OK, Anna Maria Island isn’t South Beach or Miami. The island is marvelously free of fast cars, unruly crowds, and pretentiousness found in so many other south Florida cities. This extends to the nightlife as well. There are no flashy clubs with thumping bass and lines of the scantily clad praying for V.I.P entry.
I have to admit that when it comes to nightlife, Anna Maria Island initially had me in a panic. I expected the island to be completely abandoned at night, forcing me back into my luxury vacation rental accommodation with my beach paperback for company. But what I learned is that nightlife, just like everything else on Anna Maria Island, is unique.
Although the common local expression is “the sidewalks roll up at 11 P.M.,” that doesn’t mean that the island is a barren wasteland when it comes to nightlife. On the contrary, I discovered many ways to fill my evenings after the sun went down. There are plenty of beach bars and local lounges and pubs that offer great after-dark entertainment.
Here are a few of my favorites:
The type of music offered on the island depends greatly on the venue. The 4 Aces Lounge in Bradenton is the closest thing to a club on Anna Maria Island, and it’s also one of the best places for live performances. 4 Aces features local, regional, and national acts, and the music varies from blues and rock to funk, country, and jazz. Past performers have included Charles Duarte, The Nighthawks, and Ana Popovic, among many others. I, for one, love the convenience of 4 Aces. Their kitchen is open late seven nights a week, which means you can indulge in their pizzas or featured Italian dishes before a show so you won’t be starving during a performance. Brilliant.
Sharky’s Seagrill in Bradenton features guitarists and vocalists from 7 to 11 P.M. on Friday and Saturday evenings, while the Sandbar Waterfront Restaurant books live entertainment every night of the week. The Beach House restaurant also offers live music for its diners and bar guests.
The island’s pubs often offer a great selection of live music, as well, though the atmosphere is decidedly different than at the many restaurants featuring live performers. Banana Cabana in Bradenton offers quite a mish mash of island life, entertainment, and humor all rolled into one (bright banana yellow) venue. Don’t be fooled by its shanty appearance. This Caribbean restaurant and tiki bar turns into quite the hot spot on Friday and Saturday nights when they offer live music along with their seafood and grilled fare.
The Lost Kangaroo Pub in Bradenton should be visited primarily for its 39 draft beers, but there’s plenty of live music to enjoy on weekends as well.
Another nighttime entertainment spot that I happen to adore is D.coy Ducks in Holmes Beach. They feature acoustic music every Wednesday night and live music until 1:30 A.M. on Friday and Saturday nights. And that’s in addition to happy hour most nights of the week, and poker until midnight on Mondays and Tuesdays. This is easily the best venue for hearing local bands, so be sure to check their calendar to see who’s up next.
The nightlife in Anna Maria Island is just one more aspect of the island that makes it the perfect place for unwinding by day and night, be it on a pier, a restaurant, or a beer garden. One can’t but help but love it.
To plan your vacation to glorious Anna Maria Island, visit http://www.annamaria.com to book your luxury vacation rental accommodation.