Florida Guide > Places to Visit
Anna Maria Island, Florida
Whether you want to go for a day trip or to relax for a few days and and re-charge your batteries after the Theme Parks Anna Maria Island which is 20 miles southwest of Tampa is an ideal place to do this.
Anna Maria is a narrow scrape of land which nestles on the Gulf of Mexico just below the inlet for Tampa Bay and across the mainland from Bradenton and Cortez. It is tethered to the Florida mainland by three bridges: the Anna Maria Island Bridge at Bradenton, the Cortez Bridge and the Longboat Pass span from the south. The island has approximately 8,500 year-round residents but this figure mushrooms during the tourist seasons. Anna Maria Island is divided among three cities:
- Anna Maria (pop. 1800)
- Holmes Beach (pop. 5000)
- Bradenton Beach (pop. 1700)
You may drive from one to another of the cities not knowing you have crossed city lines. Housing looks alike, commercial areas look much the same, roadways seamlessly mesh and the beaches are ...well ...sandy. They are punctuated by salt grass and sea oats and beach development is minimal because of the loggerhead turtles that nest here from May to September.
There are four well maintained public beaches located along the island, Bayfront Park, Manatee, Cortez and Conquina. Although there are limited facilities on the beach restrooms, café and lifeguards can be found here.
It seems that the residents of this small island (less than 7 miles long) and the city governments all agree that the island's composition should remain the same and various and sundry building codes have prevented heavy or even modest development of the island. You'll not find a tall building anywhere. In fact, if it weren't for spotting newer model cars on the roads you might think you had transported back into the 1950's, 60's or 70's.
Fishing is a very popular pastime on this island and if you wish to fish from the land there are three fishing piers, Anna Maria, Rod and Reel and Bradenton Beach. If you prefer fishing from a boat there are charters available with as many fishing styles as there are fish!
Tennis enthusiasts can play on the Public Courts in Anna Maria or Holmes Beach.
In Bradenton you will find Bollettieri Tennis and Sports Academy where many superstars have trained. Daily and Weekly lessons are available.
As with the rest of Florida there are many golf courses close to Anna Maria and the world famous David Leadbetter Golf Academy is also located in Bradenton.
For lovers of water sports there are sailboat and powerboat rentals including jet skis available by the hour or half day. If you are adventurous enough and want to see Anna Maria from the air there are also para-sail craft for rental.
There is a wide selection of restaurants to suit all tastes with many international cuisines – British, French, German, Italian, Oriental Spanish, not forgetting Southern Florida seafood and spicy Caribbean Sandwiches and you can also get a very good hamburger! The gulf and the bay at Anna Maria provide many natural ingredients including grouper, red snapper, mullet and blue crab. You may choose to dine in air-conditioned picture windows or on outdoor tables, wherever you dine you will enjoy the sights and sounds of this island paradise.
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