Anna Maria Island is a charming barrier island just south of Tampa Bay on Florida’s famous Gulf Coast. Visitors will find superb sunsets, temperate sub-tropical weather, sunshine and a friendly informal atmosphere. Seven and a half miles of gorgeous white sand beach stretches the full length of the island – the perfect place to watch the spectacular sunsets as the sun slips down over the azure blue Gulf waters creating a kaleidoscope of colors in the sky that have to be seen to be believed. Take Exit 220 off the I-75 Interstate and travel west on State Road 64 – you can’t get lost on your way here as it ends up on the sands of Holmes Beach.
To the south of Anna Maria Island is the bridge over Longboat Pass and a pretty drive down to the delights of Sarasota; to the east it’s a short drive over either of two bridges into the nearby vibrant city of Bradenton. Anna Maria Island is divided up into three distinct village style areas. At the south end is Bradenton Beach, home to eclectic Bridge Street with its cafes, boutiques, shops and bars. A well known and much loved meeting place full of charm and character loved by locals and visitors alike, who stroll along past the clock tower on their way over the the city Pier. In the centre of this barrier island you will find charming Holmes Beach, with restaurants, great shopping and the island’s superb grocery store, Publix. Finally, Anna Maria graces the most northern point, with a contented population of year round residents who came to visit and just stayed on after finding the island lifestyle just too perfect to leave. They fell in love with warm temperatures, long lazy days swimming in the Gulf and the contentment that comes from the gentle unhurried sub-tropical lifestyle.
The island’s small streets lined with lush tropical growth of palms, bougainvillea, colorful hibiscus and sea grape trees. Low speed limits down to 25 mph ensure quiet, safe strolls along the sidewalks. This place is an Anglers heaven. Fish off any of the island’s three rustic piers that extend out into Sarasota Bay. Take a family picnic over to the each or in the waterfront parks and see dolphins swimming by. I you are really lucky you might also catch a glimpse of the elusive manatees that gently cruise through the water. Pedal round the island on a bicycle past the island’s eclectic varied historic and contemporary architecture, stopping off at one of the ice cream parlours. The biggest decision of the day will be which one of the delectable flavors to choose.
Gentle warm breezes and sunshine
The average year round temperature is 74.8 degrees Fahrenheit. The island’s weather has distinct seasons.
By spring, the cloudless, dry days generally reach temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s with cooler evenings. Trade winds influence the climate and by the middle of May daytime temperatures up to around the 90 degree mark. At this time of year a stroll down to the beach at sunset will be rewarded by a spectacular sunset that lights up the sky with brilliant colors.Steady breezes and the occasional gentle rain lead to comfortable evenings. After the middle of October, the trade winds from the Caribbean that bring the sun and warm breezes meet cooler weather from the North and the temperatures can drop to the 70’s overnight, but the days are still mostly sunny and warm.
Eating in and dining out
For a superb array of seafood including shrimp,lobsters, local caught grouper and mahi-mahi to be marinated in teriyaki visit Publix grocery store. Also try their superb white mountain bread, perfectly aged steaks to be char-grilled to your pool and an endless choice of vegetables and crisp salads. Their bakery continually produces freshly baked doughnuts, a heavenly rye bread and a delicious pumpernickel. Choose from a selection of Florida orange juices that include several small local or nearby Bradenton’s own world famous Tropicana. Simply put, it just does not get any better than this (that is unless all that delicious food is washed down by a chilled glass of Chardonnay or some ruby Merlot warmed in the sunshine). Most of the restaurants will provide "take-out" meals to carry back and eat by the pool, or phone and order a pizza delivery (the largest pizza is not just gigantic, it is deliciously gigantic!). When dining out experience our diverse island cuisine that ranges from fine dining in the world famous "The Beach Bistro" listed in the Zagat guide, or enjoy your breakfast at Cafeacute; on the Beach featuring all you can eat pancakes with your feet in the sand. Choose from Italian, French, Spanish, Oriental, Spanish cuisine or try Southern Florida seafood and spicy Caribbean delights. and even an occasional Hawaiian Luau and you will see that you are spoiled for choice. Finally, we should mention that you can relax at the end of a hard day at the beach with an American hamburger washed down by a really cold beer or a jug of ice water to cool you down.
The luscious stone crab season is a real delight and the warm waters surrounding the island are full of red snapper, mullet, grouper and blue crab so seafood lovers will find plenty to enjoy when dining al fresco, beachside or bayside. There is a good variety of entertainment in the evenings. If you are a fan of Dixieland jazz, reggae, rock & roll or Caribbean blues check out the local free newspapers for a full list of the weeks events. Finally, if the kids are desperate for a McDonalds, then just head on out over the bridge to nearby mainland Bradenton for ten-pin bowling or a movie followed by a burger.