Ready to explore beautiful beaches, enjoy perfect weather, and have a little fun in the sun? It’s time to plan a visit to the white-sand beaches of Holmes Beach, FL. Whether you’re traveling with the entire family or going on a couple’s getaway trip, it’s the perfect destination.
Located on Anna Maria Island on the shores of Southwest Florida in the Gulf of Mexico, this small paradise island town is perfect for a day trip or a full dream vacation. Only a couple of hours south of Saint Petersburg, Holmes Beach is home to excellent fishing, gorgeous sandy beaches, blue water, and great food.
Ready to plan your next destination trip to this hidden gem? Check out all of the fun things to do in Holmes Beach, FL, including the best places to eat, drink, and visit!
Things to do in Holmes Beach, FL
Manatee Public Beach
Manatee Public Beach is one of the premiere, beautiful beaches of the Sunshine State with its white sand and blue water. This popular beach is the perfect spot to let the ocean breezes sweep over you while laying on the soft sands and taking in the beautiful sunsets.
With lifeguards on duty and smaller tourist crowds, Manatee is the perfect place to visit for safe and fun activities in the water or rest and relaxation on the beach.
After you’re done frolicking in the water and sunbathing, why not enjoy Manatee Beach Park? There’s a great café for beachgoers with a lot of tasty options, as well as public bathrooms available for use, equipped with rinse stations and changing stalls.
Along with great parking and picnic tables, this park makes a trip to Manatee Public Beach convenient and fun.
Island Gallery West
Located on Gulf Drive, Island Gallery West is one of the most popular tourist spots on Anna Maria Island. The artisan gallery displays the works of nearly 30 local artists, including paintings, photography, pottery, jewelry, drawings, pottery, mosaics, and more.
Island Gallery West is sure to provide you with a relaxing and unique experience as you walk and explore the exhibits. When you visit the gallery, feel comfortable knowing that the staff is knowledgeable and great at explaining all of the techniques used in each piece as well as each artist’s portfolio.
You can visit the gallery’s website to find out when certain artists are visiting in person.
Nature Coast Excursions
The waters surrounding Anna Maria Island are not only beautiful but a sanctuary of abundant marine life. Joining a tour with Nature Coast Excursions is one of the best ways to enjoy the beautiful waters and the nature surrounding it by offering day excursions and sunset cruises.
There are two-, three-, four-, or six-hour day excursions to choose from, all of which allow up to six passengers. The excursions include traveling through Egmont Key Wildlife Refuge, a private beach that offers the possible viewing of dolphins, sea turtles, manatees, and rays. You’ll even be able able to snorkel and go bird-watching!
The sunset cruise is a calm, leisurely two-hour evening ride around Anna Maria Island while the sun sets. Featuring a visit to one of the last active fishing villages in Florida, the Historic Cortez Fishing Village, you’ll get to see native birds, pelicans, ospreys, the great blue heron, and if you’re lucky, dolphins in the distance.
Egmont Key Adventures
Egmont Key Adventures is another great excursion option, allowing you to explore the waters of Tampa Bay by either a sunset cruise, a snorkeling trip, or an all-day excursion. The 27 foot Carolina Skiff or the 26 foot Leisure Cat tour boats are the perfect way to cruise, with more than enough seating and plenty of shade.
Egmont Key Adventures makes sure that your day out on the water visiting Anna Maria Island is not only fun and relaxing but safe and secure. Your adventure day includes snorkeling and even comes with bottled water, iced coolers, and floats.
Egmont Key Adventures offers dolphin tours, hiking tours, restaurant and bar tours, private island excursions, pontoon rentals, and even an ash spreading/burial at sea option.
Located on Anna Maria Island’s southern end, in the City of Bradenton Beach, Coquina Beach is perfect for a family beach day. This white sand beach has all the beach goodies and amenities you’ll ever need.
Beyond lounging and playing on the amazing beach, there are plenty of beach necessities including benches, bike racks, changing cabanas, beach chairs, restrooms, and outdoor showers. There are even picnic tables, grills, and five pavilions for family lunches.
For fun, don’t forget to check out the playground or volleyball courts. If you’re feeling hungry and don’t want to grill up your own food, visit the Coquina Beach Cafe for concessions. There’s even an authentic surf shop for souvenirs, goodies, and beach necessities.
This Anna Maria Island beach haven has everything you need for a perfect family fun day in the sun.
Leffis Key Preserve
Located on Anna Maria Island’s Gulf Drive, Leffis Key Preserve is Manatee County’s island preserve. It’s well known for the panoramic views of Sarasota Bay that can be seen from the preserve’s main 26-foot hill. Leffis Key is home to beautiful saltwater wetlands, beaming with wildlife.
The preserve has hiking trails surrounding the prominent hill, boardwalks that take you through the mangrove forests, and benches for taking in the natural habitats.
While you’re exploring, take advantage of the various preserve signs that detail the plant life, animal life, and habitats for useful information and fascinating facts.
Where to eat & drink
Anna Maria Island’s Holmes Beach is home to miles of perfect, white sand beaches, crystal blue waters, and tropical sunny weather. After you’ve had your share of fun in Holmes Beach, head over to one of its many bars, restaurants, or even a beach bistro or two.
Get your day started with a tasty breakfast at the cash-only Minnie’s Beach Cafe. Pair the bottomless cup of coffee and the delicious monster omelet in this friendly neighborhood eatery.
Famous for its 3,000-pound metal fish sculpture, The Ugly Grouper is a great photo op for the perfect social media post. The fish sculpture sits out front and is always bustling with locals and tourists posing for pictures with the infamous giant. Inside, the busy, but laid-back, atmosphere along with its tasty burgers and seafood are just icing on the cake.
If you’re looking for something a bit more upscale, plan a night at The Feast Restaurant for some of the best casual fine dining in Holmes Beach. Steaks, fresh seafood, and pasta are the specialties here. Make sure to pair it with a nice specialty wine or craft beer.
For a unique and fun dining experience on the water, visit the Rod and Reel Pier in the City of Anna Maria. Enjoy breathtaking, scenic views of the Gulf of Mexico as you dine directly over the water in the newly renovated two-story restaurant. Order the coconut-crusted mahi-mahi with one of their house cocktails for the perfect dinner with a view.
Head over to Hurricane Hanks for food that is made from high-quality, fresh ingredients. A welcoming and casual atmosphere offers some of the best food in this Holmes Beach beachfront dining spot. Tuna is the star at Hurricane Hanks – try the ahi tuna or the tuna stacker, both mouthwatering options.
If you need a little break from the children for the evening, spend an evening at the Freckled Fin Irish Pub. This bar gets lively and fun, offering nightly live music and bands with outdoor seating.
The beach bar serves standard American bites like burgers, fried seafood, and pizza, all delicious options, and the drinks are delicious and plentiful. Visit the pub’s website for their entertainment calendar.
For a more upscale night out, make reservations at The Doctor’s Office, a cocktail bar on Anna Maria Island. The cocktails are artfully crafted, the appetizers are prepared by chefs, and the ambiance is relaxing and chic.
Make sure you try the Nightingale, a tequila cocktail infused with lavender honey, chamomile, and fresh lemon. If you’re feeling really adventurous, go for the Purgatory, a bourbon with chocolate bitters and mezcal!
Where to stay
Searching for luxurious digs in Holmes Beach? Look no further than this charming 4-star hotel. Located just a couple blocks from the beach, the property offers lovely modern suites along with a host of great amenities including an outdoor pool, fitness center, and restaurant.