Wildlife Preserves & Parks Near Anna Maria Island
Outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers have found the wildlife preserves near Anna Maria Island to be some of the best places in the world to explore a unique range of fascinating maritime habitats.
Here you’ll find untouched beaches, mangrove tunnels, sprawling parks and preserves to hike, kayak and bicycle through, while seeing some truly extraordinary flora and fauna including dolphins, sea turtles, manatees, a wide range of shore and wading bird species, many fish species and more.
Below you can find detailed information on a few of the best and most frequently visited Anna Maria Island parks and nature preserves to help you plan out a full schedule of Anna Maria Island outdoor activities and day trips:
Address: 11700 Manatee Ave W, Bradenton, FL 34209
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Cost of Admission: Free
The free and recently opened Perico Preserve sits on 176 acres and is located directly east of the Anna Maria Bridge and Neal Preserve, just a few minutes from Anna Maria Island.
It serves as a wildlife haven for shore and wading birds and was extensively restored and designed to be accommodating to several different species of wading birds. A 16-acre seagrass habitat dedicated as a nesting ground for them is located at the center of the preserve.
During the renovation, thousands of native plants were restored to the area after invasive species had taken over large swaths of land. At the Perico Preserve, you’ll find comfortable benches for birding as well as a packed-shell trail with bridges and boardwalks that loop around the seagrass habitat.
Address: Main Entrance – 1704 99th St NW, Bradenton, FL 34209, South Entrance – 10600 block of Manatee Ave W. under the hump back bridge.
Hours: Vary by season, 6:30 to 8:00 a.m. to sunset typically (Call ahead for specific hours at (941) 745-3723)
Cost of Admission: Free
The vast 600+ acre Robinson Preserve is widely rated as the number one Anna Maria island outdoor activity to experience for anyone visiting the Bradenton/Anna Maria Island area. Kayaking and paddle boarding are exciting ways to explore the preserve without disturbing the environment, and guided tours are available from multiple local providers.
This area underwent a remarkable transformation from farmland to wetland habitats with the support of multiple local groups dedicated to the preserving the native environment of Florida. Local plant species were restored and a new waterway system replenished tidal flow.
The preserve also has plentiful facilities including trails, kayak launches, fishing and camping areas, observation towers, picnic areas, pavilions and a visitor’s center at the historic Valentine House.
Although admission is free, guided or self-guided kayak tours and other equipment rentals have a varying fee depending on the provider.
The south hike-in entrance of the preserve is located just a few minutes from Anna Maria Island across the Manatee Bridge, and the main entrance is about a 15 minute drive from the island.
Highlands Hammock State Park
Address: 5931 Hammock Rd, Sebring, FL 33872
Hours: 8 a.m. to sunset
Cost of Admission: $6.00 per vehicle with multiple people, $4.00 per single occupant vehicle, $2.00 for pedestrians and bicyclists
Highland Hammock State Park is an expansive 9,000+ acre wildlife preserve which is surely worth at least one Anna Maria Island day trip for any true outdoor and nature enthusiast. It is just a 1 hour and 45 minute drive from the island and offers a wide range of 15 different habitats to explore.
At this wildlife preserve near Anna Maria island you’ll have the chance to see alligators, white tailed deer, birds, wild pigs, armadillos, snakes, turtles and the rare Florida panther and black bear, while taking the popular trolley tour or hiking.
With extensive campgrounds available you can plan a multi-day adventure at this park to fully explore its range of habitats including cypress swamps, pine flatwood, baygall and ancient hammock forests.