Where is one of your favorite places around the Sarasota area? For me, it has been the area around Anna Maria Island as well as on the island. Places like Robinson Preserve to launch a kayak or maybe walk up the lookout tower for a beautiful view of what we call home is a perfect day to me. Stopping on the island for lunch by the water and a quick trip to a local shop with a friend to help her decorate her home is a fun way to spend an afternoon. The shop owners, restaurants, and their staff greet you with a welcoming smile that sets the pace for one happy island. When times are slow and made even worse by red tide, we should as a community come together to support the people that make it possible for us to share memories of family get-togethers, or maybe even a weekend getaway made special by the hotel staff.
Anna Maria has a special place in the heart of many. But for us locals, that have the opportunity to enjoy the island, whether you live there or just come for a short visit we are lucky to have this in our backyards. Anna Maria Island served as a haven to me when I lived in Miami. My husband and I would turn our combat driving skills earned on I-95 in for kayaks and bicycles several times a year.
Although I don’t get out to the island as much as I would like, now I will make a point of taking my business to the places that need it the most as we all hope they too can ride out the red tide and keep their jobs and establishments.
Here is a list of some of the places to eat, drink and shop on and around Anna Maria Island. Although I cannot name them all, here are a few that bring back great memories or places on my list to try soon.
Restaurants on & nearby Anna Maria Island
Swordfish Grill & Tiki, 4628 119th St West, Cortez: Something seems to be happening every day of the week. They offer happy hour Monday-Saturday from 4-6 PM. I am going to try their crab boil which they have the second Sunday of every month. Live music too.
Cortez Factory, 10104 Cortez Road, West Bradenton: Nestled in an older strip center, this restaurant claims to be the “Five Star Dive”. Inside isn’t anything great, but the food, especially the BBQ is! Come on Tuesday nights and listen to local bands during the Clam Jam.
Hurricane Hanks, 5346 Gulf Dr. Holmes Beach: A favorite spot for the locals & tourists alike. Casual dining where the kitchen is open late for those who prefer to linger on the beautiful beaches surrouding us. They are hosting “Turtle Watch Wednesday” on September 5th from 4-6pm to help sulpport Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch.
Bridge Tender Inn & Dockside Bar, 135 Bridge Street, Bradenton Beach: In spite of the fact the owner is a Packer’s fan, this is a good place to chill after a hard day of boating or kayaking. My favorite spot is under the big shade tree next to the water. It is fun to come during football season too. Dogs welcome.
Old Hamburg Schnitzelhaus, 3246 E. Bay Dr. Holmes Beach: Most days you will find the owners working in the restaurant. Generous portions, and great beer. You have to try the sauerkraut (they bring it in from Germany) and save room for the Black Forest Cake.
Paradise Bagels & Café, 3210 E. Bay Dr. Holmes Beach: This is located in the same strip center as the German restaurant. If you love bagels and want to have a quick breakfast, this is your place. I order the everything bagel with egg, ham & cheese. Generous portions, chances are you’ll have leftovers.
The Donut Experiment, 210C Pine Ave, Anna Maria: Warm donuts, freshly made right in front of you. My favorite is the Key Lime or maybe the peanut butter drizzle. Make sure you order an extra one, you will thank yourself later.
Shopping on Anna Maria Island
Most of the shopping on Anna Maria Island is concentrated in just a few areas. Although there are a few freestanding stores nearby restaurants.
Pine Avenue Area: The north part of Anna Maria Island has a variety of shops from apparel to home goods. You can also find a gourmet grocery store, a general store and fishing equipment and things for the beach.
Island Shopping Center, 5400 Blk Marina Drive: Located in the north section of Holmes Beach, this shopping center has a variety of unique boutiques that offer coastal décor, apparel, restaurants, and a small hardware store.
Bridge Street, Bradenton Beach: Bridge Street is a nice walkable area with public parking. If you are staying on Anna Maria Island, you can also take the trolley. You can find a jeweler, several restaurants, places to book tours and adventure golf. If you are looking to have a massage outdoors you will find it here at a spa.
Anna Maria Island is home to wonderful restaurants, great shopping and fun things to do, even for us locals. So, dine and shop to support our community.
Photos from Sandy Williams, Shutterstock & Swordfish Grill