Miguel Bay, Palma Sola Bay, Sarasota Bay, Tampa Bay, Terra Ceia Bay
Rivers & Paddling Trails
Little Manatee River, Myakka River, Manatee River, Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail
Manatee County's27 miles of white sand beaches edge the gulf sides of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key, barrier islands that attract more than 2 million visitors a year. Much of the population lives along estuarine bays dense with seagrasses and mangroves. The Manatee River, a popular spot for fishing, bird-watching and water sports, flows into Tampa Bay midway along the coast. Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserve portion of Tampa Bay edges most of the coast north of the Manatee River; Palma Sola and Sarasota bays separate much of the southern coast from the barrier islands.
Anna Maria Island connects to mainland Bradenton by two drawbridges. A free, north-south trolley links the island's three cities - Anna Maria, Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach. The only county beaches that provide full amenities are Manatee Beach Park (accessible from most Holmes Beach side streets) and Coquina Gulfside Park (the island's longest beach with remnants of old piers jutting out in the water). Bradenton Beach, north of Coquina beach, offers unique shops and casual dining, while Cortez Beach has no amenities, but has calm waters that are inviting to families.
Bradenton, south of the Manatee River on Tampa Bay, is the county's busiest city with a large arts community (Village of the Arts), antique shops, a history-archaeology museum, planetarium, manatee aquarium, waterfront district and international airport. Five miles west, De Soto National Memorial commemorates Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto's 1539 landing with rangers and volunteers presenting daily living-history programs in period dress. A third drawbridge crosses Longboat Pass south to 12-mile-long Longboat Key's three public beaches with limited parking. Greer Island (Beer Can Island Beach) offers 2,000 feet for shelling; Whitney Beach has 1,300 feet of uninterrupted beach; and Longboat Key Beach on the island's south is in Sarasota County.
Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserve - edged with mangroves, oyster bars, seagrass, hard and soft coral, saltwater and freshwater fish, white pelicans, reddish egrets, bats and migratory birds.
Port Manatee, a deepwater seaport.
FISH Preserve, 95 acres of environmentally sensitive land on Sarasota Bay.
Historic Bradenton Beach City Pier, Cafe and Parker Manatee Aquarium.
Annual county events: Manatee County Fair, Anna Maria Island Art League's Winterfest, Kayak and Outdoor Festival, De Soto Heritage Festival and Fishing Tournament, Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival, and the Florida Maritime Museum's Gulf Coast Small Craft Festival.
February 27, 2019 - 8:49am
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The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.