Top Activities Off Anna Maria Island

Enjoy our list of off Anna Maria Island activities. While lazing on the beach with a cold drink is an amazing way to vacation, visit off island too.

Off Anna Maria Island

Beyond the powder sand and crisp blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico find things to do. There’s a ton of activities to experience on Anna Maria Island. However, if feeling adventurous, here’s a list of 40 activities less than a two hour drive from the island.

Off Anna Maria Island
Relax on Anna Maria Island beaches!


The city of Bradenton is located inland from Anna Maria Island when heading over the Manatee Bridge. Known as the friendly city, Bradenton offers great entertainment in the Downtown Old Main Street area. Find Bishop Planetarium, South Florida Museum, The Players Theater and McKechnie Baseball Field where the Marauders play. Additionally, find things to do at G.T. Bray park,  Manatee County Parks and Mixon Fruit Farm.


The city of Cortez is located just over the Cortez Bridge when leaving Anna Maria Island. One of the countries oldest fishing villages, Cortez is a place to explore old Florida charm, shops, and seafood. Be sure to visit Starfish Company restaurant for dockside views, and the best Florida seafood you’ll taste. If you visit in February be sure to check out the annual Cotez Fishing Festival. Find some of the areas most delicious sweets at Tylers Ice Cream. Learn all about the history of Cortez Fishing Village at the Maritime Museum.


A truly beautiful city, Sarasota is about 30 minutes south of Anna Maria Island. You’ll find a large selection of activities in Sarasota. Theaters include Van WezelMcCurdys Improve comedy house and the Sarasota Players. Also enjoy fine art at The Ringling or beautiful Florida Flora and Fauna at Sarasota Jungle Gardens. The internationally known Sarasota Film Festival offers many events annual in April. Also, Siesta key and St. Armands Circle have fabulous shopping, or explore Florida’s aquatic life at Mote Marine Aquarium.

Lakewood Ranch

Heading 45 minutes East into Manatee county brings you to Lakewood Ranch. This area offers an outdoors shopping area along Main Street with a few other activities surrounding. Visit the Lakewood Ranch cinema followed by a great meal at Polo Grill and Bar. Play a round of Golf at the prestigious Legacy Golf Club.

 University Town Center is a great indoor mall with fabulous shopping opportunities not found on Anna Maria Island.

St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg is a 45 minute drive north over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Here find a growing art scene with ton’s of galleries, studios, boutiques and entertainment. Check out the Sundial shopping district along with the great waterfront restaurants. Enjoy fine works by artist Salvador Dali at the Dali Museum.


Myakka State Park has many activities including boat tours, nature watching and bike trails. The city of Myakka is just a little over an hour drive from Anna Maria Island. It also offers one of the nicest State parks in Florida. While in Myakka support your local farmers with a tour of Dakin Dairy.


Tampa offers many fun attractions perfect for a day trip from Anna Maria Island. Just about an hour drive brings you to the famous Florida attraction Busch Gardens. The Car Museum of Tampa is a fun stop for old car enthusiasts.


Orlando is a two hour drive from Anna Maria Island, but offers tons of family friendly activities. Check out our list of fun things to do in Orlando below:

Downtown Disney

Blizzard Beach

Typhoon Lagoon

Animal Kingdom

Disney’s Hollywood Studio

Disney’s Epcot

Magic Kingdom

Walt Disney World 

Universal Studios

Islands of Adventure


Westfield Mall has all the big name retailers you are looking for. Brandon is also only an hour drive east of Anna Maria Island toward the Tampa area.


Ruskin is a quiet small Florida town with a fabulous old Drive in Theater. Just under an hour drive from the Island, Ruskin Drive also provides hours of inexpensive entertainment.

Plant City

If you visit the Island during spring months, you may be lucky to catch the Florida Strawberry Festival. The Strawberry Festival has been celebrated since the 1930’s. This 10 day event provides tons of fun too!


Annual Sarasota Film Festival

The Sarasota Film Festival  returns year after year.  It is on it’s 17th year so it’s a staple for film enthusiasts in the Sarasota area as well as Anna Maria Island. Usually the annual Sarasota film festival runs early April but check their website for exact dates and venues.  The Annual Sarasota film festival takes place at the Regal Hollywood 20 Theater.  The film festival features independent work of new and veteran filmmakers from all around the world.

annual sarasota film festival

Check out the Sarasota Film Festival website for when Tickets go on sale.  Various events are held throughout the festival, such as the red carpet Cinema Tropicale Celebration and free kid-friendly “youthFEST”shows. Prices for individual shows vary from an $8 matinee up to a $20 ticket for the Spotlight or Centerpiece Films. There are also Student Passport, Film Buff, and Film Fanatic packages available to purchase which can offer you up to twenty tickets at a discounted price.  For more information you can call (941) 366-6200.

This is one of the area’s favorite events, due in no small part to it featuring something for everyone including documentaries, shorts, and children’s movies.  A film guide with synopsis of the movies being shown this year can normally be found on the Sarasota Film Festival Website.

Celebrity guests are usually expected to attend Sarasota Film Festival as part of the “In-Conversation With…” Series, which gives audience members a chance to learn about the film making process from actors and directors that were involved in the movie they have just watched.  Past year’s lineups have included Mariel Hemingway, Lili Taylor, Griffin Dunne and Peter Bogdanovich.  Past famous faces among the popcorn include Cheryl Hines and Christopher Abbott.

See you at the movies!

Regal Hollywood 20
1993 Main Street
Sarasota, FL 34236
(941) 365-2000

If you are a film enthusiast and want to stay on Anna Maria Island and take the short commute to the film festival we strongly suggest you reserve your vacation rental by the end of the Summer each year.  Early April is a very popular time to stay on Anna Maria Island and to have a good pick of available vacation rentals we suggest late Summer to choose your perfect “peace” of paradise.