If you’re looking for the perfect location for a family vacation, look no further than The Bradenton Gulf Islands. Nestled on the Gulf of Mexico on Florida’s west coast, the Bradenton Gulf Islands are a fantastic family getaway. The Bradenton Area towns of Bradenton, Longboat Key, and Anna Maria Island all have a serene stretch of white sandy beaches, delicious restaurants, and family friendly activities. Here are our top things to do in Anna Maria Island and the Bradenton Area.

  • Where to fly into: Sarasota Bradenton Airport (SRQ)
  • Best time to visit: Winter, Spring
  • Where to stay: Rent a beachfront home with Island Real Estate

What to do in Bradenton Gulf Islands

Beach Suites: When it comes to the best things to do on Anna Maria Island, Beach Suites tops our list. These elegant suites are set up right outside of your beachfront vacation rental or on the beach location of your choice. Beach Suites sets up umbrellas, premium chairs, cabanas, towels, Bluetooth speakers, games, music, and more. Parents can rejoice because all the setup is done for you, taking the stress out of a beach day. You can also have fresh coconuts from Am I Coconuts? and Graze Street charcuterie boards and sandwiches delivered to your beach suite.

Paint sand dollars at the Shiny Fish Emporium: There is no shortage of family friendly activities on Anna Maria Island, but one of our favorite activities is sand dollar painting at Shiny Fish Emporium. Kiddos can create their own designs on local sand dollars and bring them home as memories. Along with sand dollar painting, this store sells the most darling children’s clothing, toys, and mochi ice cream.


Rent Golf Carts: Anna Maria Island and the Bradenton Area are all about laidback living, which means there is no need for a car. Once you get to your vacation rental or hotel, pick up a golf cart from Beach Bums as your transportation for the week. With 25 mph speed limits, you’ll cruise around in style. If there’s anything that screams vacation, it’s golf cart!

Pine Avenue: The stores along Pine Avenue are mostly green businesses, making the Avenue known as a LEED-certified Green Village.

Bridge Street: Bridge Street is a historic street on Anna Maria Island. In years past, this was the location of the original wooden bridge and only accessible point to the island. Now, it’s a walkable area with fun shops and mini golf!

Where to Eat in Bradenton Gulf Islands

Sandbar: Sandbar was one of our favorite meals in all of Anna Maria Island, serving delicious dishes in a beautiful beachfront setting. With toes in the sand dining and an unparalleled view of the water. Absolutely perfect We highly recommend the stuffed shrimp.

Graze Street AMI: This modern market serves gourmet sandwiches and charcuterie boards. We highly recommend ordering Graze Street AMI for a delicious beach day!

Shore: This chic and elegant waterfront restaurant is located on Longboat Key, just minutes from Anna Maria Island in the Bradenton Area. We highly recommend ordering the grouper!

Anna Maria Oyster Bar: Anna Maria Oyster Bar is a legend in the region, serving up raw and cooked gulf oysters.

North Shore: Head to North Shore for yummy acai bowls and tasty iced coffees, served outdoors on a laidback lagoon.

Cheesecake Cutie & Café: If there’s a sweet treat you must try on Anna Maria Island, it’s the cuties from Cheesecake Cutie & Café. The cuties are rich, smooth, and delightful! The delectable recipe has been in the family for over 40 years. They also serve delicious breakfast options like overnight oats and breakfast burritos.


Toes in the sand dining at Sandbar