One thing you’ll never be on Anna Maria Island is bored! There are so many activities in the area, you could plan a full day and never cross over to the mainland! From fishing and wildlife watching to lazing on the best beach in the area, our Local Scene blog has the best of the best in things to do from Holmes Beach, Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach and even farther south into Longboat Key and Sarasota!
Similar to Neal Preserve, Perico Preserve in Bradenton also does NOT ALLOW pets. But, it is for a good reason! Perico Preserve isn’t just a preserve, it’s a bird sanctuary. Without the added noise of pets and bikes, the birds and wildlife here have the best chances of being successful in the breeding and rearing of their young.
While pets are absolutely not permitted here, there are certain trails that allow bicycles. Though, there are points on the tails that asks visitors to continue on foot and leave the bikes behind.
Perico Preserve is open daily from sunrise to sunset. Please be respectful of the wildlife when visiting this preserve (and all the Manatee County preserves).
Unlike most of the preserves in Manatee County, Neal Preserve does NOT ALLOW pets, and does NOT ALLOW bicycles on the tails. This preserve is specifically designed to be enjoyed on foot. Which isn’t a bad thing. In fact it makes Neal Preserve quite peaceful.
Open daily from sunrise to sunset, Neal Preserve is 120 acres of beautiful coastal habitat like mangrove forests, salt terns, and oak hammock uplands. There are shell trails and boardwalks that run through the preserve, as well as a 20 Ft. tall observation tower.
Neal Preserve is also a historically significant site. This area was inhabited by Native Americans from 3000 BC to 1400 AD. You will pass reconstructed burial mounds (original mounds were excavated by the Smithsonian back in the 1930’s), though remember that collecting anything here is NOT PERMITTED. This area should be seen as a “open air museum”.
Neal Preserve is perfect for hiking and bird watching
Located in the Northeastern part of the county is where you’ll find Duette Preserve. It is the largest preserve in all of Manatee County, and takes up 21,000 acres.
Here you will find native vegetation and wildlife, including the burrowing owl, snowy egret, white ibis, and gopher tortoise. Plus rare species like the Florida scrub jay, Florida panther, and Eastern indigo snake.
Things to do here include; Hiking and nature trails, managed hunting, fishing, wagon tours, horseback riding trails, non-motorized bicycle trails, wildlife viewing, and primitive Camping.
Duette Preserve is open daily from sunrise to sunset. HOWEVER, the preserve is closed during certain weekends for the Hunt Program.
Want to experience Old Florida? Look no further than Rye Preserve in Parish. About an hour drive from Anna Maria Island, Rye Preserve is 145 acres of trails that run through sand pine scrub, xeric oak scrub, oak hammocks, and the river community.
Here, you can see all kinds of local wildlife, including rare species like the gopher tortoise and Florida scrub-jay.
Rye Preserve offers; hiking/nature trails (dogs are welcome), kayak/canoeing trails & launch, non-motorized bicycle trails, managed fishing, picnic areas and pavilions, wildlife viewing areas, horseback riding, and tent Camping!
Rye Preserve is open daily from sunrise to sunset, and the ranger station here is open Fridays and Saturday, from 3PM – 7PM.
Emerson Point Preserve in Palmetto is absolutely beautiful! It is a 365 acre preserve full of hiking and kayak trails that run through coastal Florida habitats.
Emerson Point Preserve offers great for dogs, and a good space for them to swim around in the water. You can fish and kayak/canoe here! *Fishing is only permitted along the perimeter of the preserve and subject to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regulations*
Emerson Point Preserve has ancient/historic remains of the individuals that inhabited the area before Manatee County was officially settled.
Located in East Bradenton, Jiggs Landing Preserve offers freshwater fishing, canoeing, and more. This place is very popular because of the boat ramp here, where you can launch right into Braden River. Jiggs Landing is open daily from sunset to sunrise, however if you want to get out on the water before it’s open, you can buy a one-time Gate Access Card to use the boat ramp at any time.
Jiggs Landing Preserve features: Picnic areas and pavilions, boardwalks, wildlife viewing areas, a nature-themed playground, kayak concessions, and food, bait, & drink concessions.
There are cabins, pavilions, and kayaks that you can rent here. Plus a guided river tour!
Riverview Pointe Preserve is a small park adjacent to DeSoto National Memorial Park in Bradenton. It is 11 acres of uplands & coastal habitats. It’s a nice place to take your dog to for some exercise, fishing, and great for wildlife viewing.
Riverview Pointe Preserve is open daily, and hours vary with season.
Address: 8250 Desoto Memorial Hwy Bradenton, FL 34209
Located in North West Bradenton, not far from Robinson Preserve, is DeSoto National Memorial Park. DeSoto Memorial consists of 26 acres of land. 80% of this land is a mangrove swamp, and the remaining land consists of pine flatlands, mixed hardwoods, remnant shell ridges, and deposited dredge material from the Manatee River.
Explore the trails that run through the mangroves, and the beautiful 3,000 Ft. of shoreline. This is a great place to take your dog for a quick walk and a swim!
DeSoto National Memorial Park is named after Conquistador Hernando de Soto. In May of 1539, de Soto and his army made landfall in Tampa Bay. The park commemorates this landing.
Thursday – Sunday the park offers living history demonstrations/programs. There are touch artifacts, European armor that you can try on and touch, and more! Living history season is from December 2nd – April 17th, at 10:00AM, 11:00AM, 1:00PM, & 2:00PM .
Address: 8300 Desoto Memorial Hwy Bradenton, FL 34209
The day where you can track the Island trolley in real-time is finally here! There is now a phone application, called myStop, that will provide you with real-time Anna Maria Island trolley info. The days of guessing your pickup time are over with this FREE app you can download easily.
myStop Mobile is an awesome tool to get trolley stop details, and to see if the trolley is on time or late to its next stop. Make sure you pick the “5 AMI Trolley” option to get our specific trolley’s information. A map will display stop locations – remember that north destinations pick up on the east side of the road and south destinations pick up on the west side.
If you for some reason don’t have a smart phone on you, but are near a computer, juts visit this site to view the trolley info/times.
As if the free trolley here on Anna Maria Island could get any better! Tip from a local: make sure you have your shoes ON, not just in your beach bag when getting on the trolley, the drivers are very strict!
If you have traveled to AMI with your furry friend before, you have probably been to the dog park before! But if you and your dog are Island newbie’s, you may not be aware of the small dog park in Holmes Beach.
Let me give you the run down. There is a park on Flotilla Drive in Holmes Beach called Central Park. Here, there is a small area just for dogs to run around and do dog stuff.
It’s nothing much, but there are benches to relax at and some shade. And with dogs being NOT PERMITTED on the Island beaches, it’s nice to have a place just for them.
*This park is managed by the City of Holmes Beach*