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October 2003

Tropic Isle Inn
101 22nd Street
Anna Maria Island, FL 34217
800-883-4092

Tropic Isle Inn Home Page

Welcome to www.weloveourlife.com. This is our page dedicated to our experiences while staying at the Tropic Isle Inn on Anna Maria Island, Florida.

This was the second of a two-part vacation for us. To read about the first part of our trip click here.

Our Pictures


Accommodations Amenities Food Bar/Lounge Service Attractions Dining Nightlife Weather Tips



Accommodations

We spoiled ourselves by renting the Penthouse, billed as the inn’s premier accommodations. Since we were visiting in the off-season during the fall (the most inexpensive time of the year for the inn), we actually found the rate for this unit to be a good value. The Penthouse was beautiful, spotless, and it was obvious the finest materials were used.

The first floor was one large room with a full kitchen (complete with full-size fridge with icemaker), all necessary kitchen accessories, a whitewashed wood table and chairs, breakfast bar, and stools. At the other end of the large room was the living area, complete with cheery flowered cushions on wicker furniture and a large TV with cable. The floor was tile with a beautiful custom design. There was a covered porch on the first floor furnished with wicker chairs.

The open wood stairs led to the second floor, with fine hardwood floors in a light color. Glass block is used on the second floor to let in light, yet keep private. There are two bedrooms with queen beds with a large bathroom inbetween. We slept in one room and kept our suitcases in the other. The bathroom had more custom tile, a large whirlpool tub and separate shower. There was a large verandah upstairs (with French doors leading from each bedroom) that provided a view of the Gulf of Mexico.

The upper deck was furnished with more than enough chairs for lounging. The pictures on the website are extremely accurate. The accommodations were breathtaking yet extremely comfortable.

Resort Amenities

Tropic Isle has a nice pool in a courtyard surrounded by flowering plants and trees. It is a beautiful and calming place to while away a sunny afternoon. There is a grass court for bocce or croquet. There is also a guest laundry.

The inn's website states that it does not allow children under the age of 12; however, there were some young children staying at the inn while we were there. Perhaps this policy is relaxed in the off-season. If this is a concern for you, you may want to discuss it when making reservations.

Resort Food

The resort does not have a restaurant but there is one particularly nice feature – late every afternoon complimentary wine and cheese is served in the large gazebo adjacent to the pool. The wine and cheese social lasts an hour. We’d know the spread was ready when a bell was rung, and late in the day, like trained dogs, we would head for the gazebo, where we would relax with some wine (both red and white) while nibbling on cheese and crackers. It is a nice touch.

Resort Bar/Lounge

There is no bar (we brought our own), but wine and cheese is provided (see above).

Resort People/Service

The guy who checked us in seemed to be on duty 24 hours a day. We would see him straightening up the pool area first thing in the morning, checking in newly arrived guests in the afternoon, and serving the wine and cheese later. He was very pleasant and accommodating and seemed to enjoy his job.

Area/Attractions

Our hosts on Siesta Key (where we were previous to Tropic Isle) described Anna Maria Island as “beachy,” which is a very apt description. It is a beautiful, quiet, almost undiscovered island and we fell in love with it. There are large, clean, sandy beaches full of shells (we spent some time walking on the beach). There were no high-rises on the island; the tallest building we saw was about three stories. Similarly, we didn’t see any neon. Many of the buildings were what may be described as plantation-style. The island was extremely clean and pristine and it was apparent owners took great pride in their dwellings and guests respected the area. A major attraction is the sunset over the Gulf. The sunsets were – we felt – even better than we saw in Key West! Anna Maria being a barrier island, most of the activity is centered around swimming, sunning, fishing, and boating. We pretty much opted for swimming and sunning!

Dining

Old Hamburg Schnitzelhaus – 3246 East Bay Drive, Bradenton Beach, FL 941-778-1320
We had a good German meal at the Schnitzelhaus. It is in a shopping center right in the middle of Anna Maria Island (there is a Publix grocery store located in the shopping center), only a few blocks from where we were staying. The owners are a German couple: he tends bar and she is the chef. There was some excellent German wheat beer on tap. We split some potato pancakes, and each had some schnitzel (there were about a dozen different kinds of schnitzel made fresh on the premises). The dining room and bar is decorated with German memorabilia. There were some German patrons clearly enjoying the company and the food. We love German food and can’t really get it locally, so whenever we see a German restaurant when we are traveling, we generally try to have a dinner there. If you love German food, this place is a must. As a plus, the price for our dinner was extremely reasonable – the most inexpensive we had while on our trip!

Gulf Drive Café – 900 Gulf Drive, Bradenton Beach, FL 941-778-1919
Gulf Drive Cafe Home Page
This is a family restaurant on the beach. There is a covered porch area directly on the beach (there may be a wait for these seats) or inside dining. We had a breakfast at the Gulf Drive. It is somewhat retro in décor and we could compare it to a classy diner. Our breakfasts were decent the service was attentive, friendly, and fast.

Waterfront Restaurant – 111 South Bay Blvd., Anna Maria Island, FL 941-778-1515
This restaurant is up towards the north end of the island and sits just across the street from the bay, looking towards Tampa. There is indoor dining as well as dining on a covered porch. We had breakfast here one morning. It was good, but the service was extremely slow. This is not the place to go if you’re in a hurry.

Beachhouse Restaurant – 200 Gulf Drive, Bradenton Beach, FL 941-779-2222
Beachhouse Restaurant Home Page
Our second evening on Anna Maria Island, we made it to the Beachhouse Restaurant, only a short drive from our inn. It was a beautiful, cloudless day with low humidity and we were expecting a wonderful sunset, so we wanted to be sure we were somewhere we could take in the sunset. We were not disappointed. There is plenty of seating outside and lots of seating inside as well. We sat at a table overlooking the beach and the Gulf that was covered. We started with margaritas and appetizers (shrimp cocktail, steamed clams, and spinach artichoke dip). We wanted to take our time and our server did not rush us. We later moved on to entrees: Keith had the blackened swordfish (the first time he tried swordfish) and Lori had blackened scallops. The spices used for the blackening were complex and flavorful.

The Beachhouse offers its diners the opportunity to guess at the time of the sunset (hour, minute, and second) and the table who guesses closest to the actual time of the sunset gets a free bottle of champagne. Alas, we did not win, but we had a great time. So good, in fact, we returned the next night for another spectacular sunset. We ate outside again but this time over near the entertainment (a guy singing and playing acoustic guitar; the night before the singer had had a keyboard). We started again with margaritas, and had appetizers of peal-and-eat shrimp and sunset chicken. Keith had Chicken Marvista (blackened and served over pasta in a garlic sauce with roasted red peppers) and Lori had two wonderful sautéed crab cakes. We split a bottle of wine with dinner because – alas – we did not guess the correct sunset time again. No matter; the setting and experience were wonderful.

Sandbar Restaurant – 100 Spring Avenue, Anna Maria Island, FL 941-778-0444
Sandbar Restaurant Home Page
We visited the Sandbar Restaurant on a beautiful, sun-filled day for lunch. We were the first patrons there and were rewarded with a table outside, right next to the beach, overlooking the Gulf. This restaurant is much like the Beachhouse (and we believe the owners are the same), yet it is also different. We contented ourselves with a couple of Coronas each and some wonderful cheeseburgers, enjoyed at a leisurely pace as we soaked up the sun and the relaxing ambiance of the unspoiled beach.

OK, we liked the whole beach restaurant setting so much that we went back for dinner our last evening on the island. It was a Friday and crowded, as there was also a wedding party present, so we had a table that didn’t have the best view – but we were still outside and could see the sunset, so we were happy. We again started off with some margaritas and appetizers. The entertainer this evening was superior, playing acoustic guitar and singing some more obscure songs. Again, we didn’t win the bottle of champagne by guessing the correct sunset time, so we bought our own bottle and enjoyed our last dinner of the trip outside along the water.

Nightlife

Most of the nightlife on this little island surrounds the breathtaking sunsets. There are bands that do play in the bars, but the overwhelming trend seems to be towards acoustic entertainment.

If you’ve read any of our other pages on this website, you’ll know that Lori is a karaoke buff, and she was saving up her voice for our last night on the island, as we had learned of a place that had karaoke: Sharky’s Steak & Seagrill, located at 2519 Gulf Drive North, Bradenton Beach, FL 941-779-9151. It was very close to where we were staying. This is a restaurant as well, but we didn’t actually eat anything – we were simply there to sip beverages and sing karaoke. This place is tavern-like and has a lot of wood inside. The karaoke-meister was English and had an excellent voice when he wasn’t singing things like “Volare.” This place was the epitome of karaoke bar, which is OK – we like that. We both got up and sang something like 10 times that night and had a blast, which was a good way to end our vacation.

Weather

We chose to visit Florida in mid-October, one of the nicest times of year in this part of Florida. For the most part, hurricane season is over, and the heat from the summer months has burned off. Daytime highs are in the 80s and it can dip down into the 60s at night. We took sweatshirts although we never actually used them. There were some clouds and a few sprinkles, but it was mostly sunny and nice the few days we were on Siesta Key.

Tips/Suggestions

There is a free trolley on Anna Maria Island, but we found it so easy to get around (there aren’t that many roads) that we drove. The trolley didn’t run too late so it wouldn’t have been convenient for us. For those of you who don’t smoke, you’ll be happy to know that all Florida restaurants are now non-smoking (although you can smoke if you are dining outside). It was so nice to go sing karaoke at a bar and not reek of smoke afterwards!