September 19, 2021
Anna Maria is a small residential town on the north end of Anna Maria Island. The seven-mile long island is reached by a causeway from nearby Bradenton.
Anna Maria shares the island with two other small towns: Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach. The population of Anna Maria in 2020 is about 1800 permanent residents.
The permanent 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 the town Anna Maria, were - until recently - classic examples of "Old Florida".
Some of that ambiance has been lost because of the replacement of the old Florida houses with modern new vacation rentals.
But it still has a laid back feeling compared to many other Florida beach towns.
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.
One of the earliest settlers on the island was Madison Post (1815-1867), the former mayor of Tampa. He reportedly named the island for his sister-in-law, Anna, and his wife, Maria.
The first "modern" settler was George Emerson Bean who homesteaded the north end of Anna Maria Island in 1892.
His descendants partnered with Charles Roser 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.
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.
A great photo opportunity in this small town is the Anna Maria City Jail. It still stands and looks pretty much the same as it does in the vintage postcard.
Roser Memorial Community Church was built in 1913 with funds provided by Charles Roser.
Mr. Roser was a winter resident who made his fortune in the confectionery business.
He is credited by most people as having been the creator of the famous Fig Newton.
The church is still in use today, and is a non-denominational church. It is near the Anna Maria City Pier at 512 Pine Street.
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.
The 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.
Sunrise Garden Resort, 512 Spring Ave, Anna Maria, FL 34216. 941-778-2000. 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.