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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

{Trip Report} Anna Maria Island

Every August since moving back to Texas, we've taken a family beach vacation. Sometimes it's fairly close to home, other times it's a bit more exotic. People always question why we'd want to go to the beach during the hottest time of the year...but the answer is simple: if I'm going to sweat my face off anyway, I'd rather be doing it in a swimsuit with my feet in the sand!

Besides, any beach is going to be cooler than Texas in August!

We also choose mid-to-late August because the crowds have died down, prices are typically lower, and it gives us a chance to connect as a family before the rush of school begins again. This year's spot came about kind of backwards, since I first stumbled on rock-bottom airfares to Tampa, Florida, then started looking for beach towns in that vicinity.

We've visited several Florida beaches in the past, including Sanibel and Siesta Key, but I wanted something a little rustic and rough-around-the-edges for this trip. My darling friend Jen knew just the spot, since it's where she and her family have been going for years...and Anna Maria Island was just as charming, slow-paced, and beautiful as I'd hoped.

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Anna Maria Island, Florida



We spent our days swimming in the clear-blue waters, playing in the white sand, taking long beach walks, napping, watching movies, exploring the little town, eating big dinners on the deck, and staring at sunsets. Everyone kind of set their own schedule, and we enjoyed time together, and alone. With constant stimulation, it was a blessing for everyone to unplug and live a quieter, slower pace.

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Anna Maria Island, Florida
Swimsuit (similar)

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Anna Maria Island, Florida

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Anna Maria Island, Florida
Swimsuit (similar)

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Anna Maria Island, Florida

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Anna Maria Island, Florida

The icing on this perfect beach escape, was being able to spend part of it with Jen and her precious family! She and I have become close friends over the years #thanksinternet, and have wanted to get our families together for awhile, so I was thrilled we were able to make our schedules overlap!

Our kids are similar ages, and share so many common interests, so we knew they'd hit it off...but had no idea just how well! They had the best time together...freeing us up for some fun of our own. #bonus #popatop

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Anna Maria Island, Florida

Our son enjoyed being around more guys, and her three boys loved having a 'little sister' for a change. Babygirl, of course, gobbled up all the extra attention!

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Anna Maria Island, Florida

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Anna Maria Island, Florida
Swimsuit (similar)

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Anna Maria Island, Florida

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Anna Maria Island, Florida

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Anna Maria Island, Florida

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Anna Maria Island, Florida

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Anna Maria Island, Florida
Romper (similar)

I wonder how much longer I'll be able to carry her? #gulp

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Anna Maria Island, Florida

This big guy tries to carry me now!

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Anna Maria Island, Florida
Favorite Racerback Dress in 'Blue Spectrum' | Straw Hat
Beaded Tassel Bracelets (use code SUGARPLUM & the set is only $20!)

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Anna Maria Island, Florida

Mr. SP joined us for the last half of the week...one of the upsides of cheap, short-haul flights!

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Anna Maria Island, Florida

Have you noticed hats are my saving grace secret weapons for casual trips like these? Not just for shielding my face from the sun, but saving me from fixing my hair! #nohairdryerzone 

Hi Sugarplum | Island Style
Dress (on sale!! Size up 1)Straw Hat | EarringsSunglasses

Honestly, I have no idea how I was blessed with these cuties. Being the mom of such kind and funny humans humbles me, and makes me immensely proud everyday. I'll eat them up, I love them so! #namethatmovie

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Anna Maria Island, Florida


{Where We Stayed}

This was a quirky house, with eclectic decor, but was very comfortable.
You couldn't beat the location on the island (a block from the only grocery store), not to mention,
it's literally sitting in the sand with unobstructed Gulf views from every room.

The deck was a pretty perfect spot for morning coffee and sunset dinners, too!

Travel Tip: Anna Maria has a free, all-day trolley bus that runs the length of the intimate 7-mile island, so you could easily get by with no car!

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Anna Maria Island, Florida

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Anna Maria Island, Florida


{Where We Ate}

We utilized the fully-stocked kitchen and cooked most of our meals,
but ventured out a few times.

Excellent tacos & made-to-order chips. Need I say more?!

Handmade donuts, customized with your choice of topping and frosting!

Old-fashioned ice-cream shop/general store.


Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Anna Maria Island, Florida

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Anna Maria Island, Florida

It's exactly the laid-back, flip-flop, easy-going, no rules kind of place we were looking for, and we savored every second of the precious time together. Thank you, Jen, for sharing your special island with us (and for some of these awesome pics!). We can't wait to do it all over again!

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Anna Maria Island, Florida

Then it was back-to-school for this 4th and 9th grader! #doublegulp Gone are the flip-flops and swimsuits, and out came the school clothes and backpacks. In attempt to stay in our vacation frame-of-mind, they each chose a few new things to wear before we left, which were waiting for us when we arrived home! #thanksnordstrom #freeshippingforpresident Now that's my kind of back-to-school shopping!

Hi Sugarplum | Back to School pics
On Her: Tee (similar) | Leggings | Tennies
On Him: Tee | Shorts | Shoes


Do you have a special beach or Summer spot that's precious to your family? Do you prefer slick or bohemian beach towns? I hope you had an extraordinary Summer, chock full of memories, belly-laughs, and too much ice cream. Happy September, lovebugs!

*See more Travel posts & tips on my Travel Tab.

{Shop More Back-to-School Looks for Her}




{Shop More Back-to-School Looks for Him}






*This post was written in collaboration with Nordstrom, but all clothes, opinions, and frizzy beach hair are my own. Thank you for supporting Hi Sugarplum sponsors!



25 comments:

  1. This beach looks beautiful!!! Going to add this to my list of places to go! I live on the gulf coast but I always love traveling to new beaches :)

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  2. We go to Edisto Beach in SC with my whole family- parents, sister and her husband, their four kids and our family of five. It's just a beach. No hotels; mostly old beach houses. It had a Piggly Wiggly, but it was bought by Bi Lo, which makes me sad. We spend our days out on the beach and compete for the most shark's teeth found. It's the best!

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    Replies
    1. Sounds like perfection! Random side note: one of my high-school jobs was as a Piggly Wiggly checker! ;) xo

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  3. Great family photos, looks like you had a great time. We love Sanibel Island or Captiva in FL too when we want a relaxing island here in the states.

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    Replies
    1. We adore Sanibel and Captiva too!! The shells!!!!!! xoxo

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  4. Your children are so sweet! It looks like an amazing time with your beautiful family!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Leslie...they are my sweet-peas, but also stinkers! ;) xo

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  5. Sounds like a fabulous vacation. And, how fun to share it with sweet Jen and her family.

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  6. I love Anna Maria Island! We have only visited there once but I remember it fondly. The only thing my kids didn't enjoy was that the water was decidedly calm...almost like a lake. They wanted more waves to ride. But we did have fun riding the Gulf on our rented jet skis!

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    Replies
    1. One of the things I like so much about the Gulf, is you never know what the sea will be, or bring, from day to day. We had some days with barely a ripple, and others with waves big enough to ride! Every day is new! :)

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  7. Anna Maria Island is my all time favorite place on Earth! We've been going there for 30 years!! Perfect family vacay spot! Next time try Ginny and Janes! It's an old grocery store converted in to the cutest antique/gift store with a deli and to die for cinnamon rolls :)

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    Replies
    1. Sounds darling, and so yummy! I'll def add that to my list for next time! xo

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  8. I love this! That picture of your kids in the ocean is my favorite! Such joy. And that island looks so dreamy!

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  9. I live right down the interstate from Anna Maria- I love it so! Glad you has such a great time :)

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  10. Wow!!! Looks like a fabulous trip!!!

    Mindy

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  11. How cute are you and Jen and all those kiddos! It's like my interwebs just exploded! :) Sounds like a perfect spot for a laid back beach vacation!!

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  12. Those pictures are so precious! What a fun place to visit! And I cannot believe school is already two weeks in. Ahh!

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  13. WOW!!!!! It looks like y'all had an AMAZING time!!!!!!! Beautiful pics!!!!

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  14. going on my list! we stayed at destin/ft.walton this summer and it was great. my other to go soon place is Watercolor, FL, my friend just got back. I luv Galveston I really do and u cant beat my 2 hr commute but the water is just a sticking pt for me. did yall have to rent a car to get there from the airport to the island?

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  15. Loved reading this and daydreaming about going back. Maybe we should head back again over Christmas break and spring break and next summer break... ;D I am already missing all of you! (and those donuts!)

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  16. What a gorgeous vacation. I don't mind hitting up the beach in August either. And, your kids are getting so BIG! Especially your son, he looks like he has put on a lot of height this summer!!

    Carrie
    curlycraftymom.com

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  17. We love Navarre Beach, FL. We go with a group of friends each year - this year was our 8th! There is a campground called Emerald Beach RV Park that sits on the Santa Rosa Sound. There is a private beach and we always get the sites that back up to the beach. I'm not a huge fan of swimming in the Gulf so it's perfect!!

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  18. I have been here and I second that it's the most relaxing beach I've ever been to! The whole town is so beachy in a non touristy way. GORGEOUS!

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  19. Ahh! I know exactly where you stayed. My grandparents own a condo right across the street, and we try to visit them every year. Lots of memories. :-) I've always wondered if that house is a quirky inside as it is out!

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    Replies
    1. That is so cool, Abby....such a small world, right?!?! Maybe I'll see you there sometime! I can't wait to go back! xo

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Your comments are like popcorn with milk duds, I just can't quit them. Thanks for taking the time to share your positive thoughts! xoxo, cass

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