The Waffle Press

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.

Waffle Press wall menu
Specialty coffees available

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!

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