Top 6 Things to Know About Holmes Beach

Holmes Beach – If you’ve ever been to Anna Maria Island you probably are familiar with the middle island city called Holmes Beach. This island community is the largest of the three island cities with a population of less than 4,000. A quiet coastal Florida town, Holmes Beach is a wonderful place to live and vacation.

1. History

Holmes Beach was at one time dense jungle where it wasn’t uncommon to see Panthers, Rattle Snakes and a variety of Florida wildlife. The middle section of the island was first homesteaded in 1896 by Sam and Annie Cobb. Shortly after the Cobbs moved into their 160 acres they were followed by John R. Jones and Jose Casanas. John piloted boats from Tampa to Cuba, and Jose had moved from the Canary Islands in search of Mullet.

Holmes Beach got it’s name from Jack Holmes who developed 600 acres of the island after World War II. The city became incorporated in 1950.

In 1947 Jack Holmes used a 30 acre space to build an air strip because he believed World War II air pilots would be interested in using it. While the strip was being laid, Jack Holmes was contacted by the movie giant Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to use the strip to help in producing the film “On An Island With You”. The filming of the movie created great excitement which fueled Jack Holmes development of the Holmes Beach. Eventually the airstrip was removed in 1970, but excitement about Anna Maria Island has never waned.

Today the island’s middle city is a quiet and bustling town welcoming thousands of visitors every year with pristine beaches and beautiful vacation rentals.

Holmes Beach History
Two gentlemen on the Holmes Beach Air Strip.

2. Beaches

Holmes Beach offers approximately three miles of powder sand Gulf of Mexico beaches peppered with public accesses and beach front homes. Where Manatee Avenue/State Road 64 comes to an end is where you’ll find the most popular beach area in Holmes Beach called Manatee Public Beach access. Manatee Public Beach offers tons of fabulous amenities including life guards, public restrooms and changing facilities, showers, a playground, volley ball courts, picnic areas, trolley stops, tons of parking and gorgeous tall Australian Pines that the island is known for. You’ll also find concessions at the AMI Beach Cafe along with Florida’s oldest Surf Shop.

Heading north or south from Manatee Public Beach you’ll find plenty of smaller beach accesses many of which offer public parking.

Holmes Beach
Holmes Beach offers powder fine sand and clear blue Gulf of Mexico water.

3. Restaurants

Holmes Beach offers no shortage of great places to enjoy a meal and a cold drink. From laid back to fine dining, and breakfast to dinner you’re sure to find a delicious place to eat in the middle of Anna Maria Island. In the center of the island you will also find the local chain grocery store Publix along with CVS and Walgreens Pharmacies. Click on the links below for information.

Hurricane Hanks
Beach Bistro
The Feast
Lobstahs
Island Gourmet Grill
Tortilla Bay
Eat Here
Peach’s
Old Hamburg Schnitzel Haus
Solo’s Pizza
Minnie’s Cafe
Ugly Grouper
Skinny’s Place
Duffy’s

Holmes Beach Restaurants
AMI Beach Cafe on Holmes Beach offers a full service restaurant right on the sand!

4. Shopping

Anna Maria Island offers great boutiques, art galleries and small shops perfect for finding a one of a kind souvenir. With no big box retailers the shopping experience is truly unique on Anna Maria Island.

Shopping in Holmes Beach
There are great independent shops and boutiques in Holmes Beach.

5. Events

Holmes Beach offers many fun events throughout the year including Spring Fest, Winter Fest, The Halloween Trail of Treats, and Art Walks.

 Holmes Beach events
Holmes Beach hosts several fun events through the year including Spring Fest.

6. Activities

In the middle island city you’ll find plenty of activities to keep you entertained. In addition to beautiful beaches, you’ll find The Island Branch Library on Marina Drive along with the baseball field, shuffle board courts, skate park, the city play ground and the dog park.

While visiting Anna Maria Island, vacationers like to rent many different types of equipment to enhance their stay including bikes, kayaks, paddle boards and more. When looking for equipment rentals there are several options including Just 4 Fun, Island Scooter Rentals, Fun and More and AMI Beach Fun Rentals.

Equipment rental and activities in Holmes Beach
Many of the Equipment Rental companies in Holmes Beach will deliver items directly to you!

Holmes Beach Vacation Rentals and Accommodations

Island Real Estate offers almost 200 vacation rental homes in Holmes Beach. Whether you are looking to accommodate a couples getaway, or a family beach holiday, Island Real Estate has the perfect accommodations.

Holmes Beach vacation rental
Holmes Beach vacation rental Island Pearl offers 4 bedrooms to accommodate up to 8 guests. Click on the image above to learn more about Island Pearl.

6 Things to Know About Bradenton Beach

Traveling to the southern portion of Anna Maria Island brings you into the quiet bustling city of Bradenton Beach. This area of the island offers miles of public beaches with parking, Historic Bridge Street for sightseeing and shopping, and great dining opportunities with both family fun and a nightlife. Read on to learn six things you might not know about Bradenton Beach.

6 Things to know about Bradenton Beach

While all of Anna Maria Island has a special charm, Bradenton Beach has a unique culture and history all of it’s own.

1. History

Originally called Cortez Beach for its proximity to the fishing village of Cortez, the area became Bradenton Beach during the 1920’s land boom. It’s believed that inland developers gave it the name Bradenton Beach, so potential buyers would think the Beach and the city of Bradenton were next to each other rather than seperated by Cortez Fishing Village and Palma Sola. The city was incorporated in 1953.

Bradenton Beach’s Historic Bridge Street Pier is the site of the original, and first bridge connecting the island to the mainland. The first Bridge was wooden, and built in 1922. By the 1940’s the Bridge became rickety with wind and waves making the structure sway. It’s said that when cars went over the old bridge the wooden boards would bounce making a banging noise like a shot gun (Norwood 181). A new bridge was built in 1957 making access to the island much safer and easier.

The Historic Bridge Street Pier, now a days, offers excellent fishing, sightseeing over Sarasota Bay, a delicious restaurant with a view, shops and public day docks.

Historic Bridge
The First Bridge to Anna Maria Island built in 1922.

2. Sightseeing and Activities

There are also many beautiful places to sight see on Bradenton Beach including the Bradenton Beach City Pier, quaint Bridge Street, Coquina Beach bike path and Leffis Key. Rent a segway from Bridge Street rental company Segs by the Sea, and cruise around the city with ease.

When looking for activities on Bradenton Beach enjoy miniature golf on Bridge Street, or head over to the Tingley Memorial Library. This unique library is independent of the Manatee County Library system, and offers annual memberships for $4.

When visiting the island, especially during high season, you may want to consider using the free trolley to get around. Parking is limited in busy areas of the island, and battling traffic does not lend to a relaxing paradise getaway. The free trolley runs usually every 20 minutes taking you along almost the entire island.

Sarasota Bay sightseeing
There are great sightseeing opportunities in Bradenton Beach like this view of Sarasota Bay and the Cortez Bridge seen from Leffis Key.

3. Beaches

Bradenton Beach offers approximately a three mile strip of public beach with parking along the Gulf of Mexico. Public parking makes it a popular place for enjoying the shore on Anna Maria Island. To the far south is Coquina Beach with restrooms, concessions, showers, parking, picnic tables, walking path, playground, and life guards. Heading north through Bradenton Beach along the gulf brings you to Cortez Beach. Cortez Beach does not offer the same amenities, but does have plenty of parking, and an old Florida beach feel. There are three erosion groins located in an area locals call “Three Piers” this area separates Coquina and Cortez Beach, and is said to be a great surfing spot.

Coquina Beach
Coquina Beach is the southern most gulf beach on Anna Maria Island. In the background of this image you can see the 2015/2016 construction of the new erosion groins to keep south end beaches intact.

4. Events and Markets

Bradenton Beach offers one seasonal market perfect for finding local made items, art, gifts and produce. Happening on Sunday, The Coquina Beach Market is a great way to enjoy the island on a Sunday Funday Morning.

Bradenton Beach Markets
Coquina Beach Market

5. Shopping

In addition to the fabulous Seasonal Markets there are great little shops in Bradenton beach offering swim wear, beach gear, home items, art, jewelry, gifts and more. Find out about Shopping on Anna Maria Island here.

Back Alley
There are great shops on Bridge Street like Back Alley where you can find local made and hand made art, jewelry, gifts and refreshments. Photo Credit: Back Alley Facebook Page.

6. Dining

On the south end of Anna Maria Island you’ll find some really fabulous Restaurants. While visiting you’ll have many types of dining experiences for all meals of the day. From casual to fine dining, and restaurants with a beach or bay view. You’ll even find a few places open late on Bridge Street if you are looking for night life. Click on the links below for suggestions.

Bradenton Beach Bridge Tender Inn
The Bridge Tender restaurant offers great food with a beautiful view of Sarasota Bay and the Bradenton Beach City Pier.

 

Blue Marlin
Wicked Cantina
The Island Spice
Bridge Tender Inn
Beach House Restaurant
Anna Maria Oyster Bar
French Table
Island Time
Joe’s Eats and Sweets
Sharky’s

Bradenton Beach Pier
Bradenton Beach City Pier 2016.

Now that you know these six tips, enjoy Bradenton Beach like a local!

 

Bradenton Beach Properties

Looking for the perfect Anna Maria Island home on south end? Island Real Estate Agents can help you find your next paradise beach house!

Bradenton Beach Vacation Rental

 

Works Cited:

Norwood, Carolyne. Anna Maria Island 1940-1970 Tales of Three Cities from Bean Point to Bridge Street. Anna Maria Island: Anna Maria Island Historical Society. 2010.

 

Shopping Anna Maria Island

Shopping Anna Maria Island is a unique experience with fabulous boutiques, art galleries and gorgeous little shops great for finding that perfect memento to remember your trip to Anna Maria Island. The Island does not offer many chain stores or big box retailers giving the shopping experience a one of a kind feel.

Shopping Anna Maria Island

You’ll find access to just about everything you’ll need during your stay including groceries, pharmacies, clothes, swimsuits and beach gear, souvenirs and local art.

Groceries and more

For those from the Southeast you’ll be glad to know there is a Publix supermarket in Holmes Beach along with a CVS and Walgreens drugstore. If you must visit a big box store there is a Kmart on Manatee Avenue just a short trip over the bridge, but most of the things you’ll need can be purchased on island.

Boutique shopping

Independently owned shops pepper the island. Find hots spots located to the North along Pine Avenue, Centrally in Holmes Beach, and Bridge Street to the South. Another great way to explore shopping opportunities stress free is to take advantage of the free trolley. Don’t worry about finding a parking spot or dealing with traffic. The free trolley runs from Pine Avenue down to Coquina Beach with stops all along the way. There are several trolleys making their way around the island. So, typically you won’t have to wait more than 20 minutes for one to pass by. During high season parking can be difficult, so the trolley is worth the wait especially during a laid back island style vacation.

If you are planning on shopping while on Anna Maria Island peruse our vendor listings and blogs. linked below,  you;ll find out about all the fabulous places to check out during your stay.

Shop Listings

Shopping Blogs

Top Ten Shopping

 

Sand Dollar
The Sand Dollar is a favorite spot for gorgeous finds located on Holmes Beach.

 

Have you found the perfect Anna Maria Island vacation paradise getaway? Island Real Estate agents can help you find your dream home by the beach!

Anna Maria Island vacation rental