Robert Harding World Imagery / Alamy

A charming Floridian island along the Gulf of Mexico.

Travel + Leisure
August 17, 2012

Past the industrial fruit juice-making town of Bradenton, you’ll find a clutch of beautiful hidden beaches and stoplight-free Anna Maria Island. It’s a quiet escape where days are spent sunbathing on soft sand, sipping chilly cocktails on the boardwalk, and tucking into fresh seafood on the deck of a waterfront restaurant as the sun sets. If you’re looking for nightlife, head into nearby Bradenton or Sarasota.

Sandbar Restaurant

Sprawling from the street out onto the beach, this century-old spot serves surprisingly upscale food like sesame-crusted tuna.

The Waterfront Restaurant

The restaurant is housed in a rebuilt historic cottage gutted by fire five years ago; the menu’s heavy on fish, of course—try the Gulf Coast sampler, groaning with scallops, grouper, shrimp, and crab cake.

Sunrise Garden Resort

The Thai-accented property features 16 suite-size rooms kitted out in dark wooden Asian furniture, pool, and patio for lounging—there’s even a “spirit house” to amp up the resort’s good vibes

Coquina Beach

Thanks to its gentle currents, the beach is a popular and lively spot, especially on weekends. For seclusion, head to the gorgeous white-yellow sands of Long Boat Key.

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