My Favorite Pier: Anna Maria Island's Rod & Reel Pier

Anna Maria Island's Rod and Reel PierThe sunsets are great, the beaches are astounding but one of Anna Maria Island’s true treasures is a fairly dilapidated-looking old pier called the Rod & Reel. From afar, its ramshackle, wooden appearance, screams “rustic,” but it’s that’s the old Florida charm that provides it with the salty, weathered character that I just love. Something is just refreshing about walking out on the pier; it’s the true Florida experience when you’re overlooking the beautiful water and feeling the sea breeze in your hair. Any time of year, it’s always a hit and it’s by far the best spot to bring out-of-towners. It’s also a perfect stop-over spot during a day out on the boat. Need a lunch? You’ve found the place! Dock at the pier and head upstairs.
The upstairs restaurant offers the best views of Egmont Key and a mighty fine fried or blackened grouper sandwich. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Seafood Omelet is a favorite choice for breakfast and the Clam Strips are a yummy appetizer to share at anytime of the day. There’s AC inside the restaurant but the outside seating is pleasant – it’s covered and there’s usually a nice breeze. The bar downstairs is a fun place to hang out, drink a cheap beer and swap fish stories with the bartender. The bar also serves food, so if there’s no seating available upstairs the bar is a good back-up plan.
The wildlife viewing is pretty phenomenal here too. Even if you’ve seen it before, it’s always thrilling to see a manatee floating under the pier. Actually, the Manatees seem to frequent the pier a lot because the staff gives them fresh water from a hose – they love it. It’s pretty cool to see a gentle giant swim up to the pier and “beg” for fresh water. This is also my favorite spot to watch pelicans beg fishermen for a spare piece of bait. One of the simple pleasures of life is watching a pelican eating their dinner.
Pay this rickety, local treasure a visit and stop by the Rod & Reel the next time you’re out fishing or cruising on the boat. It’s an Anna Maria Island boating destination that’s not to be missed.
 Photo Credit: Karen Riley-Love