The Getaway
15 Things to Do in Bradenton, Florida

Bradenton, Florida, is a hidden gem on the Gulf Coast, offering a mix of cultural, historical, and natural attractions. This inviting city is known for its scenic beauty, friendly locals, and an array of activities that cater to all interests. From the vibrant arts scene to the tranquil beaches nearby, Bradenton is a destination that promises memorable experiences for travelers seeking a taste of Florida's laid-back lifestyle. With its proximity to other tourist destinations like Sarasota and Tampa, Bradenton serves as a perfect central hub for exploring the greater area.

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01 Explore the Village of the Arts

Bradenton's Village of the Arts is a unique enclave where creativity flourishes. Visitors can wander through streets lined with colorful cottages, each housing galleries, studios, and boutiques showcasing the work of local artists. Monthly art walks and special events provide a festive atmosphere and the opportunity to find unique, handcrafted treasures. This thriving arts community is one of the largest of its kind in Florida, making it a must-see for art lovers and collectors.

02 Stroll along the Riverwalk

bradenton riverwalk

The Bradenton Riverwalk is a beautifully designed outdoor space that invites visitors to enjoy the Manatee River's serene views. This multi-use trail offers areas for picnicking, playing, and even attending outdoor concerts at the pavilion. Children can play in the splash pad while adults relax in the shaded areas or engage in a game of beach volleyball. The Riverwalk is a cornerstone of Bradenton's outdoor lifestyle, connecting various parts of the city with a scenic and accessible waterfront.

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03 Visit the South Florida Museum

The South Florida Museum is a cultural staple in Bradenton, featuring exhibits on natural and cultural history, a state-of-the-art planetarium, and an aquatic exhibit dedicated to the preservation of Florida's marine life. The museum's interactive displays and educational programs make it an enriching experience for visitors of all ages. As the largest natural and cultural history museum on Florida's Gulf Coast, it plays a pivotal role in education and conservation.

04 Relax at the Robinson Preserve

Robinson preserve

Robinson Preserve is a natural sanctuary offering a variety of outdoor activities. With its extensive trails, visitors can hike, bike, or kayak through mangrove forests and tidal marshes. The preserve is also a prime spot for bird watching, with numerous species making their home in this protected environment. This expansive preserve is a testament to Manatee County's commitment to preserving natural habitats and providing recreational opportunities.

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05 Enjoy the De Soto National Memorial

The De Soto National Memorial commemorates the 1539 landing of explorer Hernando de Soto. This park offers a glimpse into America's early history with living history demonstrations, nature trails, and waterfront views. It's a place where history comes alive amidst the backdrop of Florida's stunning natural landscape. The memorial is not only a site of historical significance but also a beautiful location for outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking.

06 Take a boat tour

child on boat

Embark on a boat tour to experience Bradenton's coastal beauty from the water. These tours offer a chance to see dolphins, manatees, and a variety of seabirds in their natural habitat. Sunset cruises are particularly popular, providing breathtaking views of the sky as it lights up in vibrant colors. The calm waters of the Gulf and the Manatee River make for an ideal boating experience, suitable for all ages and interests.

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07 Visit the Manatee Village Historical Park

Manatee Village Historical Park

The Manatee Village Historical Park is a step back in time, with carefully preserved buildings and artifacts that tell the story of the area's past. Visitors can explore a schoolhouse, church, and even a blacksmith shop, gaining insight into the lives of Florida's early settlers. This living history museum offers a tangible connection to the past, with events and reenactments that bring the history of Bradenton and Manatee County to life.

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08 Play at the IMG Academy

The IMG Academy is a world-class sports training facility that attracts athletes from around the globe. Visitors can tour the campus, watch up-and-coming sports stars in training, or participate in adult and youth programs designed to improve athletic performance. The academy is not just for elite athletes; it also offers programs for those looking to enhance their skills in a professional setting, making it a unique attraction in the Bradenton area.

09 Shop at the Bradenton Farmers' Market

wjenningsphotography / Getty Images

The Bradenton Farmers' Market is a bustling hub where locals and visitors alike come to purchase fresh, locally-sourced produce, artisanal goods, and gourmet treats. The market, open on Saturdays, is a great place to connect with the community and enjoy live entertainment. It's a celebration of the region's agricultural bounty and a testament to the area's support for sustainable and local businesses.

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10 Relax at Anna Maria Island Beaches

Anna Maria Island Beaches

Just west of Bradenton, Anna Maria Island offers pristine beaches with powdery white sand and clear blue waters. It's a perfect spot for a day of relaxation, swimming, and enjoying the Florida sun. The island's laid-back charm and natural beauty make it a must-visit destination. Anna Maria Island is renowned for its stunning sunsets and welcoming atmosphere, making it a beloved spot for both locals and tourists.

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11 Discover the Manatee Performing Arts Center

Three Actresses in period costumes on theatre stage FOTOGRAFIA INC. / Getty Images

The Manatee Performing Arts Center is a hub for the performing arts, featuring a variety of shows ranging from Broadway-style musicals to intimate dramas. The center's commitment to high-quality productions makes it a cultural highlight for those visiting Bradenton. With a year-round schedule of performances, the center is a beacon for arts and entertainment in the community.

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12 Experience the Palma Sola Botanical Park

Palma Sola Botanical Park is a peaceful retreat where visitors can enjoy exotic plants, tranquil ponds, and vibrant flower gardens. The park's pavilions and playgrounds make it an ideal location for family outings and picnics amidst the beauty of nature. This hidden oasis is a favorite among locals for weddings and events, and it offers educational programs that promote environmental awareness.

13 Go fishing at the Historic Green Bridge Fishing Pier

Anglers will find the Historic Green Bridge Fishing Pier an excellent spot for casting a line. The pier extends into the Manatee River, offering a chance to catch a variety of fish while enjoying the scenic views of the water and the Bradenton skyline. The pier's location near downtown Bradenton makes it easily accessible for a day of fishing or simply enjoying the riverfront atmosphere.

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14 Sample local brews at Motorworks Brewing

Motorworks Brewing is Bradenton's first craft brewery, featuring a spacious beer garden and a diverse selection of beers on tap. Visitors can take a brewery tour, sample award-winning brews, and enjoy live music and events in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. The brewery is a cornerstone of the local craft beer scene and a popular gathering place for residents and visitors alike.

15 Indulge in fresh seafood at Cortez Fishing Village

The historic Cortez Fishing Village is one of the last remaining fishing villages on Florida's Gulf Coast. Here, visitors can savor fresh seafood straight from the boats, browse maritime shops, and learn about the village's rich fishing heritage at the Florida Maritime Museum. Cortez offers a glimpse into the area's maritime past while providing some of the freshest seafood available, making it a culinary destination for those who appreciate the flavors of the Gulf.

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