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.
905 Rye Wilderness Trail
Parrish, FL 34219
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.
You can also rent out pavilions here for a party!
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!
6106 63rd St E
Bradenton, FL 34203
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.
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 .
8300 Desoto Memorial Hwy
Bradenton, FL 34209
The Gulf Drive Cafe is a casual, waterfront restaurant in Bradenton Beach, where you have the option of dining outdoors on the beach.
This is one of only 3 restaurants on Anna Maria Island where you can dine with your toes in the sand. The Sandbar and The Beach House also are right on the beach.
Gulf Drive Cafe is open everyday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However, this place is more than just a restaurant. They also have a gift shop, host private events, and have a huge outdoor, full service tiki-bar known as The Kokonut Hut. Plus, the Kokonut Hut is dog friendly!
There are 2 large parking lots, or take the free Island trolley. There is a trolley stop conveniently right across the street.
Wicked Cantina in Bradenton Beach is a great restaurant for everyone. Because they serve, well, everything! They serve breakfast, tacos, burgers, and seafood. And don’t forget about the margaritas!
Open everyday of the week from 7:30 AM to 10PM, stop by and enjoy a meal with a view of the Gulf on their patio! The patio is also where you can expect to find live music most evenings.
And you HAVE to come for Happy Hour, which is from 12PM – 5PM everyday, and all day Sundays! You can’t beat that!
For breakfast, Wicked Cantina serves classis dishes like pancakes and omelettes, but they also have a great Tex Mex breakfast options as well. There’s the Breakfast Taco Plate, Huevos Rancheros, and the Breakfast Chimi.
The lunch/dinner menu features a wide variety of different cuisine. There’s Enchiladas, Tacos, Quesadillas, Burgers, Salads, and more! Like, a lot more. Don’t forget to pair your meal with one of their popular margaritas, which are made with no mixers or fillers.
P.S. If you take your Wicked Cantina receipt to the Green Turtle, a gift shop across the parking lot, they will give you a necklace like the one pictured below.
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*
Uh oh! Looks like these events are just fun memories now.
But don’t worry! There are tons of exciting activities and events taking place on Anna Maria Island all year long, every year!
Take a look at some of my favorites below:
Cortez Fishing Festival Blog
Halloween Events Blog
Local Art Events