Anna Maria Florida is a small residential town on the north end of Anna Maria Island.
It shares the island with two other small towns: Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach.
The population of Anna Maria in 2010 was about 1500 permanent residents.
The population of all three towns has been declining in recent years as permanent residents sell their homes to investors who turn them into vacation rentals.
The entire island, especially Anna Maria, have been until recent years classic examples of "Old Florida". Some of that ambiance has been lost because of the replacement of the old Florida houses with the modern new vacation rentals. But it still has a laid back feeling compared to many other Florida beach towns.
One of the prominent historic structures still standing in town is the City Pier. It was originally built in 1911 to receive wealthy tourists arriving from Tampa and St. Pete on steamers. Today the pier is still a great fishing spot and has a quaint restaurant with tempting seafood offerings.
The beaches on Anna Maria Island are fantastic, clean and with soft white sand. The entire town is a bird sanctuary populated with many varieties of water and shore birds. Bottlenose dolphins and manatees are abundant in the waters surrounding the island, and fishing is great. The beaches are also important nesting grounds for loggerhead turtles; the town takes protection of these turtles very seriously.
Anna Maria was known by the early Timucuan and Calusa indians; Hernando de Soto also noted it when he was entering Tampa Bay north of the island in 1539.
The first "modern" settler was George Emerson Beach who homesteaded the north end of Anna Maria Island. His descendants partnered with a real estate developer in the late 1800s and early 1900s to create the Anna Maria Beach Company. The company laid out streets, sidewalks, platted lots and built houses and a municipal water system.
RESTAURANTS IN ANNA MARIA
Waterfront Restaurant, 111 Bay Blvd S, Anna Maria Florida, Anna Maria Island, FL 34216. 941-778-1515. This is the most popular dining spot in Anna Maria. Reservations recommended during season.
HOTELS/MOTELS IN ANNA MARIA
Sunrise Garden Resort, 512 Spring St, Anna Maria, Anna Maria Island, FL 34216. 855-742-7336. This is a nice clean older motel that enjoys a good TripAdvisor rating. Although not directly on the beach, it is close to restaurants and other Anna Maria attractions.