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
Island Gourmet Grill
Tortilla Bay
Eat Here
Old Hamburg Schnitzel Haus
Solo’s Pizza
Minnie’s Cafe
Ugly Grouper
Skinny’s Place

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

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.


15th Annual Bay Fest

Anna Maria – The Island’s largest and longest running event, Bay Fest is back in its 15th year! The event runs 10am-10pm on Saturday, October 17th on Pine Avenue.

15th Annual Bay Fest

Enjoy a selection of local vendors offering arts, crafts, food, music and fun. A classic car show with over 100 entries will line Pine Avenue while local musicians entertain. A free of charge family friendly event, the kid zone will have games and a bounce house. Local non profit The Anna Maria Privateers will bring their beloved pirate ship Scully Wag; a staple of any island event.

The music line up goes all day including:
Emcee Mike Sales – 10am-10pm
Can’t Turn Left – 11am-12pm
Billy Rice Band – 1-2:30pm
Whiskey Blind – 3-5pm
Koko Ray 5:30 – 7:30pm
Shotgun Justice (The Karen & Jimmy Band) 8 – 10p

Anna Maria Island Bay Fest
Bay Fest on Pine Avenue






Bay Fest 2015  is organized by the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by AMI Fitness and La Pensee Plumbing, pools and air.

Anna Maria Island Wedding Festival – A Great Resource!

The Anna Maria Island Wedding Festival is a great resource! There is no better way to walk down the aisle on your special day than with toes in the sand. Enjoy the island breeze dancing on your skin with the captivating Gulf of Mexico as your back drop. Truly a romantic experience.

Anna Maria Island wedding Festival

Anna Maria Island has many festivals and events happening annually throughout the year. However, one of those festivals is Anna Maria Island’s Chamber of Commerce Wedding Festival! Meet with photographers, venues, caterers, florists, hair and make-up professionals and other wedding vendors. These folks can all help in planning your dream-come-true day!

There are prize giveaways including a wedding package which will has many of the amenities for a wedding. Examples of the prizes include dinner gift certificates, spa services, beach or wedding portraits, floral arrangements, music or DJ services, jewelry, island business gift certificates, complimentary resort stays, water sport certificates and sailing certificates too!

Upon check-in, you will receive a complimentary wedding festival tote to collect information in throughout the day. Also an island map to all the vendor sites and a schedule of activities and events happening throughout the day. You can then travel by the island’s free trolley or a mode of transport of your own to visit with vendors that interest you. In the evening, everyone will meet at a beach location for the Grand Finale. Additionally, food, prize giveaways and a mock wedding are just some of the events planned for this festival!



beach-wedding-setup-ideas-lagaoth9 Anna Maria Island wedding festival wedding

Learn to Cook in Bradenton, Fl

Want to learn to cook while visiting Anna Maria Island?  While the post below is come and gone Publix Supermarket does offer cooking classes each month.  Be sure to visit Publix website for more information.  Until then below is some past history of classes offered just off Anna Maria Island.

Plants, herbs, recipes; oh my! On Tuesday July 16th, Chef Aedan will be hosting a seminar “Edible Plants of Summer”. The event takes place in the gorgeous Robinson Preserve, and then moves to the Chef’s Table to enjoy the delicacies discussed during the short hike through the preserve. This event requires reservations and is suitable for guests ages 13 and older.

Alternatively, on Wednesday July 17th, the Island Branch Library will be hosting a “Cooking With Herbs” demonstration. This informative class is free and open to all ages. This event is presented by the Manatee County Agriculture & Extension Service: Family and Consumer Sciences Division.

Robinson Preserve
Robinson Preserve

“Edible Plants of Summer”

July 16th, 2013 from 6 p.m to 7.3o pm

Robinson Preserve: 99th St NW and 17th Ave NW, Bradenton.

To make reservations, call 941-748-4501 ext. 4616

“Cooking With Herbs”

July 17th, 2013 at 2 p.m.

Island Branch Library:5701 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach

FREE admission

Bradenton – The Hernando De Soto Historical Society Presents Seafood Fest

Seafood FestDowntown Bradenton will be hosting Hernando De Soto Historical Society’s Seafood Fest starts this Friday April 5th and continues through the weekend! On April 5th the festival gets kicked off at 5:00pm and lasts until 10:00pm, April 6th from 11:00am to 7:00pm April 7th from 12:00pm to 10:00pm. The family friendly atmosphere is fun for all ages with a special kids area available for free. Live music will be playing for the entire festival on two different stages with Uncle Kracker headlining!  Each year the music venues change.  For the best information check out the Historical Society’s Seafood Fest information page.

Friday, April 5

Main Stage:
5:30pm Kettle of Fish
8:00pm Highway to Hell AC/DC Tribute
West Stage:
5:30pm The Dweebs
8:00pm Boss Hawg

Saturday, April 6

Main Stage:
11:00am Soul R Coaster
1:30pm GatorNate & the Gladezmen
4:00pm The Dweebs
6:30pm Big Daddy
8:30pm Uncle Kracker
West Stage:
11:00am Shot Gun Justice
1:30pm Renegade
4:00pm Kettle of Fish
6:30pm Whiskey Blind
8:30pm Wicked Jester

Sunday, April 7

Main Stage:
11:00am Steve Arvey
1:30pm The Dweebs
4:00pm The Boneshakers
West stage: 
11:00am Del Couch Foundation
1:30pm Gator Nate
4:00pm Big Daddy
Come on out to hear some great music and enjoy some incredible seafood!


Downtown Bradenton
Between 10th and 12th Street West
Bradenton, FL 34205
For a map Click Here

Annual Sarasota Film Festival

The Sarasota Film Festival  returns year after year.  It is on it’s 17th year so it’s a staple for film enthusiasts in the Sarasota area as well as Anna Maria Island. Usually the annual Sarasota film festival runs early April but check their website for exact dates and venues.  The Annual Sarasota film festival takes place at the Regal Hollywood 20 Theater.  The film festival features independent work of new and veteran filmmakers from all around the world.

annual sarasota film festival

Check out the Sarasota Film Festival website for when Tickets go on sale.  Various events are held throughout the festival, such as the red carpet Cinema Tropicale Celebration and free kid-friendly “youthFEST”shows. Prices for individual shows vary from an $8 matinee up to a $20 ticket for the Spotlight or Centerpiece Films. There are also Student Passport, Film Buff, and Film Fanatic packages available to purchase which can offer you up to twenty tickets at a discounted price.  For more information you can call (941) 366-6200.

This is one of the area’s favorite events, due in no small part to it featuring something for everyone including documentaries, shorts, and children’s movies.  A film guide with synopsis of the movies being shown this year can normally be found on the Sarasota Film Festival Website.

Celebrity guests are usually expected to attend Sarasota Film Festival as part of the “In-Conversation With…” Series, which gives audience members a chance to learn about the film making process from actors and directors that were involved in the movie they have just watched.  Past year’s lineups have included Mariel Hemingway, Lili Taylor, Griffin Dunne and Peter Bogdanovich.  Past famous faces among the popcorn include Cheryl Hines and Christopher Abbott.

See you at the movies!

Regal Hollywood 20
1993 Main Street
Sarasota, FL 34236
(941) 365-2000

If you are a film enthusiast and want to stay on Anna Maria Island and take the short commute to the film festival we strongly suggest you reserve your vacation rental by the end of the Summer each year.  Early April is a very popular time to stay on Anna Maria Island and to have a good pick of available vacation rentals we suggest late Summer to choose your perfect “peace” of paradise.

Bradenton – Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival

The Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival is an event to celebrate “old Florida” and the fishing heritage of Cortez Village. The festival was founded in 1981 and drew in over 500 people to this small fishing village. The event has grown having an average attendance of 25,000 people. Considering the Cortez Village is less than 10 blocks large that is a significant amount of people for the community.

The Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival offers many things such as great live music, nautical arts and crafts, children’s activities, environmental exhibits, more seafood than imaginable, and of course, beer. This is one party you don’t want to miss.

Parking can be trouble if you don’t get there early enough. There are two satellite parking lots this year, G. T. Bray Park (5502 33rd Ave. Dr. W., Bradenton, 34209) and Coquina Beach (the southern most end of Anna Maria Island) with a shuttle to the festival for $2.00 round trip.

Admission is $3.00.

2013 Entertainment Schedule
Saturday February 16th
10:00 – 11:30 am Passerine
11:30 – 12:00 pm Shanty Singers
12:00 – 12:15 pm Awards and Introductions
12:30 – 2:00 pm Eric von Hahmann
2:30 – 4:00 pm Soul R Coaster
4:30 – 6:00 pm Razing Cane

Sunday February 17th
10:30 – 11:30 am Soupy Davis and his Band
12:00 – 1:30 pm Eric von Hahmann
2:00 – 3:30 pm Shotgun Justice
4:00 – 5:30 pm Scott’s Garage

Cortez Village
119th Street
Bradenton, FL 34209

Anna Maria Island Christmas Parade


Annual Christmas Parade on Anna Maria Island
Anna Maria Island Christmas Parade 2012

We have four holiday parades a year on Anna Maria Island, each with its own distinct flavor. St. Patrick’s Day is a little more whimsical with an appearance by local celebrity Judy the Elephant and the Fourth of July is just to warm you up for fireworks and a dip in the clear, blue water of the Gulf of Mexico.

Continue reading Anna Maria Island Christmas Parade

Anna Maria Island Winterfest

Anna Maria Island Winterfest
Winterfest 2011

Get ready for the Anna Maria Island WINTERFEST – the annual Fine Arts and Craft show held in the Holmes Beach City Hall Field this Saturday and Sunday December 8th and 9th from 10-4:30 each day.  Parking and admission are free, leashed pets welcome.  Perfect place to pick up local art for holiday gifts!

Please note, this is an old post and the Anna Maria Island Winterfest changes from year to year.  Your best bet for more festival information is to check the Island Real Estate Facebook page as well as visit one of our local Anna Maria Island Newspapers for more event information.

Holmes Beach City Hall Field
5801 Marina Drive
Holmes Beach Fl 34217