When planning your big day there are many options for Anna Maria Island wedding venues. Have your perfect dream destination ceremony and reception with toes in the sand.
Top 5 Anna Maria Island Wedding Venues
While there are tons of places throughout Manatee and Sarasota counties for weddings, this list offers some of the most popular on both Anna Maria Island and the mainland. All five locations can accommodate both a ceremony and reception.
The Harrington House is a wonderful spot for a more intimate wedding experience. This quaint B&B was built in 1925 of Coquina-block shell walls and pecky cypress floors. It’s old Florida charm and direct beach front location make it an amazing destination wedding venue.
You’ll find three unique wedding packages offering an all inclusive experience for up to 24 guests. Enjoy a ceremony on a private section of beach, or in the beach front gazebo.
The Harrington House is also a lovely spot for a honeymoon and can accommodate guests over the age of 12 in their many lovely suites.
The Sandbar offers one of the most popular Anna Maria Island wedding venues in the area. Their event coordinator and staff will assist you in every aspect of your ceremony and reception, and they have a top of the line selection of vendors.
Their beach front pavilion can hold well over 100 guests for a magical event rain or shine! Choose from a large selection of services, menu items, decor and more from this award winning venue.
Enjoy a fun Tiki style wedding at Gulf Drive Cafe and Tiki bar. There are four different spots on site to choose from for your event accommodating groups of 20 to 175 guests.
You’ll find a variety of individual packages for both the ceremony and reception. This location is super fun with the largest Tiki hut on the island and gulf views.
Peruse their helpful list of wedding vendors covering every aspect of the day from bridal services to florists, steel drum musicians and more. You can have the quintessential beach wedding at Gulf Drive Tiki Bar!
The Seafood Shack restaurant is where new Florida flavors meet that charming old Florida feel. Here you’ll find a professional staff dedicated to making your wedding perfect.
There are three unique spaces at this facility with two banquet rooms, and a Marina Pavilion all overlooking the beautiful Intracoastal Waterway. They can accommodate groups of up to 425 guests, so this is truly the spot for those large weddings.
Every detail of your special day will be taken care of when you let The Seafood Shack host your wedding!
Here are 5 restaurants that will transform your Anna Maria Island vacation! While the beautiful beaches, friendly people and luxury family beach rentals are plenty to rave about, the island has a few eateries that truly affect the way travelers feel about AMI.
Restaurants that will Transform your Anna Maria Island Vacation
There is one thing people all over the world have in common. Eating. Everyone requires nourishment. However, food isn’t just a requirement, it’s often an emotional experience that started before you were even born.
Many of us can think back on meals that effect us on an emotional level. Like that casserole your mother made every Sunday when you were a kid. The way your husband makes that secret barbecue sauce recipe before firing up the grill. Or even that special meal you had during your travels in Florida.
These Anna Maria Island restaurants are the exact place to go for that meal you’ll think of years from now. These are flavors and feelings you’ll take home and tell all your friends about. Not only are these restaurants full of fantastic menu items, but they offer a glimpse into the island life. Each has a culture all of it’s own, but still connects with those unique local island vibes.
Rod & Reel Pier – Seafood with a view.
The Rod & Reel Pier has been serving up traditional Florida fare since 1947. Wonder up to the bay side of north Anna Maria, and you’ll find what looks like an old house on a small old fishing pier. There’s always people fishing and lounging outside enjoying the gorgeous views of Tampa bay, Egmont Key and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. This is a nice place to relax. The crowd is a mix of locals and tourists and everything is low key.
The menu at Rod & Reel is indicative of a typically simple and casual Florida eatery. Find basics like chicken wings, peel and eat shrimp and a Grouper sandwich. Each day you’ll find a different selection of fresh fish grilled, blackened or fried served with mango chutney or garlic butter.
This is the spot for a no frills meal with cold beers. Service moves at its own pace. The staff might be friendly, or they might be salty. Either way just relax and go with the flow. There is a bar downstairs and a dining room up top. Locals tend to prefer the bar seating. The beer selection is limited and mostly domestic, but this spot isn’t about fancy brews. Its about the experience of eating on beautiful blue waters, enjoying warm weather, doing a little lazy Florida fishing, and relaxing island style.
The Sandbar – Sunsets and Tourists
The Sandbar is the quintessential island dining experience. Toes in the sand dining room, sun burnt to a crisp tourists, fruity frozen cocktails and sunsets so pretty you just can’t even believe your eyes. This type of restaurant experience is why you decided on a Florida vacation!
The menu is more eclectic than one might expect from a touristy destination. A little bit of everything from southern home cooking to high-end seafood. Find things like shrimp and grits, sliders, fish tacos and even caviar too! The Seafood tower is a great option for tasting a variety of seafood including lobster tail, seasonal crab, shrimp, oysters, clams and smoked fish dip. Along with a lovely menu, The Sandbar offers a full service bar and a fantastic wine menu.
When you are looking for that fun beach bar vibe with a family friendly atmosphere, good food and accommodating service head over to The Sandbar in Anna Maria. There’s nothing like sitting in a crowd of happy vacationers all relaxing and watching the sunset while enjoying a great meal on the gulf.
Bridge Tender Inn – Salty characters and local culture.
The Bridge Tender Inn is where you’ll find a salty good time with funky local characters and some pretty decent food too. Finding those places that the locals frequent are what really makes a vacation feel authentic. Yes the touristy places are super fun. However, you have to find the local hangouts to really get a feel for an area, and this is one of them!
The Bridge Tender is nestled along north Sarasota Bay at the end of Historic Bridge Street. They offer both indoor and outdoor seating with a bar on the water and one inside too. There is nothing up-tight about this restaurant. Everyone is laid back and having a good time. The no frills staff are eager to please and have fun too, but not without a little of that salt life attitude only Floridians have.
The menu has something for everyone. Find crab cakes, burgers, Grouper and sandwiches. A lot of pub grub type of items, but with some nicer selections like roast duck and steaks.
The Bridge Tender Inn is extremely family friendly, but is open late to accommodate those looking for night life. From time to time you’ll find live music, and during Football season you’ll find a lot of Packers fans watching the games.
Grab a rum and coke and a crab cake and sit back with a view of the bay and the Anchorage. The Anchorage is the area in North Sarasota Bay where many year round residents anchor their various house boats. For many the Anchorage is not only home, but a way of life. If you hang out at the Bridge Tender long enough you’re sure to meet an Anchorage character.
Beach Bistro – Fancy fine dining and beach views.
The Beach Bistro is an award winning gulf front restaurant that will leave you amazed. Nestled in Resort 66 in Holmes Beach, the Bistro has been providing the island with fine dining since 1985. You won’t find anything else like it on Anna Maria Island and the locals will agree!
Here the menu offers only the finest ingredients. Find items like fresh caught seafood Bouillabaisse, foie gras, steaks and lobster too. Everything is of the highest quality as owner Sean Murphy’s primary goal has always been the pursuit of perfection. Along with an award winning menu, you’ll find an outstanding wine selection and a lovely full service bar.
Not a large restaurant the dining room offers an intimate setting great for celebrations, romantic evenings and special occasions of all sorts. Service at the Beach Bistro is above average in every way. You’ll truly feel taken care of as your server and support staff guide you through an amazing dining experience. Because the Beach Bistro has been serving the island for decades, you’ll always find locals enjoying their evenings here. It’s not uncommon for Sean Murphy to stop by your table as he loves meeting his guests in person.
Anna Maria Island has such a laid back feel that even this fine dining establishment still feels warm and welcoming. This dining experience is truly one of a kind.
Star Fish Company Restaurant and Market – The “real” old Florida.
Located in one of the countries oldest fishing villages, Starfish Market is an absolute must when visiting Anna Maria Island. The Cortez Fishing Village is located just over the Cortez bridge from the island. Everyday boats hull in fresh caught fish and seafood to feed Florida and beyond.
As you make your way from the main road through the village you’ll find quaint old cottages, tons of boats and a quiet neighborhood setting. Generations of families have been fishing from the shores in this community and it’s apparent as you look around. Many of the fishermen working for the Starfish fleet live in the village. You’ll feel like you have been transported back in time while in Cortez.
Star Fish offers both a restaurant and market. All restaurant seating is outdoors along the water where the fishing boats are kept. You’ll literally watch the days catch coming to dock while dining here.
The Menu is simple, fresh and classic old Florida Seafood. Find Gulf Shrimp, Grouper, Smoked Mullet and clams. Seasonal favorites include Stone Crab claws and Spiny Lobster. The side dishes are nothing but southern with cole slaw, hush puppies and grits. Order at the bar, find a table and the staff will call your name when the order is ready. Food is served in crisp white paper boxes. Bring cash!
Dining at Star Fish is something special. Sitting on North Sarasota Bay eating local seafood, watching the salt beaten boats come in, and Pelicans looking for a handout. This is the essence of what Florida once was, and continues to live on at Starfish.
These are the restaurants that will transform your Anna Maria Island Vacation in ways you never thought!
From mingling with locals, to enjoying a sunset with a group of strangers, to an intimate fine dining experience. Enjoy the true authentic flavor of the island life on your next Anna Maria Island getaway!
Catch the top annual events Anna Maria Island style! No matter what time of year you vacation on Anna Maria Island there is always an event to discover. The Island is home to over a dozen annual events happening throughout the year. From food to the arts, and even classic car shows; Anna Maria Island loves a celebration. Anna Maria Island events often put an emphasis on a family friendly atmosphere. They cater to all age groups with activities for both young and old within the same event.
Annual Events Anna Maria Island
Below we have compiled a list of the top annually running events on Anna Maria Island. Don’t miss these during your stay! They have been conveniently organized by the season in which they occur. Starting with Winter and ending with Fall.
This is a fun time of year as cool weather drives locals and visitors off the beaches into warmer activities. Unless you have a wet suit to keep you warm, or have a home with a heated pool, many folks don’t care for swimming. Even in the mild Florida winter weather. Winter events on Anna Maria Island provide a great opportunity for unique holiday shopping. Also enjoy entertainment across the island’s three cities.
There are five holiday related events found on the island in the month of December. These include the Privateers Christmas Parade, Winter Fest, The lighting of Bridge Street and the Lighted Boat Parade. Click on the link here to read about these holiday happenings. Pine Avenue in the city of Anna Maria also offers a holiday walk. Typically happening in mid December the Pine Avenue Holiday walk offers carolers and shopping along with refreshments provided by Pine Avenue businesses.
One of the areas most popular events happening in the middle of winter is the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival. This event actually takes place off island in the old Cortez Fishing Village located just over the Cortez Bridge. This event has been running for over 30 years drawing a crowd of 10,000. The Cortez Fishing Festival happens in February, usually the second weekend of the month. A celebration of the commercial fishing industry in Cortez, this event raises funds to preserve local mangrove wetlands to ensure and protect a healthy fish and wildlife population.
Spring on Anna Maria Island brings us gorgeous weather. There are many days of clear skies, perfectly crisp breezes and warm sunshine. There are four annual Spring events you can’t miss if you are visiting at this wonderful time of year.
A fun annual event for 18 years and counting, the Beach Bistro St. Patricks Day Parade usually features dancers, cyclists, bag pipers, live animals and a rowdy bunch of green clad island folks ready for a party. Hosted by the Beach Bistro, this event always offers fun and laughs for all ages.
A celebration of local arts and artists, Spring Fest has been hosted by the Anna Maria Island Art League for 28 years. In addition to arts and crafts, Spring Fest offers live music and fabulous food vendors. This event takes place in the Holmes Beach city field located at 5901 Marina Drive. This event usually takes place the first weekend in March or April.
The Annual Sandbar Easter Egg Hunt is always a crowd pleaser for the entire family. Kids search for Eggs on the beach, then everyone joins in on the Easter parade down Pine Avenue for kid games, face painting and refreshments provided by the Sandbar.
Food and Wine on Pine is a fabulous foodie event offering selections from the area’s best restaurants along with great wine selections. Enjoy live music while you taste your way through this fun event.
Summer is a favorite time of year on Anna Maria Island. The summer island life consists of hot days, rainy afternoons and relaxing beach goers. Find crowded beaches lined with turtle nests, baby shorebirds begging for fish, and happily sunbathing patrons. Temperatures of the Gulf of Mexico are warm. Perfect for relaxing on a floaty with a cold drink in hand. While the beach is really the main attraction during summer months, the island also offers a few fun events.
While technically falling in the Spring, Memorial Day Weekend is the start of summer fun and warm Florida weather. A bustling weekend full of people swimming, tanning and spending a long weekend with family, Memorial Day is a great time to simply enjoy being a beach bum. There are no big events, However, Memorial Day does serve as a great time to trolley hop around Anna Maria Island. You’ll enjoy exploring different beaches, fabulous shopping, and amazing restaurants.
There’s nothing more fun than a small town patriotic parade, and Anna Maria Island’s 4th of July Parade is the perfect example. Starting on the southern end of the Island at Coquina Beach the parade makes it’s way up the island throwing candy, beads and trinkets for the kids spreading 4th of July cheer along the way.
Every year there are two public fireworks displays put on by Chiles Restaurant Group at the Beach House and Sandbar restaurants. Most years the Beach House fireworks show happens July 3rd with the Sandbars display following on the 4th. Occasionally the fireworks display has been canceled at the Beach House out of respect to the island’s precious nesting shorebirds that enjoy the strip of coast in very close proximity to the restaurant.
Fall on Anna Maria Island brings us a slight respite from hot days transitioning into warm days allowing the swimming season to continue up until December in most years. This time of year brings the island several great family fun events!
Fall is packed with Annual events!
Bay Fest is the largest running event on Anna Maria Island. This event takes place on Pine Avenue. At Bay Fest you’ll enjoy food, music, vendors and a car show.
The Anna Maria Island Fall Festival happens in the Holmes Beach city field at 5901 Marina Drive in Holmes Beach. Taking place just before Halloween, this event kicks off with a Halloween Parade starting at Anna Maria Island elementary and ending at the city field.
Trick or Treating house to house is not a popular tradition among island neighborhoods. Therefore, the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce hosts a three city wide Trail of Treats sponsored by local businesses. The Trail of Treats starts with a kids costume contest at the Chamber of Commerce located at 5313 Gulf Drive. After the contest kids and parents are welcome to stroll around the Holmes Beach town center collecting candy from businesses from 4-6pm. After cruising through Holmes Beach, head up to Pine Avenue or down to Bridge Street for additional trick or treating from 5-8pm. Typically this event happens on or just before Halloween depending if the Holiday falls on a weekend.
Anna Maria Islanders greatly anticipate Stone Crab Season. Starting in mid October, Floridians and Island locals begin harvesting Stone Crabs by the bucket load. The Cortez Stone Crab Festival, happening in early November, is a fabulous way to enjoy this locally sourced seafood.
Wrapping up autumn events the annual Arts Hop is a great way to experience local arts, crafts, music and food. This island wide celebration of arts and culture is organized by the Cultural Connections of Anna Maria Island. This three day event includes art walks, theater performances and a beach front chorus and orchestra performance called “Symphony on the Sand”.
Anna Maria Island – All over coastal Florida the Sunray Venus Clam is gaining recognition as a sustainable, and delicious new addition to the state aquaculture market, and Anna Maria Island has hopped on this new trend.
The Sunray Venus Clam has a softer shell than most farmed clams making it a little pricier on the current market. These Clams have a sweet briny conch like taste, and a large tender meaty foot. When frozen fresh Sunray Venus Clams have an almost 100% open rate; much higher than most species. Sunray Venus Clams grow from South Carolina to Florida and get to be about 3 inches long. They have a beautiful shell that turns a pink salmon color when cooked.
Recently Bruce Barber a Professor of Marine Science at Eckerd College has started research on Sunray Venus Clams around Anna Maria Island’s bay side. In July Barber received an $82,000 grant from Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer service’s Division of Aquaculture to specifically study the eating and reproductive habits of Sunray Venus Clams. During the year long project, Barber will be studying a natural population of the clams just south of the Anna Maria City Pier to gain information to better inform shell fish fisheries like locals run Bay Shellfish company.
In Florida all submerged coastal land is state owned. Currently only 2,250 of 280,000 acres of this submerged land are leased for aquaculture. With such a great deal of available space there is a lot of potential for growing Sunray Venus Clams that could be a great boon to the Florida shell fish market.
Anna Maria Island restaurateur and partner at Bay Shellfish company Ed Chiles is on the forefront of supplying the Island with this delicious bivalves. Currently the Sunray Venus Clams can be found at all three of Chiles restaurants The Sandbar, Beach House and Mar Vista Dockside. Chiles believes Tampa Bay waters to the north of Anna Maria Island are the perfect area to grow Sunray Venus Clams because of water temperature, quality and nutrient content.
Next time you visit Anna Maria Island be sure to support local aquaculture and try out Sunray Venus Clams.
Just because it’s the holidays, doesn’t mean you have to cook. Anna Maria Island has plenty of options for your consumption pleasures. Here’s our list of restaurants that are open and closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day and Eve.
If you don’t have any plans to cook at home on Thanksgiving, fear not! Anna Maria Island has plenty of restaurants that will be open for the holiday. Read the table below for a list of which business are open and which ones are closed.
Sign of the Mermaid
Bridge Street Bistro
Bridge Tender Inn
Ocean Star Sushi
AMI City Pier
Rod and Reel Pier
Gulf Drive Café
Café on the Beach
Moore’s Stone Crab
Harry’s Continental Kitchen
The Chart House
Crab and Fin
Cha Cha Coconuts
Have a Happy Thanksgiving from the Island Real Estate family to yours!
Going out for a night for Anna Maria Island Happy Hour? Drinks always taste better when you’re getting a good deal on them. This blog will help you find the local night spots with the best deals around.
1 Island Time Bar & Grill: Island Time Bar & Grill is located at the beginning of Bridge Street directly next to the traffic circle and right across the street from the beach. The location makes for a perfect place to hang out after spending the day in the sun. Happy hour is Monday thru Saturday from 11:30am – 5:00pm with $1.87 Bud light bottles and $2.50 well drinks with live music playing during every happy hour. Call Island Time Bar & Grill for more details (941) 782-1122. For more information visit their page.
Island Time in Bradenton Beach on Historic Bridge Street.
2 Island Gourmet Grill: Island Gourmet Grill’s happy hour is Monday through Saturday from 11:30-6:00. Happy hour specials include $5 cocktails, sangria, martinis, wines and $2.00 beers. Island Gourmet Grill can be reached at (941)778-0333. For more information visit their page.
3 Hurricane Hanks: Hurricane Hanks offers great food, great atmosphere and great prices! Happy hour is everyday from 11:30am to 7:00pm with reduced pricing for Miller Light and Bud Light at $1.50 and well drinks for $4.25. Call Hurricane Hanks for more information at (941)778-5788. For more information visit their page.
4 The Waterfront Restaurant: The Waterfront Restaurant is located on the northern end of Anna Maria Island offering gorgeous views of Tampa Bay. Their happy hour is everyday from 4:30pm – 6:30pm with the special including $3.00 beers on tap and $2.00 domestic bottled beer. For more details contact The Waterfront Restaurant at (941)778-1515. For more information visit their page
5 Beachhouse: The Beachhouse is located right on the beach offering beautiful views of the Gulf. Monday thru Friday from 3pm until 5pm at the bar you can enjoy reduced priced appetizers for $5.99 each and well drinks for $2.50, domestic drafts for $2.00, house wine for $3.00 and frozen drinks for $4.00. For more information call The Beach House at (941)779-2222. For more information visit their page.
6 Gulf Drive Cafe: Gulf Drive Cafe is one of the few restaurants on Anna Maria Island with a bar right on the beach. Happy hour is on Monday thru Friday from 2:00pm-5:30pm offering great food and drink prices. You can order domestic beers for $2.00 and well drinks for $4.00. Contact Gulf Drive Cafe now for more details (941)778-1919. For more information visit their page.
7Bridgetender Inn: The Bridgetender Inn is a dockside bar located at the end of historic Bridge Street. Docking is also available for boaters to pull in and dock to have some on-land fun. Happy hour offers discounted prices for beers, well drinks and house wine everyday from 4:00pm to 7:00pm. For more information call The Bridgetender Inn at (941) 778-4849. For more information visit their page.
8 The Sandbar:The Sandbar restaurant is an Anna Maria Island landmark, and the perfect spot for sunset cocktails. Located in the city of Anna Maria, The Sandbar not only boasts an amazing selection of libations, but offers delicious food. The Sandbar is open daily until 10pm.
9 Lobstahs: Lobstahs is a New England themed restaurant flying in Maine Lobsters to our sunny island daily. Their happy hour special includes discounted appetizers, beer, wine and well drinks running from 3pm-6pm. Lobstahs can be reached at (941)779-1000. For more information visit their page.
10 Dcoy Ducks: Dcoy Ducks (or better known by the locals as The Duck) is a favorite spot for the locals of the island. Friday and Saturday nights from 6pm to 9pm you can enjoy 2 for 1 drinks with a band playing at 9:30pm. Call Dcoy Ducks for more details at (941)778-5888. For more information visit their page.
Anna Maria Island vacation rentals and accommodations
The Sandbar presents The 27th Annual Anna Maria Island Annual Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, March 30 2013 9:00am. Then follow the Easter Bunny Down Pine Avenue to The 4th Annual Easter Egg Roll for lots of activities, prizes and surprises! Snacks and refreshments will be served at the event by the Sandbar & Donut Experiment until 12 noon. Then the 3rd Annual Easter Bonnet Contest will be held in front of Anna Maria Accommodations at 10:30am. The Grand Prize for the Adult winner is a weekend stay at an Anna Maria Guest House. The Child’s prize is 4 kid’s lunches at The Sandbar including Ice Cream Sundaes for the winner and 3 of his or her best friends.
The event is sponsored by the Sandbar Restaurant, AMI Sun, and Pine Avenue Restoration.
Here is the most up to date post on Sandbar’s Easter Egg Hunt. This is an annual event and best to visit the Sandbar restaurant for accurate information for this EASTER.