Anna Maria Island is a barrier island seven miles long located on the southern entrance to Tampa Bay west of Bradenton, FL. Three small communities of Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach, and Anna Maria share the island. We are staying in Cortez, just over a causeway from the island and spend much of our time there biking, walking, or sitting on the beach. Recently we joined friends Herschel and Pam from Ohio on a bike ride to Anna Maria, on the north end of the island, for brunch at Ginny’s and Jane E’s. at the Old IGA. As the name implies, the restaurant/home furnishing business is in a building that at one time was occupied by an IGA Grocery Store.
After eating, Herschel and Pam showed us the nearby location of the Anna Maria Historical Society Museum. Since they had already visited the museum, we only stayed a few minutes before returning back to our park. The next day we made the return trip north on the island by ourselves to enjoy a longer visit. The museum is housed in a small, nondescript building along the main street, but what attracts the eye from the street is the shell of a building next to it.
Inside the museum we learned a great deal about the history of Anna Maria Island. One of the things we learned was that the island was home to a number of famous baseball players from the ’50s and ’60’s. Fred Hutchinson, the famous manager of the Cincinnati Reds, who died of lung cancer in Bradenton in 1964, lived there for many years. Other famous baseball names who lived, at least part time, on the island include Braves greats Warren Spahn and Eddie Mathews. The picture below is from a display of baseball history we assisted in setting up during our visit. It tells about a group of small cottages constructed on land purchased by Warren Spahn in the early ’60’s. Only one remains and we were able to find it, with directions from the museum director.
The museum is raising money to purchase The Infield and plans to move the structure on to their land next to the City Jail and develop a spring training baseball display in the future.
After visiting the museum and The Infield, we rode our bicycles to the northern tip of the island where we were treated to one of the nicest views we have experienced in Florida. After riding between two houses on a narrow access path and crossing a short wooden bridge we were treated to a beautiful view of the entrance to Tampa Bay.
Just to the south, on the bay side of the island is one of two piers in the town of Anna Maria, the Rod and Reel Pier. There is a restaurant at the end of the pier that serves fresh sea food and gives you a great view of Tampa Bay.
On the return ride to Cortez, we stopped to view the “edging” on one of the small homes in the town of Anna Maria. If you have nothing to edge with, use the extra dishes!
So goes life on laid-back Anna Maria Island . . .