If you like “off the beaten path” you’ll love Manatee County’s Anna Maria Island. The beaches are accessible, the seafood is fresh and the neighborhoods are authentic. The friendly Florida island “vibe” is downright irresistable.
Starting the morning at Ginny & Jane E’s is my way of getting the day going right. A combination retail store (one-of-a-kind items) and fabulous deli-coffee place, Ginny & Jane E’s has a food counter where we grabbed breakfast, sat at a table and enjoyed the shopping. If you like fun and funky, this will be your nirvana.
From there, moving towards the Bay, we walked out on two fishing piers — the City and the Rod & Reel Piers. My favorite was the Rod & Reel Pier, north of the City dock with a restaurant at the end. The restaurant is a “must” as the view is intoxicating and the fish is fresh.
Meandering through the surrounding neighborhoods, you will see some truly authentic homes but more than that, you will find “real” Florida motels that have been updated and charmed. I was thoroughly enchanted and noticed citrus trees in the front yards – a real sign of authentic Florida. I also stumbled upon a family of Wood Storks walking through the neighborhood. Another authentic thrill.
The island has cute shops all over – we found a reasonably priced beach shop called the Three Island Monkeys and the Sand Dollar gift shop with a colorful array of beachy home decor items.
A “must” place to eat is Skinnys – a beachy hamburger joint. This “come in your bathing suit” eatery is reminiscent of my childhood – small, cozy, screened-in pub/restaurant overflowing with laughter. I hear there are a few other good restaurants to try: Beach Bistro and the Sandbar Waterfront Restaurant. Next on my list.
As you travel down to the south end of the island, you will find plenty of beach and a lot of parking. Anna Maria is comfortable, laid back and welcoming – and will be on my “favorites” list for a long time.