19 Best Things To Do In Anna Maria Island Florida

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The Sunshine State was once known for its small towns, unspoiled beaches, and laid back attitude. The charm of “Old Florida” has mostly been replaced with lavish resort towns, sprawling theme parks, and big cities with a lot to offer. But if you know where to look, that idyllic, old school appeal can still be found in various places around the state. 

Anna Maria Island is perhaps your best bet, with uncrowded beaches, historic piers, and even a few quaint cottages of days past. This is the ideal place to kick back and relax, but there are also plenty of exciting activities to keep you busy once you’ve had enough beach time. Here are some of the best things to do in Anna Maria Island, Florida.

Quick Travel Tips

Our Favorite Experiences and Tours In Anna Maria Island

Parasailing Adventure Above Anna Maria Island – Top Pick!

Manatee Discovery at Anna Maria Island – Paddle along as you keep an eye out for dolphins and manatees.

Visit The Beaches

As a barrier island off of Florida’s Gulf Coast, it should come as no surprise that one of the best things to do in Anna Maria Island is to hit the beach. There are numerous beaches around town that boast soft white sand, beautiful blue water, and top notch amenities for memorable beach days. 

Everyone has their own personal favorite, but there’s no doubt that Manatee Beach and Holmes Beach are two of the most popular. That being said, there are truly no bad beaches on the island, so feel free to check them all out if you have time. Other beaches on Anna Maria Island include Cortez Beach, Coquina Beach, Bayfront Park, Bean Point Beach, and Bradenton Beach.

Parasailing Adventure

A parasailing adventure in Anna Maria Island is one of the best ways to see the beauty of the island. Soar high above the emerald waters of the Gulf Coast at 350 feet up in the air, and feel the rush of adrenaline as the wind carries you effortlessly. As you come back down, you get an optional dip into the water to get refreshed. This is one of the best things to do in Anna Maria Island for the whole family.


Getting to snorkel in Anna Maria Island is one of the best activities for all ages. Explore the mesmerizing underwater world where you can see coral reefs, tropical fish, and maybe even larger marine animals like dolphins and manatees. Pick any beach on the island for snorkeling which won’t disappoint, having clear blue water.

For a more exciting experience, check out the Regina Sugar Barge snorkeling site close to Bradenton Beach, resting a mere 150 feet off the shoreline. This sunken sugar barge has fragmented over time, forming a sprawling artificial reef. Despite the vessel’s gradual disintegration, it remains an intriguing spot to explore. The scattered remnants offer an exciting underwater adventure, allowing snorkelers to discover the remnants of this historic shipwreck and witness the formation of a vibrant marine habitat.

Historic Bridge Street

No trip to Anna Maria Island is complete without a trip to the historic Bridge Street Pier and Clocktower. There’s a nice boardwalk along the water, plus a free fishing pier and great views of the bay. 

This area is full of beachside boutiques, Floridian-style restaurants, farmers’ markets, and fun town events. One of the town’s best restaurants is located right on the pier – The Anna Maria Oyster Bar, which is famous for, you guessed it, its oysters!

Rod & Reel Pier

Part fishing pier and part restaurant, the Rod & Reel Pier is a must see while visiting Anna Maria Island. The restaurant at the end of the pier serves up fresh seafood and other local favorites for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but if you prefer to catch your own meal, you can utilize the fishing pier for a small fee. 

Even if you’re not much for seafood, this is a great place to catch a sunset or watch for wildlife. If you’re lucky, you might spot pods of dolphins, schools of fish, tons of birds, and maybe even a manatee or two!

Anna Maria Island Historical Museum

Want to get a better insight into the island? Head to the Anna Maria Island Historical Museum! This stunning area wasn’t always centered around the beautiful beaches and waterfront restaurants.

While you’re at the museum, you can wander past exhibits showing what life was like on the island for settlers, plus take a look at old newspaper clippings, maps, and other artifacts from days past. Once you’re done at the museum, make sure you check out the old jailhouse located nearby.

Coquina Baywalk

If you want to spend some time outdoors but away from the sun, one of the best things to do in Anna Maria Island is to take a stroll on the Coquina Baywalk. 

Located across from Coquina Beach, this one-mile trail meanders through mangroves and features observation decks overlooking the bay. As you stroll along the shady path, you’ll get to observe native flora and fauna, including pelicans, egrets, marshlands, and more.

Dolphin Or Manatee Tour

If you love wildlife, one of the best things to do in Anna Maria Island is to take a dolphin or manatee tour. There are several tour companies available around the island, so no matter your budget, you’ll be able to find a cruise. 

Most wildlife cruises travel through the intercoastal waterways, and you’ll likely see dolphins, manatees, stingrays, and more. Guides are onboard to point out all the local flora and fauna, so you can sit back, relax, and get some great pics!

Visit Cortez

Dating back to the late 1800s, the village of Cortez is a must see while visiting Anna Maria Island. The village sits about 10 minutes southeast of the town center, making for an easy day trip if you have a little extra time. 

This is an old fishing village that has stayed true to its roots over the years. You can still see fishing boats in the harbor, do some fishing yourself, or simply indulge in the great seafood available throughout the village.

Kayak/Paddleboard In The Mangroves

The island has tons of great places for paddling. The Gulf of Mexico is relatively calm, so the waves are basically non-existent. This makes for easy paddling, whether you’re in a kayak or balancing on a stand up paddle board. 

There are various places to rent kayaks and paddleboards across the island, and there are also some incredible guided tours that take you through the mangrove tunnels in Lido Key.

Rent Bicycles

At just seven miles long, Anna Maria Island is small enough to get around on bike. Renting bikes (or bringing your own) is one of the most convenient ways to get to and from the beach, but it’s also one of the best ways to see the island in its entirety. 

There is a network of bike paths, plus tons of quiet roads for cyclists to use. Parking can often be hard to come by on the island, so riding your bike relieves you of that headache, too!

Small Town Creamery

One of the best things to do in Anna Maria Island after a long day in the sun is to visit the Small Town Creamery for a scoop (or two, or three) of homemade ice cream. This is a local favorite, and it’s won multiple Blue Ribbon awards, so you know it’s good!

If ice cream isn’t your thing, you can choose from a selection of other sweets, grab a coffee, or take a group photo in the photo booth. Small Town Creamery is located near Holmes Beach, so plan your beach day accordingly if you want to finish it off with a sweet treat.

Coquina Beach Market

The Coquina Beach Market is a farmer’s market on the Southern end of Anna Maria Island. It features a variety of goods including produce, crafts, art, jewelry, apparel and many more things. With over 80 vendors you are sure to fin some souvenirs to take home with you.

Right next to it is the Coquina Cafe where you can get refreshments to help you keep browsing through the market. Also, just a short walk from the market is the beautiful white sand beach which you can enjoy after. The market is held on Sundays from 12pm to 6pm based on sunset time.

Shopping On Pine Avenue

One of the best things to do in Anna Maria Island that doesn’t involve the beach is spending an afternoon on Pine Avenue. This upscale ave has everything you could want for hours of endless entertainment, including boutique shops, art galleries, gift shops, and tons of great restaurants. 

There are also several notable landmarks (including the Anna Maria Island Historical Society, the historic Green Village, and the city jail), plus some of the best views in town. The whole avenue shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes to walk, but it all depends on how many stops you make along the way! If you change your mind and feel like hitting the beach, the city pier and Bayfront Park are just a short walk away.

Leffis Key Preserve

Leffis Key Preserve is a nature preserve on Anna Maria Island. Open every day from 8am, this ecological gem boasts a diverse ecosystem of mangrove forests, tidal ponds, and scenic trails. Wander through raised boardwalks and trails with platforms, immersing yourself in a thriving habitat teeming with wildlife. The panoramic vistas from the 26-foot hill, provide 360-degree views overlooking Sarasota Bay and its surroundings. A haven for nature enthusiasts and birdwatchers, Leffis Key Preserve allows visitors to escape into nature and explore the island’s diverse ecosystem.

Go Shelling

Looking for a one-of-a-kind souvenir to remember your trip to Anna Maria Island? Go hunting for seashells! No two shells are the same, and this area of Florida has tons of unique marine life that leave their shells behind. 

As you stroll along the soft sand beaches, keep your eyes peeled for conch, sand dollars, and maybe even a fossilized shark tooth! Some of the best beaches for shelling include Coquina Beach and Bradenton Beach.

Catch A Sunset At Bean Point Beach

Bean Point Beach sits at the island’s northern end, and it’s a bit of a hidden gem. It’s hard to find, and parking is limited, but if you make an effort to seek it out, you’ll find an unspoiled stretch of sand perfect for beach days or catching the sunset. There are very few amenities here, but the scenery more than makes up for the lack of extras. 

Because parking is limited, it’s best to arrive an hour or so before the sunset when people are packing up after their beach day. If you don’t want to worry about navigating, you can take the trolley to Anna Maria Pier and then walk – it’s about one mile to the beach from the pier.


After a long day of exploring the island, you’ll likely work up a big appetite. Luckily, there are tons of great places to get some grub once you’re ready to take a break from the sun. 

Poppo’s Taqueria is a favorite, with delicious tacos at a reasonable price. If you’re craving seafood, there are tons of places to pick from. Favorites include Rod & Reel Pier, Anna Maria Oyster Bar, The Waterfront, and The Beach House. For something sweet, grab a cone at Small Town Creamery or a doughnut at Meaney’s Mini Donuts.

St. Armand’s Circle

If you’re coming from Sarasota, you’ll pass by the small St. Armand’s Key, which is home to St. Armand’s Circle. This memorial is dedicated to the renowned Ringling Brothers or Ringling Circus fame. 

The city was created with the help of John Ringling, and you can bask in the aristocratic heritage of the gardens, or do some shopping at the many upscale boutiques located nearby. Want to brush up on your circus history? Pop into the Ringling Museum in Sarasota.