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!

Bradenton

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.

Cortez

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.

Sarasota

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

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

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

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

Brandon

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

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!

 

Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall | Sarasota, FL

Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

Hosting numerous performances throughout the year, the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall is a top of the line live entertainment venue. Music, dance, theater, and comedy can all be found within the spacious walls and lush acoustics of the Van Wezel. Remodeled in 2000, the Van Wezel hall can now seat 1736 guests in the concert hall. A 6000 square foot Grand Foyer was also added which can comfortably seat up to 350.

The Van Wezel also has many community outreach programs that teach about the arts. Performances are often held for school children to begin to engage them in the creative thought process of the arts.

Ticket prices vary depending on the event, but you can expect it to be reasonably priced for the quality. Student and teacher tickets are available on the day of the event for $15.00 per person with valid ID. Group discount options start with groups of 20 or more.

Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
777 N. Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, FL 34236
Box Office 941-953-3368
Toll Free 1-800-826-9303
Administrative Office 941-955-7676

Want some more local night life choices?  Fear not, we have the nightlife information page just for you!

Top 10 Things To Do In Sarasota

Top Ten activities in Sarasota

Sarasota Top Ten copy

SarasotaHave 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!

The Van Wezel Performing Arts Center of Sarasota
The Van Wezel Performing Arts Center of Sarasota

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.

Myakka River Canopy Walk
Myakka River Canopy Walk

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.