Reconnect With Nature In These Beautiful AMI Preserves & Parks

While shopping and dining out might be high on your list of things to do in Anna Maria Island for your vacation, no doubt you’re going to be spending the vast majority of your time outdoors. Few things might equal the beauty of nature at several Anna Maria Island parks and preserves, where you can do everything from bike to water ski.

The following are among the most beautiful AMI preserves and parks that you need to put at the top of any Anna Maria Island things to do list. We’ll also take a quick look at Anna Maria Island vacation rentals you might consider the best in island accommodations.

Robinson Preserve

The 682-acre Robinson Preserve has two entrances open from sunrise to sunset throughout the year: the North Entrance on 17th Avenue NW and the South Entrance at 9th Avenue NW.

Here, you can do things by land (hike, bike, rollerblade, camp, picnic) and water (kayak, canoe, fishing). The nature trails are dog-friendly, so if your canine companion came along on vacation, here’s where they can get in some sightseeing, too!

Most notable about Robinson Preserve is the 40-ft. observation tower providing an expansive view of surrounding counties and the NEST/Canopy Zone for kids. The latter is a combination science building and activity center consisting of climbing nets, rope bridges, slides, and more.

Perico Preserve

With a focus on preserving wild- and plant life, the 175-acre Perico Preserve offers 1.5 miles of nature trails through coastal wetlands.

Since the emphasis is mainly on seeing birds in their natural habitat, the preserve asks visitors not to walk dogs on the trail. Even bike riding is limited to specific areas. Bring along a camera and capture birds, squirrels, rabbits, and lots of pretty foliage.

Open from sunrise to sunset, Perico Preserve is located at 11700 Manatee Avenue W.

yellow-crowned night heron
Photo from Shutterstock

Coquina Baywalk

The Coquina Baywalk is a one-mile boardwalk found in the Leffis Key Preserve on the south end of Anna Maria Island on Gulf Drive South in Bradenton.

The Baywalk covers 30 acres of protected land and is the end result of a restoration project aimed at providing a scenic walk through mangroves and wetlands so visitors can experience fish and birds indigenous to the area. You can expect to see herons, hawks, crabs, egrets, and possibly even a frigatebird.

You’ll also find a wide range of native plants, such as Jamaican dogwood, beach elder, and dune sunflowers. There are over 50,000 plants to see!

Leffis Key Preserve Park

Beyond the Baywalk, Leffis Key Preserve Park has other trails, wildlife viewing areas, and fishing spots to keep you busy throughout the day.

Known for its expansive view of Sarasota Bay from a 26-ft. high hill, this park has a total of 1,500 feet of boardwalk that takes you through mangrove forests and tunnels. You also have many opportunities to get up close to the wildlife from platforms along these boardwalks, where you can spot migrating birds and marine life in tidal ponds, mudflats, and along the coast.

The park is open from 8 a.m. – sunset daily.

Neal Preserve

Consisting of 120 acres of mangrove forests and hammock uplands, Neal Preserve has a half-mile boardwalk trail as well as a 20-ft. observation tower affording a gorgeous view of the island and Anna Maria Sound.

Love to learn a little history when you vacation? Along the mostly flat trail at Neal Preserve, you’ll find Native American burial mounds reconstructed from originals that were excavated in the 1930s. Relax and take in the views along the way by stopping at any of the benches set up along the trail.

Neal Preserve is located at 12301 Manatee Ave W in Bradenton, just before crossing the north side of Anna Maria Island Bridge, and, like many other AMI parks and preserves, is open from sunrise to sunset.

Plan Your Visit

What are you waiting for? Contact the expert team at Lizzie Lu’s Island Retreat to start planning your next Anna Maria Island adventure today!

De Soto National Memorial Park

Named for the 1539 landing spot of Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto, on which the park is believed to stand, De Soto National Memorial Park is a small park that was established in Bradenton in 1948.

A 0.6-mile crushed gravel/wooden boardwalk trail called Expedition Trail is a loop that takes you to De Soto Point and back. You can also learn more about de Soto and his adventures at the park’s Visitor Center and Museum. There is also a replica of his first camp, where park rangers in full costume will replicate blacksmithing and cooking, as well as demonstrations of weapons from that time period. These live demonstrations occur Thursday – Sunday from December to mid-April.

Get in touch with nature at this park by visiting the beach on the Manatee River, picnicking at the 5-table shaded picnic area, and passing through mangroves to get to fishing areas.

The park operates from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. every day except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Park grounds are open from sunrise to sunset. After 5 p.m., the entrance to the park is closed, but the grounds can be accessed by parking at the Riverview Pointe parking area.

Book Your AMI Vacation Rental With Lizzie Lu’s Island Retreat

Many of Lizzie Lu’s AMI vacation rentals can be found near any of these island parks and preserves, so you won’t have far to go to get in your nature fix! These are one- to 5-plus bedroom cottages and beach houses featuring fully-equipped kitchens, king- and queen-sized beds, provided with linens, towels, beach towels, grills, and private yards. You might also enjoy outdoor showers, heated pools, screened porches, beach access, and tropical landscaping.