Anna Maria Island offers many unique shops and boutiques where you could easily spend an afternoon or two discovering treasures – some new and some old! One of the things that I love about the island is that you don’t see the same run of the mill souvenirs and t-shirts at 10 different stores, like you often do in more commercialized vacation spots. Of course, we have some of this and that is good! You will be able to find a t-shirt, hat, wine glass and many other items within a very large price range with AMI printed on it to remember your stay and spark conversations with complete strangers who share your bond with the island. But when moseying down Pine Avenue, you will find many things that you cannot get anywhere else!
Pine Avenue, which is an easy bike or trolley ride north from Lizzie Lu’s Island Retreats (a little over a mile) offers many interesting shops and restaurants from the gulf beaches all the way to the bay side of the island! You can find anything from home decor, specialty pastas, cheese and meats, jewelry, sporting outfitters, art, clothing, books, and toys. I am sure I am missing many others as well! There is also a thrift store and shops that offer ‘recycled’ items – clothes and accessories that have been altered to be cute and trendy again! If you get tired or hungry while shopping, there are plenty of great spots to stop in for a snck. In the morning, the donut shop might be enticing (they dip your donuts right in front of you, then you chose your toppings, maybe bacon?!?!) or you might be more interested in a breakfast sandwich with your coffee. For lunch or dinner the options include mexican, italian, delis, ice cream, and more. At each end of Pine Avenue are larger sit down restaurants with awesome views of the of the Gulf of Mexico and possibly a wedding at the Sandbar or you can view the bay side which overlooks the Sunshine Skyway in the distance from the Waterfront or City Pier. While you are there, stop in to the Anna Maria Island Historical Society which includes a small museum with great tidbits about the history of the island. There is also a salon on Pine which offers an assortment of services – check it out while you are walking by and pick up a pamphlet…. you might decide that a pedicure is exactly what you need. Throughout the year, there are many events held on Pine Avenue including the Easter Egg Roll, Wine & Dine on Pine, weekend festivals, and Friday night porch parties. If you happen to be here May 4, you may find us at the “Food and Wine on Pine” festival enjoying a day ourselves. Check out the Pine Avenue Anna Maria Island Facebook page (www.facebook.com/
Pine Avenue is not the only area to shop, there are many other options which I will be highlighting in future posts. Located on the island is the Island Center (and stores around it) in Holmes Beach and Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach. If you are willing to venture a little further, St. Armand’s Circle in Sarasota offers many high end shops, or you could head to the Ellenton outlets to hunt for deals. Wherever you decide to go, you will not be disappointed!