Further north on Anna Maria Island, you’ll find some very different and unique island restaurants, such as The Sign of the Mermaid, which is housed in a cottage built in 1913 and serves award-winning dishes on linen-covered tabletops tucked into intimate little rooms.
Amidst tough competition, the most popular restaurant on Anna Maria Island is the world-famous Sandbar Restaurant. The Sandbar is situated on a large expanse of powder-white sand beach, and offers nearly unimaginable views of the Gulf of Mexico. We think it’s the best spot on Anna Maria Island to watch the sunset and, later, the stars that set the entire night’s sky ablaze.
(Fun fact: The Sandbar was chosen by brides as the Best of the Best for Ceremony and Reception Site on the West Coast of Florida by the knot’s “Best of Weddings” issue for 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, and was chosen Best Reception Site on the West Coast of Florida for 2007. According to magazine representatives, no other company in the region has received this award more than once.)
Just a short distance from the Sandbar, you’ll find the Waterfront Restaurant, providing indoor and outdoor dining and beautiful views of Florida’s Intra-Coastal Waterway. Directly across from the Waterfront Restaurant is the Anna Maria Island City Pier Restaurant, located at the end of a pier and home to some of the best lobster bisque this side of New Orleans.
Bonus: While at the pier, the kids can cast a line while Mom and Dad enjoy a cold brew, and a spectacular view of the nearby Sunshine Skyway bridge, which spans Tampa Bay and connecting St. Petersburg with Terra Ceia. At 29,040 ft. (a little over 5 miles across), it’s the world’s longest bridge with a cable-stayed main span, and is truly a sight to see. Dolphins can also be spotted frolicking around the pylons, which is fun to watch and well worth the stop.
Just north of the City Pier Restaurant, you’ll find what locals call the best restaurant on Anna Maria Island: Situated at the end of a 100-foot pier and jetting out into the water is the Rod & Reel Restaurant. While walking across the pier, you’ll encounter locals and tourists alike, young and old casting their lines into the water and more than happy to strike up a conversation. The restaurant has a cozy bar downstairs, and both indoor and outdoor tables to give you the feeling of sitting in the middle of Florida’s Intra-Coastal Waterway, enjoying some of the best food on Anna Maria Island.
What is so appealing about dining on Anna Maria Island is that a car is not necessary. If it’s too far to walk, you can take the free trolley to any restaurant on Anna Maria Island. Best of all, the trolley stops right in front of our condo.