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!
Sarasota – When visiting it won’t take long to realize that dragging yourself away from the sugar-sand beaches of Anna Maria Island for shopping is nearly impossible! However, during times it may get a little rainy, take the day and head over to the BRAND NEW MALL in Sarasota!
The Mall at University Town Center (Mall UTC) just had it’s opening day on October 16, 2014. The architecture of this mall is unique and attractive. The glass brick roof keeps the mall light and bright letting the Florida sun shine through – it really compliments the fresh new mall. For us locals, it was very anticipated for the area! This multi-level, 880,000 square foot mall changed shopping for us here in Southwest Florida.
The mall which includes over 100 stores to shop, 12 places to get some food (including casual dining, fine dining and quick eats) as well as a list of upcoming events such as styling from Aveda Salon, Eye Wear Trunk Show, Designer appearance and fashion show at Dillard’s, and more!
Mall UTC is located at 140 University Town Center Drive in Sarasota, FL 34243, which is only 30-35 minutes from AMI. Time for some serious shopping fun!
Here is the Mall Directory:
American Eagle Outfitters
Auntie Anne’s Pretzels
Bath & Body Works
Bose Boston Proper
Brio Tuscan Grille
Brooks Brothers Women
Brow Art 23
Calypso St. Barth
Cold Stone Creamery
Crate & Barrel Sale
Edward Beiner Purveyor of Fine Eyewear
Everything But Water
Fast Fix Jewelry Repair
J.S. Trunk & Co.
Jackie Z Style Co.
Janie & Jack
Johnston & Murphy
Kate Spade New York
LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics
Mayors / Rolex
Oil & Vinegar
Organic Nail Bar
Rise Pies Handcrafted Pizza
Saks Fifth Avenue
Sophie’s (inside Saks Fifth Avenue)
The Art of Shaving
The Capital Grille
The Cheesecake Factory
The Walking Company
Venus Med Spa
White House | Black Market
Yankee Candle Co.
4D Gelateria, Arhaus Furniture, Banana Moon Swimwear, Burger & Beer Joint, Charlotte Russe, Fit2Run, Footgear, Forever Flawless, Forever Nails & Spa, Francesca’s Collections, Free People, Great American Cookies, H&M, Invicta, Kiehl’s, Lucky Brand Jeans, Motherhood Maternity, Naracamicie, Natural Comfort Footwear, Talbots, Tricho Salon, Camuto and YO! Sushi.
Looking for the perfect vacation for your family on the beach? Anna Maria Island offers white sand beaches, beautiful emerald waters, and an old Florida charm. Anna Maria Island is known as a favorite place to go for families.
Anna Maria Island is seven miles long, and a few blocks wide. You can hear the sounds of waves and watch beautiful sunsets. Enjoy walks on the beach, great restaurants, shopping, and all kinds of wonderful accommodations through Island Real Estate.
What makes this island so great? Fast food and high rise condos do not exist on Anna Maria. The speed limit is 35 and flip flops are welcome. You can get away from the hustle, bustle of life and yet have plenty to do.
Looking for some grown up time? Enjoy time away knowing that your children are well cared for. Whether you need an extra set of hands or time away we can help! Day or evening Elite Family Care has wonderful nanny/babysitters who are screened, CPR & First Aid certified, trained, and experienced. We send our caregivers out based on the ages of the children. Our caregivers will engage your children in games, toys, and arts and crafts while you are away. Outdoor fun such as swimming in the pool, or playing in the sand is permitted with signed consent forms. Book your sitter at Elite Family Care under vacationing families.
Now that the children are taken care of you can enjoy some pampering at Anna Maria’s largest day spa, Body and Soul Spa & Wellness. They offer massages, facials, and yoga classes. Or enjoy a quiet dinner at one of our favorites, Bridge Street Bistro on Bradenton Beach. This little romantic getaway offers favorites like Gulf Coast Grouper Sautee with key lime dill butter, capers, and a trickle of pomegranate reduction, or how about Roasted Maple Leaf Duckling, dressed, slow-baked, de-boned and crisped, with a spicy three peppercorn, Cognac demi-glaze or fruit and berry sauces. Another favorite is Beachhouse Restaurant, enjoy seafood at its best with menu items such as Coconut Crusted Flounder, Maryland Crab Cake Dinner, Sesame Seared Tuna, Seafood Medley and King Crab Legs. After dinner a nice walk on the beach will top off the evening!
Anna Maria Island 2013 New Year’s Eve Celebrations are upon us! As another year comes to a close, we have a list of the events going on to make your transition to the New Year as memorable as the Anna Maria Island beaches. Don’t miss our list of New Year’s Eve and Day hours for local restaurants as well!
On The Island
Banana Cabana: Dinner and Doug Bidell. Call 941-779-1930 for more information.
Slim’s Place: Open DJ Dance Party all night. Call 941-567-5046 for more information.
Beachhouse: 6-10pm Ring in the New Year without waiting until midnight, with the party continuing after until midnight. Buy one Get one Holiday Libations with the purchase of any entree. Dance the night away with Chuck Caudill. Covered and heated outdoor seating. Call 941-779-2222 for more information.
Off The Island
Pier 22: 4:00pm-1:00am – Enjoy three options to celebrate. A fabulous buffet and cash bar from 9pm – 1:00am. Price per person is $59.95 plus tax and gratuity. PIER 22 also plays host to an all inclusive NEW YEAR’S EVE ballroom celebration that features an open bar and buffet. Price is $99.95 plus tax and gratuity. PIER 22 will also be serving an early NEW YEAR’S EVE dinner with a limited menu from 4-6pm. For more information call 941-748-8087 or visit pier22dining.com
Riverhouse Reef and Grill: 7:00pm – Ring in 2014 on the Waterfront at Riverhouse Reef & Grill, overlooking the Manatee River and downtown Bradenton. Enjoy our award-winning buffet, a live DJ, dancing, party favors, and a champagne toast & balloon drop at midnight in our family-friendly atmosphere. The celebration begins at 7 PM. Call to reserve: 941-729-0616
Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center: 8:00pm – It’s a night you won’t want to miss! Enjoy some good time ukulele funk with Shannon and Kyle Biss as The Applebutter Express. Also featuring Ober Rivers and His D.U.I.’s. We’ll be ringing in the new year with high energy, fun entertainment. One more band still to be added to the bill – stay tuned!
Powel Crosley Estate: 8:00pm-1:00am – Here’s the lowdown. Start your evening in one of three grand Parlours for a delicious, five course menu and music. Guys and Dolls get a choice of every entrée. At 9:30 p.m, the dinner hall changes to a jazzing Speakeasy Soiree. Join the card games (the house will comp a little poker dough); sneak down to the Bourbon and Cigar lounge; or bottoms up with a Sidecar, or Bathtub Gin and Tonic, and dance with swinging music. Complimentary champagne toast. Get all dolled up in your finest. Phone (941) 312-0000. Price $75 for dinner and Speakeasy Soiree; $35 for Speakeasy Soiree only, 21 and up.
A great option to night time entertainment while visiting Anna Maria Island is the Players Theatre. The Manatee Performing Arts Center is another great choice for Anna Maria Visitors.
A pleasant 40 minute drive down Longboat Key from Anna Maria Island will bring you to the heart of Sarasota, where the Players Theatre resides at 838 North Tamiami Trail. They are celebrating their 83rd season with a truly phenomenal array of productions. Need more musicals? Visit the Manatee Performing Arts Center, or if you want a night of theatre that’s closer to home, check out the Island Players.
Players Theatre of Sarasota 2013-2014 Performances
New York artist Chakaia Booker’s unique sculptures are on display on the plaza and in the lobby of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune (1741 Main St, Sarasota, FL 34236) in downtown Sarasota until April 7, 2013.
The sculptures are made nearly entirely of burnt and bent vehicle tires with just a bit of twisted steel. The display is part of the Herald-Tribunes’ “Conversations with Artists” program.
Booker has worked in the medium of tires for more than two decades. She utilizes often overlooked grooves and surfaces of the rubber material to represent a wide assortment of metaphors satisfying her aesthetic, political, and economic concerns. Visit our Sarasota information page for additional things to do while in Sarasota. Also be sure to visit our top ten things to do in Sarasota. Sarasota is just a short 30 minute drive to the South of Anna Maria Island.
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.
If you’re in the area October 28th – November 6th, come out and see what may be the biggest Chalk Festival yet! This year’s theme for the Sarasota Chalk Festival is “Circus City, USA” and promises over 500 artist, 200,000 visitors and 5,000 children to be involved along with various street performers; there is even talk of live elephants to be used as muses! For its 5th season, the festival will take place in Burns Court, Sarasota (downtown). This year will highlight the use of 2D & 3D chalk art, featuring artist David Brancato, who has won numerous 1st place awards from Disney!
Check out the pictures below from prior years, which have recently gained international recognition, and come see the masterpieces in person or make one yourself, this festival is free to the public!
Have you been spending a lot of time on Anna Maria Island? Looking for a change of pace? Experience the beautiful city of Sarasota, where there is a whole lot to do! These are the top 10 activities we’ve found south of Anna Maria…
1 ) John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art – The Ringling museum is the best bang for your buck in Sarasota. Costing only $25 for adults, your ticket gives you access to the entire Ringling “campus”, where you will get lost for hours wandering around the immaculately landscaped grounds. The actual museum of art runs special exhibits year round, and is packed with Asian, European, and American treasures. Be sure to make it out to the breathtaking 56 room Ca’ d’Zan Mansion, built in 1925, which overlooks gorgeous Sarasota bay. Last but not least, be sure to visit the Circus Museum. Built in 1948, it was the first museum to commemorate the robust history of the American circus.
2 ) St. Armand’s Circle – After you’ve experienced all the shopping that Anna Maria Island has to offer, the next logical step is St. Armand’s. The circle as we know it today was developed in the early 1950s, and has been steadily growing alongside the city of Sarasota ever since. Enjoy a cocktail before your meal at Tommy Bahamas’, or experience the fine dining of The Columbia Restaurant, which is based on the restaurant of the same name in Tampa, founded in 1905. After your meal, be sure to check out one of the many elegant shops that populate the circle, which include luxury clothing stores, jewelers, and multitudes of specialty shops.
3 ) Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium – Mote Marine is one of the most interesting attractions in the greater Sarasota area, for multiple reasons. First and foremost, it acts as a marine animal rescue an research center, which is an incredibly important service with the ever-growing population of people around the Gulf of Mexico. Now here’s the fun part: the animals that they can not rehabilitate for the wild are put into educational exhibits where they are treated like royalty. Be sure to check out the different touch tanks, which are full of sting rays, hermit crabs, sea anemones, and other cool creatures. This is a perfect place to bring your kids!
4 ) Sarasota Jungle Gardens – One of the oldest consistently open attractions in Florida, The Sarasota Jungle Gardens are truly amazing. The diversity of the plant life is a major attraction, with over 3000 different species of flora that have been introduced to the ecosystem since it opened. I, however, found the wildlife to be the most interesting aspect. The Gardens play an important role in the upkeep of central Florida’s wildlife, as the vast majority of the exotic animals there are rescues, with many of them being taken in from the wild after previous owners abandoned them. Be sure to check out one of the daily shows featuring local wildlife.
5 ) Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall – Sitting on sparkling Sarasota Bay, The Van Wezel is known by locals as the premiere location to catch a good play or concert in the area. Built in 1970 and recently renovated in 2000, The Van Wezel has been serving the community for a long time. As a child growing up in the greater Tampa Bay Area, every school I attended would come to a show put on specifically for children that was always a blast. Shows include performances ranging from nationally acclaimed stand up comedians, to lesser known dance troupes, and of course musical acts from all walks of life. The Van Wezel is about a half an hour drive from Anna Maria Island and is always 100% worth it.
6 ) The Sarasota Classic Car Museum is the equivalent to any car fanatics dream! It is the second oldest continuously operating antique car museum in the Nation. With a beautiful, and very wide variety of antique care, including a car that was John Lennons, this is a great place to take the entire family to admire the fine craftsmen ship of the vehicles that have gone down in history. Punta Gorda hosts another classic car museum.
7 ) Siesta Key Beach – While Anna Maria Island certainly has some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, they are simply surpassed by the beach at Siesta Key, and that’s saying something! When you’re taking your trip to St. Armand’s, make sure you stop off here and soak up some sun. This is the highest rated beach in the entire United States of America.
8 ) Yoder’s Amish Restaurant – Easily my favorite restaurant in the greater Sarasota/Bradenton area, Yoder’s is simply the best place in Sarasota to enjoy a good meal. Featured on a few different national television shows, the restaurant’s home-cooked style meals never disappoint. I usually keep it simple with my order; succulent turkey breast, mashed potatos, corn on the cob, and fried okra. At that point, I’m always far too stuffed for desert; so I take home one of their famous peanut butter cream pies.
9 ) Myakka River State Park – I’ve always found Myakka River State Park to be one of the best places to get a true taste of what little bit of “wild” Florida is left. Located in eastern Sarasota County, I’ve spent days at a time experiencing all the amazing activites the state park provides us. Your options are endless; there’s hiking, biking, fishing, and even a “canopy walk” where you walk between giant trees on rope bridges. My personal favorite: the air boat tour. You and a few friends jump on an airboat and the driver whips you around the marshes, while giving a verbal tour detailing the history, wildlife, and vegetation in and around Myakka River.
10 ) The Powel Crosley Estate – This giant mansion overlooking Sarasota Bay is an absolutely gorgeous place to visit. Built in 1929 by Powel Crosley for his wife, the estate now serves as a venue that you can rent for weddings, family reunions, etc. That, however, isn’t even the fun part! When it isn’t being rented out, the estate decorates the mansion and puts on intimate, interactive “plays” where actors read poetry, or re-enact scenes from classical literature. I’ve personally attended multiple Edgar Allen Poe readings, A Charles Dickens Christmas, and a reimagining of Shakespeare that was a blast.
Discover the old Florida charm of Anna Maria Island with a plethora of activities in a gorgeous natural setting. Plan a day trip to go Parasailing, boating, paddle boarding, or take a guided SEGWAY tour of the island. You can rent just about anything on Anna Maria Island from bikes to beach toys.
Anna Maria Island has plenty of retail recreation as well; jump on the free Anna Maria Island Trolley for your perfect day of shopping, dining, looking for seashells or a quite walk on the beautiful sugar sand beaches.
On the north end of Anna Maria Island, is the famous Anna Maria City Pier built in 1911 to accommodate steamers bringing the crème de la crème from Tampa and St. Petersburg to Anna Maria Island shops and restaurants before the first bridge was built to the island.
If you decide to venture off the Island, check out the activities and events in Bradenton, Sarasota, Tampa, or even a day trip to the theme parks in Orlando. Whatever you decide to do, slow down and savor it. You’re on island time.