Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key
You can start exploring from the northernmost point in the state of Florida, cross 447 miles all the way down to the very south, and whatever beach catches your eye and heart – you will not have chosen wrong – for all beaches exude majestic beauty and white, soft sand, coupled with clear, warm waters. A certain island, small in size yet extensive in beauty, right across from St. Petersburg, will most definitely do that. Anna Maria Island is a place of beauty, harmony and great living. If you are looking for your perfect Florida family beach vacation, get off the I-75, and answer the call of the quiet and tranquil, yet alive and bustling island. You can rent hundreds of different villas, bungalows, cabins and hotels, and spend the perfect week or two with your family and loved ones.
Despite the vast number of beautiful beaches in the world, Manatee public beach is one of those that makes you stop whatever you were doing, and even amidst the busiest of days consider taking a short swim or simply lie in the sand and bask in the glorious sun. As the long Manatee avenue comes to an end, the soft, caressing sand of the beach starts and brings joy to everyone who touches it. All the necessary amenities are present: restrooms, chairs and tables, showers and free parking. You can play volleyball, go swimming, build sand castles, rest and sleep, all under the watchful eyes of the trained Florida lifeguards. Surrounded by crystal clear waters on one side, and inexpensive quality rentals on the other, your family vacation on Manatee public beach will be stored amidst your finest memories for a long time to come.
Lots has changed in the history of Manatee public beach since its early days, in the form of available amenities, places to stay, number of people frequenting it, and the very topography of the beach. You cannot look in any direction without seeing a lifeguard post scattered evenly across the length of the beach, a fact that people find most reassuring. Back in the old days, there was no way to call 911 and ask for help without a pay phone, and on a beach as long as Manatee, the two payphones were definitely not enough. The 911 number we use today was unreachable from Manatee County for free, so as a necessity, lifeguards kept coins in their duffel bags which they would then hand to a bystander, and order him to go call for help while he attended his duties. Since that remains a mere anecdote, and is no longer the case, rest assured that your family is safe and sound, and enjoying their vacation among the beauties of Florida and Manatee public beach.
If you feel like sleeping, sitting in the shade, or relaxing with your neck sticking out the sand while you sip a Margarita, you may as well. Or, if you are in the mood for a more active holiday, you may do that as well, since there is no shortage of activity on Anna Maria Island for you and your family. You can swim, play volleyball, ride bikes around the island or enjoy tasty and satisfying meals at nearby restaurants and eateries. You can visit the Anna Maria Historical Museum, or even the Classic Car Museum in Sarasota. When your family thinks there is nothing more to do, simply take them running, boating, kayaking or fishing. And if that doesn’t wear the kids out, you’re in a real pickle.
For people who love and enjoy food, Anna Maria Island is quickly becoming one of the best places to spend your vacation in Florida. A plethora of various restaurants, particularly waterfront restaurants with glorious ocean views line the streets, ready to satisfy the thirst and hunger of even the weariest adventurers. From restaurants offering a typical menu, seafood restaurants, to pastry shops and pizza joints, no appetite will be left unsatisfied. Fresh fish straight from the ocean simmers and crackles on the grill, with its luring smell filling every crack and every crevice of adjoining streets and alleys. If you crave sweets, one of the most famous Florida donut shops will happily complete your meal course, and send you walking home full, content and happy. Eat, drink and be merry, for there is no island in Florida with finer dinning than Anna Maria Island.
If your kids (or you) have set their minds on visiting Disneyland, you can turn your stay in Florida into a beach theme park vacation, and taking a perfect and memorable day trip to your younger days is only two hours away by car. Orlando is a city in the middle of the state of Florida, and houses some of the best theme parks in the country, maybe even in the whole world. If you are a movie fan, make sure not to miss Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Disney’s Hollywood Studios; and for the fastest way to pat your inner child on the back, take a trip to Legoland Florida, the biggest Legoland in the world – situated an hour’s drive out of Orlando. At SeaWorld and Aquatica Orlando, marvel at the most amazing collection and exhibit of marine animals you have ever seen. At seven o’ clock in the evening, pack your bags, dispose of your litter, and take the kids back to your villa on Anna Maria Island.
You’ve come to Anna Maria Island on a family vacation, unpacked, and sitting at the pool of your villa with your wife and watching the kids play, you plan your itinerary for tomorrow. You’d like to visit all the important parts of the island, and spend time on all the beaches, assessing the quality of sand and the surf as you lay there relaxing. Basically, you are looking for something that is will get your from point A to point B, that is cheap, reliable, and fun for the kids. Suddenly, your wife stumbles over a piece of information tailored to your very exact needs – the Anna Maria Island Trolley. The Trolley is a small bus that connects all parts of Anna Maria Island, with just one twist: it is completely free of charge. Grab the kids, hop on, and enjoy the 20 minute ride from the top to the bottom of the island, every day from 6 am to 10:30 pm.
As you’ve taken the Trolley to the southernmost point of Anna Maria Island, for only three quarters of a dollar you have the option to take another bus, the Longboat Key Trolley, all the way to downtown Sarasota. But before you disembark at the last station and head over to the city, hop off at the station on Longboat Key to explore this wonderful city sprawling across a small island bearing the same name. Similar in size to Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key offers a similar variety of real estate for either rent or purchase; also, good restaurants, sandy beaches and clear waters, as well as more activities than a whole family on vacation can manage in a month. Various inns, eateries, beach resorts, golf courses and boat clubs will make your worries and anxieties slip away, and remind you once more what life is really all about.
Longboat Key has been long etched into the memory of a lot of Floridian, as well as out of state adults. When they were still young, their parents would take them to a family vacation to Longboat Key, and many remember those summer holiday days with such fondness that very few places can create. Others, who nowadays enjoy the privileges of a second home, treasure areas such as Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island greatly, as they are the perfect places to relax and take it easy, or stay active and leave the easy behind. More and more people are focusing their attention on smaller, quieter places for vacation nowadays, to escape the hustle and bustle of the stressful, big city life – and in that aspect, few beat Anna Maria and the Longboat Key Island.
Imagine waking up with the sun; it greets you with its orange healing rays and you smile in return staring out your villa window. Your family awakes, rushing one by one into the living room, where intoxicating smells of bacon, eggs, freshly squeezed oranges and chocolate pudding mix, and remind one how he loves the mornings with his loved ones at the table. Half an hour later, packed and set, you lead your family to Manatee Public Beach, where the happiness in their eyes reflects in the clear waters of the Mexican Gulf. Dried off and ready to venture onward, the whole family hops on to the Trolley which takes you down to Longboat Key. Seeing the island similar to Anna Maria Island in beauty, the kids crave another swim. They swim and splash until you’re all hungry and you let one of the Longboat Key beautiful restaurants take care of your enormous appetites. Full and content, you take the Trolley back to Anna Maria, and you sit at the pool, beer in hand, admiring the stars and smiling thankfully for such amazing life.