A romantic moment on one of the area’s white-sand island beaches
A couple kayaking through the mangroves
Woman browsing the shops on Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach
Couple cycling on Pine Avenue on Anna Maria Island
Colorful beach chairs facing the Gulf of Mexico on Anna Maria Island
Beachgoers catching the sunset at Coquina Beach
Stand-up paddleboarding adventure in Robinson Preserve
Anna Maria Island's pristine white sands and turquoise waters
An observation tower in scenic Robinson Preserve
Charming Longboat Key as seen from the air
- Major Airports:
- Sarasota-Bradenton (SRQ)
- Tampa (TPA)
Beaches, culture, nature and laid-back fun
Sparkling Gulf Coast Beaches
Many travelers first get to know this region while visiting the sun-drenched offshore islands of Anna Maria and Longboat Key, both laid-back vacation destinations gently rimmed by the warm, turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Here, you’ll find some of the whitest, powder-soft beaches in the USA and sunsets that you’ll remember for a lifetime. When you’re not lounging on the sand or splashing in the water, rent a beach bike and explore the islands at a laid-back pace. Don’t miss the opportunity to stroll out over the water on a historic pier, watch fishermen reel in their catch or dine on fresh seafood overlooking the coast.
Island Vibes Meet City Charms
Here, it’s easy to become an islander; quaint cottages, small intimate resorts and inns invite you with relaxing stays offering all the comforts of home. One of the region’s coolest spots to explore is the Historic Green Village on Pine Avenue on Anna Maria Island’s north end. Filled with shops, cafés and other diversions, several totally off the power grid, it’s the self-proclaimed “greenest little main street in America,” and quietly generates its own power. But the islands aren’t the whole story. The mainland beckons with hundreds of experiences and favorite, brand-name hotels. Stroll Bradenton’s historic Old Main Street, and nearby, the Riverwalk, which offers kilometers of relaxing sightseeing as you meander along the beautiful Manatee River.
Adventures in the Great Outdoors
Beyond the beaches, you’ll find more unspoiled landscapes, nature and eco-adventures of every kind. Book a kayak or paddleboard tour with a local outfitter to experience what it’s like to paddle through mangrove tunnels and spy marine life from starfish and horseshoe crabs to dolphins and manatees, as well as an array of native birds. Explore Robinson Preserve’s coastal habitats by foot or bike, and climb to the top of its 12-meter observation tower for 360-degree views of the surrounding wilderness. Farther inland, hike among sand pine scrub and oak hammocks at Rye Preserve, where you might spot a rare gopher tortoise or Florida scrub-jay. You can also check out an agricultural tour, whether you want to spend the day at an orange grove, learn about the operations of a dairy farm or wander a vineyard.
The region’s white-sand beaches consist mostly of fine, quartz crystals.
Photo: Madden Media
You won’t find chain restaurants or high-rise buildings on Anna Maria Island. In fact, all buildings on this quaint island measure three stories or less.
Pine Avenue on Anna Maria Island is a surprising eco-tourism destination. It features mixed-use structures and remodeled historic buildings, incorporating green construction and technology including Florida’s first LEED Platinum-certified and net-zero energy retail park.
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