If you haven’t thought about parking yourself down on the beaches of west coast Florida for vacation, you seriously need to reconsider. Especially if you have the chance to do said vacation in the Bradenton and surrounding gulf islands area. Here’s how to move at a slower pace on a very relaxed vacation… whatever you do here, just take your time to really capture that vibe.
Stay on Anna Maria Island
If you want to really feel like you can disconnect from everyday life take the short ride from the city of Bradenton on the mainland over to Anna Maria Island. Beautiful coastline, beaches, shore-side restaurants and a tiny downtown await you over there. It’s so tiny you can even just make your way around by bike (rent a bike for your stay from Beach Bums Rentals) so you can bike from beach to beach, your little quaint beach-side hotel (we loved staying at Tropic Isle Beach Resort) and into the tiny main part of town on the island.
Downtown Anna Maria
There are a few things that are musts, two of which involve food in this part of town. One is The Donut Experiment… and if you decide to do it for breakfast, we won’t judge (because we did the same thing). The lineup is long (longer than you may expect for such a tiny town), but, trust us, it is worth every second because you get to smell the freshly made donuts, and see all the yummy creations while you wait (and that just makes the real thing that much better). You can choose from their own special creations or make your own concoction… or even better try a few… you’ll sweat the calories off at the beach. When it comes around lunch time Poppo’s Taqueria is quick and easy, but definitely not lacking on the flavour side of things. Grab tacos, burritos, or create a bowl of whatever Mexican faves you have.
You’re also right across the street to some gorgeous beach access. So make sure you always have a beach towel, sunscreen, a hat and a good beach read with you, because the waves and sand are calling your name.
Sunsets on the beach
The best sunsets you’ll find are on that sandy beach along the entire island. From the sandy dunes to the actual crest of the shore, you’ll see more people come sunset congregated on the beach for that golden hour than you will the rest of your time here. If you want to enjoy a few cocktails or a nibble while catching the sunset, ask for a table on the patio of Gulf Drive Cafe (order anything seafood wise on this menu, because it’s perfection) and watch the final rays.
Do a day trip into Bradenton
Bradenton is a quirky little city and you’ll find no place quirkier or more artsy than at the Village of the Arts neighbourhood. Wander around the streets and check out the local arts scene, from eclectic houses to eccentric cafes and taco shacks, galleries, and little shops filled with interesting finds.
This trip was sponsored by the Bradenton Tourism board, but all views and opinions are that of Travel & Style Magazine.