Island locals proudly share their Island gems and inside info with you. Anna Maria Island area residents and businesses share their local insight to help you plan your island time, and enjoy all the area has to offer.
There are a few things locals know about Anna Maria Island. Experiencing the island life like a local is the best way to enjoy your time here. Find Anna Maria Island’s best of the best with this helpful guide.
Top 7 Things Locals Know About Anna Maria Island
Once you read this guide you’ll surely feel like a local too!
1 Getting Around the Island
Locals know that Anna Maria Island is a fabulous community for public transportation. When visiting during the peak season, street traffic can make getting around by car a bit difficult. Along with creating limited public parking high season brings busy roads. Locals love walking or bike riding to their destination. It’s an amazing way to enjoy our gulf breezes and tropical scenery. If you’re going from one end of the island to the other the free trolley is absolutely perfect! Also consider renting a golf cart or scooter for a fun way to get around in style.
2 Island History
Furthermore, all locals know a thing or two about the history of the island. A community rich in Florida culture, Islanders love to reminisce. Learn about Anna Maria City Pier, the first bridge connecting the island to the mainland, the first island settlers and the “day trippers” culture that still enlivens this beautiful vacation destination. Visit the Anna Maria Island Historical Society on Pine Avenue to enjoy the Island’s history. Also head over the bridge to the Florida Maritime Museum to learn about the historic Fishing Village of Cortez.
3 Fishing and Seafood
Naturally Anna Maria Island has always been a fabulous place for fishing, and fresh seafood. Nestled between the Gulf of Mexico, Tampa Bay and Sarasota Bay, Anna Maria Island is perfectly situated for premium fishing. Additionally, many local seasonal specialties such as Stone Crab, Mullet, Spiny Lobsters and Sunray Venus Clams can be found at restaurant serving seafood. Visit The Island Real Estate Fishing Report page for local fishing updates and conditions.
Anna Maria Island is a unique shopping destination offering only small shops and boutiques. Find fabulous wares from beach accessories, to jewelry, local art, high end finds and souvenirs. When visiting the Island during peak season enjoy fabulous local markets too!
With over seven miles of coastline, Anna Maria Island also offers tons of great beach spots. From secluded Bean Point to the busy Manatee Public Beach access read all about Anna Maria Island beaches here. Once you’ve visited these gulf coast beaches you’ll just have to come back again!
Anna Maria Island locals are crazy about our wildlife. With great efforts from organizations animals are looked after. Anna Maria Island Shorebird and Turtle Watch and Wildlife Inc animal rescue are among groups on the look out. Additionally, many types of animals can be found around the Island including Bottle Nose Dolphins, Manatee and Turtles. Visitors often wonder about the possibility of seeing Crocodiles or Alligators. However, locals can tell you these kind of critters haven’t been spotted around the island in decades.
If you’re looking for the best vacation rentals on the island visit IslandReal.com. You’ll find almost 300 great homes!
There are several great Anna Maria Island Holiday Events this year! Throughout December there will be celebrations across the island’s three cities.
Anna Maria Island Holiday Events 2016
Get into the spirit of the holiday with these fun family events.
Holmes Beach Holiday Open House and Tree Lighting
December 2nd will be the Annual Holiday Open House. This event is organized by the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by local businesses. From 5-8pm walk around the Holmes Beach Shopping District for snacks and libations while local businesses stay open late. These businesses will have specials going on too!
At 6pm watch the annual lighting of the tree in front of the Chamber at 5313 Gulf Drive. Santa and his sleigh will also make an appearance, so everyone better be on their best behavior.
The Chamber will provide lite snacks, coffee and wine. Next door, Eat Here restaurant will be showing the movie “A Miracle on 34th Street” in addition to serving mulled wine.
Bring a toy to donate to Toys for Tots. There will be a donation box at the Chamber of Commerce.
Anna Maria Pine Avenue Holiday Treasure Walk
Celebrate the holiday in Anna Maria on December 9th with the Holiday Treasure Walk. Pine Avenue and Gulf Drive Merchants will be open late from 5-8pm with special sales and tasty treats.
Stop by The Studio at Gulf and Pine for refreshments from the Sandbar Restaurant. Additionally, Roser Church Joyful Noise Children’s Choir will be performing at the Historical Society at 6pm.
There may even be an appearance from Santa too!
Bradenton Beach Christmas on Bridge Street
Christmas on Bridge Street is an annual family friendly event with tons of entertainment and holiday fun. The event will take place December 17 from 4:30-8:30pm.
Enjoy music from Russ Adams Project, The Dickens Carolers, and more!
There will be a kids crafts and cookie bazaar where children will be selling their baked goods and handmade gifts.
In addition to the gift market, you’ll find a wreath raffle, and gift basket silent auction.
You’ll also find a Hot Chocolate Bar, Snow and Santa.
Enjoy Christmas on Anna Maria Island with these fun events for the whole family!
Enjoy the beach on a budget when you travel to sunny Anna Maria Island! We have some of the best powder fine coastline on the gulf coast, and the best deals too! Find affordable accommodations, cheap eats, and tons of free activities to make your vacation fun and easy on the wallet.
Beach on a Budget
Anna Maria Island is a fantastic place to beach on a budget for any size group and all ages too. You will find a large selection of economical accommodations with Island Real Estate.
Below is our list of money saving ideas to try out on your next Anna Maria Island beach vacation. Not only do we have tips for finding affordable accommodations, but a guide to assist you in an authentic Florida vacation.
Finding Affordable Anna Maria Island Beach Rentals
Travel in the off season
When looking for the best rates on accommodations you should avoid traveling in the high season. Off season travel yields the best deals on accommodations, and this is especially true of Anna Maria Island. The peak busy season on the island is March. For off season deals book your stay August through October or January.
How to find online specials
Once you pick a time of year to visit look for specials at IslandReal.com. Each individual beach rental will offer different types of specials through the year in both high and low season. Those booking last minute stays can find great deals on beach rentals that are looking to fill dates. Also check for seasonal sales. Typically promotions you come across will not apply to big holiday weeks.
Sign up to be added to the Island Real Estate news letter list. We are always sending out promotions and specials via email!
Island Real Estate regularly offers promotions and specials through our social media too! Be sure to find us on your favorite social media platform for regular updates on deals. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest.
Eat like a local!
Locals places are not only the best way to save money, but they are the most authentic version local culture. Sure, Anna Maria Island has tons of places that attract tourists for a good time. However, there are a few places you just may overlook.
Mr. Bones BBQ is a great locals spot with large portions and reasonable prices. Not only do they have the areas best BBQ, but they have vegan options, burgers, and a large beer selection. You’ll find just something for just about everyone when you visit Mr.Bones BBQ in Holmes Beach.
Starfish and Tide Tables restaurants are owned by the same fishing family out of Cortez. You only have to ride just over the bridge into Cortez Fishing Village for the best seafood on the gulf coast. Both of these restaurants are the spot for fresh seafood that won’t cost you too much. Be sure to bring cash when visiting Starfish.
Danny’s Pizza is also just off island. Head over the Manatee bridge into Bradenton and you’ll find the best New York style pizza the area has to offer, The prices are always reasonable, the service is great, and the food is consistently a crowd pleaser.
Poppo’s Taqueria is on the north end of the island in the city of Anna Maria’s Pine Avenue. The portions here are huge, the food is conscientiously sourced and prices are fair for the quality. Poppo’s is some of the best Tex-Mex style food you’ll find. One taco and you’ll be hooked like the island locals.
Duffy’s Burgers has the best the island can offer. They have been in business for years. The locals can tell you this authentic burger and beer joint has a reputation. Must bring cash too!
Dine in for a Penny Pincher Beach vacation
One of the nice things about getting an Anna Maria Island beach rental is the benefit of a full kitchen. All of the Island Real Estate beach rentals come with fully equipped kitchens to accommodate all your basic needs. If you are looking to dine on a budget then prepare meals at your rental. Many of the beach rentals you’ll find will even come with an outdoor grill to make cooking easy while enjoying the beautiful tropical climates. Check out the information here for cooking in a beach rental.
A great way to save money on vacation is to avoid paying for transportation when possible.
Anna Maria Island has a free trolley to help. The trolley runs almost the entire length of the island from morning until night. This is a great way to get around for free!
Additionally, there are many local transportation services that are free, but accept tips only. You can set an appointment or flag down services such as The Monkey Bus with little cost.
Rent a bike
Occasionally beach rentals homes may be equipped with beach bikes, but you can rent one for very little. This is a great way to get around the island for very little money. Anna Maria Island also has bike paths. This is a great way to sight see, stay active and do it all on a budget.
Anna Maria Island is full of free or inexpensive activities! While the beach is always free, there are many other areas to explore too!
Anna Maria Island has plenty of beaches to visit, and it won’t cost you a dime! There are over seven miles of coastline, so you can find just the perfect beach spot. Additionally, parking is free at just about any beach you can find. As long as you follow all parking signs, parking is free.
Anna Maria Island has interesting local wildlife, and all our local parks and preservers are free! Check out Leffis Key on the south end of Anna Maria Island or Robinson Preserve in Bradenton. Nearby Perico Island offers Neal Preserve, Perico Preserve and an access to Robinson Preserve. This area is fantastic for exploring both wetlands and upland Florida environments. Best of all, it’s free!
If you are looking to book a fishing charter this is a great way to pay for both the cost of a meal and an excursion around island waters. Nothing tastes better than fresh fish you caught and cooked!
Learn about Anna Maria Island history at the Historical Society. This free activity will give you some insight into how the island came to be, and who lived here. Find out how Fig Newtons built the island! See like the old city jail, and much more.
When looking for an affordable island vacation be sure to come prepared. While Anna Maria Island is not an expensive destination, there are some things you can avoid buying to save money. Bring all the clothes, toiletries and accessories you’ll need with you. This is especially true if you are traveling by car. Buying a bathing suite and touristy accessories on island can drive your spending up. Think about the things you can fit in your travel bag or car before you come. You don’t want to spend extra money on things you left at home.
Enjoy the Beach on a Budget during your next Anna Maria Island vacation in Florida!
An Anna Maria Island Winter is absolutely wonderful! While temperatures vary, typically you won’t see day time cold weather below 50 degrees Fahrenheit during island winters.
Anna Maria Island Winter Fun Activities
Follow our list of cold weather activities and you’re sure to have a great time for your Anna Maria Island Winter vacation!
Sand Angel and Sand Men too!
We don’t have snow in Florida, but we do have sand. Tons of it! On Anna Maria Island there is over seven miles of powder fine sand coastline ready for you to play in. Instead of the traditional snow angels and snow men try your hand at a sand man or sand angel.
Dining and Shopping
Naturally, when visiting even warm winter climates, you’ll want to have indoor activities. Luckily, Anna Maria Island has tons of great dining and shopping spots! You’ll find shopping and dining spots peppered across the island, but there are a few hubs to keep in mind. Pine Avenue in the City of Anna Maria offers great boutiques and restaurants. The Central city of Holmes Beach has a commercial district at the corner of Marina and Gulf Drive. Then a second spot on East Bay Drive and Manatee Avenue. Bradenton Beach, the southern island city, offers great shopping and dining on Bridge Street.
Since there are fewer people on the beach in the winter, your chances of finding the best seashells increases. Beach combing is a relaxing pass time. Bundle up with a thick sweater and head out to the beach for some great winter shelling!
Hot Chocolate with an Island Twist
Cold winter months were made for curling up with a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate! This is a great way to relax at an Anna Maria Island beach rental during the cold months. Try this recipe for Toasted Coconut Hot Chocolate and you’ll have an island twist for an old standby.
Winter is a lovely time for kayak trips around Anna Maria Island. Since the Gulf may be too cold for your liking, you can still get out and not get wet with a kayak. Often, during winter, you will find the Gulf is flat like glass. This makes kayaking fun, safe and relaxing. You could also head over to the Intracoastal side of the island to find Mangroves and diverse wildlife.
Dolphins are not hard to find around Anna Maria Island. This is especially true when you book a boat tour. Many of the local charter captains know where to find pods of Dolphins jumping and playing around the island. A trip to the island isn’t complete without spotting a dolphin.
Fishing is great anytime of year in Florida, and winter is no exception! Head to a pier, or book a fishing charter. Either way you’re sure to catch something good!
Winter Beach Rentals
While visiting Anna Maria Island in the summer is fun, the cooler months still bring a great opportunity to visit the gulf coast. You will find great economy options on beach rentals during the winter. Especially during January, rental prices are at some of their lowest! You won’t have to break the bank to escape the winter snow and ice.
Salt a Margarita instead of your driveway!
Don’t spend winter salting your driveway, come to Anna Maria Island and salt a Margarita instead!
The Regina Wreck is a great spot for those looking to snorkel or scuba dive around Anna Maria Island. While close to shore, this sunken ship is easy to access and great for any skill level.
Regina Wreck State Underwater Archaeological Preserve
The Regina Wreck became part of the national register of historical places in 2005. Also know as the sugar barge or molasses barge, the Regina is a great Anna Maria Island attraction. You’ll find the wreck about 75 yards off shore in no more than 20 feet of water. This site is great for snorkeling, scuba diving and free diving. You can charter a dive with Sea Kat Divers in Bradenton Beach.
Once in the water you’ll find a variety of tropical fish, conchs, sea urchins, sand dollars and native marine life. Because this is a State Preserve; collection, excavation or disturbance of the site is illegal. Those diving with a Florida Fishing license may collect up to two species of live shells. However, restrictions apply to some native species all together. Manatee County has more rigid shell collection regulations than other parts of Florida. Please read the link here for additional information.
The Regina sunk in 1940. The wreck has been beaten with tides, sand and storms over the years. Therefore, you may not see it until right over top depending on visibility. Today, a great deal of sand covers the Regina. You will only see parts of the over 200 foot long ship remains.
How the Regina Sunk
The Regina was built in 1904 for the Cuban Molasses Transportation Company based out of Havana. On March 5th in 1940 She left Havana bound for New Orleans under the tow from the tugboat Minima. The Regina carried 350,000 gallons of molasses. Two days into it’s trip, a cold front swept through the Gulf of Mexico bringing 8-12 foot waves. The boats were pushed closer and closer to shore despite effort to correct course. Looking for shelter, the Minima headed for Tampa Bay.
Near Egmont Key, north of Anna Maria Island, the Minima’s tow lines broke. This left the Molasses caring ship to drift helplessly down the gulf coast toward Anna Maria Island. Eventually the Regina hit a sandbar off Bradenton Beach where it became stranded in the storm. The ship began to break apart as rough winds and waves smashed into it.
The Rescue begins
On March 8th a Bradenton Beach local spotted the stranded ship, and notified the St. Petersburg Coast Guard. The ship was about 200 yards off shore, but the eight crew members couldn’t abandon ship due to the high waves. The crew huddled in the flooded broken ship. Locals built fires on the beach in an effort to let the crew know help was on the way. Coast Guard rescue craft, the Nemesis, tried unsuccessfully to rescue the crew. Next, a line throwing gun was transferred to the Nemesis. Several attempts were made, but the line fell short. At day break a sea plane dropped life jackets to the crew, but they only washed ashore.
Spectators gathered on the beach. One of the crew members and his dog jumped off the boat while a man from the mainland swam toward him with a lifeline. Unfortunately this crew mate never made it to shore.
A yachting dingy made it to the ship with life preservers, and was able to take one member from the ship. The dingy capsized close to shore, and locals made a human chain to assist the two back to safety. Locals increased efforts with the dingy to finish the rescue.
Read more about the rescue of the Regina Crew here.
With an interesting history, the Sugar Barge is a unique Anna Maria Island experience. If you are looking for a great place to see fish and history, this underwater preserve is a must.
This is the ultimate Anna Maria Island Bucket List! There are tons of great activities to enjoy during your visit, however, there are some must dos. Follow this great list and you’ll be sure to have a blast on Anna Maria Island!
The Ultimate Anna Maria Island Bucket List
Visit an Anna Maria Island vacation rental on the beach. – This is the best way to visit Anna Maria Island!
Eat a burger from both Duffy’s and Skinny’s. Locals are divided about the best burger on island, so find out for yourself.
An Anna Maria Island Thanksgiving is a great way to spend the holiday with friends and family by the beach! Once you arrive, enjoy a relaxed location with family friendly activities and accommodations. You’re sure to love filling up on a turkey feast in tropical paradise.
Anna Maria Island Thanksgiving Guide
We have put together a list of everything you need to know about spending Thanksgiving on Anna Maria Island. Get ready for a family gathering you won’t soon forget with this helpful guide!
Anna Maria Island Beach Rentals and Accommodations
Island holiday rentals fill up fast on Anna Maria Island, but Island Real Estate still has availability! Whether you are looking to sleep a couple or even a large group, we have openings.
Bay View Inn 102
This Bradenton Beach Condo sleeps up to 4 guests with 1 bedroom. You’ll be just a couple blocks from gulf beaches, shopping, dining and free trolley stops!
Sunfish sleeps 4 guests with 2 bedrooms. This Holmes Beach duplex rental has a shared heated pool and is less than a block to gulf beaches.
La Casa O’Bar
A luxury beach front rental, La Casa O’Bar sleeps 6 guests with 3 bedrooms. Enjoy glimpses of the gulf and the heated community pool too.
This Holmes Beach rental sleeps 8 with 4 bedrooms. Enjoy a private heated pool and spa, and tons of kitchen space for making Thanksgiving dinner.
Just two blocks from gulf beaches, Sunset Glow sleeps 10 guests with 5 bedrooms. This platinum rated rental offers a heated pool and spa along with a gorgeous kitchen.
Thanksgiving Restaurant Openings
There are many restaurants open for Thanksgiving on and around Anna Maria Island. Here is our list of the five places to dine out for Thanksgiving on Anna Maria Island. These are not the only local options, but rather, just the places open on island.
There are some fun things to do during an Anna Maria Island Thanksgiving. Keep your friends and family entertained during the day with activities!
Beach It! A Thanksgiving on Anna Maria Island isn’t complete without a trip to the beach. The water might be a tad crisp, but the weather is sure to be warm enough for beach time.
Bike Rides are a great activity for the family. Enjoy sightseeing while you burn off all that food you ate!
Nature walks are a lovely and relaxing Thanksgiving activity. Head over to Leffis Key or Robinson Preserve for beautiful wildlife viewing. Both these preserves are open dusk until dawn.
Trolley Hop. Ride around the island with the free trolley. This is the best way to explore those hard to find beach accesses of north end.
Pier Fishing. Head over to one of the island’s three public piers and bring your fishing pole too! All public piers have a blanket fishing license, so even visitors can catch their own island style Thanksgiving dinner. Fish off the Bradenton Beach city pier at the end of Bridge Street. Also find the Rod and Reel Pier and the Anna Maria City Pier located near Pine Avenue.
There are many options for celebrating National Sandwich Day on Anna Maria Island! Whether you are looking for something easy or gourmet you’re sure to find a great sandwich on Anna Maria Island!
5 Places to celebrate National Sandwich Day
Here we have a list of five places to pick up a sandwich. Surely you can find a sandwich on the menu at just about any restaurant. However, our list of restaurants are convenient, quick and have a reputation for a good sandwich.
Anna Maria General Store
Located on Pine Avenue, the General Store is a great sandwich spot. They are a small market with a great selection of groceries, and also serve breakfast and lunch. The General Store is a well known spot for a quick bite to eat. They offer a large selection of sandwiches along with burgers, desserts, quiches and much more.
Rudy’s Subs and More
Rudy’s is another great choice for a sandwich. They have a selection of hot and cold sandwiches along with salads, beers, sodas and home made desserts. Try Rudy’s for breakfast too! You’ll find Rudy’s in the city of Anna Maria on Gulf Drive.
If you are looking for a more gourmet style sandwich, Scott’s Deli is for you! Scott’s offers sandwiches, subs, wraps and breakfast too. Choose one of Scott’s delicious creations from the menu, or create your own. They have just about every sandwich component you could want plus some.
Anyone from the Southeastern United States is familiar with Publix sub sandwiches. Place an order online ahead of time, or just head over to the deli counter. Publix has every type of meat and sandwich topping.
Anna Maria Island has few chain establishments, and Subway is one of them. Find Subway in Holmes Beach on East Bay Drive.
Happy National Sandwich Day from Anna Maria Island!
The license free fishing days are a great opportunity for Floridians and visitors to experience a day on the water. These free days apply to onshore, pier and boat fishing. These fishing holidays only apply to recreational fishing, and do not cover commercial fishing.
Additionally, seasons, size limits and bag limits do still apply. When fishing during these times be sure you know what you may and may not keep! The saltwater dates do also cover any type of recreational harvest, in season, including scalloping, lobstering and many other angling activities.
Enjoy license free fishing days on Anna Maria Island on your next visit!
Fishing from Anna Maria Island vacation rentals
Honeywood House is a great Anna Maria Island vacation rental for a little dock fishing! This canal front home has a dock for relaxing while doing a little fishing. If you bring a boat on vacation you can dock it here too! This canal takes you out to Bimini Bay and Tampa Bay for great fishing trips! Book your stay at Honeywood House today!
The Cortez Stone Crab Festival is back in it’s fifth year of tasty fresh seafood and family fun. Join in this claw cracking good time November 5th and 6th in the old Fishing Village of Cortez.
Cortez Stone Crab Festival
Hosted by Swordfish Grill and Tiki Bar, the Stone Crab Festival is the best time to enjoy this local delicacy. Find the festivities in the fishing village at 4628, 119th Street West. The event starts at 9am and ends at 6pm on Saturday and Sunday.
In addition to Stone Crabs, there will be live music, kids activities, arts and crafts vendors, and a beer tent. There will also be a large tent for shade, and you may bring your own folding chairs.
Parking will be available at 116th Street at the F.I.S.H. Preserve with shuttles going back and forth through both days.
Live music will be happening on three different stages around the event.
For Stone Crab claws that are so fresh they never travel by land, head over to the Cortez Stone Crab Festival!
Historic Bridge Street is a quaint strip of restaurants and shops on the south end of Anna Maria Island. Once the site of the first bridge connecting the island to mainland Bradenton, Bridge Street is still a special place. Check out our list of things to know about Bridge Street.
Historic Bridge Street – Bradenton Beach City Pier
At the very end of Bridge Street you’ll find the Bradenton Beach city pier. Here you’ll enjoy views of Sarasota Bay as you walk along the site of the original bridge to the island. After many updates the pier still stands today. Now you can find great fishing, a bait shop and the Anna Maria Oyster Bar restaurant.
There are a variety of places to dine on Bridge Street including casual, high end and breakfast too. Enjoy The Blue Marlin, Island Creperie, and the Bridge Street Bistro to name a few. For the nightlife scene you can visit Bridge Tender Inn, Island Time Bar and Grill, or even the Drift Inn. You’ll find these places open a little later than the average island establishment.
Happenings and Events
Throughout the year you’ll find different things to do on Bridge Street. The local Merchants host several events such as Christmas on Bridge Street, pubic art shops and the occasional market.
Nearby Accommodations and Beach Rentals
There are many great Anna Maria Island Beach rentals near Bridge Street. You’ll find cottages, condos and single family homes available in Bradenton Beach.
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How To Find Island Real Estate
Office LocationsIsland Real Estate 6101 Marina Drive Holmes Beach, FL 34217