After Disney Come Relax on Anna Maria Island

After much begging and pleading, the kids have finally persuaded you that Disney World will be the next family vacation. SeaWorld is conveniently located just a short drive away, and the kids can’t wait to see orcas and dolphins up close. There’s also Busch Gardens Theme Park, closer to Tampa Bay than Orlando, but worth a day trip for its rides and wildlife education programs.

Several days of amusement-park rides, animal shows, and photo-ops with Disney princesses – by now, a post-vacation retreat might be in order to wind down from the excitement of the trip.

What other family activities are available within driving distance of Orlando?

Anna Maria Island

Introducing Anna Maria Island

You might consider taking an extra week to stay on Anna Maria Island, situated between the Gulf of Mexico and peninsular Florida, just an hour and a half’s drive south of Tampa Bay. Picture a few days in Orlando and then a stop at Busch Gardens on the way to seven miles of pristine, white-sand beaches and turquoise water. The kids will get their dream vacation, and you’ll get to recharge.

What is the appeal of Anna Maria Island? It has all the makings of a tropical paradise while retaining the “Old Florida” feel that so many other beach destinations have lost to development and high-rise condos. The island is narrow enough that many homes and cottages have direct water access or are only a few blocks from the beach.

Anna Maria Island vacation rentals for families are readily available. Pastel-colored homes have a cozy Old Florida feel but with the comfort of modern amenities, such as high-speed internet, fully-equipped kitchens, washers and dryers, flat-screen TVs, and heated pools. And “family” doesn’t include just the kids. If you’re worried about leaving a furry member of the family behind or can’t find a pet sitter, pet-friendly vacation homes are also available.

An Anna Maria Island Mini-Vacation

What would a vacation on Anna Maria Island look like? What is there to do? On the north end of the island, the City of Anna Maria is a relatively low-traffic area where it’s easy to get around by bike. Rentals are available, and if the kids get tired, free trolleys take passengers up and down the island. Tired of the Orlando crowds? The island’s most secluded beach, Bean Point, is located at the island’s northernmost tip and offers the opportunity to soak in some sun or sea-shell hunting with relative privacy. If the kids are feeling particularly adventurous, it’s even possible to walk around the entire island without ever leaving the sand.

Island Activities

Immerse yourself in nature: Ecotours, fishing tours, kayaking, and even snorkeling are available. The kids will be ecstatic to spot a wild dolphin or, during the months of May and June, nesting sea turtles. After a long day in the sun, consider taking the kids out for some fresh, homemade ice cream at Two Scoops near the historic City Pier. Fresh seafood is available at The Sandbar Restaurant, which offers an incredible toes-in-the-sand dining experience on the beach. Picture the family feasting on some freshly-caught grouper while witnessing a jaw-dropping sunset.

Plan Your Visit

Whether you prefer the tranquility of Anna Maria or the tourist centers of Bradenton Beach, there is something for the whole family to do on Anna Maria Island. Rent Anna Maria Island Pet-Friendly rentals and bring the whole family for a vacation in Old Florida paradise. Visiting Orlando doesn’t have to be just for the kids – make it a vacation everyone loves.

The Island’s South Side

Farther south on the island are the cities of Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach. Although more crowded than Bean Point, Manatee Beach Park, located in Holmes Beach, and Coquina Beach Park, near Bradenton Beach, are ideal for families with their free public amenities, like lifeguards, concession stands, and picnic areas. Within a block or two of Lizzie Lu’s Island Retreat rentals, you can reach other sections of beautiful beaches and great swimming as there are beach accesses all along the west side of the island. The beach accesses do not offer lifeguards and amenities but generally, are less crowded then Manatee public beach. Set up close to your beach rental or plan a beach walk to Manatee Public Beach to enjoy the food amenities, swings, volleyball courts, and lifeguards.

Coquina Beach also has volleyball pits and a playground. Nearby Bradenton Beach is the busiest of the three cities but retains its own quirky, family-friendly vibe. There are no malls but plenty of boutiques for shopping. Interested in wall plaques, pink flamingos, or ocean-themed treasures? Visit Bridge Street Bazaar. The kids can treasure hunt while the adults shop for clothes, jewelry, or anything vacation necessities that were forgotten at home.