“Florida is a clever little peninsula. Just when you think you’ve seen everything under its proverbial sun, you stumble across a place like Anna Maria Island – a seven-mile slip of cushy white sand tucked in the Gulf of Mexico where you can dump the car, rent a bike, swim in smooth, teal waters and eat remarkably well.” New York Times

Old Florida charm is the essence of this seven mile stretch of pristine living with a sandy beach no more than a walk or bike-ride away.

Surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico’s warm emerald waters,  Anna Maria is also where dolphins and manatees raise their young and where loggerhead turtles nest on its sugar-white shores.

There are three towns on Anna Maria… each with its own special vibe.

Located at the northern tip, the City of Anna Maria is a quiet residential community with an abundance of rental homes and cottages. Most residents prefer to ride their bikes, as the “City” is really not a City but, a quaint little village.

Pine Street serves as the main thoroughfare from bay to beach where charming family owned stores and cafes are housed in quaint Florida cottages. There’s only… “one”… small shopping center with novelty shops, island clothing and an ice cream parlor. Many artists reside in the area where nearby galleries collect and brandish their wares.

The city’s Anna Maria Beach is accessible by parking and walking the side streets along Gulf Drive. This spectacular beach has expansive views of the Gulf of Mexico, St. Petersburg and the Skyway Bridge.

At the widest point and the center of the island is the City of Holmes Beach featuring restaurants, shops and the “only” grocery store on the island. You’ll find plenty of beach access along narrow side streets dotted with condominiums, houses and mom and pop motels.

If seeking a conventional beach with concession stand, volley ball courts, water sport rentals and a play yard, you’ll find it at Manatee Beach.

Heading south, the City of Bradenton Beach features historic Bridge Street for interesting shopping and a great seafood restaurant on a pier overlooking Sarasota Bay. Events such as “Movie Night”, “Mardi Gras”, Art and Car Shows are regularly featured while dining and entertainment are only a stroll away.

Across from Bridge Street and heading south is Cortez Beach that eventually gives way to Coquina, a 96- acre pine shaded oasis at the southern end. The bay side features sandy dunes, paths and lush foliage laden with shore birds… where kayakers slip into still waters and fishermen enjoy a tug on the line.