Cute & quaint tropical island just south of Tampa, FL. Soft, sandy beaches with calm gulf waters. A little slice of paradise you never want to leave. A short drive from Bradenton/Sarasota Airport is easily reachable by a wonderful transport company with very friendly people.
As this was not my first trip to AMI, I have flown a few times & rented a vehicle before and I have drove the whole way from WV, but this time, we rented a red limo (aka 8-person golf cart) 😆 They even delivered and picked the cart up, which was super convenient.
Let's start with our adorable rental house called Day Dream in Holmes Beach. A beautiful home just steps from the beach, more than enough amenities for 8 ladies to stay comfortably. Pool, slide, hot tub, washer, dryer & all the essentials for beach days (chairs, umbrellas, etc). https://www.annamariaparadise.com/anna-maria-island-rentals/day-dream
Breakfast is a must for this girl. But first, one cannot miss the sunrise and for the best view travel to the east end of Pine Ave to the City Pier. The morning view will not disappoint.
I literally was there early enough that I had to wait on the maintenance staff members to open the gate to the pier. I wanted to be that early bird getting the worm.
After an AMI-zing sunrise, head to Ginny's & Jane E's Cafe on the corner of Pine Ave. & Gulf Dr. But get there early as their baked goods are made fresh daily and once they are gone, they are gone! Their menu consists of various items, all delicious of course. Chicken & waffles, creme Brule French toast, cinnamon rolls, breakfast burritos, strawberry avocado toast, mimosas & awakening local coffee...to name a few. And take a stroll thru their eclectic gift shop on site, very neat items.
One of my all time favorite places to eat/drink/enjoy the company of good friends is the Daquiri Deck on Bridge St. I go for lunch and dinner sometimes, preferably between 3p-7pm for Happy Hour. The food may change but what is constant is my continual order of "Bushwacker". A frozen concoction of coffee, chocolate, coconut blended with vodka & topped with a shot of Three Olives Expresso 😋 A great pairing with this is their Island Salad. Spinach, plump grilled Gulf Shrimp, wheat berry blend, quinoa, candied pecans, sundried craisins, with blood orange vinaigrette....hungry yet? What better way to spend time on their outside decks overlooking the gulf of Mexico.....AMI-zing.
Deciding on evening dining is endless. The island has many options for every type of appetite. I will speak of the Sandbar, on the west end of Spring St., as I have never had a bad meal there. You can sit at a table on the beach, your feet buried in the soft sand, overlooking the serene waters as the ball of fire falls below the horizon, while your belly gets happy with fresh local seafood, again, AMI-zing. https://www.sandbardining.com/
Across the Cortez Rd. Bridge into the historical Cortez fishing village is the Swordfish Grill. Outside deck offers live music and waterfront views. Fresh local seafood at its finest, you can watch the fish coming off the boats and being processed from the back deck dining area. https://www.swordfishgrillcortez.com/
From Pine Ave, mid Island, at the end of Manatee Ave Bridge, Bridge St & everywhere in between you will find treasures to take home.
The list of things to do on this island is endless. It may be small and no large amusement parks but this island is packed with activities to keep your time fun-filled. Water activities of all sorts, but one to get into is FLY AMI. These guys were amazing. You can take a boat ride even if you chose not to "get high", aka parasail. https://flyannamaria.com/
Sunset, party & dolphin cruises, nature parks, seashell picking, seasonal farmers & craft markets, events, miniature golf, etc.
My ultimate favorite moments on AMI consist of early morning shell picking, beachin' & soaking up the sunshine and watching the sunsets.