Whether you’re visiting Anna Maria Island for the first time or the 20th, you may be wondering what the locals’ favorite family activities are. As a local Floridian born and raised near Anna Maria Island, it’s clear to me why Anna Maria Island continues to be a top destination for families coming to the beautiful state of Florida. With it’s crystal clear blue water, white sand beaches, and sunshine year round, you’ll be hooked after one visit here!
But beyond the beaches, you might be wondering, what else is there to do? What if it rains on one of the days of my vacation? Fear not, I’m here to give you all of the top family recommendations, from things to do, what to eat, and everything in between. Read on below to hear all of the top tips from this Anna Maria Island local!
Outdoor Family Activities on Anna Maria Island
Rent bicycles and do some sightseeing around the island. For just $14 for a daily bike rental from Beach Bums AMI, you and your family can get some fresh air and explore all that Anna Maria Island has to offer. They even have options for rental baby seats and bicycle trailers for young kids to ride in!
What better way to remember your time spent as a family on Anna Maria Island than with a photoshoot? I can come right to the beach nearest to you to photograph your family. You’ll always remember the fun time spent together as a family when you look back at these photos! Family sessions start a $475 for 25 minutes and you can inquire here.
Rent Golf Carts
Golf carts are a favorite among Anna Maria Island visitors for a reason! With limited car parking at beaches and restaurants, a golf cart is a fun and convenient way to get some fresh air while you get around the island. Check out Beach Bums AMI (the same company that rents the bicycles!) for 4-8 person golf cart rentals starting at $390 for a week.
The Fish Hole Mini Golf
During your stay on Anna Maria Island, take your family mini golfing at The Fish Hole Mini Golf, where you can enjoy 18 holes of mini golf, misters for those hot summer days, and a koi pond where your kids can feed the fish. The tickets are less than $10 a person and you can golf any time from 9am-10pm, any day of the week.
Walk the Anna Maria Island City Pier
Walk the Anna Maria City Pier and grab dinner at The Sandbar Restaurant (see below for more info!). You can grab ice cream, spot the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in the distance, and sometimes even spot manatees or dolphins if you’re lucky! This is a great sunset activity to do if you’re looking for an alternative to laying on the beach. Located at 100 N Bay Blvd, Anna Maria, FL 34216
Water Activities for Families on Anna Maria Island
Anna Maria Island Beaches
There are plenty of beaches to choose from, and as a local, I’ll be honest to tell you that whichever beach is closest to you is probably the best one for you to visit. Most of the beaches along Anna Maria Island are VERY similar, with slight differences such as there being a pier, or a lifeguard, or bathrooms (with kids this can be extra important) I’m going to summarize some of the local beaches for you, so you can decide if it’s worth the extra drive to go see them.
Bean Point is incredibly beautiful and unique in that it is at the very tip of Anna Maria Island. The sunsets here are unparalleled! This beach has no public parking, so parking is limited to the side streets, which can prove to be challenging especially in season. There are also no bathrooms here, so plan accordingly.
Coquina Beach is on the opposite end of Anna Maria Island as Bean Point. This beach is great for families as it has cabanas, grills, picnic tables, restrooms, a gift shop, lifeguards, and plenty of public parking!
Anna Maria Bayfront Park
Anna Maria Bayfront Park is a popular family beach as, like Coquina Beach, it is a public beach with public amenities. These amenities include a playground, parking, grills, pavilions with picnic tables, showers, bathrooms, and parking. The parking here is limited, so like with much of the island it is wise to arrive before 10:00am, especially on weekends! There is no lifeguard at this beach. Not too far away is Rod & Reel, which is a great place to grab lunch or dinner, or just a drink!
This beach is a favorite Anna Maria Island beach for locals and visitors alike! Manatee Beach has food and drink concessions, restrooms, cabanas, picnic tables, a playground, volleyball nets, and lifeguards. There is limited parking here!
Manatee and Dolphin Sightseeing Tours
See more of the beautiful water Anna Maria Island is known for with a boat tour from Island Time Boat Tours. With customizable options to simply go on a sunset tour, or to snorkel, paddle board, and go net fishing for no extra cost. Families will love that this charter company allows you to bring your own food and drinks to keep the kids happy! Prices start at $295, and don’t wait to book until last minute, as these tours are popular and fill up fast!
Lido Beach Mangrove Tunnel Kayak Tours
Head to Lido Beach for a day of kayaking through the South Lido mangrove tunnels. While this isn’t technically on Anna Maria Island, these tunnels are known by travelers around the world for their unique ecosystem and ease of access! Rent your kayaks ahead of time from Sea Life Kayak, or simply show up at 190 Taft Dr, Sarasota, FL and rent kayaks, canoes, or stand up paddle boards (SUPs) right on the spot.
Family Food and Restaurants
Two Scoops Ice Cream
Take the kids for some ice cream at the famous Two Scoops Ice Cream Parlor, one of Anna Maria Island’s most popular ice cream parlors. Enjoy 32 different flavors of ice cream, as well as brownies, bagels, cookies, and more!
One of my personal favorite restaurants in the area, The Seafood Shack is located very close to Anna Maria Island just over the Cortez Rd bridge. This restaurant is perfect for families as they have outdoor seating on the dock with a water view, as well as indoor seating. They have affordable (but delicious) food and pitchers of beer to keep the parents happy! You have to try their hush puppies and local catch sandwich, trust me, it’ll be one of your favorite meals of the week!
The Sandbar Restaurant
As mentioned above (under the “walk the pier” section), The Sandbar Restaurant is a well known and loved restaurant here on Anna Maria Island. The older kids can have the freedom of frolicking on the beach as you wait for your food, and you’ll love the atmosphere and sunset views right from your table!
Whitney’s is one of my absolute favorite places to recommend to families staying on Anna Maria Island! This restaurant has a cute, beachy atmosphere and space for the kids to move around while you wait on your food. Definitely try a frosé, and don’t miss their delicious brunch!
Fun & Educational Family Activities on Anna Maria Island
Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium
Located about 35 minutes south of Anna Maria Island, Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium is a must see for families with kids. Open since 1955, Mote Marine aquarium is both educational and fun and offers hands on experiences such as dip netting in the bay and a touch tank with baby sharks, manta-rays, starfish, and more! Admission for those 13 and older is $26, and children under 13 are $19. Those under 2 are free. Mote Marine is open 9:30-5pm, 365 days a year! Don’t forget to take advantage of the group rate if you have a group of 10 or more people!
Sarasota Jungle Gardens
Sarasota Jungle Gardens is a similar distance as Mote Marine, at about a 35 minute drive from Anna Maria Island. This zoo offers family friendly experiences such as a Wildlife Wonder show, a Jungle Bird show, and a Reptile Show! It’s open from 10am-4pm, 363 days a year (closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.)
Bishop Science Museum
The Bishop Science Museum makes for a great rainy day activity! Located less than 30 minutes from Anna Maria Island, you’ll find the Bishop Science Museum. This museum is filled with activities for kids of all ages, an your family will love getting to see the area’s beloved manatees up close! You and your kids will also enjoy the Planetarium show, which is both educational and fun for those of all ages. The museum is open 10am-5pm Tuesday through Saturday, 12pm-5pm Sunday, and is closed on Mondays.