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LindainOhio Apr 23rd, 2012 01:52 PM

First Trip to Anna Maria Island
We had a great time on Anna Maria Island. The beach is beautiful and it was 85 degrees and sunny everyday except Thursday.

My husband and I actually drove to Florida; something we haven't done in 25 years. We flew our 2 children down (they are 29 and 31 now---oh my--and still single). Our daughter lives in Chicago and our son lives in Columbus. We had a great time.

We stayed at Anna Maria Island Club in a 2br/2ba condo. It was great to have morning coffee on the balcony and be greeted every morning with that fabulous view of the beach and the gulf. We spent most of our time on that balcony; ate our meals, checked email, had our happy hours and watched a few sunsets.

This trip was all about relaxing. We started our morning on the balcony, walked the beach every morning, had breakfast, took chairs and the umbrella to the beach, read, slept, chilled at the beach, had lunch on the balcony, back to the beach or pool, happy hour, and then out to dinner........then repeated that daily.

My husband did hit a few golf balls at the driving range but never did play a round of golf.

On Thursday, we kayaked through the Robinson Preserve. What a special place the preserve is! We paddled through a mangrove tunnel and then followed the waterway map to the tower. I had only kayaked once before on the Cuyahoga River; our kids had never kayaked. It was really enjoyable. I would have loved to have ridden bikes or even walked through the trails. We didn't realize until Thursday that you could access the trails from Manatee Blvd.

We enjoyed the casual restaurants on Anna Maria--so many are on the water and so many seemed to have nightly entertainment. We were totally surprised to walk by the Bridgetender and see Bridget's Cross from Cleveland there performing. We are Irish Festival groupies and they are regular performers at our area festivals.

We ate dinner at:
The Bridgetender
Bridge Street Bistro--actually we ate downstairs at Island Time--I thought we were at Bridge Street Bistro--didn't realize that was upstairs
The Gulf Drive Cafe
Star Fish Company in Cortez
Ordered pizza and salad from Omas

We tried to eat at Rod and Reel. We stopped by one evening and the dock was just packed with people waiting to eat, the wait was estimated at about an hour. We left that night but went back our last night because it was actually the one place I really wanted to eat. We waited about 45 minutes and got seated at about 8:45. We sat at an outside table under the lighted OPEN sign. There were bugs that were swarming the sign, knocking themselves out when they hit the glass and landing on our table. They were cleaning off a table inside and we asked if we could move inside. I guess they must have had a bad night because they told us this was Florida, they have bugs and no we couldn't move inside. (We live with Ohio mosquitos, we camp, we know bugs.)They suggested I carry the bug wipes in my purse and told us that if we wanted to sit inside we would have to go back down and get in line and then they could possibly seat us inside. We were nice when we asked. I didn't ask why they wouldn't move us--the table was empty, we hadn't touched anything on our table. I guess they have a policy--they didn't say that, or maybe they were tired of people complaining, or maybe they didn't like us. We decided to leave---there was only one other group on the dock waiting to be seated.

Other than our experience at Rod and Reel, we enjoyed our first visit to Anna Maria Island. It was affordable, relaxing and the weather really cooperated.

emalloy Apr 23rd, 2012 04:04 PM

Sorry your meal at Rod and Reel was a bust, but it sounds like a nice trip in any case. Thanks for reporting.

go_laura Apr 23rd, 2012 06:02 PM

Thanks for reporting, as we're considering Anna Maria Island for a future trip. We went to Sanibel in March and loved it, but dh would like to try somewhere a little closer to Clearwater, as we are Phillies fans(trying hard to stay optimistic :-)

mabella101 Apr 24th, 2012 02:10 AM

I too fell in love with Anna Maria Island. It was my first vacation where the goal was to relax. My first day there I wanted to pull my hair out. How was I going to spend a week with 'nothing' to do? Well let me tell you the sand won me over. It was so amazing/ peaceful / relaxing / beautiful.
So glad the weather cooperated with you.

LindainOhio Apr 24th, 2012 04:15 AM

We have visited Sanibel many times over the last 30 years and love it there. The lodging has gotten really expensive though in high season so this year we looked at other beaches. Rental rates for a gulf view condo on Sanibel have gotten really pricey, so we either get a condo with peek-a-boo view or a bay view. My husband and daughter also want a pool.

There are a lot of places to stay in Anna Maria that have the gulf view we want for under $2000 a week. The condo we rented at Anna Maria Island Club was very well maintained but had not been updated like a lot of the other units in the complex. It did not have granite countertops and new cabinets but it was very clean, very well equipped, had a washer and dryer, and a fabulous view. I always check out the outside space when looking at lodging since we generally spend most of our time outside. The condo was well represented by the pictures on VRBO. The rental cost of this unit was also less than some other units there. Total rental cost with tax was $1450 for the 2br/2ba. That's a very reasonable high season rate.

Shelling is not like Sanibel but the soft, powdery sand beach is really beautiful. Our favorite beaches in Florida are the Beaches of 30A near Destin on the panhandle but this beach is really lovely. The panhandle high season is actually summer but we love late spring and fall there. With fall travel though you always have the hurricane possibility.

We usually head to Florida in February and Anna Maria is just a bit farther north. This year, the winter has been warmer in Florida but I know I like to stay no farther north than Naples/Sanibel to make sure we have some warm weather. 2009 and 2010 were even cold in Naples/Sanibel in Feb.

santamonica Jun 16th, 2012 07:29 AM

I'm a tad late catching up to your report. I'm sorry rod n reel didn't work. The kayaking sounds like fun. Did DH win the election?

LindainOhio Jun 16th, 2012 09:12 AM

The kayaking was really enjoyable and we would have liked to have walked the trails or biked in the Preserve. That area is beautiful.

My husband lost by 500 votes--out of 21,000. He had never run before and we worked so hard in Jan. and Feb. for the March 6th primary. We were so devastated. These campaigns take a ton of time and money. I think he would have won if the election would have been held in May. We just needed a little bit more time. We put up over 1500 signs, had 2 fundraisers,hit all the fairs, festivals and political events, and went door to door. The Akron paper wrote wonderful things about him, recommending both candidates but endorsed his opponent noting that the opponent's community service was more diverse --my husband's is primarily faith based. Thanks for asking. This is probably more than you wanted to know.

We are having a much more enjoyable and relaxing summer though--sure beats campaigning. We have company in this weekend and they are all out playing Firestone Country Club. He is heading to Iowa in July to do RAGBRAI---the bike ride across Iowa--sounds horrible to me but he is excited.

santamonica Jun 17th, 2012 03:19 AM

Sorry, but glad to hear the summer is good, and we'll look forward to exploring the Preserve on our next anna maria visit.

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