Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Southern Beaches: Anna Maria Island
One thing I love about living in the South is that I’m near some great beaches and islands. Southern living just doesn’t get much better than that. One of our favorite vacation destinations is located on Florida’s gulf coast, just south of Tampa. The name of this small island is Anna Maria, and it’s truly awesome for families. When we go, we take the daughters, the sons-in-law, the grandkids, and friends with us. Everyone has a blast!
If you’re used to the fast pace of Orlando and other tourist meccas, Anna Maria Island will be a wonderful change. It’s totally laid back. In fact, when we go, we’re sometimes convinced that all the clocks on the island run slower. We call it “island time.” You’ll also enjoy the friendly natives, the perfect weather, and the tropical flowers and foliage.
Like most islands, the biggest attraction here is the beach, and Anna Maria has several top-notch beaches, ranging from busy and somewhat crowded to practically deserted. Choose your poison! You can also choose what type of surf you want. Some of the beaches have no waves at all, while others have some gentle waves. No matter which beach you visit on the island, you’ll find clear water and super soft white sand.
Anna Maria Island doesn’t have high-rise hotels and condominiums, but you will find plenty of vacation lodgings. Choose an inn, a private home, a hotel, or a condo. Many accommodations are right on the Gulf or the bay, but no matter where you stay on the island, you won’t be far from a gorgeous beach.
Spend your days swimming, skimboarding, body surfing, crabbing, kayaking, fishing, building sand castles, bird watching, or just relaxing in the sun. The grandkids love snorkeling at the nothern tip of the island, where they find starfish and sand dollars. Rent a boat or a jet ski at a local marina and do some exploring. You can even swim with horses! If you need more entertainment, cross the bridge to Bradenton or drive a few miles to Sarasota for aquariums, museums, tons of restaurants, kids’ activities, and tons of restaurants. You won’t have to leave the island to enjoy some great meals, however. Forget the national chains and opt for a locally owned island restaurant. Choose from fresh gulf seafood, steaks, burgers, sandwiches, pizza, pasta, crepes, southern barbecue, bakery items, frozen treats, and much more. Believe me, pals – this is southern living at its best!