Area Guide to Anna Maria Island & Bradenton
Anna Maria Island and Bradenton are two of Florida’s hidden treasures, offering visitors a blend of pristine beaches, serene landscapes, and authentic old Florida charm. Anna Maria Island, with its turquoise waters and powdery white sands, evokes a sense of stepping back in time, with quaint beach cottages and a slower pace of life. Bradenton, on the mainland, presents a picturesque downtown area rich in history and arts, surrounded by rivers, parks, and nature preserves, plus it’s just a short drive to Anna Maria Island’s beaches. Visit our Guest Guide for more information on Dining, the Free Island Trolley, What to Pack, and more info on Beach Gear Rentals.
Where are Anna Maria Island and Bradenton?
Anna Maria Island is a barrier island located on the Gulf Coast of Florida spanning approximately seven miles from its northern tip to its southern point. It lies to the west of Bradenton, which is situated in Manatee County. Bradenton is approximately 45 miles south of Tampa and about 20 miles north of Sarasota.
Why do people love visiting Anna Maria Island and Bradenton?
Visitors adore Anna Maria Island for its unspoiled beaches, local seafood eateries, and the absence of high-rises, which maintains its intimate coastal charm. Bradenton attracts tourists with its rich cultural scene, historic landmarks, and beautiful riverwalk. Both areas are a haven for those seeking a more relaxed and genuine Floridian experience, away from the hustle and bustle of the state’s more commercialized destinations.
Things to Do in Anna Maria Island and Bradenton
- Beach Days: Anna Maria Island boasts several beautiful beaches, including Manatee Beach, Coquina Beach, and Bean Point, perfect for sunbathing, shelling, and sunset gazing.
- Village of the Arts: Located in Bradenton, this vibrant community is home to numerous art galleries, studios, and specialty shops, offering an array of local arts and crafts.
- Robinson Preserve: This 600+ acre coastal preserve located in Bradenton provides opportunities for hiking, kayaking, and bird watching.
- Anna Maria Island Historical Society: Discover the island’s rich history through exhibits, including the original city jail.
- Bradenton Riverwalk: A scenic 1.5-mile park alongside the Manatee River, offering recreational activities, a splash pad, and periodic events.
- Dining and Shopping: Both Anna Maria Island and Bradenton offer diverse dining options ranging from seafood shacks to upscale eateries. Local shops provide unique gifts, apparel, and souvenirs.
Weather in Anna Maria Island and Bradenton and the Best Times to Visit
With a tropical climate, Anna Maria Island and Bradenton offer warm temperatures year-round. Summers (June to September) are hot and humid, with frequent afternoon thunderstorms, while winters (December to February) are milder and drier.
The best times to visit are during the spring (March to May) and fall (October to November). These periods offer comfortable temperatures and fewer crowds, making it ideal for beach activities and sightseeing.
Transportation/How to Get to Anna Maria Island and Bradenton
- By Air: The nearest major airport is Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport (SRQ), located just south of Bradenton. Tampa International Airport (TPA) is also a convenient option, roughly an hour’s drive away.
- By Car: Both destinations are easily accessible via major Florida highways, including I-75.
- Local Transportation: The free Anna Maria Island Trolley runs from the Anna Maria City Pier to Coquina Beach. Bradenton has a reliable public transit system managed by MCAT (Manatee County Area Transit).
Explore the sun-kissed shores of Anna Maria Island and the cultural heart of Bradenton. Together, they offer a perfect blend of beach relaxation and inland adventure, making them ideal destinations for a genuine Florida experience.