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Florida Guide > Other Activities

A Day at the Beach (Sometimes you need a break from Mickey!!)

Florida boasts 663 miles of beaches and our favourite is Anna Maria Island on the Gulf coast. It takes about 2 hours to drive there from Orlando so we usually leave about 8am and set off home when the sun goes down (spectacular sunsets! ).

There are lots of places to stay on the island if you decide to extend your trip from hotels and motels to villas and apartments many offering the all important ocean view.

The beach here is beautiful, very safe for small children and you can walk for miles. The clean, soft, powdery sand reminds us of the Caribbean.

Our favourite restaurant is the 4* Sandbar and you can park here and walk straight on to the beach. This is on the north side of the island on a stunning beach. The Sandbar serves a wide selection of food from snacks to gourmet with local musicians providing relaxing entertainment (usually starting about 6pm) There is a good sized bar area where you can sip a cocktail whilst waiting for your table and you can choose to dine inside or outside on the terrace. With the view of the ocean and the brilliant blue sky it’s not surprising the terrace is the most popular choice!

Here are the directions

Take I4 west to Tampa

45 miles on take exit 9 to I75 – Naples/Ocala – keep left for Naples

32 miles on take exit 228 I275 to St Petersburg

Exit 2 to US41/Palmetto/Bradenton

Keep left at the fork and follow signs US41 Palmetto/Bradenton

Turn left at US41 South

7 miles on turn right at Manatee Drive signposted to Anna Maria Island

8 miles turn right at traffic lights onto Gulf Drive (Bank on corner)

Slight left to stay on Gulf Drive North (this runs parallel with the ocean) Sandbar sign posts are on here too.

Turn left at Spring Avenue and the car park is on the left. NB this car park is for patrons of the restaurant only so you won’t be able to stay there if you decide not to eat at the Sandbar.

The food at the Sandbar is mouth-wateringly delicious! The menu is extensive from fabulous fish dishes to club sandwiches and burgers hence catering to most tastes including children.

I enjoyed a lunch of Cajun Shrimp $14. 99 (Sautéed shrimp seasoned with cajun spices, onions and peppers, served over rice) and my husband had Seafood Mar Vista $14. 99 (Sautéed shrimp, scallops, and fresh fish with garlic herb butter, white wine, mushrooms and artichoke hearts served over linguine). For dessert we had Sinner's Delight $5. 99 Fudge brownie topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, walnuts, and a cherry.

So if you fancy a change from theme parks and shopping head of to Anna Maria Island for a real treat!

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Page added on: 18 July 2007
Viewed 3604 times since 1 September 2008.

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