holmes Beach is what locals may refer to as Manatee Beach. It’s at the end of Manatee Avenue traveling onto the island and has plenty of parking, a large concession stand with a shop, restrooms, showers and even music on weekends. As a family favorite spot, you’ll find a play area for kids, volleyball nets and lots of people enjoying the beautiful scenery. Lifeguards are on duty here as well, so you can feel safe both on the sand and in the water.

If you’re looking for a more peaceful, quiet beach day a few blocks up into northern Holmes Beach and southern Anna Maria City is the spot for you. From 50th Street to Spring Ave the beach is wide and walkers enjoy strolling, looking for shells and frolicking dolphins. Parking can be an issue here so please makes sure you park on the correct side of the street and only where the “beach access” signs are posted. You won’t find any restrooms or foot washes along these areas, just soft white sand and beautiful aqua waters.

Beach Point is located at the very tip of Anna Maria Island and it’s where the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay meet. You can actually see the changing tides of the water! The only downfall to this amazing spot is that swimming is not recommended because of the risk for strong currents and riptides. But you will find that most people go for the views and the tranquility.

Each section of the beach on Anna Maria has its own feel, so make sure to explore them all and find your personal favorite.

We hope you enjoy everything AMI and our beaches have to offer