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We recently spent four nights in Anna Maria Island, Florida due to our friend's wedding taking place there. Neither one of us had ever heard of the place; we were in for a nice surprise! Anna Maria Island is a beautiful island just outside of Tampa. If you search for "Anna Maria Island" on the internet, there is very little information. It is a serene environment that will definitely make you slow down and enjoy your surroundings. That being said, there is plenty of good fun to be had!


Anna Maria Island's residents are insightful and proud of their environment. It is evident they take care of their surroundings, from the sea turtles to the buildings to the architecture. Thanks to them, we were able to enjoy many different activities during this fabulous week. May I suggest just a few:


A sunrise run along the island is a must. I was able to witness a mother dolphin and her babies playing in the water, pelicans soaring along the shore. The beach was striking not only because of the beautiful water and abundance of visual pleasures, but also because the cleanliness and lack of litter is noticeable. There was not a piece of trash, bottle or can in sight along the entire three mile run; what a wonderful example to us all!


Each morning, we visited Minnie's Beach Cafe for breakfast. Minnie's Cafe is a charming hideaway that serves many culinary pleasures. During our time there, we enjoyed spinach and feta omelets, blueberry and strawberry pancakes and many Arnold Palmer's (half iced tea & half lemonade), our favorites. Not only is the food impeccable, the decor is also funky and fun. Minnie's Cafe also offers books that you may "check out" during your stay, for those looking for a quiet way to ease into their morning.


The city of Anna Maria also offers a green day spa, Body & Sol Day Spa. The bride invited all women on vacation to join her at this day spa for manicures before the big day. The spa offers many services, from massages to acupuncture to nails and hair. They pride themselves on their natural and organic services; therefore, no acrylic nails are offered here. Body & Sol uses earth friendly materials for their services, such as salt & sugar scrubs.


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The wedding was held at the beautiful Sandbar, chosen by brides as the best beach side ceremony venue in Florida. The wedding was also an environmentally friendly affair. No programs were handed out, and all materials were reusable and recyclable. The favors consisted of hot sauce in recyclable bottles and the seating assignments were in glass cases which can be used to collect small shells and shark's teeth. The Sandbar staff had the chairs cleaned up off the beach before the pictures were even completed, keeping in mind the health of the sea turtles, as sea turtles can be harmed when objects get in the way of their evening nesting routine.


Just steps from the Sandbar is access to Anna Maria's night life. We enjoyed one venue in particular, Feeling Swell. Feeling Swell is a bar as well as a restaurant, which allows children into the late hours (a must for bridal parties). Feeling Swell offers a varied menu, from simple appetizers to vegetarian burgers. This is a fabulous place to end the evening after a 5:00 wedding.


Anna Maria Island is a haven for couples with busy life styles; if you are looking for a place that will force you to slow down and ignore your computer, this is the place for you