When is the Anna Maria Island High Season? That depends on who you ask. For the rental industry, most tourists come in winter, between Thanksgiving and Easter. Rates go up towards the end of November and down about the beginning of May.
But times are changing and the “shoulder” seasons are extending into all of November and after April. Summer is also the busiest time for day visitors, who escape the inland heat for the cooler beaches and water activities and bring their kids who are out of school. Longer daylight hours attract after-work beachgoers. However, these visitors don’t have an impact on the rental real estate market as much as they do on the restaurant and bar trade.
As a year-round resident, who endures the high humidity and storms of summer, my respect for the wisdom of the snowbirds grows every year. From October through May, there are many days that are just about perfect. The people who come here during that period avoid a lot of discomfort and worry. They don’t have to worry about whether they are in a structure that will withstand the high winds of summer hurricanes. They don’t have to postpone a walk for fear of being struck by lightning, as often is the case in summer. The good news for those of us who stay here year-round is that high tourist season does not fill the entire period from October through May, so we get to enjoy many days that are near perfect, without crowds.
The busiest time of year seems to be around Presidents’ Day, the third Monday in February. Schools are on break and warmer weather brings out the winter hibernators. Travel can be brought to a standstill for hours as cars search for parking spots and bridge openings stop traffic flowing. Congestion is increasing each year as more people discover Anna Maria Island and try to squeeze onto a finite space.
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” »
What’s happening Valentine’s Day and President’s Day weekend? There’s a lot going on in the area and crowds and traffic congestion are assured. Go early, leave late but you’ll have to be patient. Take the shuttle bus to avoid hunting for a parking spot for your vehicle but expect to be at the mercy of slow traffic.
Jazz Festival Thursday, 12th, Sandbar Pavilion, 100 Spring Ave, Anna Maria City
JazzFest Anna Maria
Holmes Beach Art District Art Walk
Holmes Beach Art District Art Walk
Cortez Fishing Festival, Saturday/Sunday 14th/15th, 119th St W, Cortez
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.
Anna Maria Island is enriched by the wide range of very different communities that surround it. Perhaps the most colorful and unusual of these is the working fishing village of Cortez, immediately across the bridge from Bradenton Beach, on the southwest side of Bradenton. Cortez is full of extremely picturesque cottages where real life still goes on. In many parts of the country, these kinds of communities have become sterile tourist attractions, and no longer authentic, but Cortez still works hard to maintain its traditions and meaningful activities, and the residents still work in the local fishing industry.
For these reasons, Cortez is always a wonderful place to visit, and to celebrate. But the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival is a time when the festivities are in full swing. This year, the Twenty Ninth Annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival takes place on February 19 and 20.