Cocktail Hopping on Anna Maria Island: Where to Go

The beach and cocktails go hand in hand, and on Anna Maria Island there’s no shortage of places to stop and drink a tropical concoction while taking in the ocean views and relishing in the gentle sea breeze. I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite stops below for the perfect beach day spent soaking up the sun and cocktail hopping.

Note: All of these suggestions are restaurants, but all have bar areas if you’re just stopping in for a drink. Although if you’re hungry, I gladly recommend any of these stops for food as well. Read more about food options on Anna Maria Island here.

Pro tip: Park your car in any of the public parking areas, then ride the trolley to all of these stops. I recommend parking near the Cortez bridge, as that’s where the Kokonut Hut is.

Stop 1: The Kokonut Hut

This was one of the first places I discovered on the island – the large palapa and beachfront tiki tables were practically screaming my name. Now it’s one of my favorite spots to grab a drink (pictured in the above image) and watch the world go by. If you want the ultimate beach experience, definitely stop in for a drink at the very least, and stay for lunch if they aren’t too busy. Service can be spotty but I’ve never had bad food, and the vibe is awesome! Tip: Definitely check in inside with a hostess and get seated if you’d like full service or aren’t just sitting at the bar.

Vibe: Quintessential tiki bar
Drink to try: Key Lime Colada, or the Island Mule
Happy hour: Monday – Thursday from 3-6pm in the bar area only. $3 domestic drafts, $4 margaritas, well cocktails, and house wine.

Cocktail Hopping on Anna Maria Island: Where to Go
Frozen Mango Margarita at Wicked Cantina

Stop 2: Wicked Cantina

You all already known how much I love Wicked Cantina (I just can’t shut up about it — go visit them). While they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner I always end up here around lunch time. After an early afternoon drink at Kokonut Hut, all you have to do is walk across the street to this cozy tex-mex spot. If it’s a nice day, definitely sit outside to enjoy lunch and drinks. The mango margaritas are out of this world – not too sweet, price point is right (under $8), and they’re just boozy enough.

Vibe: Tacos & chill
Drink to try: Frozen Mango Margarita
Happy hour: 12-6pm daily. They also have a great bar snacks menu!

Cocktail Hopping on Anna Maria Island: Where to Go
Mango mojito at Sandbar

Stop 3: Sandbar Restaurant

There are several places to dine directly on the beach on the island, but Sandbar Restaurant is my favorite so far. Out back, you can snag a table in the sand and kick your shoes off while watching the sunset and enjoying your meal. And when it comes to drinks, each is well-crafted and delicious. I especially love the mojitos.

Vibe: Toes in the sand
Drink to try: Mango Mojito or Dark n’ Stormy (made as it should be with Gosling’s)
Happy hour: n/a

Cocktail Hopping on Anna Maria Island: Where to Go
The Waterfront Restaurant

Stop 4: Waterfront Restaurant

Upon first glance, the Waterfront Restaurant may look a bit fancy. But don’t be fooled. While the setting is noticeably more upscale than your typical waterfront eatery, it’s far from snooty. If you’re hungry, the food is great and there’s plenty of outdoor seating. The much coveted front deck fills up quickly! This stop is conveniently located near the City Pier, so you can walk off some of the calories afterwards. Now – on to drinks. This is one of the few places on the island where I’ve seen an actual craft cocktail menu. Sure, most have a tropical twist, but still…it’s a nice change up if you’ve been drinking sweet and fruity concoctions all day. They also have a great craft beer selection featuring some local breweries.

Vibe: Unstuffy upscale
Drink to try: 1944 Mai Tai
Happy hour: n/a, but you can check out the drink menu here.

Cocktail Hopping on Anna Maria Island: Where to Go
Homemade grapefruit mojito

Stop 5: Make your own!

Beach cocktails don’t come cheap, and while I’m willing to pay the price, there’s nothing wrong with a little pre-gaming (or post) at your own place. On my most recent visit, my grandma, sister, and I went to work in the kitchen and made our own mojitos. After a little sleuthing online for a good recipe and a few test runs, we ended up with some pretty perfect grapefruit mojitos, which paired wonderfully with watching the sunset. Here’s a link to a good recipe, but if you’d like to make it know that we chose to double the juices and used simple syrup instead of sugar.

Vibe: Save dat money (link goes to my favorite music video, but fyi – it’s NSFW)
Drink to try: Whatever you can dream up with the ingredients you’ve got on hand
Happy hour: Whenever you want!

Other places to consider:
• The Beach House – Located close to the Kokonut Hut. They’re doing some major deck renovations, but the food and drinks are great!
• Freckled Fin – I haven’t been yet, but it’s on my list. I hear they have a decent beer selection.
• Bridge Tender Inn – This spot is tucked away on Bridge St. and service can be slow if they’re busy, but they have a great outdoor bar right by the water.
• City Pier – For a cheap beer while people-watching and dolphin spotting.

Steph’s Taco Blog: Tako Cheena in Mills50 (Orlando)

Admittedly, I kind of have some beef with fast casual taco joints. In my experience, they can be super hit or miss. It’s a disappointment to go running for a taco stand only to end up with a sad, floppy taco with too much sauce and not enough filling in a sloppy flour tortilla. But then there are true hits, where fast meets fresh, and counter ordering doesn’t translate to depressing tacos. Tako Cheena in the Mills50 district is firmly in the latter category; a true hit and one I’ll return to next time I’m in the area.

The Mills50 district is one of my favorite nooks of Orlando. It’s the perfect mix of hip and urban, with street art adorning the buildings and affordable, quality eats found at every turn. Locals describe this area, among others, as the real Orlando, and I tend to agree. Venture slightly away from the theme parks and tourist hot spots, and you’ll find a community-oriented culinary scene thriving in and around the heart of downtown Orlando.

Tako Cheena is located amidst all the action. While the current location can be easily missed the first time you drive by, it’s worth locating this hole-in-the-wall taco spot best described as Latin-Asian fusion. Continue reading “Steph’s Taco Blog: Tako Cheena in Mills50 (Orlando)”

Fuck Fear, Take the Leap

It all started with a ladder, deep in a cave in Belize, in 2015.

Having swum my way into a cave once used by the ancient Maya, scrambling my way up and down rocks, and wading through ankle deep water, I, along with the rest of the tour group, found myself standing in front of a ladder set against a tall rock cave wall. It was to serve as our mode of transportation to the cave chamber above housing a fully intact crystallized human skeleton.

For some reason, I became overwhelmed with fear. Yet I had no choice but to climb.

I made it to the top and forgot my momentary panic as I looked on in awe at Mayan pottery and a human skeleton perfectly preserved in the cave floor. Then it was time to come back down… Continue reading “Fuck Fear, Take the Leap”