MIA in the AMI: Why You Need to Visit Florida's Best Beach

Have you ever fantasized about the perfect beach vacation? Of course you have because, well, who hasn’t? Anna Maria Island, located off the Gulf of Mexico, is here to let you live out all of your wildest beach fantasies. Lucky for me, I’ve had the opportunity to visit this amazing place every year for as long as I can remember. AMI is my second home. Most of my childhood memories take place on the island, so it will always hold a special place in my heart - which is why I’m biased when I say that Anna Maria Island is Florida’s best beach, but believe me, it is.

Courtesy: Isabella Cassese

As soon as you cross the bridge and make it onto the Island, the vibe shifts completely. You are now on island time, which is hands down the best time to be on. Whenever I first arrive, the first thing I do is roll down all my car’s windows and blast “Island in the Sun” by Weezer as the ocean breeze floods into my car. Every time I hear that song, I’m taken back to my relaxing days at the beach.

Courtesy: Isabella Cassese

The Gulf of Mexico itself is beautiful, but when its water combines with the soft, white sand found on Anna Maria Island beaches, it only gets better. In my opinion, there is never a bad time to go to the beach, especially when you are in Florida. The water seems to be the perfect temperature, no matter what the season is. Whether it’s a hot summer day or a breezy day in December, there are always people lounging out in the sand or splashing in the ocean. The calming atmosphere is one of the reasons why Anna Maria is Florida’s best beach.

AMI also welcomes a wide range of people to its beaches. There is something for everyone, old or young. Most of the people who inhabit the island are your typical beachgoers. Since the island is so small, Anna Maria is a very close-knit community. As the years have gone by, I’ve met a variety of local people who are some of the kindest and most welcoming people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. Not only is the beach beautiful, but so are the people.

Courtesy: Olivia Cassese

If your dream beach vacation doesn’t necessarily include just laying out or playing in the ocean waves, there are plenty of other activities to do. Located only twelve miles from the Island is St. Armands Circle, home of numerous shops and restaurants that are to die for. One of my favorite stores that can be found at St. Armands Circle is Shore. If you’re looking for the perfect beach outfit or bikini, this is the place to go. Although it tends to be pricey, it’s definitely worth the walkthrough. Not only is Shore a shop, but it is also a restaurant. After picking out your new outfit, you can grab a bite to eat or enjoy a cocktail or two if you’re of age. There are also several local shops and restaurants located on the actual Island, which will make your vacation one of a kind, as most chain stores and restaurants are not permitted on the island. This will allow you to have the most authentic beach vacation as possible - again making Anna Maria Island the best beach in Florida.

Courtesy: Olivia Cassese

We’re missing one important aspect of the perfect beach vacation - the sunsets. Never in my life have I seen a sunset more beautiful than the ones at the Anna Maria Island beaches. The sunsets are so amazing that my sisters and I make it our priority to watch it every night, no matter what the circumstances. A local restaurant, The Sandbar, allows its patrons to win a complimentary bottle of champagne if they can accurately guess the time the sun will set. Pictures can’t even do these sunsets justice. To get the full experience, one needs to witness the sunset in real-time. AMI sunsets are real-life paintings, with colors ranging from light purple, pink, blue and orange.

Anna Maria Island is hands down Florida’s best beach. It offers you more than just your typical beach vacation, but one that will last you a lifetime. I know this from personal experience. If you are looking for the perfect beach vacation, you’ve finally found it.

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