Anna Maria Island, Florida
I’ve been to several parts of Florida and Anna Maria is hands down one of my favorite beach towns! Since it’s an island, there’s tons of beaches and access points which means more options for beach space. (In my opinion, AMI has some of the cleanest beach sand I’ve seen in Florida!) I also really love the restaurant options – there’s so many unique and local spots and I’m pretty sure the only chain restaurant on the island is a Domino’s. No McDonalds or Burger Kings here. As far as stocking up on groceries and supplies, there’s a Publix and CVS right near the entrance to the island so AMI literally has everything you’ll need for a long or short trip.
If you’re going to be on the island for a few days, it’s totally worth it go rent a golf cart. Parking is way easier with one and it’s just fun since the weather is nice and the island is the perfect size to explore via a small little vehicle. There are a few different rental shops on the Island, we used Beach Bums.
| WHERE TO STAY
Both times Bry and I traveled to AMI, we booked with Beach Boutique Rentals. They have tons of different locations on the island and there are some great dog friendly options too! The condos are thoughtfully decorated, very clean and have plenty of room for storing your things. The beds, couches and pillows were all very comfortable which is always major key while traveling. Despite the fact that we never met them since the entry to both homes are lock-pad style, Julie and Stephen were super friendly and helpful hosts...stayed out of our way and were there if we needed them. Couldn't have asked for a better experience all around with both rentals.
For a house that can accommodate multiple guests, I recommend their home, Gone Costal 3 that’s equipped with a large fenced-in back yard + plenty of grass area for pups, a small pool and beach hut bar. It's one of the most spacious homes we've ever rented and has tons of amenities especially in the kitchen. It was also soooo nice to have that back yard area to hang out in and Basil was so happy that the yard was fenced in so that he could run around free and chase his blue ball.
If you’re looking for something smaller, we loved their one-bedroom Hibiscus Villa listing. Condo clusters are usually a turn off when we’re looking for places to stay while traveling but this spot felt totally private, including the outdoor porch. The entrance to our villa was from the back side, unless we ventured down the pathway from our patio to the common area, we didn't see any other guests. Also, this rental is located in the perfect spot on the island. Walking distance to Vinny & Cheryl's Italian Market (for that chocolate cake) and also even closer that that is a private pathway that leads straight to the beach.
| Food and Drink
Ok best cheeseburger and onion rings ever. A very cool little spot on the side of the road with no‑frill pub inside and jungle vibes with picnic tables and umbrellas outside. The cheeseburgers are made so quick!! Last time we were there the man sitting at the table next to us lost five dollars to his wife because he bet her that I wouldn’t finish my cheeseburger LOL. He bet on the wrong woman.
Waterfront is definitely one of our favorite spots to eat a nice dinner on the island, and it’s a little more upscale than most of the island eateries. (The dress code is a little nicer than t-shirts and flip flops.) We especially love the kung pao calamari that comes with banana peppers and feta cheese. I always get the seafood pasta without shrimp and Bry loves their peppercorn crusted steak with black garlic compound butter. It’s really popular and they don’t take reservations (except for major holidays) so it’s best to go early! Didn't get a chance to take photos either time we went because we went for dinner after sunset.
This was our first restaurant experience on the island! Love the cute outdoor dining area, pub food and live music. Since we had just gotten in and had been snacking in the car later in the day, we shared the fried chicken sandwich and it was really good. Their sandwiches come on ciabatta bread which is a little different!
The Sandbar is a really popular and iconic restaurant on AMI, it’s right on the beach!! If it’s busy, you can grab a pina colada from the bar and have a drink while you wait outside on one of the benches right in the sand. The same owners of Sandbar have another restaurant on the island, a little further from the rest of the stuff but it’s called Beach House and it’s also a waterfront restaurant and has tables right in the sand. We really liked Beach House too and actually got to watch a wedding on the beach while we ate dinner there which was fun.
Rod & Reel Pier
Such a fun spot to come for lunch or breakfast. It’s a really small dining area on the second level of the pier so if you’re there on a busy weekend, go early. We had the chicken wings and blackened grouper sandwich. The lower level of the pier is always lined with fishermen and it’s fun to watch them while you eat.
Vinny & Cheryl's Italian Market
LOVE this little Italian shop. If you can get your hands on a slice of the chocolate cake, DO IT. I also love their fresh bread and usually do a quarter pound of the prosciutto de parma. They shave the prosciutto right in the shop and package it upon ordering so it’s super fresh. There are also tons of fun and unique dried pasta shapes and a great selection of Italian wines + pre-made frozen meals like lasagna or meatballs. You can order food off their menu and either eat it outside or take it home with you!
After passing by Poppo’s I pulled up their Instagram location to check out pictures of the food and I was thinking things didn’t look too great but I was reallllly pleasantly surprised after trying the chicken tacos with the purple cabbage. Bryant loved his tacos too!! It’s a really good quick option for food on the go, you won’t have to worry about putting in a reservation or waiting forever since it’s set up sort of like Chipotle.
Ginny & Jane E's Cafe
Very quirky and funky breakfast and lunch cafe on one of the main streets of the Island - Gulf Drive. Tons of colors and tons of picture frames/island decor inside and a part of it is also a gift shop. Fun to pop in for a quick breakfast, we both had bagel sandwiches that hit the spot. You order up at the counter and they bring the food to you so it's a little different than your typical breakfast diner, but we definitely enjoyed!!
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