Island Driving for City Slickers

Island Driving for City Slickers

Anna Maria Island – For most folks, all it takes is crossing over the causeway for the stresses of the real world to be washed away by sunshine and salty air; others may need a reminder or two. Once you see that beautiful “Welcome to Anna Maria Island” sign, you can relax, you should relax, you paid good money to relax, you came here to relax, that should include when you are behind the wheel of your car.

You work hard all year, meet deadlines, crunch numbers, pay bills, raise kids, fight traffic so that you can come here and chill. There are no hurries or traffic jams in our magical paradise.

So, during your stay here take a deep breath and ‘cruise’. Try to remember what it was like to actually enjoy a scenic drive. Because you will be hard pressed to find better scenery than this.

To help you transition into ‘Zen Island Driving’ here are some handy tips:

#1 You must stop at a designated crosswalks WHEN pedestrians are present.

#2 You DON’T stop at every designated crosswalk when there are no pedestrians present (and I am behind you on my way to work!).

#3 Gold Carts are FUN! They do come with some unique rules though. You must have a valid drivers license to operate so don’t let the kiddos drive. Everyone must wear a seatbelt, you can only use it from sunrise to sunset AND stay off the sidewalks and bike paths.

#4 The trolley (featured in the image at the top of the page) is NOT a school bus. If you are in oncoming lanes, you don’t need to stop. (unless you are at a crosswalk and there are pedestrians present.)((Or unless it  isn’t a trolley and it IS a school bus!))

#5 It is easy to get distracted by all of the palm trees swaying in the breeze, but keep an eye out for unexpected stop signs, bicyclists,  club cars, golf carts, segways, beachgoers and most of all, other distracted drivers!

#6 There is no rush on Anna Maria. PERIOD! So slow down! Our speed limits are set to protect our residents and guests and they are STRICTLY enforced!

#7 Forget your car has a  horn– they upset our wild parrots and whoever you are beeping at is probably lost or doesn’t care.

#8 Take the FREE trolley! There are trolley stops up and down the island and you can hop on and off as much as you like all day, every day!

#9 Be mindful of the speed limits! Just as important as not going OVER the posted limit try not to travel too far UNDER the limit. Be mindful of pedestrians and birds, yet going 15mph in a 35 zone just backs up traffic for no reason.

The whole point of being here for visitors and residents alike is to be in paradise. As a guest on Anna Maria Island, we welcome you and hope you enjoy every ray of sunshine and every wave dancing up to the beach. We also want you to be safe and happy, so go do it.!

Real Estate Market Conditions

Real Estate Market Conditions

The Real Estate Market on Anna Maria Island, and all of Manatee County, continues to be HOT with number of sales almost four times that of 2020*.

Inventory is at a record low yet demand has not diminished. Properties are selling fast and often for over list price. Fewer new construction projects are turning buyers to explore existing homes to either remodel or enjoy as is. Estimates of nearly 1000 people moving to Florida each day create this housing issue, our new residents need to find living space in order to establish residency. With more and more workers still reporting remotely and being able to work anywhere, why not move to the beach or at least an island community?

We may have been describing YOU above, and if so, finding your perfect “peace” of paradise might cost a little more than in previous years but you deserve it! Ask any local and they will attest that the move was the best real estate decision they ever made.

On the other side of the coin, if you have considered selling, now might be the time to explore options. Our Full Time Sales Professionals are here to help estimate value anytime.

Holmes Beach Skate Park

Holmes Beach Skate Park

Join our excitement to see the ALL NEW Holmes Beach Skate Park

Originally constructed in 2003, the Holmes Beach skatepark has been well loved and enjoyed by locals. However, after 15 years it was time to repair and improve. With help from one of the designers of the Bradenton Riverwalk skatepark, local businesses and the community, the new skate park (which opened back up February 2020) is 10x better than the original.

The skate park is located at 5801 Marina Drive in Holmes Beach. This park is ideal for everyone, including beginners. Skateboards and rollerblades are allowed, though bikes are not (it’s just too small, and besides, you have an entire island to bike around). There are ramps, rails, a quarter pipe with the main attraction skate bowl. Benches for watching and shade trees are perfect for hotter days. 

Stop by the skate park anytime Monday – Sunday, from 10am – sunset. If you are needing some gear, check out West Coast Surf Shop, where you can find a great selection of skateboards/penny boards. Equipment is not provided at the park. 

Holmes Beach Skate Park
5801 Marina Drive
Holmes Beach, FL, 34217

Bayfront Park on Anna Maria Island – Family Fun

Bayfront Park on Anna Maria Island – Family Fun

Bayfront Park located on the North end of the island is a quiet park that is great for a picnic with the kiddos. The park offers calm bay water beaches, a spectacular view of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, and is a wonderful place for walking, fishing, and swimming!

Bayfront Park features picnic tables and grills covered by pavilions, and an awesome ADA playground as well as restrooms. After taking a dip in the water, or an afternoon of playing on the playground with the kids, take a short stroll to Two Scoops for some ice cream.  Feel like walking to a restaurant from the park?  There are a couple of great choices near by. The Waterfront Restaurant is fine dining, and just a short walk to the South. A bit closer to the North is the Rod and Reel Restaurant a casual fishing pier and restaurant overlooking the water.


If you are coming from Bradenton, take Manatee Avenue West to the beach.  Once you have gone over the bridge onto Anna Maria Island make a right onto Gulf Drive.  Keep heading north on Gulf Drive, when you come to the stop light in Holmes Beach make a right onto Marina Drive.  You will head north on Marina Drive through Holmes Beach to The City of Anna Maria and make a right onto Pine Avenue, take Pine Avenue all the way to the stop sign, make a left onto North Bay Blvd and the park is on your right.

Park Hours are sunrise to 10PM.

Poppo’s Taqueria on Pine Ave

Poppo’s Taqueria on Pine Ave

In the mood for some delicious Mexican inspired cuisine after a sun filled day sight seeing around Pine Ave? If you said yes, than you’ll want to head over to Poppo’s Taqueria Anna Maria City. This family owned and operated restaurant is a local favorite, with seven locations in the area.

Poppo’s Taqueria was inspired by the street food you find in the Mission District of San Francisco. Not only is the food here fantastic, but it’s also good for you. They use only real, fresh ingredients, which means you can enjoy your food and not feel weighed down after.

Poppo’s is set up similar to Chipotle, where you come in order at the counter and they will prepare your meal in front of you. After you settle your bill you can sit and enjoy your food at one of the many tables inside or outside.

The menu here consists tacos, burritos, bowls, and quesadillas. All of which can be ordered to your liking with your choice of meat and toppings. There are plenty of keto, vegetarian and vegan options (tempeh for protein!). My “go to order” is the quesadilla with chicken, heavy on the honey-lime slaw and pickled onions – both hand made in house!

To quench your thirst, Poppos offers black, green and hibiscus teas. Horchata plus natural sodas are available too. Some locations have bottled local beers and kombucha.

Make sure you get an order of their house-made chips which you can watch being fried in front of you! I usually order two bags, one to eat in the car and one for home.

Poppo’s Taqueria
212C Pine Ave, Anna Maria, FL 34216
(941) 254-7941
Mon – Sun, 11am – 9pm

Bridge Street Bistro – A Refined Dining Experience on Bridge Street

Bridge Street Bistro – A Refined Dining Experience on Bridge Street

Bridge Street is packed with tons of great restaurants. One of the best though, is the Bridge Street Bistro. With beautiful views of the beach and Gulf of Mexico, this relaxed and refined restaurant is great for a date night dinner, celebration or simply to enjoy a delicious evening out!

The Bridge Street Bistro is only open for dinner, where you can dine either inside or al fresco on the 3rd floor terrace. For ultimate sunset viewing, the terrace is the way to go.

The food here is reasonably priced, beautifully prepared, and delectable. Head Chef Jacob Rodibaugh has created an outstanding yet not over fancy menu, including appetizer sampler platters, lobster bisque, seafood chowder, and specialty salads. For entrees, try one of their hand cut Filet Mignon or Ribeye steaks. Do you prefer seafood? They have that covered as well with four fresh fish options daily as well as a delicious Scallops Oscar or enjoy a cold water Lobster dinner. Ask about the signature “Grassy Key style” fish preparation. Chicken dishes are also on the menu. Don’t forget to save room for dessert: finish your Bridge Street Bistro experience with their Crème Brule Flight.

Enjoy Happy Hour from 2pm – 5pm at the bar and balcony. The Happy Hour menu consists of small plates and drinks, all under $10.00!

Bridge Street Bistro is open Sunday – Thursday from 5pm – 9pm, and Friday & Saturday from 5pm – 10pm.

What’s that Remodel REALLY Worth when considering a Sale?

What’s that Remodel REALLY Worth when considering a Sale?

Remodeling your home in a way that makes it more functional and enjoyable for your family over the next couple of decades is usually worth expense and effort. But what if you are planning to sell your home sooner rather than later? The fact is, few large-scale remodeling projects add enough equity value to your home to realize a profit, let alone break even, when the house is sold. But that doesn’t mean that all improvements prior to selling are a bad idea. There are plenty of home upgrades that will help you sell your home—at a higher price—without a timely investment. We recommend you follow some industry rules of thumb and to do some research before committing to a project.

Consider Break-Even Remodels to Attract Buyers: It’s not necessary to spend the time and hassle on a complete bathroom remodel only to recoup the same amount from the sale. However, if that bathroom causes potential buyers to turn on their heels and walk out the door, a redo might be worthwhile. Even if the rest of your house is in good condition, one unattractive area might drag down the rest of the house. “Surface” remodels are often a better solution than a full-scale remodel (paint, countertops, décor). One important point to remember about break-even remodels is that they still do come at a cost: the price of your time and effort.

Island Real Estate Sales Professionals agree that the kitchen and bathrooms are the most important parts of the house, but that doesn’t mean you have to completely overhaul those rooms before selling. To decide what’s best in your situation, start by looking at the numbers. An upscale major kitchen remodel has a return on investment (ROI) of less than 60%, while a mid-range minor kitchen redo can return about 80%. Bathroom remodels return about 62% for upscale renovations and about 67% for mid-level remodels*.
On the other hand, if the kitchen and bathrooms seem nice enough to leave as is, buyers won’t automatically add the cost of renovations to the sale price. Therefore, it usually makes the most sense to remodel kitchens or bathrooms, as needed, so they are reasonably modern and inviting, if not spectacular. This leaves the buyers with more options to customize once they move in as well.

Do It Yourself if You Can: When you hire a remodeling contractor or tradesperson, you spend money on two things: materials and labor. Taking on any home remodeling project by yourself means cutting out the labor piece of that cost. Thinking far ahead to a home sale a year or more in the future affords you the possibility of doing projects by yourself. But if you expect to put your house on the market in a matter of months, taking on new do-it-yourself home projects may tangle you up and take time away from other things. Even worse, you run the risk of not being able to complete projects in time to put the home on the market.
Stress Appearance Over Function: When remodeling for sale, the best remodels are those that look good. It is better to spend money on paint or flooring rather than a water heater that still functions. As long as the water heater is safe and functional, keep it. A new water heater will not impress buyers. If a home inspector says the water heater must be replaced, that is the time to discuss replacing it or offering the buyer a credit. But appearance is not negotiable. For example, a front door replacement may only bring ROI of 67%* yet can be a major first impression improvement if the existing entry door is old or worn.

New Paint Works Wonders: New paint, especially well-chosen contemporary hues, will transform a house. Be careful of deep shades that darken the home. Cheerful, brighter (yet remaining neutral) colors reflect more ambient light, and this is especially important in small rooms like guest bathrooms and space-challenged bedrooms. Consider the Market’s Tastes, Not Yours! Home remodels done to make the home more attractive to buyers do not necessarily have to align with your tastes. This is less a case of grabbing the latest home remodel trends than it is about correcting styles that turn off buyers. You might have a penchant for home styles of the 1990s. Yet if your real estate agent says that you might want to avoid this style, this is the time to listen.

Avoid Remodels and Additions With Low Resale Values: Some remodels are notoriously poor at returning resale value. Areas that tend not to have good resale value are media rooms, theaters, offices, basements, attic, decks, patios, and backyards. Garage conversions are typically not held in high regard by buyers, either. However, replacing an old garage door offers one of the best returns among all common home upgrades, coming in at 88% ROI*. In general, additions will not pay off. They can increase the square footage of the home, but the initial cost is too high for what you get back in a home sale. Additions make more sense when you really need the added space and will stay in the home long enough to enjoy it.

In summary, make sure you take into consideration all the pros and cons before deciding on a home improvement when considering a near future sale. An Island Real Estate Sales Professional can walk through your property with you and help guide what are beneficial ROI moves for the current market. All real estate markets are different and what may be successful with your family in the mountains may not cost out the same here on the Gulf Coast. We are here when you are ready!

Great news! Jodi Nichols and her Team with our Vacation Rental Division has remodeled several of our properties successfully and can consult with you and make suggestions. From total renovations including new roofs and new pools to just a sprucing up, Island Real Estate can be hired to do it all!

*Florida Realtor October 2020 issue

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth with Small Town Creamery in Holmes Beach

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth with Small Town Creamery in Holmes Beach

Ice cream, candy, homemade fudge, and more is in store for you at Small Town Creamery. This adorable Holmes Beach ice cream shop has been a local favorite since they opened in 2017, and is conveniently located in the heart of the city (right next door from The Feast).  Your eyes are the first to be treated when you walk in – whimsical colors and fun can be found in every corner. Candies from the past, travel games and old time toys are fun souvenirs.  They even have a green screen photo booth with props to play with while your treat is being made. 

Small Town Creamery has 50 flavors of ice cream to choose from, as well as delicious homemade fudge, cold brew, milkshakes, sundaes, candy, and more tasty treats. Some of the recent sweets they have had (as of fall 2020) include their Candy Corn Fudge, Peppermint Flash Ice Cream, Carrot Cake, and Pumpkin Spice Lattes. And they are always adding new flavors or sweets to the menu! Hot, soft pretzels are made to order and can be savory with traditional salt topping or sweet with any of the ice cream toppings. Big cookies are made on the premises (dough also used for the cookie dough ice cream!) as well as waffle dogs made with the same delicious waffle mix as the cones. Speaking of cones, you can get yours hand dipped in chocolate!! 

chocolate pecan treatdelicious ice cream flavors

Small Town Creamery is open every day of the week from 11:00am – 9:30pm. 

Small Town Creamery
5404 Marina Dr, Holmes Beach, FL 34217
(941) 213-9107

Hey Sports Fans! Here’s where you can watch your Games

Hey Sports Fans! Here’s where you can watch your Games

Attention Sports Fans! If you’re on the island enjoying vacation, or have made the island your home, there are several fun options for watching both college and professional sports on tv while enjoying some good food and maybe a cold beer.

While Anna Maria Island is technically the home of Tampa Bay teams such as the Buccaneers, Stanley Cup winning Lightning, Pennant winning Rays and the Rowdies soccer, we understand that our island is a mixture of fans from all over the world. You may want to call ahead to ensure YOUR favorite team will be on a screen at any of these locations:

Slims Place: On Gulf Drive just south of Pine Ave is Slims Place, a self-proclaimed Philly bar and restaurant. With at least a dozen TV’s mounted along the full bar there are usually several games to choose from. Slims offers cold draft and bottled beers as well as both pub fare and interesting dishes.

Hurricane Hanks: Locals know this is the place to be for great service, great food and great sports! Several TV’s mounted around the restaurant so you’ll easily find your favorite team. Hanks is situated in the heart of Holmes Beach close to other shops and a block to the beach access in case your companions get antsy if the game goes into overtime!

Solo’s Pizza: What goes better with the NFL Ticket than cold beer and pizza? You’ve hit the trifecta here!

D Coy Ducks: A local hangout, this is as close to a “dive bar” as Anna Maria Island gets. With eight TV’s and the NFL Ticket package you’re bound to see a good game. “The Duck” is a bar only, no food is offered yet you may order from a local restaurant and bring it in to enjoy while you watch a game (or two!).

Joey D’s: Fans of all things Chicago listen up; Joey D’s offers the best Chicago fare AND the best Chicago sports teams on their dozens of televisions. Luckily for those NOT from Chicago, they also show non Chicago teams as well. With cold beer, wine, delicious food and great service you might not miss the stadium after all!