In January we took a family vacation to Anna Maria Island. We rented a house in Holmes Beach with two other families with little kiddos. I cannot recommend this enough for those of you with small children who would still like to go on fun vacations. Gather up a few of your favorite friends and check out the airbnbs! We chose AMI for a few reasons:
- Direct and fairly cheap flights. Two of us flew into Tampa, direct on Southwest, and the other flew into St. Pete on Allegiant. Having direct flights with small kids is great, and Southwest allows two free checked bags per ticket. So necessary: pack’n’play I’m looking at you.
- Same time zone. With small kids it’s really nice to not have to switch back and forth between time zones.
- Vacation homes. We found some really good deals on this island, and splitting between three families made it feasible to rent a whole house with pool and hot tub.
- Pretty good weather in January. We did take a bit of a risk here, as the week after we visited it was down in the 50s and 60s and overcast, but most of the days we were there were sunny and in the 70s!
- Ease of the city. The island is fairly small, which means that it’s easy to get around. We all rented cars, but we spent most of the days biking, walking, or taking the free trolley about town.
We had such a lovely time; here are four of our favorite things:
1. Playing in the sand on (insert beach here). No matter which beach we ended up at, we were amazed. All the beaches on the island are public and so many were walking distance from the house we rented. We spent one full day at Coquina Beach, and an afternoon and evening at Manatee Beach. The water was a bit chilly, but the sand was super lovely and our daughter loved crawling about and running it through her fingers.
2. Riding bikes around the island. We rented bikes here and they were so fun to use! There are bike lanes all about town, and we stayed more to the northern side where it wasn’t as busy. We also tried out a little child trailer for the first time; really glad the husband was in charge of maneuvering that! The rental company dropped them off and picked them up from our rental house, and they came with helmets, lights, and locks. One of my favorite memories is a date night biking around the island with my husband–something so exhilarating about zipping around by bike!
3. Eating dinner at sunset at The Sandbar. The food was delicious and they were super accommodating to families with young kids and strollers and all the things. We sat on the patio and guessed the sunset time so incorrectly our server laughed. Someone else won the glasses of champagne that night, but what a fun little tradition! The food was excellent and walking home after made for a lovely evening.
4. Walking up and down Pine Avenue. We spent several afternoons strolling up and down this lovely street, lined with little shops and restaurants. We ate tacos at Poppo’s , and drank coffee, and snacked on ice cream, and eyed all the beautiful boutiques, and played at the park, and walked on the pier. So lovely!
There is not necessarily a lot of nightlife on the island; we went to a jazz band one night, which was right on the beach and so fun, but over by 8pm. However, it was the perfect spot for a family vacation with friends. Hoping for many return trips!