Welcome to Bradenton, Florida.
What are you going to do while you’re here?
Bradenton calls itself The Friendly City, and that’s pretty appropriate. You’ll make new friends, even if you’re only here for a day or two. We hope you stay longer, though, because there’s so much to do.
You’ll find Bradenton in Florida, on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. The city is south of Tampa and St. Petersburg and just north of Sarasota. The city center is on the banks of the Manatee River, creating an ideal Riverwalk space that’s full of views, outdoor entertainment, and a perfect setting for outdoor events.
In Bradenton, you’ll find lots of art, gorgeous parks and green spaces, highly rated restaurants, and diverse opportunities for entertainment and recreation. You can go to the beach or do some shopping or explore a museum.
If you’re still putting together your own list of things to do when you visit Bradenton, we have some ideas we’d love to share with you. Check out some of the top activities available here.
Stroll Bradenton’s Riverwalk
The Manatee River is huge, and you’ll get a great look at it when you enjoy Bradenton’s Riverwalk. This has become one of the best places to spend a weekend or an evening. The walk along the river is wheelchair and stroller accessible, and it’s also pet-friendly. There’s a skate park, volleyball courts, and a large outdoor amphitheater where there are concerts, shows, and other forms of outdoor entertainment.
Along Riverwalk, you’ll find a splash pad, which is a welcome spritz on hot days, a playground for the kids, and an astonishing array of quaint shops, restaurants, and cafés that have ever-changing menus with tasty morsels and craft cocktails.
Visit Village of the Arts
Head over to Village of the Arts, which is one of the prettiest and most interesting communities you’ll come across in Florida or anywhere. There are more than 100 homes, restaurants, bars, cafés, art galleries, working studios, and creative workshops. Residential cottages and bungalows are often open to tours, and you’ll find their residents more than willing to tell you about the history and architecture of their homes. Most of them have been carefully restored from their original design dating back to the 1920s and 1930s. They’re brightly painted, making them irresistible and charming.
The galleries and studios feature works of local artists and you can spend an entire afternoon sipping coffee or tea at one of the local outdoor cafés. Take a long walk, get to know a favorite artist’s work a little better, and buy something unique to take home.
Walk the Historic Trails at De Soto National Memorial
Enjoy some beach time without committing to a full day at the beach. Take a short hike without dragging around the heavy backpack and the supplies.
You can do both those things while learning some history you might not know at the De Soto National Memorial. This park commemorates the landing of Hernando De Soto in 1539. Historic markers, exhibits, and explanations chart the area’s European exploration throughout Florida and the southern U.S.
The setting is lovely. The memorial covers 26 acres of waterfront property. You’ll be looking at the Manatee River flowing into Tampa Bay. Pick a patch of sand along the 3,000 feet of coastline if you want to relax and look at the water. Launch a kayak or a canoe, have a picnic, or take a walk. You can fish, you can watch birds, or you can stroll through the visitor’s center and talk to some of the extremely knowledgeable national park rangers who are on staff to help you make the most of your visit.
Little Manatee River State Park
Little Manatee River State Park is a lot of fun for anyone who loves the outdoors. There’s hiking, fishing, boating, and even swimming opportunities all year long. The Manatee River was dammed in the 1960s, creating a lake as well as wetlands. The smell of pine is strong throughout the forest areas, and there are also hardwood hiking trails that attract wild turkeys, gopher tortoises, and deer. You’re more than likely going to see an alligator or two from the trails.
There are maps when you pull into the park as well as family-friendly amenities such as showers and bathrooms.
Watch the Pittsburgh Pirates Play
When you plan your trip during major league baseball’s spring training season, you can get an intimate look at some of the players in the Grapefruit League. Most notably, the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have a spring training stadium in Bradenton.
LECOM Park is where they train and play pre-season ball. The park was built in 1923, and initially named the McKechnie Field, in honor of Pittsburgh native and Hall of Fame manager Bill McKechnie. As sponsorship changed, it was later renamed LECOM Park after the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.
The Pirates have invested in a number of renovations and upgrades over the recent years, and this stadium has become one of baseball’s most exceptional facilities. You’ll find a 19,000-square-foot boardwalk running the length of the outfield, a boardwalk barbeque area, the LaPensee Plumbing, Pools & Air Party Deck, an enlarged fan plaza, expanded restroom facilities and new covered bleachers with 570 seats.
Don’t wait for baseball season to get your fix. During spring training, you can socialize with the players, who are far more willing to sign autographs and even play catch with fans.
The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature
The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature is a natural history museum that’s ideal for families, kids, and lifelong learners. It includes The Planetarium, the Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat, the Mosaic Backyard Universe, and a number of ongoing exhibitions that stay interesting and full of new discoveries.
- The Planetarium is the premier astronomy facility on Florida’s west coast, and the innovative art projection system is an upgrade that provides for six dual projection systems. This leads to amazing views and a fresh, hands-on look at astronomy as new discoveries are made. The new system also allows The Bishop to share live on-air events as they happen. The technology and enormous dome come together inside the museum to recreate a dark sky natural environment.
- The Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat is a stage 2 rehabilitation facility, caring for wounded manatees that would be in danger out in the wild. Modeled after a cypress spring, this habitat holds 60,000 gallons of water. Visitors can view the manatees from above and below the water. Learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about these gentle sea cows, including why they’re endangered.
- The Mosaic Backyard Universe is just plain fun. It’s also now fully ADA accessible and designed for kids of all ages (including grown-ups who don’t feel like adulting while on vacation). Check out the scale solar system models and the freshwater turtle pond. There’s even a Science Shed and a towering oak tree.
Emerson Point Preserve
Let’s get back outside and explore some shell mounds while taking in gorgeous water views.
At the tip of Snead Island and at the mouth of the Manatee River, Emerson Point Preserve is a 365-acre preserve that showcases Florida’s wildlife and native plant species. As you’re exploring the spacious preserve, you’ll find yourself looking at prehistoric and historic sites that date back to pre-European settler times. Check out the Native American Portavant Temple Mound, an observation tower with panoramic views of Terra Ceia Bay and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
At the anger station you’ll find maps and other information. There are several multi-use trails for hiking, mountain biking, and jogging. You can stroll out on a boardwalk and take some pictures or have a picnic. Launch a canoe or a kayak and bring your binoculars if you’re fond of birds.
Palma Sola Botanical Park
Stroll through more than 10 acres at the Palma Sola Botanical Park, which offers a breathtaking array of flowering trees, rare palms, a butterfly garden, and even edible fruit trees and herb gardens. This is a popular spot for weddings. Three lakes with bridges are ideal spots for a selfie, and there’s also a playground and a picnic pavilion.
If you’ve ever wished you knew more about flora in Florida, this is the place to explore. The Galleria and Baden buildings offer numerous educational programs and workshops.
Chug-A-Chug-A-Choo-Choo: It’s the Florida Railroad Museum
Florida is known for its sunshine and its tourism and its theme parks but really, it’s a producer of agricultural products and lots of natural resources. That required a strong railroad system. So, it makes sense that we’d have the Florida Railroad Museum. There’s a lot to learn in this museum, but better than that – you can take an official rail tour. It leaves the museum every Sunday and takes visitors on a 90-minute trip.
Bradenton has more to offer than you might imagine. When you’re planning a trip to this part of Florida, let us be your guide. If you’re looking to rent a vacation home in Bradenton, contact us at Anchor Down Vacation Rentals. When you book with us directly, you save money and have a better vacation planning experience.