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Tampa is a short drive to one of the best beach towns in America: Anna Maria Island

a beach resort at sunset with an unground pool in the foreground, and a tiki hut in the distance.
Take in the sunset on Anna Maria Island

Just a short drive from Tampa is Anna Maria Island, recently named one of the best beach towns in America by Thrillist. Travelers can enjoy a scenic ride over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge en route to the sleepy town. Known for its old-Florida charm, the island offers a nostalgic getaway with its sun-faded architecture, quaint ice cream shops, and beachside seafood shacks, according to Thrillist writer Liz Newman.

“Anna Maria is packed with so much old-Florida charm—from its sun-faded architecture and ice cream shops to beachside seafood shacks—it’s essentially a 1950s time warp,” writes Newman.

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Experience beautiful views and great food on Anna Maria Island

Among the highlights on the island is the grouper sandwich at Rod & Reel, which received a special mention for its delightful taste. Additionally, the Sandbar is noted for its inviting atmosphere, contributing to the island’s charming and laid-back vibes.

Anna Maria Island’s recognition as a top beach destination emphasizes that it’s a top-tier escape from our city. Newman also encourages visitors to bike to Bean Point to enjoy a day in the white powder sand.

More must-visit spots on Anna Maria Island: The Doctor’s Office AMI is a hip new craft cocktail bar. The restaurant also offers up chef-prepared bar fare and a chic ambiance unmatched by other bars. If you wake up early enough you can enjoy the sensational cinnamon rolls at Ginny & Jane’s Cafe and Gift Shop. The Donut Experiment is also the perfect little morning shop for kids and adults.

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