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    Friday, 28 March 2014

    Anna Maria Island: Home of the Greenest Little Main Street in America

    Anna Maria is, by all definitions a small town. Though it hosts hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, there are fewer than two thousand year-round residents.

    But, just because a town is small, it doesn’t mean it can’t accomplish big things. Anna Maria proves that every day by being a stellar example of green living. The commitment of the residents and business community to sustainability is nothing short of remarkable, and it’s a big reason why I find myself returning to vacation there again and again.

    The heart of Anna Maria is Historic Pine Avenue, which has been called the Greenest Little Main Street in America. Not only is it home to several green businesses, it also boasts one of the most exceptional retail campuses in the world. The Anna Maria Island Historic Green Village is a collection of historic buildings (some of which were rescued and relocated from elsewhere on the Island) and new construction, all of it kitted out with state of the art green technology. The two flagship buildings in the Green Village have achieved the coveted (and difficult to achieve) Platinum LEED-Certification status.

    Anna Maria Island Historic Green Village
    Historic Green Village

    It’s not just the village itself that is green; many of the businesses within it promote eco-friendliness as well. AMI Outfitters sells outdoor gear and clothing, much of it from sustainable companies. Relish Café next door sources as much local, fresh produce as possible to prepare their tasty southern cuisine. They even have a cute retail area full of eco-conscious upcycled items by local artisans. The café deck is a great place to grab a solitary cup of coffee in the morning, or enjoy a family-friendly lunch thanks to their affordable and inventive kids’ menu.

    At the other end of Pine Avenue, Poppo’s Taqueria serves up a fun and fresh take on Tex Mex in a groovy little atmosphere. Much of the décor is handcrafted by the owners from reclaimed wood, and much of the food and toppings are created from local produce. Bison chili, house-made pineapple hot sauce, sweet and sour pickled red onions – what’s not to love? Even this picky Texas-born gal can vouch for it.

    Anna Maria’s green businesses aren’t restricted to Pine Avenue, either. The Waterfront Restaurant  was way ahead of its time when it came to the whole green thing. The restaurant has been serving up sustainable, local food for nearly a decade.  Even the drinks in their new craft bar are handmade to order with fresh herbs, produce and housemade simple syrups. You can’t get much fresher than that.

    Now, I’m lucky: I live close enough to Anna Maria that I could just make a day trip out there. But there are times when I want to stay a few days. After all, there’s only so much delicious food a girl can eat in a day and it’s awfully nice to be within walking distance of all those tasty craft cocktails. So I’m always happy to stay in one of the eco-friendly solar-powered villas that are part of the Pineapplefish family.

    In fact, it’s been a while since I booked a stay. Earth Day is coming up soon: seems like a great time to start planning an eco-friendly vacation!

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