Top 5 Sightseeing Activities On Anna Maria Island
Anna Maria Island Beach
Anna Maria Island sightseeing is a unique experience unlike that of any other place in Florida! While plenty of Florida cities and towns are beautiful, there is an old charm about Anna Maria Island you just don’t find anymore. There are no high-rises, parking garages or large chain stores. Anna Maria Island is truly an authentic old Florida vacation destination.
During your visit there are a few spots that you must add to your sightseeing bucket list. Check out the top five sightseeing activities on Anna Maria Island.
Visit the Piers
Anna Maria City Pier
While on Anna Maria Island you must visit at least one of the three piers. Each offers a unique piece of island history, and some great fishing too! On the north end of the island you’ll find the Rod & Reel Pier and the Anna Maria City Pier. Both offer views of Tampa Bay and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. On the south end of the island you’ll find the Bradenton Beach city Pier with views of Sarasota Bay and the coastline of Cortez Fishing Village. Each of the three piers offers dining options, and is the perfect spot to catch sunrise.
The Anna Maria City Jail
Anna Maria City jail
It’s not a visit to the island if you don’t get your picture taken inside the old Anna Maria City Jail. Find it at the Historical Society Museum on Pine Avenue. No roof, no doors, no windows, no bar and no visitors for years and years!
Now a local tourist stop, the Anna Maria City Jail typically was used for overnight stays by “the rowdies” who had too much to drink at the local dance hall. Continue reading “Anna Maria Island Sights” »
On May 13 and 14, the City of Anna Maria is throwing a party to mark the 100-year birthday of the much-loved City Pier. As soon as the festivities are over, an extensive face-lift operation will transform the waterfront and pier entrance in a way that is intended to make the pier even more accessible and attractive to tourists than it is in its current simple state.
Such a marketing effort is in line with the origins of the pier, which was built in 1911 by the founding Bean family, in order to bring rich tourists to the new town of Anna Maria via steamer. The 776-foot-length of the pier was necessary to reach the deep waters needed by large boats.
In her book The Early Days 1893 – 1940, Carolyne Norwood, of the Anna Maria Island Historical Society, explains that George Emerson Bean, his son Will, and their associates had formed the Anna Maria Beach Development Company. They had built 60 homes, a hotel, bathing pavilion, bathhouse, church, school, post office and several stores, in just a few years. Now they wanted to generate some business. After the pier was built, the whole family went to great lengths to entertain those who arrived by boat. Bean’s 10-year-old daughter cruised around the steamers in a little red boat, greeting visitors. Another family member dressed up and told fortunes. A gift shop was opened at the foot of the pier.
Continue reading “Anna Maria Island City Pier Turns 100” »
One of the most enchanting spots on Anna Maria Island is the old City Pier at the end of Pine Street in Anna Maria. The enchantment comes from the simplicity of the shoreline and the structure. It has not been “gussied up” as a tourist attraction, and it retains the authenticity of a place enjoyed by real people from all walks of life. There is a certain feeling of camaraderie among all those who stroll out the pier, whether to fish or watch others fish.
The City Pier Restaurant at the end of the pier is casual dining in atmosphere, but not in its standards. Friendly locals serve very good food. Most of the dishes are seafood, not surprisingly. The large glass windows give open views of Tampa Bay, over to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Immediately outside the window people are fishing, just feet away from the restaurant patrons. The feeling of being on the water is enhanced by the frequent, though minor, vibrations of the entire pier due to wave action.
According to Carolyne Norwood, in her book Anna Maria Island: The Early Days, 1893 – 1940, the City Pier was built in 1911. By this time the small town of Anna Maria already had 60 homes and several stores. The purpose of the pier was to accommodate steamers bringing wealthy tourists from Tampa and St. Petersburg, so it was built 776 feet out into the bay. Continue reading “Anna Maria Island City Pier” »