Anna Maria Island is a beautiful and relaxing beach town on the west coast of Florida with plenty to offer any road trip. Vacationers often make the two-hour trek to Orlando to enjoy the city life and amusement parks. Rather than heading straight for Orlando, you can stop at a few notable locations along the way.
Grab Food To-Go and Visit the Riverwalk
When leaving Anna Maria Island, stop at the Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe for a to-go meal on the road before heading out on Florida-64 to US-41 in Bradenton. While in Bradenton, you could do some sightseeing along the Manatee River and the downtown riverwalk at Rossi Park.
You could even stop by the Bradenton beach for some fun in the sun. With its clear water, Bradenton beach overlooks the Gulf of Mexico and is one of the most picturesque beaches in the area.
Don’t forget your swimwear as the park features a splash pad and shopping area. The area can get a little hot and humid, so forget to grab some ice cream to cool off when you aren’t enjoying the water.
Drop Some Change in Tampa
Eventually, the Tamiami Trail takes you to I-275 and I-75 near Tampa. Before making the turn to I-4 East, take I-4 West to visit the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa bay. The casino offers all of the popular table games and slots, which makes for a bit of excitement on the way to Orlando.
History in Lakeland
After you’ve reached your limit at the casino, hop on I-4 East and head toward Lakeland. Several lakes surround the small town, but that’s not the most notable feature of the city along with Lake Parker.
It’s the home of Tigertown, where the Detroit Tigers visit for Spring Training. They’ve been playing in Lakeland since 1934, and their Low-A team plays there during the MLB season. No other MLB team has had a long relationship with a Spring Training venue other than the Tigers and Lakeland.
Celebrate with Some Golf
Before you get to Orlando, take a golf break in Celebration. Disney built this quaint city with friendly streets and convenient shopping. Celebration also has a golf course that gives you a great view of the perfectly manicured neighborhood.
Shopping in Kissimmee
Kissimmee is another popular destination on the way to Orlando. It’s the home of Disney World, but it has a few other worthwhile stops, like Old Town and the Fun Spot. You can ride the go-carts or slingshots at the Fun Spot, and you can shop the old-timey main street at Old Town. Time it right, and you might catch the car shows, where vintage car owners show off their prizes.
Get to the Big Parks
It isn’t a trip to Orlando if you don’t visit at least one of the big amusement parks. Disney World makes it home at the southwestern end of Orlando in an area called Lake Buena Vista. If you head northeast on I-4, you’ll eventually reach the exits for SeaWorld and finally Universal Studios.
If you only plan on a day trip, the best stop is Disney Springs. This amusement and shopping area is free and filled with fun. You can go bowling, take in a movie, and eat everything from vegan baked goods at Erin McKenna’s Bakery to pulled pork at The Polite Pig. You can shop at Alex & Ani, the Coca-Cola Store, or several large Disney-themed shops. There are plenty of must-see theme parks in the area.
There is so much to do during your island vacation in the state of Florida, and with so much within driving distance, why wouldn’t you want to plan your next family vacation here. A true weekend getaway is just waiting for you.