Come spend a long weekend with us in Anna Maria Island, Florida, where the beaches are supreme, the food is fantastic, the time passes oh so slowly, and the rain only lasts ten minutes (usually)!
Oh Michigan, why can’t you decide what type of weather to be right now? When we left for our long weekend trip to Anna Maria Island last week, it had literally snowed that same day. And despite all of the funny looks from the native Florida drivers as we passed them by on the freeway, we drove our Mustang convertible rental with the top down all the way from the Tampa airport to our little slice of heaven near the northern end of Anna Maria Island…in the middle of the night. But it didn’t matter to us: that sudden change from 30 degree daytime Michigan weather to 65 degree Florida weather was enough for us Michiganders!
Now it’s snowing here in Michigan yet again and I’m longing for that island life once more! We spent a total of four days on the island with my parents and some of their family friends, and let me tell you, it is a slower pace of life there. That is probably my favorite part about it: no checking emails constantly, no worrying about driving in rush hour traffic; and even taking a plethora of photos for this blog post didn’t feel like work when I got to do it in that sunny, Florida-smelling weather!
Where to Stay
If you’re staying in Anna Maria, you’ve got to stay in Anna Maria. I recommend renting a house from one of the numerous vacation rental companies. There are of course a number of hotels and resorts available, but that true island vibe comes from lounging in your own private pool, watching the world go by! And by “watching the world go by” I mean chilling on a pool float and sipping rosé. 😉 Here are a few of the available rental companies:
- Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO)
- Island Vacation Properties
- Anna Maria Island Accommodations, Inc.
What to Pack
The obvious must-have is a cute bathing suit, and my current bathing suit brand crush has got to be Becca by Rebecca Virtue! My favorite style at the moment is the color play one-piece plunge. It’s a crochet style that I love because it comes in several different colors and it has the allure of showing a little bit of skin while still being on the more modest side. I love this suit so much that I just bought it in black, in addition to the white version I originally purchased for our honeymoon back in 2016:
In addition to a killer bathing suit, be sure to pack some cute sandals, sundresses, sunglasses and a great hat (for those “don’t care” hair days as well as to keep the sun off your face!). Some of my favorites include:
WHERE TO EAT
My AMI: For breakfast, there is no better place on the island than My AMI. Full of authentic French-inspired dishes, I could have happily eaten breakfast here every day for the whole trip! If you’re a fan of omelettes, get the Provencal style omelette and you can thank me later by ordering one for me too. Otherwise, the Croque Madam and Croque Monsieur sandwiches are to-die-for! Don’t miss out on their tasty coffee drinks too: my latte was covered in super fluffy whipped cream and almonds. Yum!
Starfish Company Market & Restaurant: While not technically in Anna Maria, Starfish Company is located a short drive south in Cortez, FL and is the perfect lunch spot! I don’t even need to give you recommendations on meal choices, because literally everything is delicious. But if you are a grouper fan, you can’t go wrong with the fried grouper sandwich! Be sure to order hushpuppies for the table too, and take in the beautiful waterfront scenery.
Don’t forget to order a couple pounds of their shrimp to throw on the grill later! We did this three nights in a row actually, marinating with lemon juice and some of our favorite spice blends from The Spice & Tea Exchange (just a hop, skip and a jump south in Sarasota!).
The Doctor’s Office: For a quality dinner including a unique atmosphere and tasty craft cocktails, you have to check out The Doctor’s Office while you’re in Anna Maria! First off let’s talk about their drinks. The craft cocktail menu is where it’s at, although they have a plethora of other options for those not interested in liquor. I would recommend the Paper Plane cocktail to start!
When it comes to the food, you can’t go wrong with the duck tacos and… the entire charcuterie board. If you love a good charcuterie, this is the place to order it!
The Waterfront Restaurant & Craft Bar: Our last night on the island was spent here, and boy was it a great meal to end on. It seems that they change their menu at times, but if the beet salad is there, be sure to grab one, along with the lobster bisque soup!
Eliza Ann’s Coastal Kitchen: Normally I’m not one for eating at a hotel restaurant, but Eliza Ann’s is the exception! Sit outside for a pool view if it’s warm enough, or at the bar to watch their bartenders work their magic. The cocktails are delicious, and we didn’t have even a single average bite in the meal! We shared a number of small plates and appetizers around the table, and it was so deliciously filling that we opted to skip the entrees and grab ice cream from Dips on the way home! Don’t miss: the tasso ham carbonara, buttermilk biscuits with pimento cheese, and fried green tomatoes.
What to Do
Another one of my favorite things about Anna Maria is that there is so much to do, and to not do, if that’s your vacay style! Personally, I am not one to sit beachside all day every day, and so I like that I can relax by the pool or the ocean, but I also have other options for activities. From fishing and other boating activities to shopping and golfing, there is a plethora of things to do and see in Anna Maria and it’s surrounding islands and towns.
Bike riding is a popular activity, and there are plenty of places around where you can rent bikes (in addition to water sport equipment as well). Take a morning bike ride around town to pick up some breakfast, or ride your bike to the stores on Pine Ave. for some shopping.
The beaches are of course out-of-this-world, although they can be crowded if it is peak season (read: spring break!). For the best spots, head to the beach earlier in the morning and then opt for a nap or other afternoon activity when the beach starts to get crowded (and the sun is at it’s hottest of the day).
There are several golf courses in the area, and we spent one morning at The Preserve Golf Club. You can’t beat Florida mornings for golfing, so be sure to get out there and hit a few balls.
There are lots of options for boating and fishing too! Fishing can be done from boats or from a number of docks, such as The Rod and Reel Pier (where you can also grab a bite to eat!). Bring your own fishing pole and fish off their docks (for a nominal fee).
Lastly, nothing beats some good island shopping, and the shops at Armand Circle in Sarasota are Florida shopping at it’s finest! This shopping area is located about a 30 minute drive down from Anna Maria, which is super fun in a convertible with the top down! I like that they have a mixture of traditional chain stores like Everything But Water as well as some unique shops including clothing, jewelry, accessories and gourmet items. Be sure to check out the adorable merchandise at The Black Dog if you have a canine companion (or two!). More good shopping on Anna Maria Island itself can be found at the Pine Avenue Shops (be sure to check out Pink and Navy!).
That’s it for my review of our trip to Anna Maria Island! Have you vacationed here before? If so, I would love to hear all about your favorite places to stay, shop and eat on the island and the surrounding areas! Be sure to comment below!