Anna Maria Island is centrally located to many of the popular Florida destination spots. A day trip is a great way to break up vacation monotony or to infuse it with new experience and maximize your time in the Sunshine State! Florida has many different city areas that you can visit for the day and the atmosphere is such a contrast from one to the next. Visit Tampa or Orlando if you’re missing the city, head to Treasure Island for a late night on a lively coastal town, go inland to St. Pete for urban eats or visit Davis Island/Bayshore Blvd. and check out stunning architecture. Our list will highlight the areas worth venturing and we’re sure whichever you pick will only add to the beautiful memories and you may just discover a new Florida Favorite for your next vacation!
Sarasota is the closest day trip option to Anna Maria City worth visiting, the beaches there are superb. Siesta key has renowned sand quality, the city imports what is mostly finely ground quartz from the Appalachian Mountains to keep your feet cool and the beach enjoyable to stroll in the summer. Apart from the beach Siesta Key has a great town area which is walking distance from the beach, fabulous food and nightlife keep the island fueled with fun! Longboat Key is another great Sarasota area, a resort town with gigantic pristine golf courses accompanied by a lot of tennis enthusiast make Longboat Key well known among luxury travelers and boaters. The city of Sarasota has inland attractions as well, the Ringling Museum features a circus museum, private gallery and mansion open to guest. The Van Weezel performance center always has someone great headlining a show, from Julia Hough to Barbara Streisand. Children and families of all ages will adore Sarasota Jungle Gardens, a small zoo experience where you can hand feed friendly flamingos, see exotic birds, gigantic alligators, humongous snakes, monkeys and gorgeous gardens. If the mention of gardens excited you then Selby Botanical Gardens is the place to visit for you, the curated garden is the only one like it in America, showcasing epiphytes and beautiful canopy ecosystems, festivals and events are constantly underway and the garden is a truly magical escape! Last on our list is Mote Marine, an interactive experience where you can observe, learn and touch some of the areas local wildlife including dolphins, manatees, sharks and more!
The City of Tampa is less than an hour away, an easy travelling distance to visit top US theme parks like Bush Gardens, Adventure Island and the MOSI Museum of Science and Industry. Tampa is a bustling city, the best areas to tour would be Channel Side which features the expansive Florida Aquarium, the Lightning Bolts Hockey Arena, a IMAX movie theater and lots of food options including a Wet Willie’s. Ybor City is a short 10 minute distance from the previous suggestion and gives you an amazing feel for what old Tampa was like during the cigar trade era as the area is filled with restored old cigar shops and children’s factories, mixed in with high end vintage thrift stores and new age boutiques, at night time Ybor is THE city center for night life. If you’re in town during January check out the festive Gasparilla parades and grab some beads, if it’s Halloween attend Guavaween and dance the night away in your spookiest apparel. Then there is Bayshore Blvd. which is adjacent to Davis Island is a beautiful area, take a drive or bike along the bay and observe the stunning architecture on Florida mansions. Tampa Bay also has a Hard Rock Casino, Top Golf and Lowery Park Zoo!
Another hour north will take you to Orlando to the famed home of Disney World where you can visit the Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot, the Animal Kingdom, Disney Springs, Blizzard Beach and Disney Typhoon Water Park! Islands of Adventure and Aquatica are just next door and Orlando also offers Downtown Disney for shopping and dining. Outside of the theme park area there is Old Town where the carnival rides sparkle year round, the Orlando Ice Rink (probably the only place to find ice or temperatures lower than 70 in Orlando) and an indoor sky diving facility!
Weeki Wachee Springs
About two hours North is Weeki Wachee
Springs, a great day trip to check out a natural spring (way different than salt water beaches) with amazingly clear visibility and a lazy river! The mermaid show is a famous production (featured on The Simple Life with Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie) and the other half of the park known as Buccaneer Bay has big water slides, life guards, atiki-hut for children or adult drinks, several boutiques and a dive dock. The surrounding area also has movie theaters, bowling and skating rinks for your standard family activities.
A refuge that can only be reached by boat, this hidden little island is a paradise found for snorkelers, scuba divers and nature lovers. The island is 44 acres and you can ferry over from the Ft. Desoto Park area, once on the island you will be on your own (unless a tour is booked), there are no shops or restaurants, the island is completely natural with only a single standing light house, old fort ruins and under water sunken ruins that are a draw for scuba divers, snorkelers and marine life! Make sure to pack a lunch, bring your sunscreen and a camera, Egmont Key is an island like no other!
St. Pete is an up and coming town just a half hour North of Anna Maria Island. The drive over is beautiful itself, you’ll be surrounded by the Tampa Bay and get to drive over the colossal Skyway Bridge. The downtown area is broken off into two parts, there is downtown St. Pete and then there is downtown St. Pete by the water. Downtown St. Pete is perfect for grabbing a bite to eat and strolling the area, at night the city is alive with live music and lots of late night pubs. Downtown by the water is more upscale, the Vinoy hotel decorates the water front which is laden with yachts and massive sail boats at the adjacent marina with restaurants and boutique hotels on “the strip”. Vinoy Park is beautifully landscaped and during the day full of frolicking pet owners and people jogging along the bay. During concert season Vinoy Park serves as a beautiful gigantic field that hosts things like Warped Tour, Rib Fest, Jazz festivals and more. Cool things in the area to visit include the Chihuly Art Gallery & Hot Glass Shop, The Dali Museum and the overall St. Pete art scene-it’s amazing. Downtown will feature huge urban murals (many are winners of street art contest) which is intermixed with an array of galleries lining the downtown area. Last but not least is the Tampa Bay Rays stadium which is a draw in itself, The Ray baseball team won the 2008 World Series and if it happens to be season then attending a game is a must, they also have a great annual calendar with awesome events and a summer series which featured names like Steve Aoki and Kacey Musgraves in 2016!
A 3 hour trip South will take you to the Everglades of Florida and this would definitely be a recommendation for adults only or very mature children as the area is fascinating yet full of dangerous wild life so all guidelines must be strictly adhered to for safety precautions. That being said the everglades is a place like no other, go on an air boat tour, see alligators and pythons up close! The Ernest Coe visitors center is a great place for any nature lovers in the group, full of interactive exhibits and area information. The Shark Valley Park is a one stop destination, they have bike trails (keep an eye out for alligator crossing signs), a observatory tower and tram tour. The everglades is again perfect for nature lovers and trail blazers, our list is just the tip of the iceberg with the available parks to explore in the area!
If you are interested in vacationing in the Anna Maria Island area check out our beautiful gulf front vacation rental on HomeAway
If you are considering relocating to the area get in touch with us today and check out our premier water front listing on Anna Maria Island