Out of Town Activities for All Ages

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.

escape countdown is out of town
Break out of jail at Escape Countdown!


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!

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!


University Town Center brings much anticipated shopping to the area!

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
Ann Taylor
Auntie Anne’s Pretzels
Banana Republic
Bath & Body Works
Bose Boston Proper
Brighton Collectibles
Brio Tuscan Grille
Brooks Brothers
Brooks Brothers Women
Brow Art 23
Calypso St. Barth
Camicissima Milano
Champs Sports
Cold Stone Creamery
Crate & Barrel Sale
Diventi Bella
Edward Beiner Purveyor of Fine Eyewear
Everything But Water
Express Men
Fast Fix Jewelry Repair
Foot Locker
Forever 21
Gap Kids
Godiva Chocolatier
J.S. Trunk & Co.
Jackie Z Style Co.
Janie & Jack
Johnston & Murphy
Kate Spade New York
Kay Jewelers
Kona Grill
Lilly Pulitzer
Lululemon athletica
LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics
MAC Cosmetics
Mandarin Express
Mayors / Rolex
Michael Kors
Oil & Vinegar
Organic Nail Bar
Pottery Barn
Rise Pies Handcrafted Pizza
Robert Graham
Saks Fifth Avenue
Seasons 52
SEE Eyewear
Smoothie King
Soap Stories
Solstice Sunglasses
Soma Intimates
Sophie’s (inside Saks Fifth Avenue)
Stuart Weitzman
Sunglass Hut
Sweet Doctors
Tesla Motors
The Art of Shaving
The Capital Grille
The Cheesecake Factory
The Walking Company
Things Remembered
Tina Stephens
Tommy Bahama
Venus Med Spa
Vera Bradley
Victoria’s Secret
White House | Black Market
Yankee Candle Co.
Vince Camuto
Z Gallerie

Coming Soon!

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.

mallutc2 mallutc6 mallutc5


Enjoy some grown up time with Elite Family Care

Anna Maria Island’s Family Charm

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.

Golf anyone?  Take the kids to play adventure golf at The Fish Hole.  Enjoy a recreational scooter from Island Scooter Store, or take a tour with Zegway by the Bay.

Elite Family Care - Professional Child Care that comes to you

 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!


Debra Fortosis

Elite Family Care

Anna Maria Island 2013 New Year’s Eve Celebrations

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!

Happy New Years from Island Real Estate on Holmes Beach, Anna Maria IslandOn 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.


Restaurant List

Restaurants open New Years Eve on Anna Maria Island

Players Theatre of Sarasota 2013-2014 Season

Cast of "9 to 5".
Cast of “9 to 5”.

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

Steel Magnolias: September 18-29

Crazy For You: October 23- November 3

Cast of "Sideshow".
Cast of “Sideshow”.

White Christmas: December 4-15

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel: January 8-19

Sordid Lives: February 12-23

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels: March 19-30

Urinetown: April 16-27


Players Theatre of Sarasota

838 North Tamiami Trail, Sarasota Florida

Box Office: (941) 365-2494

Tickets are $25.


Sarasota – St. Armands Military Appreciation Day


Sarasota’s St. Armands Circle will be honoring the men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces. On Memorial Day St. Armands Circle will be holding its Military Appreciation Day where participating businesses offer discounts and special offers to everyone who has served in the military with proof of service.

The participating businesses of St. Armand’s circle include: Lynches Pub & Grub, Island Pursuit Men’s store, Island Pursuit Women’s store, Dream Weaver, Destination Florida, Big Olaf, FantaSea Seashells, Terra Nova, Ivory Coast, Binjara Traders, Sahara, Ben & Jerry’s, Bennington’s Tobacconist, Edward Jones Investments, Dana Tyler, Tasti-D-Lite, Taffy’s, Baron D’Orr, The Flip Flop Shop, Uniquity, Oh My Gauze, The Spice & Tea Exchange, Casa Smeralda, The Giving Tree, Le Colonne Restaurant, Jude Connally, St. Armands Antiques & Gifts, Chase Bank, Jewelry By Cole, Sun Glas Hut, Cha Cha Coconuts, Natural Discoveries, Tommy Bahama Retail Store, Blue Dolphin Restaurant, Cafe L’Europe Restaurant, The Daiquiri Deck, Tommy Bahama Restaurant, Breezin’ Up, Touch of Africa, The Stadium Gallery and the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium.


St Armand’s Circle Association
300 Madison Dr #201,
Sarasota, FL 34236
(941) 388-1554

Sarasota – The Ringling Art Museum Celebrates International Museum Day!


The Ringling Art Museum in Sarasota will be observing International Museum Day on May 18th. This post has been updated for 2015.

While at the Ringling Museum make sure to take a stroll through the Bayfront Gardens. The gardens are open to the public from 9:30am – 6:00pm and do not have an admission price.

The Ringling Art Museum
5401 Bayshore Rd
Sarasota, FL 34243

Visit our Sarasota information page for more information.

Tire Sculptures on Display in Sarasota

ChakaiaBookerNew 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.


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.