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Get to know Anna Maria Island

The northernmost of the area’s barrier islands, Anna Maria Island is made up of three towns: the village of Anna Maria at the northern tip, Holmes Beach in the middle, and Bradenton Beach at the southern end. Anna Maria Island is a throwback to Old Florida, where no building is higher than three stories; dining out means an independent café, rather than a chain outpost; and most restaurants close at 10 p.m. It’s also a five-minute drive to the tiny fishing island of Cortez, with its popular dockside restaurants serving the freshest seafood. At night, the island has worked hard to install turtle-friendly lighting throughout, so nesting mother and newly hatched baby sea turtles are able to guide themselves to the water by moonlight. And of course, during the day, the unspoiled beaches of Anna Maria Island are the pride of the community, with gorgeous white sand and turquoise waters.

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Living in the Tampa Bay area

Central West Florida encompasses the area surrounding Tampa Bay, including Tampa itself and stretching down to St. Petersburg, Bradenton, and Sarasota. This coastal region is what people imagine when dreaming about Florida, a place where year-round sunshine beckons and every day is a beach day. Many have been lured to Tampa Bay by its weather, including baseball’s annual migration to spring training and The Ringling Brothers Circus’s long-time winter home in Sarasota. There’s a wide range of places to live, whether it’s year-round or only for a snowbird’s sojourn. The area includes barrier islands with picturesque beaches, busy urban downtowns, artsy neighborhoods of cafes and bungalows, and inland master-planned gated communities that are among the fastest growing in the nation. There’s no shortage of fun in Tampa Bay, with pro sports teams in residence, well-regarded museums, delicious restaurants, and a ton of outdoor activities on land and sea.