Florida – While lazing on the beach with a cold drink in hand sounds like an amazing way to spend your Anna Maria Island vacation; often most visitors like to explore activities beyond the powder sand and crisp blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico. There’s a plethora of activities to experience on Anna Maria Island; however, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, here’s a list of over 40 activities all less than a two hour drive from the island.
The city of Bradenton is located just inland from Anna Maria Island when heading over the Manatee Bridge and Palma Sola Causeway. 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. Find additional 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 fabulous place to explore old Florida charm, quaint shops, and find fresh off the boat seafood. Be sure to visit Starfish Company restaurant for dockside views, and the best Florida seafood you’ll ever taste. If you visit in February be sure to check out the annual Cotez Fishing Festival. Find some of the areas most delicious sweet Tylers Ice Cream. Learn all about the history of Cortez Fishing Village at the Maritime Museum.
A truly beautiful city, Sarasota is located approximately 30 minutes south of Anna Maria Island. You’ll find a large selection of activities in Sarasota including Theaters Van Wezel, McCurdys Improve and comedy house and the Sarasota Players. 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. Siesta key and St. Armands Circle offer fabulous shopping, or explore Florida’s aquatic life at Mote Marine Aquarium.
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 is about a 45 minute drive north over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge from Anna Maria Island. St. Petersburg has 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.
The city of Myakka is just a little over an hour drive from Anna Maria Island, offers one of the nicest State parks found locally. Myakka State Park offers many activities including boat tours, nature watching and bike trails to name a few. 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 about a two hour drive from Anna Maria Island, and offers tons of family friendly activities. Check out our list of fun things to do in Orlando below:
If you are looking for all the big retail stores you are accustomed to Westfield Mall has what you are looking for. Brandon is about 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 Anna Maria Island, the Ruskin Drive in provides hours of inexpensive entertainment.
If you visit Anna Maria Island during the spring months then you may be lucky enough to catch the Florida Strawberry Festival. A large event lasting around 10 days, The Strawberry Festival has been celebrated since the 1930’s.