The perfect antidote to party-loving Siesta Key, Anna Maria Island appears beached in a 1950s time warp, with sun-faded clapboard houses, teenagers hanging outside ice-cream stores and a clutch of good seafood restaurants. The island is made up of three beach towns: at the southern end is Bradenton Beach, midisland is Holmes Beach, which is considered the hub, and at the northern tip is Anna Maria village.
The best beaches are to the south and north. Southern Coquina Beach has plenty of pavilions, lifeguards and restrooms, and is backed by a stand of Australian pines through which the Coquina Bay Walk meanders. To the north, Anna Maria Bayfront Park sits on Tampa Bay, offering views of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, plus a playground and restrooms. The latter is within walking distance of the City Pier and the center of Anna Maria. The northernmost, lesser-visited and thoroughly gorgeous beach is Bean Point.