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.
The Beach Bistro is a fantastic restaurant that offers a dining experience to remember. Several courses are served, or you can order how you like. Reservations are strongly recommended, but you can also try to grab a seat at the bar. The bar has a little more limited menu and provides some “lighter fare” options. If you are looking for a romantic spot with limited gulf views and price is no option then we strongly recommend the Beach Bistro. Average meal prices are well over $35, so be sure you are comfortable with their prices.
Younger children are welcome, but are not recommended if you plan on having a long dining experience. Parking can be a bit of a challenge but if you can find a “legal” spot go for it otherwise be sure to use their valet parking. One additional note, the seating for two is normally fairly intimate so be prepared to get to know your neighboring diners.
We’ve provided some information below to help you contact them or find them once you’re on the island!
The Bistro is located in Holmes Beach, FL
Tripadvisor Rating: 4.5 stars – based on 377 reviews
Anna Maria Island is a great place to take a family walk, bike ride, or just enjoy the breath taking views of the Gulf of Mexico. Don’t let the name fool you, the Coquina Bike path is not for just bikes but includes patrons strolling down the Gulf Waters. The Coquina bike path is paved and stretches between Coquina beach and Cortez Beach. Located in Bradenton Beach just south of Bridge Street, you will find Cortez Beach.
This beach offers free parking and lots of it! As you move further south into Coquina Beach, you will find public restrooms, picnic tables, beach showers, and lifeguards on duty. Coquina beach also has a café that serves burgers and hot dogs right on the beach.
One of my favorite things to do is take a nice, easy bike ride through Coquina Beach. I start at the south end of the island under the Long Boat Key Bridge and head north towards Cortez Beach along the paved path. Take the time to enjoy island wildlife as you are greeted by squirrels, native birds like the Blue Heron, and if you are lucky, you may see dolphins or manatees enjoying their Florida lifestyle.
If you can’t bring your own bicycle, there are lots of places to rent them on Anna Maria Island. Most folks love Bradenton Beach because there are plenty of accommodation choices as well as dining and shopping within a stroll away.
Great view of Tampa Bay and the Sunshine Bridge is only the beginning at this wonderful local seafood restaurant on Anna Maria Island. The food choices at the Waterfront are fantastic. From wonderful fresh soups and salads to gourmet meals, salmon and steak. The Waterfront located in Anna Maria City also offers vegetarian choices as well that are made fresh and homemade right at the restaurant. Waterfront of Anna Maria Island is famous for their delicious fish taco appetizer and outdoor seating taking advantage of the wonderful bay views. The giant fish tank that separates the main dining room from the bar area is beautiful and adds charm to the dining experience.
The Waterfront restaurant also offers a wonderful selection of beers and wine from all over the world. UPDATE: The Waterfront now serves liquor and phenomenal cocktails. If you are in the mood for something new, ask one of the friendly bartenders for some suggestions. My wife loves the Jalapeno Margarita.
The wait staff of the waterfront in Anna Maria city is always inviting and prompt with their service. If you are in the mood for great service, great views of the bay, excellent food, this is the place for you to come as a family or as a couple. One last note, try the lobster bisque, trust us, you wont be sorry. It melts in your mouth.
Anna Maria Island Sea Salt Florida is nothing like you’ve ever had. Sourced directly from the water around AMI, this is one product you must bring home from vacation!
Anna Maria Island Sea Salt Florida
Sea Salt Florida is a new local company to the Manatee and Sarasota area. Owner and Salt Master Tim Norwood develops only the highest quality sea salt. While he has big plans for the future of this specialty item, the entire process is a labor of love that started off small.
How did Sea Salt Florida get started?
Tim Norwood and his wife always thought they would open a winery. However, after moving to Florida that idea changed to salt. Florida isn’t known for having the best wines, but it does have plenty of salt water!
Like wine making, salt making is an intense process requiring a great deal of knowledge. At times the outcome can be unpredictably amazing, but always requires a creative mind and dedication to hard work. Essentially, Sea Salt Florida became Tim Norwoods Winery.
At 55 years old Tim spent the majority of his career as an engineer with a degree in architecture. Tim has made up tons of innovative ideas working for large companies, but saved one of his ideas just for himself.
He spent a great deal of time developing his craft. After two years of working a full time job during the day while experimenting with salt production all night, Tim became a Salt Master. He has learned everything about producing only the highest quality sea salt. Tim focused on ancient thousand year old techniques of production and believes his to be the best in the United States.
How do you make Sea Salt?
If you are wondering exactly how Sea Salt is made, keep guessing. Tim Norwood keeps this secret closely guarded. With that said, he will gladly tell you the body of water where the salt comes from. In fact, Tim is proud to harvest salt water from Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key, Lido Key, Siesta Key, Casey Key, Venice and Treasure Island.
He mentions Anna Maria Island is his favorite harvest, but that may be due to his fondness of the area. Tim elaborates that the Siesta Key harvest has the most unique flavor of his products, and the Anna Maria Island salt is his most popular seller.
Tim is currently looking to relocate his production to mainland Bradenton where he has been looking at potential facility sites. Once Tim gets his new facility running successfully he just might consider giving tours. Until he knows his company is completely secure, he’s not giving away ANY of his salty secrets.
The goal for Sea Salt Florida is to produce 12,000 pounds of salt a year to supply local and international markets. Tim Norwood is creating a company that is really something special. The type of operation that he can leave to his grandchildren while also bringing permanent jobs to Manatee county.
A truly tasty souvenir.
When you first taste Sea Salt Florida’s Anna Maria Island harvest you will instantly feel like you’re back on the beach. This salt really does taste like the gulf waters of Anna Maria Island. Once you try Tim’s salt you’ll never view store bought products the same. Tim points out, “Sea Salt Florida won’t get your bags checked at the airport like a bottle of wine will”! When leaving Anna Maria Island, you MUST bring home some local salt to go with your new tan.
Where to buy Sea Salt Florida
The secret of Sea Salt Florida is its amazing mineral content. That is where the flavor is. Sea Salt Florida contains as many as 80 different minerals. Iodine is NEVER included. “This is the type of salt people are supposed to eat” mentions Tim, “This is a healthier natural product”.
Sea Salt Florida can be found at a ton of different local retail shops, or on the website.
On Anna Maria Island you can buy Sea Salt Florida at the following:
The Olive Oil Outpost and Anna Maria Historic Society Museum in the city of Anna Maria.
Island Fresh Market and Looney Dunes in Holmes Beach.
Cortez Fish Market, Cortez Maritime Museum and The Sea Hagg in Cortez Fishing Village.
Sarasota Farmers Market in downtown Sarasota.
Tim doesn’t like for his vendor to compete, so you’ll find different products at different locations. Not only does Sea Salt Florida have different harvests, but Tim also offers flavored salts and scrubs.
If you head over to Looney Dunes you’ll find Tim’s salts for sale next to the flavors of wine that the salt has been infused with!
Find a variety of scrubs at the Sea Hagg. Salt Scrubs are not the biggest seller in Tim’s inventory, but he believes his are far superior than other beauty products on the market.
Sea Salt Florida is about community.
Tim has really enjoyed the community aspects of selling salt. He regularly gets thank you letters from buyers. Tim explains, “Giving salt is an ancient form of friendship”.
Local restaurant have begun to approach Tim because his salt is the best. He has even started designing flavors to match Florida seafood like his Lemon Zest flavor created for local fish mongers.
A popular salt on the market is Italian Black Truffle. In Florida we don’t have truffles or a really reliable source to bring them in fresh. Tim had the bright idea of creating a Portabello infused salt because we grow them in Florida and it makes a great substitute for Truffle salt.
Salt really has an interesting history, and its special to continue those traditions. Tim also mentions, “Sea Salt Florida isn’t a political issue because it brings everyone together that is looking for healthier living. Coming together is something people need right now.”
If you run out of salt, just send Tim an email and he’ll gladly send you more. This is the best way to order salt online as Sea Salt Florida doesn’t have a fancy online store set up yet.
Visit local vendors, or head over to SeaSaltFlorida.com for a complete list of flavors as there are many!
Bring Island flavor home with Anna Maria Island Sea Salt Florida!
Anna Maria- When vacationing on the coast eating fresh seafood is a must, and Anna Maria Island Oysters are no exception. With countless restaurants on the island, finding some delicious oysters to eat is easier than ever!
Anna Maria Island Oysters
Many people believe humans have eaten oysters since the Roman times from evidence of oyster farms in France and the United Kingdom. Crazy right?
Oysters can be found in all of the world’s oceans. They are bivalve mollusks that have rough irregular shells. While most oysters are edible, there is a difference between food oysters and pearl oysters. Even though it is possible, most food oysters don’t produce pearls. Both are also in two different families of bivalves.
Surprisingly enough, oysters breathe much like fish, using both gills and mantle. They can be both male or female, and can change genders one or more times throughout their life.
Oysters are one of the most nutritionally balanced foods because they have proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids in them. Just eating four or five medium sized oysters supply the recommended daily source of iron, copper, iodine, magnesium, calcium, zinc, manganese and phosphorus!
Where to celebrate!
With so many restaurants on the island, there’s plenty of options for eating Anna Maria Island Oysters! Here’s a few to think of going to:
AMOB on the Pier– Located in Bradenton Beach, enjoy delicious oyster platters such as Grandma Georgie’s Chipotle Oysters, Rockefeller or an oyster sampler.
Island Gourmet Grill– Serving baked oysters with toppings such as cheese, bacon, and jalapenos, there’s no way to go wrong here! You can find Island Gourmet on Holmes Beach.
Island Fresh Market– Specializing in locally caught and grown food, the Fresh Market serves oysters caught right around the island! You can order them cooked or raw. You can find them on Holmes Beach!
Be sure to enjoy Anna Maria Island Oysters on your next visit!
Anna Maria- Even though Anna Maria has extremely fun activities, it’s nice to find enjoyable things to do out of town. With so much surrounding the island you’ll have no problem finding something the whole family will enjoy. Here is a list of some of my favorite things to do off the island.
Out of Town Activities
Sarasota is located about 40 minutes south of Anna Maria Island. If you’re looking for a fun mind game, visit Escape Countdown located off of Tamiami Trail. Here you get to pick a themed room such as Jail Break or Mad Hatter and find clues to escape it. The challenge, however, is the 60 minute time limit. You may have up to three clues for free and each added clue takes off two minutes of your time. It’s a lot of fun to do with family and friends and you can have a group of up to eight people. You can reserve a time online or just walk in. Sarasota Lanes is the perfect place to go for anyone who loves bowling, or visit Stardust for a pleasant afternoon rollerskating.
Ellenton is about 30 minutes away and is home to Ellenton Premium Outlets and Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex. The Premium Outlets offers shops such as Aeropostale, Michael Kors, and Vans. With around 120 different shops, there’s definitely something for everyone. After shopping outside all day, cool off at the ice rink and enjoy one of their two hour long public skates. Wristbands are only $15 and includes rental skates.
If you love golfing, Top Golf is the perfect place for you! Located about an hour away from the island, Top Golf is one of the coolest places to go play golf. Imagine dart boards all over the ground, but instead of throwing darts you’re trying to hit the bulls-eye with a golf ball. Also in Tampa is the Adventure Island Water Park. Here you can find tons of cool water slides, a lazy river, and fun pools to play in.
Overall there’s so much to do on and around the island you’re sure to never get bored. Make sure to check these places out at have fun on your vacation!
Anna Maria- If you’re looking for exceptional seafood, you’re at the right place! With water surrounding almost all of Anna Maria, it’s no doubt our restaurants have access to the best seafood. All within 20 minutes of the island, here are four restaurants that you’re sure to love!
1. The Ugly Grouper Bar & Grill
Located on the island, The Ugly Grouper is right across the street from our Marina Drive office. They serve delicious food such as grouper sandwiches and mahi fish tacos along with meals for people who don’t care as much for seafood. Also, all of their fish is fresh off the coast of Anna Maria, so you’re sure to get fresh fish. The Ugly Grouper has a history here on Anna Maria Island, as it was previously The Barefoot Tiki Bar and even before that a gas station! Take a look at the menu here.
Found on Manatee Avenue, Derek’s is prided on its ever-changing menu and good food. They serve wild pink shrimp pasta, blackened salmon and much more. Whether you want to have a causal luncheon or a fancy dinner, Derek’s is the perfect place to go. They do accept reservations and are open from 5am-10pm Monday-Saturday.
3. Mar Vista
Mar Vista resides in Longboat Key and is casual place to get great seafood. Some of their best dishes are a Grouper sandwich and Scallops Mar Vista. Another cool aspect of Mar Vista is its history on Longboat Key. It was one of the first structures built by Rufus Jordan in 1912 and has withstood hurricanes and erosion. Still in the original building, Mar Vista is an extremely interesting place to visit that has tasty food!
4. Starfish Company Market
If you’re wanting to cook your own or buy already cooked seafood Starfish Company is the perfect place to go. Located off Cortez, they sell locally caught seafood such as fish, scallops, and shrimp. Starfish Co. was started in the 1920’s and sits on one of the few remaining working waterfronts. With an absolutely gorgeous view, Starfish Co. is a must visit when vacationing here on Anna Maria.
Anna Maria- If you’re looking for a fun activity with the family, why not have a photo scavenger hunt on Anna Maria Island? Great for all ages, grab your camera and go explore some of the best features of Anna Maria! Don’t forget to post your pictures on our Facebook page at the end of your trip!
Photo scavenger hunt on Anna Maria Island
1. Selfie in your vacation rental
What better way to start your vacation? Take a selfie in your new vacation rental and make all your Facebook friends jealous! Plus we always love seeing our guests satisfied with our properties.
2. Buried treasure on the beach
Make like a pirate and find some buried treasure while staying on Anna Maria Island! Many times loose change can be found, and every once in a while jewelry! Take a lap around the beach and see what you might find.
3. Sunset Scavenger Hunt on Anna Maria Island
Anna Maria is home to some of the most beautiful sunsets. Good places to view these lovely colors are White Avenue and Bean Point.
4. Triple-Decker ice cream cone
When in the hot Florida sun it’s always nice to cool off with some cold ice cream! Stack on multiple scoops for the ultimate ice cream cone. Delicious places to go to are Two Scoops and Holy Cow Ice Cream.
5. Wild Parrots
One of the best characteristics about Anna Maria is the occasional sighting of wild parrots. These beautiful creatures can be found all over the island, and are definitely picture worthy. Just please don’t try to feed or disturb them!
6. Seagulls (Do not feed!)
Some of the most common birds in Florida are seagulls. Found all over the beach, seagulls are the perfect addition to your vacation photos. However, do not feed them as they can be very aggressive and won’t leave you alone once you do!
7. Selfie on the free trolley
A great feature on Anna Maria Island is the free trolley that goes through Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach and Anna Maria. As you’re traveling around the island make sure to snap a picture to record your travels! You can find the schedule for the trolley here. All we ask is to not take a photo in front of the trolley as it will hold the driver up and put it off schedule!
If you like sweets The Donut Experiment is an absolute must to go to. With delicious donuts that make for great pictures you can’t go wrong here. Plus, you get to choose EXACTLY what goes on your donuts as they are made-to-order. There will be a little wait however as they are extremely popular!
9. Spell your name in shells
Leave a little of yourself behind and spell your name out in the sand! Anna Maria has pretty shells littering the island, and is a great way to get creative on your vacation. Plus it makes your pictures a little more personalized!
10. Build a sand castle
What better way to show off the island’s beautiful sand than creating sand castles? Show off your creative skills and build your own or be on the look out for professionals creating theirs! This is also a great activity to do with the family, and adding kids into the picture only makes it cuter! Get inventive and have fun.
Known for their delicious burgers and cold beer, Duffy’s Tavern is the perfect place to go for food. Make sure to document you’re meal for the scavenger hunt on Anna Maria Island!
12. Selfie at the beach
The best part of vacationing at Anna Maria is the beach! With pretty water and cool wildlife you’re sure to get some awesome pictures. Take a selfie (or selfies!) with the family, you’re sure to get some Instagram-worthy pictures!
13. Visit the Historic Green Village
Located on Pine Avenue, the Historic Green Village is one out of 100 places worldwide to have achieved the highest possible green building standard. With cool shops such as ami Outfitters and Beach Bums there’s a lot to see and do! Learn more about this historical place here.
Have fun with this scavenger hunt on Anna Maria Island, and remember to be safe!
Anna Maria Island – There is no better time to travel to Anna Maria Island than in the summer; however, dealing with the extreme heat can be a struggle if you don’t know how to prepare. By following these tips you’ll be sure to return home safely without looking like a lobster!
1. Drink Plenty of Water!
While it may seem obvious, drinking enough water is extremely important when vacationing at the beach. Because of Florida’s intense heat, your body needs more water than usual to stay hydrated. Grab a pack of water at the Island’s Publix or CVS.
Serving as a Floridian’s best friend, sunscreen is a must-have when staying at the beach. Even when it is cloudy, the sun’s rays are so strong that without protecting your skin you could end up looking like a ripe tomato. Being out in the sun for hours allows UV rays easy access to burning your skin, so slathering on that SPF 80 before playing in the sand is always a safe idea! Make sure to apply 20 minutes before going in the sun and REAPPLY every 2 hours.
3. Cover up!
Indirect rays can be just as damaging as direct ones. When going to the beach, it’s smart to wear protective clothing and bring an umbrella or tent for shade. Just the sun’s reflection off the water can result in a bad sunburn! You can find hats, umbrellas and more on the island at the West Coast Surf Shop.
Between the healing powers of aloe vera and the coldness of the ice cubes, this DIY hack is sure to give your skin some relief. Make sure to take some in the cooler just in case the sun gets the best of you!
DIY relief cream
If you want something a little less messy try making your own sunburn soother to help ease the pain and heal skin faster. You can find the recipe here.
The island is a wonderful place to vacation on, so make sure to take care of yourself and have fun!
Anna Maria Island vacation rentals and accommodations
Island Real Estate has the largest selection of vacation rentals homes on Anna Maria Island! Book your vacation today!
Anna Maria Island -If you’re a bookworm like me, reading at the beach is one of the most relaxing activities to do. However, it can be hard to find a good book that will captivate your interest.
Here are three of my favorite Anna Maria Island beach reads.
1.The Maze Runner by James Dashner.
The Maze Runner is one of my favorite books to read. In it, Thomas wakes up in a glade in the middle of a labyrinth. As he meets the other gladers he finds out that they are stranded in the middle of a labyrinth with no memory of their past. With the help of his friends, Thomas begins his quest to find a way out of the maze and to freedom.
The Maze Runner is the first of the trilogy and is one of those books that once you’ve started reading it’s impossible to stop. Even ‘The Telegraph’ author Rebecca Hawkes stated, “It’s punchy, tense and, crucially, original.”
2. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green.
If you’re looking for a laugh An Abundance of Katherines is the perfect book for you. Colin Singleton is a child prodigy who has a love for the name Katherine. In fact, he’s dated-and been dumped by-19 of them. Because of his recent dumping, Colin and his food-loving friend Hassan set out on a road trip with 10,000 dollars and a mission: create a theorem that will predict the future of every relationship.
3. Simon vs. the Homosapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli
One of my favorite books, Simon vs. the Homosapien Agenda is young adult novel that focuses on the struggles of figuring out who you are throughout high school. Simon had been thinking about coming out to his parents for a while, and has even been talking to a guy who goes by ‘Blue’ on the internet. But when Martin Addison begins threatening to snitch unless Simon puts a good word in with his friend Abby, things take an unexpected turn. If you like a mix of mystery and romance, this book is definitely for you.
I hope you enjoy these great Anna Maria Island Beach Reads!