There’s nothing like a quirky quaint little beach town. Resorts and high rises have their place, but to me there’s just something special about a row of colorful beach cottages only a short bike ride away from local coffee shops with locals who remember your name and tiki bars on the beach with no dress code. Throw in a free trolley, adorable consignment stores and boutiques, delicious food, ice cream shops galore, a beach with white powder sand, water as calm and clear as my bath and an ocean front sunset that takes your breath away… it’s my version of paradise. We had the best vacation at Anna Maria Island, and I’m still dreaming of our beach bungalow we’ll have there one day. If you’re looking for a place to go with the family, I highly recommend it. Here are some of my favorite little “secret” spots I recommend checking out…
Ginny & Jane E.’s: Whimsical charm, free coffee refills and homemade cinnamon rolls unworthy of comparison, this was our daily stop for iced coffee and treats. Doubling as a consignment store/cafe’, this weird, oddly charming place seems to be a favorite among the locals as well. They won me over on our first visit when I ordered one cinnamon roll and they served us two, explaining that they make them fresh in house and needed to clear out before the next batch. When they heard us commenting on how delicious they were, they promptly brought us a third free one. I think I’m still in a sugar coma. Unparalleled customer service, delicious food and a funky old Florida vibe give this place five stars in my
Gulf Drive Cafe’: This little tiki hut will have you feeling like you’re hundreds of miles away from all the cares in the world. You can eat lunch in your bikini with your toes in the sand or drink one of their delicious Bloody Marys under the shade of the bar while gazing out at the turquoise water. And if you’re looking for a place to have a drink while you watch the sunset on the beach, it’s a great option. My hubby and I camped out here from the heat one afternoon and tried a few of their delicious cocktails – all of them were incredible! If you’re looking for something a little different, there are plenty of other waterfront dining options on the island. Check out The Sandbar, Rod & Reel Restaurant, The Waterfront, The City Pier, Beach Bistro and the Beach Cafe’.
Duffy’s Tavern: A hole in the wall no-nonsense burger joint. The burgers are delicious and cold draft beers are 99 CENTS… need I say more? The locals love this place and I can see why. FYI: it’s cash only!
The Sand Dollar: My favorite store…with a tranquil vibe and beachy decor, I walked out more convinced than ever that a beach house needs to be in our future! And I’m a sucker for hanging decor for some reason, so I was captivated by all of the hanging whimsy
Pineapple Junction: A local recommended we check out this consignment shop, and I’m so glad we did. Packed full of one of a kind treasures, this place has something for everybody ranging from shabby chic to vintage to modern styles. There’s something thrilling about not knowing what in the world will be around the next corner.
Beach Bums: Here’s the best place to rent bikes, paddle boards, etc. Paddle boarding is my fave here… the waves are non existent and the water is sparkling clear, and I love the vantage point from above. FYI manatees are regularly spotted right off the shore which is super neat but can be quite unnerving if you’re not too excited about seeing large dark shadows in the water!
Island Trolley: A free air conditioned Trolley that runs the course of the island… how amazing is that? There are trolley stops everywhere and it runs until 10pm so it’s super convenient to take to and from dinner after cocktails or out exploring. Kids also love it… my 3 year old is still asking about it 🙂
Ocean Front Sunsets: Perhaps my favorite moment each day on the island…watching the sky turn shades of orange and pink, the water illuminated in a dusty shimmery glow while my toes rested in cool powder sand. It seemed to remind me every night that God is near and any cares on this side of eternity are small and temporary. Such a sweet end to the day.
As a society I am convinced we don’t slow down and vacation enough, so if you were on the fence about where or when to slow down for a few days, I hope I’ve helped convince you to escape with your family for a fresh breath of island air!