Anna Maria Island Florida Piers – For Food, Fishing and Fun

rod & reel pier 4When you’re staying at your Anna Maria Island vacation rental, make sure you find some time to visit the island’s piers. The main reason why people visit Anna Maria Island is because it boasts Florida’s most beautiful beaches – we can’t deny that! We love soaking up the sun but we have to recommend that you break free from your beach chair for at least a few minutes to check out one (or all three) of our piers. The piers, including Rod & Reel Pier, Anna Maria City Pier and Bradenton Beach City Pier, offer yummy and affordable food plus, they serve up the best views you’ll find on Anna Maria Island.

We can’t forget to mention the unlimited opportunities there are to view Florida wildlife including birds, dolphins and sting rays. Frequent “visitors” also include Florida manatees and sea turtles – what a thrill it is to catch a glimpse of these! If you’re interested in fishing, visit a pier and you won’t need to hire a fishing charter. The piers offer the best, and most memorable, Florida fishing on the Gulf Coast. So, grab your flip flops and make your way to a pier…actually, no shoes are required so just get up and go!

Historic Anna Maria Island City Pier

Meet the grande dame of the Anna Maria piers, the City Pier. In 1911, this pier was one of the first structures built on the island so excursion boats from Tampa would have a spot to unload their passengers. Visitors would arrive at the pier, walk across her wooden planks until they reached Pine Avenue. At that point, they would begin their stroll down Pine towards the Gulf, making their way down to the beach (around where the Sand Bar restaurant is now located).

Today, the historic pier still stands proud, and continues to greet the island’s guests as it remains a top destination on visitor’s “to do” lists. It’s a local’s favorite too, with wonderful views of Egmont Key, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and the opportunity to spot a few dolphins and maybe even a sea turtle.

The City Pier Restaurant is a great spot for lunch or dinner. There is outdoor seating – some in the sun if you want to soak up some rays and some under cover if you’ve already OD’d on UV-Rays. There’s also a large indoor restaurant that has huge windows so you won’t miss out on the fantastic view. Order up a Steamer Pot or chow down on the Hungry Fisherman Platter (described on the menu as “a Belly Buster”). If you’re not in the mood for food, there’s an outside bar that has plenty of beer options (including Red Hook on draft and Red Stripe in the bottle), and live music on the weekends.

People came here to fish in the early 1900’s and they still do today. You don’t even need to bring your own pole; you can rent one from the pier’s bait shop. So, get a pole, some bait and a beer and enjoy your day hanging out at the historic City Pier.

100 South Bay Blvd (at the end of Pine Ave.), Anna Maria

Rod & Reel Pier

This pier, located at the island’s Northern end, is a local’s favorite. Many think the restaurant serves the best Grouper Sandwich on the island and the wildlife-spotting is phenomenal. Even if you’ve seen it before, it’s always thrilling to see a manatee floating under the pier! Actually, the Manatees seem to frequent the pier a lot because the staff gives them fresh water from a hose – they love it. It’s pretty cool to see a gentle giant swim up to the pier and “beg” for fresh water.

The upstairs restaurant offers the best views of Egmont Key and a mighty fine fried or blackened grouper sandwich. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Seafood Omelet is a favorite choice for breakfast and the Clam Strips are a yummy appetizer to share at anytime of the day. There’s AC inside the restaurant but the outside seating is pleasant – it’s covered and there’s usually a nice breeze. The bar downstairs is a fun place to hang out, drink a cheap beer and swap fish stories with the bartender. The bar also serves food, so if there’s no seating available upstairs the bar is a good back-up plan.

The Rod & Reel is considered one of the island’s top fishing spots – a lot of large sharks have been caught off this pier, so let’s just say it’s a great place for fishing, not for swimming. The pier charges $2 per day to fish and they also rent poles. Check-in downstairs at the bait area by the bar.

875 North Shore Drive, Anna Maria

Bradenton Beach City Pier or Bridge Street Pier

Located at the north end of Sarasota Bay, the Bradenton Beach City Pier was originally the wooden bridge that people drove on to get from Bradenton to Anna Maria Island. Old-timers remember the bridge as a rickety and somewhat frightening ride out to the beach. After the new concrete bridge was built, the city turned a portion of the old bridge into the City Pier. The old pier suffered damages from hurricanes in 2004 and was closed for a while for renovations. After a 2.2 million dollar facelift, the pier re-opened in 2007 and its beautiful restorations have made it a favorite spot for an evening stroll or a relaxing place to sit and watch the birds dive for their dinner. The clock tower at the front of the pier makes the perfect backdrop for photos and the old-fashioned wooden swing at the end of the pier is the island’s best spot to kick back, relax and watch what people are reeling in.

After you’re done exploring the pier, take some time to discover the cute cafes and artsy shops on Bridge Street. There’s everything from mini-golf to a crepe bistro. It’s a funky and fun street that is the perfect place to find a souvenir. Stop into the Back Alley and you’re sure to find a piece of local art that will remind you of your awesome trip to Anna Maria Island.