Neal Preserve is a hidden gem in Bradenton. You can find it just across from Anna Maria Island on Manatee Ave (Highway 64). Literally, it’s the last thing you pass as you hop on the bridge from Bradenton to Anna Maria Island.
But it’s quite small, so it’s easy to miss.
The preserve is a perfect destination for nature lovers and anyone seeking some peace and quiet but doesn't want to work too hard to enjoy nature (since the trail is so short). The preserve spans over 120 acres with a nature trail that winds through a surprisingly diverse landscape, including mangrove forests, tidal marshes, and upland habitats.
It's a great spot to take photos here in Bradenton, either of your family, or of the many bird species you'll find here.
Scroll down below to see my Neal Preserve photos from a recent morning walk.
Exploring Neal Preserve, Bradenton
Yes, this preserve is quite small. Especially when comparing it to the other 2 popular preserves in Bradenton: Robinson and Perico. At these other two preserves, you can walk or jog for miles. You can also bike or kayak/paddleboard as well as go fishing.
At Neal Preserve, the only thing you can do is enjoy a short, scenic stroll. Although there is a pier overlooking the bay and Anna Maria Island, there’s no access to the water, so don’t bring your kayaks here.
The trail is not paved. Half of it is a dirt/crushed shell path, and half of it is a wooden boardwalk. Aside from the Neal Preserve hiking trail, which is only half a mile, you can also climb the 20-foot tall observation tower.
I’ll be honest - the tower is disappointing. It’s not tall enough to get a view of the water. If you want a stunning view, head to Robinson Preserve (a short drive away) and climb the massive tower, from which you can see Tampa Bay and the Skyway Bridge that leads to St Petersburg.
And while the preserve doesn’t quite stack up to others in the area, it sure is beautiful. If you have an hour to kill and want to enjoy a nice quiet walk, then this is worth a visit. Especially since it’s in such a convenient location, next to the bridge between Anna Maria Island and Bradenton.
Neal Preserve Bradenton Florida is open year-round, from dawn until dusk, and parking is free. Whether you're a local or vacationing on AMI, a visit to the Neal Preserve is a must for anyone looking to connect with nature and discover the beauty of Florida's Gulf Coast.
Neal Preserve Address - 12301 Manatee Ave W, Bradenton, FL 34209
Book an Outdoor Photoshoot While You're on AMI
If you're vacationing on AMI or in Bradenton, and want to capture the memories that you are making as a family, then you should definitely book a family portrait session.
Beach photoshoots during the sunset are absolutely stunning and will be the best possible souvenir you can take home with you. If you're interested in booking a family or couples photoshoot on AMI, or elsewhere in Bradenton, you can head to this page and fill out a simple contact form :)