Rainy Day Magic on Anna Maria Island

While everyone expects clear skies and days filled with sunshine, every now and then the weather might not fully cooperate with your vision of the perfect beach vacation. Don’t fret. We have you covered.

While it’s tempting to give you a list of bowling alleys and laser tag outlets, we’re proud to use this space to profile truly world-class attractions that shouldn’t be missed, rain or shine, that are sure to please the crowd from young to old!

Given the high bar, the following “chart topper” shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Mote Marine Laboratory

1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, FL 34236

As its name suggests, Mote Marine promises to enrich amidst all the fun. Located on the northern tip of Lido Key just one mile from St. Armand’s Circle, this attraction has been conducting ground-breaking research since 1955 and fully embraces its vision, “We are guardians of the sea and all living things that depend upon it.”

A working aquarium gives visitors an up-close experience with a variety of marine animals and fish, including two touch tanks and a 135,000 gallon shark habitat. You can also witness their scientific research—as it happens—in viewable working laboratories. Be sure to say “Hi” to some of their star residents like the manatees, Hugh and Buffett, and the sea turtles, Hang Tough, Harry, Shelley, Montego and Squirt 2. More than 100 species of marine life call Mote their home, and you can meet them all.

Plan Your Anna Maria Island Vacation

See all the amazing sea creatures at the aquarium on Anna Maria Island/ Contact MAinsail to book your vacation today!

While the aquarium features a plethora of experiences including eco-tours, science cafes and programs, our favorite has to be the Shark Encounter. You can be chef to the sharks and find out how they get their vitamins during a behind-the-scenes program atop the 135,000-gallon shark habitat in Mote Aquarium. Up to three guests may join Mote staff to prepare brunch for sharks and large fish, including blacknose, nurse and sandbar sharks, southern stingrays, tarpon, snook, goliath grouper and more. Guests will learn about shark biology, care, feeding and research from elasmobranch specialists. Participants in the Shark Encounter will help Mote’s aquarium biologists feed the sharks during their public narrated training session — a special program where sharks are trained to swim toward patterned targets to receive their food. How cool is that? Insider’s Tip: This has to be booked in advance!

Exclusive to visitors of Mote Marine, the Deep Sea Diner offers al-fresco dining or inside the casual, retro ’50s-style diner, complete with an old-fashioned soda fountain. The lively café features a fun, affordable, family-style menu.