IFWTWA Media Trip

Bradenton Gulf Islands

September 16-18, 2022

The Bradenton Area (Bradenton, Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key) is located on Florida’s west coast, between St. Petersburg/Tampa and Sarasota on the Gulf of Mexico. But once you are there, you will feel worlds away. It is known for unspoiled beaches, rich history, the easy pace of island life, and a downtown energized with arts, culture, discoveries and more. Bradenton is one of the few destinations in the state to have successfully preserved the characteristics of authentic Florida, while also seeing major growth and development. Area beaches line the idyllic barrier islands of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key, where cozy beach front cottages, intimate resorts, and inns and smaller, low-rise condominiums offer sea views.

As part of their visit to the Bradenton Area, writers will explore Anna Marie Island, which Travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler has ranked one of the best islands in the world for its soft, white sand. The island is proudly free of chain restaurants and sky-rise buildings. Pine Avenue, known as the “Greenest Little Main Street in America,” boasts local shops, general stores, boutiques, and cafes. Anna Maria Island is home to award-winning dining options, such as Beach Bistro (consistently awarded the state’s highest ZAGAT scores). The epicurean Euphemia Haye on Longboat Key is also a top choice, as is Anna Maria Oyster Bar on the pier. The area has been recognized nationally for its locally sourced food, unique menu item, and on-the-water locations. Area beaches include 16 miles of sugar-white sand with convenient public access. Visitors can kayak, canoe, or take a powerboat or a chartered fishing boat, or go flyboarding, parasailing, windsurfing, jet skiing, or just exploring in the clear-blue water for wildlife, such as manatees, dolphins, sea turtles, and fish.

Selected writers would fly into the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) or into Tampa International Airport (TPA) to begin the media trip. Transportation from the Bradenton area to St. Petersburg for the IFWTWA conference will be provided. Specific hotel and restaurant information for the media trip is pending.

Bradenton, Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key in Florida
Deck Chairs at Bradenton

Tentative Itinerary

Day 1 - Welcome!

Morning – Participants will be picked up from the Tampa airport and transported to Bradenton / Anna Maria Island

1 p.m. – Visit to Anna Marie Island and welcome to Bradenton Area
Anna Maria Island is a quaint barrier island nestled in the Gulf of Mexico. Beautiful turquoise waters and white sandy beaches are the main attraction here. The Island is seven miles long and Beach access is available on both the Gulf of Mexico and Sarasota Bay. The Island has a rustic “Old Florida” fishing pier: Rod n’ Reel Pier, popular to visitors and anglers alike. There is an important fact to learn about the seven miles of beach Anna Maria Island offers up: not all beaches are created equal. Some are great for just sitting; others beckon you to explore your adventurous side. And, of course, there are several in between. In the Bradenton Area, the variety of spots to throw down your towel is one of our strong suits. And with five of our beaches being Blue Wave Certified and declared eco-friendly by the Clean Beach Council in Washington D.C., you can feel good about hanging out there, too.

4 p.m. – Check in – Hotel TBC, Anna Marie Island

7 p.m. – Dinner – Anna Maria Oyster Bar on the Pier (TBC)
200 Bridge Street, Bradenton Beach, FL
Tel. 941-778-2662

Guests can enjoy oysters served in nine different ways at AMOB on the Pier, but plenty of seafood and other options also are available. Known for its fun and family-friendly atmosphere, this popular local establishment now has four locations. The others are located on the mainland, while AMOB on the Pier overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway. AMOB was founded on the Anna Maria City Pier in 1996.

Day 2

9 a.m. – Breakfast — Anna Maria Island Beach Café (TBC)
4000 Gulf Dr, Holmes Beach, FL 34217
Tel. 941-778-0784

Famous for ALL-U-CAN-EAT Pancakes & Sausage, Anna Maria Island Beach Café also has fresh omelets. A delightful place to enjoy breakfast on a white sand beach. Other breakfast treats include eggs Benedict and blue berry French toast.

10 a.m. – Sight-Seeing option

Exploring Pine Avenue on the Anna Marie Island Trolley

Anna Maria has free trolley service that covers the entire island daily, from Coquina Beach all the way to the Public Pier on the North side of Anna Maria. The trolley arrives about every 15-20 minutes at the many designated stops throughout the island.
Pine Avenue is all about local and sustainable. From its award-winning, energy efficient, storm-strong buildings, to its native landscapes and crushed-shell sidewalks, the avenue boasts Key West-style buildings housing green businesses, gourmet restaurants, shops, and boutiques (many selling recycled, refashioned, or vintage goods and items produced by local artists). Visitors quickly understand why it is one of the top green projects in the state and region.

Local stores to check out include Pink & Navy, Flip Flop Shop & Candy Stop, Island Cabana.

12 noon – Lunch — Options could include:

Cheesecake Cutie & Café
3324 East Bay Drive, Holmes Beach, FL
Tel. 941-779-2253

The cheesecake recipe has been in the family for 40+ years. The crust is homemade and the smooth thick filling that is guaranteed to be a hit at all dessert tables! The cafe is a new addition to the Cutie brand with salads, “Scuties,” charcutier boxes, and sandwiches. Baked goods are freshly made every day with local ingredients.

2 p.m. – Possible activities

Rent a bike or kayak from Beach Bums AMI
Anna Maria Island is a beautiful place, with many natural treasures. What better way to explore all the island has to offer then with a bike or kayak? Beach Bums is one of the best rental shops on Anna Maria Island, with a large, meticulously maintained, rental fleet of bikes, kayaks, surreys, sunfish sailboats, baby equipment and beach supplies, electric golf carts, electric bikes, and Go Pets! Beach Bums even has a marine biologist on staff to conduct kayak eco-tours.

Stroll the Anna Marie City Pier
This historic pier, originally built in the early 1900s, is a popular Anna Maria Island landmark. Located at the north end of the island at the end of Pine Avenue, this 700-foot-long pier has both beautiful views and a rich history. The City Pier has some of the best views of Tampa Bay and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. The pier is also a great spot to watch birds – it is a popular pelican hangout – and, if you are lucky, marine life. Many visitors have reported seeing dolphins and manatees from the pier.

Visit the Anna Maria Island Museum
This museum in the heart of Anna Maria Island houses the history of this beautiful island. Accompanied by over 120 years of photos and documents, as well as artifacts donated by Islanders, it is a true trip into the past told in a beautiful setting. The museum also houses the bound volumes of the island’s first newspaper. Grounds include the original City Jail, built in 1920, to house the rowdies from the local roadhouse so they could “sleep it off.” A photo in the jail is a must for island visitors.

Paradise Boat Tours
Paradise Boat Tours offers private tours where guests can experience the unique Floridian wildlife and the waterways of Florida’s West Coast. Paradise Boat Tours guarantee that 95% of their tours include seeing dolphins and often manatees, rays, variety of birds, and a plethora of other wildlife.

7 p.m. – Dinner options could include

Château 13 Restaurant & Wine Bar
200 Bridge Street, Bradenton Beach, FL
Tel. 941-778-2662

Located in the middle of downtown Bradenton, this restaurant offers an upscale menu that features French, Italian, Spanish and Belgian cuisine. Paired with a comprehensive list of wines, this modern spot combines an intimate fine dining experience with the relaxed yet lively feel of the city. Château 13 is owned by the Lippens family, who moved to Bradenton from Belgium in 2009.

Day 3

Brunch options could include

The Sandbar Restaurant
100 Spring Ave, Anna Marie, FL
Tel. 941-778-9444

Dine with your toes in the sand as you enjoy fresh Florida seafood and Farm to Fork, Gulf to Table menu items, paired with refreshing tropical drinks on the Gulf of Mexico. Though the Sandbar’s look, landscape, and menus have changed a bit since it opened in 1979, but the restaurant remains focused on providing guests with an amazing beachfront dining experience.

11 a.m. – Checkout of hotel

Afternoon Options could include

Historic Bridge Street
“Anna Maria’s Hot Spot” is now Historic Bridge Street on Bradenton Beach, the southernmost city of Anna Maria Island. Bridge Street, where the original wooden bridge was the only means of access to the island, is now a beautiful fishing pier that leads to an active street where you can shop, dine, and play from beach to bay. Bridge Street is a walkable community with spectacular water views from the both the pier and the gulf beach. Plus, lots of interesting shops.

Transportation provided for writers to the Hyatt Place Hotel to begin IFWTWA conference.

Social Media:

Paddle Boarding in Bradenton Florida

Trip Information:

Dates of the trip: September 16-18, 2022

Number of participants to be chosen: 4-6

Applications due: June 8

See the wonderful tentative itinerary with this post for details on this trip.

Accommodations and local transportation to all activities will be covered. See the tentative itinerary for all meals and activities to be covered.

Selected writers would fly into the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) or into Tampa International Airport (TPA) to begin the media trip. Transportation from the Bradenton area to St. Petersburg for the IFWTWA conference will be provided. Specific hotel and restaurant information for the media trip is pending.