Rhinos, Orangutans, and Panthers, Oh my! – Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa!

What makes for a better family outing than a trip to the zoo? Especially if its the amazing Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa. It is a home to over 1,300 animals, including Manatees, Orangutans, Giraffes, and more! Here, they rescue, rehabilitate, and then care for these animals.

This non-profit zoo is 63 acres, and draws over 1 million visitors each year! Which makes sense, because this place is AMAZING!!

The lush, tropical setting truly makes you feel like you have entered a new, wild world. Experience up-close animal encounters, do a behind the scenes tour, and take part in their seasonal events! Tampa is just a short drive from any of our Anna Maria Island Vacation Rentals! Worth the trip every time.


Address:
1101 W Sligh Ave
Tampa, FL 33604

Top 5 Ice Cream Places on Anna Maria Island

Hey dudes and dude-ettes!!  You’re back with The Island Kid right here on Kids Corner, the best place to get the best news on Anna Maria Island.  I’m here today to tell you guys about the absolute best places on the island to get your ice cream fix. Now, here on Anna Maria Island, there are plenty of places you can go if you want a frozen treat to eat. But if you’re unsure of which places are best and which places to rule out. Read on for good info!coffee ice cream

            Best Places for Ice Cream on Anna Maria Island

1: Two Scoops: This ice cream shop is a small shop nestled between Two Sides of Nature and across from the Anna Maria City Pier. With 32 rotating flavors, some as weird as blueberry pie and as normal as your classic vanilla, your pallet will always be pleased. They also have pastries, assorted lunch foods, and candy bars.

2: Dips: An ice cream shop near Three Island Monkeys and The Loft #5 in Anna Maria, this itty-bitty place packs the punch when it comes to ice cream. With thousands of flavors and topping variations, your experience will never be a bore.  Plus the classic candies and toys on the wall are great for a trip down memory lane.

3: Tyler’s Ice Cream is just over the bridge in Cortez Village.  Well worth the jaunt to enjoy some delicious gourmet flavors-literally hundreds over the years!  They have locally themed, as well as delicious classic flavors…and finding out what their latest is, is always part of the fun.  But creating your own flavor of shake just can’t be beat!

4: Joe’s Eats and Sweets: This place is the bomb.com. It’s got everything from chocolate to cotton candy & nerds and more! They also have pie on a stick-yes, on a stick- and various types of milkshakes and malts. This place is big colorful building right near Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach, so climb the steps, and check it out!

5: Holy Cow: No, I’m not shocked, they just have really good ice cream!  This place has many different combos of flavors and toppings, plus much more. They include a little mini gift shop inside the shop, plus indoor and outdoor seating. So feel free to enjoy your ice cream while browsing the trinkets.

Bonus tip – about 15 minutes off Anna Maria Island is a fantastic custard shop called Sweet Berries.  They mix all kinds of goodies in their custard ice cream and call it a concrete.  yum!

Whether you’re looking for just one spot or want try them all, these places are the best on the island.  So next time you’re visiting, go check ’em out! Let us know what you thought, and check back with us here on Kid’s Corner.

Sarasota Medieval Fair is great day trip for Anna Maria Visitors

Renaissance Festival

Hear ye, hear ye!  The Sarasota Medieval Fair occurs annually in the month of November.  Just a short trip from Anna Maria Island it is a perfect day trip for visitors.  The Sarasota Medieval Fair is located at the Sarasota Fairgrounds on Fruitville Road rain or shine from 10-6 each weekend.  Enjoy performances by Jousters and Human Combat Chess.  Jump in and participate in craft demonstrations of pottery, basket weaving, blacksmith work, torched glass beading and even leather working.  Bring your appetite because the turkey legs are HUGE and the beer is served cold.

Tickets are available at the Medieval Fair website.

Want to know about more events on and off Anna Maria Island?  Visit our events information page.

Awesome Aquariums near Anna Maria Island, Florida

Florida Aquarium
Florida Aquarium

Today’s information is about some of the awesome aquariums near Anna Maria Island There are so many cool places to go if you’re interested in exotic or local marine animals.

To kick it off, there’s the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota. They have 100’s of different animals. Some of them have been injured & are being hospitalized right there in the aquarium. They also have technological games & activities that you can participate in during your visit. You can explore & discover the marine life they have there, touch stingrays in their touch tank & so much more.

We can’t forget about Snooty, the oldest Manatee in captivity.  Bradenton has a much smaller aquarium however it is a quick trip just of Anna Maria Island.  The South Florida Museum has lots to do including a planetarium.   Manatee’s are often seen in the canal pool side.

There’s also the Clearwater Marine Hospital (C.M.H.) in Clearwater that holds one of the most unique dolphins ever, Winter. If you haven’t seen the movie Dolphin Tale, Winter is a dolphin that lost her tail in a crab trap accident & is the one & only dolphin with that kind of disability. She now has a prosthetic tail & is living happy & healthy in C.M.H. You can see Winter & all her friends at C.M.H. & some of the other activities. They have a hurricane simulator, some of the actual props & sets that they filmed in the movie, otters, turtles, & so much more. See more at SeeWinter.com

Enjoy your summer & keep in touch with Kid’s Corner!

Mote Marine Laboratory Aquarium in Sarasota, FL

Mote Marine Laboratory Aquarium is located in north Sarasota a short drive from Anna Maria Island. The Aquarium is a wonderful day-trip full of fun activities for everybody.  Enjoy the touch pools, working labs and high tech interactive exhibits! Mote marine also has weekly shark-feedings that are fascinating to watch. You can even book an Eco boat tour during your visit. There is plenty to do and see at this wonderful non-profit organization.

Mote aquarium

Mote Marine Laboratory Aquarium

The entire facility is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m daily including all holidays.

Mote Marine has two buildings filled with Aquariums along with a shark tank, turtle tank and an Otter exhibit. You will need to walk across a street to see all the areas so be sure to wear comfortable shoes.

Also consider stopping at the Save our Seabirds (SOS) facility located in between the two Mote facilities. Admission is half price with a Mote Marine ticket. Ticket sales go to help this great organization rehabilitate injured wildlife.Mote aquarium examples

Check out Mote’s website for daily events and activities for the entire family! Island Real Estate also has more information on aquariums close to Anna Maria Island.

Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium
1600 Ken Thompson Parkway
Sarasota, FL 34236
(941) 388-4441

Family Fun, Playgrounds and parks on Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Island – There are several family fun activities across the island perfect for keeping the kids entertained. No matter which of the three cities you are visiting on Island, you wont have to travel far to find a play place.

Anna Maria Island has a phenomenal skate park in Holmes Beach for the child that skateboards or roller blades. The bigger kids and teenagers are the perfect age to tear it up at the skate park. Located directly next to the skate park is a nice little playground set for the little ones, and a shuffleboard court for the grown ups. If you are lucky, catch a glimpse of Anna Maria Island’s beloved pirate ship parade float Skully wag, often parked just by the skate park.

The most Northern and generally quietest playground is located in Anna Maria City at 310 North Bay Boulevard and named Anna Maria Bay Front Park. This park is gorgeously located directly on the bay side beach, so you can enjoy swimming and playing on the play ground equipment. After visiting Bay Front Park, head over to nearby Rod N Reel pier for lunch!

If you are looking for a playground right on the Gulf of Mexico, look no more. There is a fabulous playground in Holmes Beach at the Manatee Public beach. Manatee public beach offers concessions, volley ball nets, picnic areas, bathroom/changing area and tourist information.

In Bradenton Beach head over to Herb Dolan park located on the corner of Avenue A and 25th Street directly on Anna Maria Sound. This park offers a playground, basketball courts and a large field for baseball. This park is tucked into a Bradenton Beach neighborhood, and is often not crowded.

On the very southern end of the Island find Coquina beach with tons of activities including a fun Pirate ship shaped play ground, paved walking/bike paths, concessions and bathrooms.

Top 10 Family Friendly Things to Do While Visiting Anna Maria Island

1. The Fish Hole Miniature Golf-An 18 hole golf course located on Historic Bridge Street. They have a koi pond that the kids will love to feed! Open 7 days!
115 Bridge Street
Bradenton Beach, FL 34217
(941) 778-3388

2. Anna Maria Bay Front Park– This is a great family friendly park which offers a playground, grills, picnic tables. There is a bay beach as well with views of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and Egmont Key. There are public restrooms and showers to wash off the sand!
316 North Bay Blvd
Anna Maria City, FL 34212

3. Two Scoops Ice Cream Parlor– They offer sundaes, ice cream cones, cookies & candy or you can grab lunch, sandwiches, hotdogs & chips!
101 South Bay Blvd
Anna Maria City, FL 34216
(941) 779-2422

4. Anna Maria Island Community Center-The Center has so many programs and activities for kids, teens and adults too!
407 Magnolia Ave
Anna Maria City, FL 34216
(941) 778-1908

5. The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature-This great museum located in Downtown Bradenton has Bishop Planetarium and Parker Manatee Aquarium all under one roof! You must see Snooty; he is the oldest known manatee!
201 10th St. West
Bradenton, FL 34205
(941) 746-4131

6. Eternal Summer Surf Camp-This is fantastic, free program offered in the summer. Every Sunday beginning July 4th, there is a 2 hour instructional class for children 14 and under. Did I mention it’s free?
Located at the beach on White Avenue

7. Mote Marine Laboratory-You can explore the sea through the touch pools, viewable-working labs and interactive exhibits. See sharks, dolphins, manatees and sea turtles, along with more than 100 other species of marine life.
1600Ken Thompson Parkway
Sarasota, FL 34236
(941) 388-4441

8. Clearwater Marine Aquarium– This is a great family day trip to Clearwater. The aquarium is the official home of the Dolphin Winter, star of the new blockbuster movie, Dolphin Tale!
249 Windward Passage
Clearwater, FL 33767
(727) 441-1790

9. De Soto National Park-This national park teaches the local history through a hands-on exhibit and re-enactments for the young and old. Pack a picnic and you can explore the nature trail!
8300 De Soto Memorial Hwy
Bradenton, FL 34209
(941) 792-0458 ext. 105

10. GO TO THE BEACH!

Top Ten Things To Do During Your Visit To Anna Maria Islandn


Top Ten Things To Do!

1)      Go for a bike ride along Coquina Beach.

2)      Spend the day at Myakka River State Park walk the trails and watch the aligators. Continue reading Top Ten Things To Do During Your Visit To Anna Maria Islandn

Coquina Bay Walk at Leffis Key Preserve

Bradenton Beach – Let’s take a stroll down the boardwalk through the mangroves along Sarasota Bay. The bay walk at Leffis key will not cost you a dime and has plenty of parking.  Leffis key is located on the south end of Anna Maria Island on the bay side directly across from Coquina Beach.

Directions to Leffis Key

Coming from Long Boat Key head north to Anna Maria Island.  Once you have gone over the bridge onto Anna Maria Island you will see Coquina Beach on your left hand side and the boat ramps and a picnic area to the right.  Just after the boat ramp on your right hand side you will see the parking area for Leffis Key. 2351 Gulf of Mexico Drive

The easiest way from Bradenton is to take Cortez Road west to the beach. After you have gone over the bridge onto Anna Maria Island take a left and head south towards Coquina Beach. Leffis Key is right before the boat ramp on your left hand side.
As you enter Leffis Key get your cameras ready because the Anna Maria island wildlife will be waiting for you. When we were there on Monday we saw a hawk, a blue heron, rabbits, crabs, and lots of small fish swimming in the lagoons.  There are a lot of different species of young fish that take refuge in the lagoons here to avoid larger fish and predators in the bay. You may see young mullet, red drum, snook, and sheepshead in these shallow lagoons.

Looking for off island Wildlife viewing and hiking opportunities? Check out Robinson Preserve.

Let’s Go to the Movies! The AMC Bradenton 20 Movie Theater shows ’em all…

Every once in a while, a little rain must fall.  But when you are staying on Anna Maria Island, you still have lots to do, and lots of activities to choose from.   As we’ve mentioned before on our Top Seven Things to Do on a Rainy Day blog , going to the movies can be a good way to pass the time away on a rainy afternoon, or a lazy afternoon, or any afternoon, or evening, for that matter.  Just a quick car ride across the Cortez Bridge and out 53rd Ave/SR70 will take you to the AMC Bradenton 20, where you can catch the latest releases on the big screen.  AMC Bradenton 20 is located at 2507 53rd Ave E in Bradenton (map it here).  That’s right, 20 theaters playing the latest shows only a hop, skip and a jump (and about 20 minutes in the car) from the beach!   Check out their website for showtimes.  Their Super Bargain shows start at $6.00 and prices go up from there.  If you are a planner, you can head to Fandango and purchase your tickets to your favorite show online, ahead of time.  They also accept Visa and Mastercard at the ticket counter, and the concession stand.

The last time we were there, the debate was not over which movie to see, but what to add to the popcorn!  The concession stand has a whole” Personalize your Popcorn” station.  You can add their tasty shakers o’ flavor to your classic movie snack.  They have savory and sweet flavors-including cheese!  But the winner for my crowd was our own purchase, and the old stand by- M&Ms!  It’s the perfect combination of savory and sweet…and it’s always a pleasant surprise in the dark of the theater, to guess how many chocolatey treats you might grab out of the bucket!  If you make it early for your show, there’s a seating area in the lobby where you can nosh while you wait.  There is plenty of signage too, to make sure you know which direction to head to catch your flick.   The theaters are good sized, and the seats are large and comfy, with cup holders big enough for those gi-normous drinks!

So, if you are looking for a rainy day activity, or date night fun, head in to town to catch a movie.  They are SURE to be playing something you’ll enjoy at the AMC Bradenton 20!  Oh yeah, did I mention they have 3-D movies as well?  Sorry, these movies are a bit more expensive but they do supply 3-D plastic glasses to enjoy the movie with, and what a thrill!