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Florida Family Beach Vacation; Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Island img; courtesy of annamariabeachcondo

The clear turquoise water surrounding Anna Maria Island has to be one of the most beautiful sights in the U.S. It’s no wonder that this little island paradise is getting more popular by the year. Locals have been trying to keep it a secret, but it’s been getting more difficult by season to keep this gem under wraps. The big secret is that the city of Anna Maria does not have any fast food chains or convenience franchises, no chain stores, giant high rises or pesky stoplights, and the island community intends to keep it that way.  It’s also one of the best kid friendly Florida vacation spots on the map with warm and shallow Gulf waters, powdery white sand, beautiful shells, and gratuitous sunshine year-round. See more about the area in my Florida Family Beach Vacations; The Florida Gulf Coast post, as well as these nearby kid friendly Florida family beach vacation spots; Florida Family Vacations; Sarasota, AND Florida Family Beach Vacations; The Suncoast, and don’t forget to see; Florida With Kids: Check out Siesta Beach Florida!

“Anna Maria Island, sometimes called Anna Maria Key, is a gorgeous barrier island on the coast of Manatee County, Florida, bounded on the west by the Gulf of Mexico, on the south by Longboat Pass (which separates it from Longboat Key), on the east by Anna Maria Sound, and on the north by Tampa Bay.”–Wikipedia

Also, something you might not have known, Anna Maria Island is made up of 3 cities Anna Maria, Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach.  Anna Maria Village is located at the end of a seven-mile long island with hundreds of years of history, and there are still many historical ‘secrets’ in plain sight… that is if you know where to look!

Anna Maria Island img; courtesy of beachunter.net

What makes Anna Maria Island so attractive to families and year-round residents is its private island feel while being so close to everything you ever need. There are so many kid friendly things to do, you’ll run out of time before getting to everything you want to see.

BeachHunter.net says, “You just won’t find better beaches anywhere in Florida than on Anna Maria Island. The beaches are white and powdery, the water is clean and shallow, there are lots of shells, and there are only a couple of low-rise condos on the beach in Holmes Beach. Most of the beaches are quiet residential beaches with friendly people of all ages.”

Kid Friendly Things to Do around Anna Maria Island on your Florida Family Beach Vacation:

Ok, if you even make it past the beach I’m literally at a loss for words. The kids won’t want to leave the super soft sand, which makes for the best sandcastles ever! And hours of sunny fun,  and with the gently rocking waves and birdsong that lull you into a perfect relaxing getaway, this one won’t leave your thoughts, but if you must take a break from the fabulous beaches, you may find these places  keep you and the kids from boredom.

Local museums, aquariums, parks, gardens, and historical attractions  are not far away, and there’s even a live theater “Island Players” for those wanting to grab a little culture. There’s also the nearby South Florida Museum and Aquarium, the Sarasota Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota Selby Gardensand Jungle Gardens, Mote Marine Aquarium, DeSoto National Park or the Manatee Players, the Asolo Center for the Performing Arts and many other venues, Anna Maria Island and its neighboring cities offer plenty of mind-bending fun and intellectual stimulation. Kids really love to visit the G-wiz science museum, for a bit of learning while being amazed.  And there’s more! Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, the Sarasota West Coast Symphony, Tampa’s Busch Gardens, Adventure Island, the Florida Aquarium and the renowned Dali Museum in nearby St. Petersburg. Click here  for more places to see

Anna Maria Island Butterfly Park is located at; 5801 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, Florida, U.S.A. The Anna Maria Island Butterfly Park was created in 1999. It attracts over 30 different types of butterflies in all stages of development. Excellent place for pictures! The park was the brainchild of Connie Hodgson of Bradenton and Nancy Ambrose an island resident and lover of butterflies.  A special thanks to the city of Holmes Beach for their support and providing use of city lands for the park.

The island offers a free trolley service and there are plenty of places to rent a bicycle, canoe or boat. The trolley runs daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. and stops every four to five blocks at designated beaches. If you’re up for the adventure, you can get a bird’s eye view of the island by taking a parasailing ride or check out the catch-of-the-day up close and personal on board a deep sea fishing charter!

For Coupons to use while visiting Anna Maria Island see this site: The SunSaver coupon book is an Anna Maria Island only coupon book. A group of local businesses got together to provide some money saving coupons for their establishments.

Kid Friendly Restaurants in Anna Maria Island for your Florida Family Beach Vacation;

There really are tons of kid friendly places here, but too many to choose from so I’ve only listed my top three favorite beach-restaurant spots…the rest, you’ll come to find out are all wonderful.

1. The Sandbar was voted best place to watch the sunset and have dinner with the kids; The Sandbar is at; 100 Spring Avenue, Anna Maria.

2. Café On The Beach is a super kid friendly spot that’s casual ‘right on the beach’ dining. Located at; 4000 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. Overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, this restaurant serves a wide range of wonderful traditional American dishes and offers you a choice of dining in the casual dining room or outside on the patio. An ice cream parlor is also located on site.

3.The BeachHouse- Relaxed and casual beach dining, great for kids too. Located at; 200 Gulf Drive, Bradenton Beach

Kid Friendly Resorts & Hotels near Anna Maria Island for your Florida Family Beach Vacation:

One thing to take note of; there are no huge condominiums or giant hotels directly on Anna Maria Island, but close by there are many. Here are a few nice resorts and hotels nearby:

4711 Gulf of Mexico Drive
Longboat Key, FL 34228-2103 US Map It
Hilton Longboat Key Beachfront Resort is located directly on the Gulf of Mexico in Longboat Key, 14 miles from Sarasota Bradenton Airport and 55 miles … more
5841 Gulf of Mexico Drive
Longboat Key, FL 34228 US Map It
Longboat Key is known for its luxury and manicured surroundings as well as its beautiful beaches, upscale amenities and championship golf. Longboat Key … more

Tips from the Locals:

Anna Maria isn’t really dog friendly, so leave Fido at home or at the hotel. And keep a close eye on your kids. The Anna Maria city beaches have no lifeguards or restrooms, and swimming is at your own risk. And about parking–Parking on the island can be tricky on the weekends. If you live or rent in Anna Maria, you can walk to the beach — otherwise, be mindful of the areas where parking is not allowed. Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach offer plenty of parking (some in shaded areas), but whatever you do, do not park in a residential area. You could be towed. You’re best off taking the free trolley.

So, thanks for checking out my post on kid friendly Anna Maria Island for your Florida family beach vacation. If you’ve stayed on or near Anna Maria Island,I’d love to hear how your visit went, so leave me a comment about it!

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