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Looking for the ultimate guide for the best things to do in Bradenton? Look no further!
Here you will find a quaint downtown, beautiful beaches, unique arts scenes, historic state parks, and outdoor activities. Start the journey by knowing what to see and do in this fabulous city.
Where to Stay in Bradenton?
SpringHill Suites by Marriott is a great and affordable option in downtown Bradenton. It is newer than the Hampton Inn & Suites. They also have a beautiful rooftop restaurant and bar! Plus, it has Oak & Stone located here.
Both are close to the Bradenton Riverwalk and The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature which are a lot of fun for all ages.
Compass Margaritaville is a beautiful waterfront hotel in West Bradenton located on Anna Maria Sound. This boutique hotel is situated at the gateway to Anna Maria Island with gorgeous views of Neal Preserve and the marina.
Beyond Bradenton, there are plenty of options on Anna Maria Island for beach rentals. They offer a variety of options from one-bedroom condos to full-size houses.
Can’t Read Now? Pin the “Best Things to Do in Bradenton FL” for Later!
There are so many things I love about this charming city! It feels like a small town while offering gourmet eateries, boutique shops, and the many offerings of a larger city. Without further delay, here are the best of the best things to do in Bradenton!
Historic Bradenton Beach Pier
Located at the north end of Sarasota Bay, the Historic Bradenton Beach City Pier is one of the more recognizable locations in the area. It is known for great fishing, gorgeous water views, and of course the historic pier!
There is a Day Dock located here for public use. It is open to boaters to use on a first come first served basis. This allows boaters easy access to dock n’ dine. The Pier has the Anna Maria Oyster Bar conveniently located there.
- Address: 1-15 Laverne Dr, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217
- Pier Parking: 1st Street North, slightly East of the Circle K
Bradenton Riverwalk is the most popular attraction in Bradenton which offers great views from the scenic banks of the Manatee River.
The Riverwalk path is 1.5 miles long and is good for those with kids and a stroller (ADA accessible). It provides a spectacular outdoor space that offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities for the community.
The Riverwalk and the surrounding park contains a fishing pier, skate park, beach volleyball, day docks, and a couple of outdoor venues for live music and other events.
As an added incentive the park has a Kid’s Zone (splash pad and playgrounds), along with shops and restaurants nearby. This is a super fun place for kids and FREE for everyone to enjoy!
Eat at a Delicious Restaurant in Bradenton
Downtown Bradenton is such a cute place! You will love the charm of this historic district with a variety of restaurants and bars.
For breakfast, I can’t seem to pass up the Sage Biscuit Cafe whenever I’m in downtown Bradenton. They have a delicious array of sweet or savory options. If you are looking for a healthier option, they also make an amazing salmon and goat cheese salad with a lime cilantro vinaigrette. I recommend sitting outside and enjoying the porch breeze. They are also great with kids’ meals, offering good portion sizes at a reasonable price and crayons to take home.
My favorite casual lunch or dinner restaurant in Bradenton is O’bricks Irish Pub & Martini Bar. This is a much-loved place by locals! A few of their delicious options include strawberry blue salad, flatbread pizza, and peanut butter pie.
- Address: 427 12th St W, Bradenton, FL 34205
- Phone: (941)896-8860
Another great downtown Bradenton restaurant is Chateau 13 (especially for couples). It stands out for its contemporary European culinary flare and extensive wine list. They are open for dinner only, and reservations are recommended.
Beyond downtown Bradenton, you will want to check out the Riverhouse Waterfront Restaurant just across the Manatee River near downtown Bradenton. Take a seat outside for some of the best water views while enjoying their excellent food! Don’t worry about the long walk from the restaurant to the end of the pier. They provide a complimentary trolley ride.
For the absolute best waterfront views, you will want to check out the rooftop at Oak & Stone. They have one of the largest beers on tap selections (and even wine on tap too).
The TreeUmph! Adventure Course is an elevated outdoor experience with climbing, zip line courses, jump-to-jump ropes, suspension bridges, and fun for all levels of ability. Tickets range from $25 and up depending on the experience.
This is a fun place for a family or work team-building gathering. Keep in mind this is for ages 5 and up. Safety equipment such as harnesses or helmets is supplied.
- Address: 21805 State Road 70 E, Bradenton, FL 34202
- Phone: (941)322-2130
- Booking Details: The TreeUmph! Adventure Course
Go for a Paddle in Robinson Preserve
Robinson Preserve is a 682+ acre preserve that features a pristine coastal and western landscape in northwestern Bradenton.
The preserve underwent an extensive transformation over the last decade and is now home to another waterway to aid in restoring tide flows in the habitat.
Robinson Preserve is known for some of the best kayaking in the area. There are vendors that rent out a variety of equipment to fully enjoy your experience.
The Preserve also offers other recreational possibilities including hiking, mountain bike trails, bird watching, kayak launch sites, and an impressive observation tower. Make sure to pack plenty of water and keep in mind there is not much shade, especially on the water.
- Address: 1704 99th St NW, Bradenton, FL 34209
- Phone: (941) 742-5923 – open year-round from sunrise to sunset
Have a Drink at a Local Brewery & Distillery
The Bradenton area is home to several fun places to try craft beers. The Motorworks Brewery and 3 Keys Brewing and Eatery are two of the most popular near downtown. Motorworks Brewery also offers movie nights and complimentary popcorn in their Beer Garden. One of the newer tasting rooms is Magnanimous Brewing Bradenton. They have some great flavored hazy IPAs!
Loaded Cannon Distillery in beautiful Lakewood Ranch is the only locally based and award-wining distillery serving premier spirits that include: vodka, rum, gin, bourbon, whiskey, and limoncello. Here you can take libation classes, take a tour, or just appreciate the tasting room.
Big Top Brewers Collective (previously Naughty Monk Brewing) is also located in Lakewood Ranch. Here you can enjoy live music on stage, cold brews (fantastic IPAs), as well as some yummy BBQ from Bubbaques food truck.
Palma Sola Botanical Park
Palma Sola Botanical Park covers nearly 10 acres with over 200 species of plants and trees. It is located in the “Old Palma Sola” area of northwest Bradenton. Admission to the park is FREE.
The Park offers a beautiful perennial Butterfly Garden, 3 ponds with bridges, lush landscaping, picnic tables or gazebos, and several walking routes. Tucked away behind the butterfly garden is the Hidden Garden Nursery. Here you will find more unique plants to explore including some of my favorite succulents.
Palma Sola Botanical Park is a great place to relax and enjoy nature’s wildlife. This is also an ideal venue for a wedding or a family gathering since they offer rental spots.
- Address: 9800 17th Avenue NW, Bradenton, FL 34209
- Phone: (941)761-2866
The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature
The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature has been established to highlight the exciting historical diversity of Florida from the early prehistoric period through the current. They offer permanent and seasonal exhibitions. The museum houses some of Florida’s oldest marine and mammalian inhabitants and archaeological material.
While at the museum, you will want to see the full-dome Planetarium and the Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat. The newest generation software provides amazing views and an educational virtual journey far across the cosmos. The Manatee Aquarium has been rehabilitating manatees since 1998, and even had a record-breaking manatee that lived to be 69 years old!
Costs range from $25 and up for adults. Kids under 4 are FREE. Students and seniors are offered admission discounts. The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature also participates in the annual free museum day.
- Address: 201 10th St W, Bradenton, FL 34205
- Phone: (941) 746-4131
Melt in Your Mouth Donuts in Bradenton
The Farm House is one of those places I drive out of the way for. If you like gourmet donuts, you will love this place. I found their donuts to be a one of a kind experience, where you can design your own! However, they have plenty to choose from without having to decide. My personal favorite is the miniature donuts variety box (don’t miss the maple bacon)!
Turner Donuts is a long-time local favorite by locals. You will find no frills here, but the prices are reasonable and they serve great donuts. I absolutely love their Apple Fritters!
- Address: 902 9th Ave W, Bradenton, FL 34205
- Phone: (941) 746-7909
Manatee County Agricultural Museum
Located in Palmetto Historical Park, the Manatee County Agricultural Museum highlights agriculture as an important part of Manatee County’s growth. Admission is FREE for everyone.
The museum has several displays focused on agriculture, livestock, horticultural farming, citrus and green crops as well as commercial fishing. It displays a variety of agricultural instruments including agricultural equipment, photographs and documents which highlight the rich cultural and natural history of the area.
- Address: 1015 6th St. West, Palmetto, FL 34221
- Phone: (941) 721-2034
Go Snorkeling on Anna Marie Island
Anna Maria Island just west of Bradenton is an ideal place to go snorkeling from the beach. While most people come here to sit in the sand or go swimming, snorkeling is a great way to see more of the island.
The Gulf of Mexico waters is full of hidden gems that can only be seen by exploring underwater. This area has many natural and artificial reefs, all of which are ideal for snorkeling or scuba diving. You will notice brightly colored sponges and soft corals, crabs, fish, and sometimes manatees or dolphins!
Another great way to snorkel and see the island is by charter. There are many options in the area, one of the most recognized is the Coastline Dolphin & Snorkeling Excursions on Anna Maria Island.
As a safety precaution, it’s always recommended to check in with lifeguards or your boat captain nearby on current weather conditions. And don’t forget skin protection with either a rash guard or reef-safe sunscreen!
Relax at the Beach
Bradenton is filled with fun things to do, but you must take at least one day to see the beach!
There are several popular places, but my personal favorites are Cortez Beach and Anna Maria Island Beaches (Bean Point). Anna Maria Island beaches are so beautiful it isn’t uncommon to see engagements or weddings.
- Cortez Beach: 1560 Gulf Drive South, Bradenton Beach, FL
- Bean Point: 793 N Shore Drive, Anna Maria, FL 34216
Explore History at De Soto National Memorial
De Soto National Memorial is a small park situated on 25 scenic acres, 5 miles west of downtown. It is run by the National Park Service and commemorates the place where Hernando De Soto’s expedition entered the mouth of Tampa Bay in 1539. The journey lasted several years, and native tribes suffered greatly from lingering diseases.
De Soto National Memorial has a few native-type shelters and trails situated around the perimeter of the park. The park visitor center offers an educational film, maps, and a gift shop.
Popular activities include hiking, biking, fishing, camping, or bird watching. This is an unusual combination of natural and historical worlds. This is a popular place for kids’ field trips, summer camps, and ranger roundups!
- Address: 8300 Desoto Memorial Hwy, Bradenton, Florida 34209
- Phone: 941-772-0588
Emerson Point Preserve
Emerson Point Preserve is a 365-acre park located in Palmetto (just outside of Bradenton). It is the perfect place for nature lovers or a great family outing.
There are plenty of hiking, biking, and kayak trails and beach sitting areas to watch the dolphins, otters, and wildlife. Plan to stay for at least a few hours or all day and bring a picnic lunch.
Along the trails, take time to notice their signage and learn about the history of Emerson Point. You won’t want to miss the ancient Native-American archeological site and the Observation Tower. There are some amazing views of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
- 5801 17th St W, Palmetto, FL 34221
- (941) 742-5923
Manatee Village Historical Park
Manatee Village Historic Park is a National Historic Site and beautifully restored indoor/outdoor museum located in Bradenton, Florida. This is an ideal place for kids and adults to learn about Florida history.
It has a unique collection of historical buildings, trains, objects, and artwork. Some of these places include: Wiggins General Store, Fogarty Boatworks, Potter Barn, 1887 church, and more!
There is also an educational building, cemetery, pavilion with picnic tables and a children’s area called Junior Junction. Plan to spend a few hours here to fully appreciate what the park has to offer.
I love that this museum provides FREE admission to everyone. Use their website to download “The Clio” App which provides all the history and information in one place.
- Address: 1404 Manatee Avenue East, Bradenton, FL
- Phone: (941) 749-7165
Downtown Bradenton Public Market
The Downtown Bradenton Public Market is located on Old Main Street in the center of the action. It is each Saturday from the first Friday of October until the last Thursday of May with more than 35 vendors. The farmers market includes fresh locally-sourced fruits and vegetables, flowers, fresh seafood and prepared foods, and organic products.
Bradenton Farmers Market offers a gathering place for locals and tourists to enjoy fresh food and homemade products, and view local art works. Come see a variety of artistic treasures made by local artists, while enjoying live music.
Lake Manatee State Park
Lake Manatee State Park has a 556-acre nature preserve located 15 km east of Bradenton. The park has an inviting outdoor environment that offers a variety of activities and entertainment for the entire family to enjoy. Cost is very reasonable at $5 per vehicle.
Some of the top things to do include camping, fishing, walking trails, playground, nice picnic area, and a boat launch area. It is one of the nicest campsites in the area with plenty of space provided. It is located near Bradenton Motorsports Park.
- Address: 20007 FL-64, Bradenton, FL 34212
- Phone: (941) 741-3028
Catch a Race at the Motorsports Park
The Bradenton Motorsports Park (BMP) is a place to watch pro drag racing and grudge racing on a 1/4-mile drag strip. They offer a variety of other events including car shows, professional test sessions, meetups, etc. Some of the largest events in the US are held here such as the Snowbird Outlaw Nationals, U.S. Street Nationals, and FL2K.
- Address: 21000 State Road 64, Bradenton, FL 34212
- Phone: (941)748-1320
Florida Railroad Museum
Florida Railroad Museum was established in 1981 specializing in the history of the railroad systems. The museum has a historic railroad that operates round-trip tours for visitors on 6 scenic miles of Sarasota’s former Seaboard Airline Subdivision between Parrish and Willow.
Kids love this lively museum experience where you ride on a train, see a train robbery in action, and eat on a murder-mystery dinner train. Tickets range in price based on experience.
- Address: 12210 83rd St E, Parrish, FL 34219
- Phone: (941) 776-0906
Bradenton Baseball at LECOM Park
LECOM Park was built in 1923, and is unique for being the oldest stadium currently in use for spring training. It has beautiful mission-style architecture and is often mentioned as Florida’s version of Fenway Park.
This state-of-the-art Pittsburgh Pirates’ baseball stadium features nearly 600 seats which are often filled with Pirates fans. It is also home to the Bradenton Marauders, the Single-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
If you’re on the fence to see a game, it is an excellent location with reasonable drink prices and a truly a fun place to check out.
Additionally, if you are looking for kids things to do, you must stop at Mixons Fruit Farm just 2-minutes away.
- Address: 1611 9th St W, Bradenton, FL 34205
- Phone: (941) 747-3031
Mixon Fruit Farms
Mixon Fruit Farms is one of the top family-friendly attractions in Bradenton to visit for its wide variety of fun things to do. Some of these fun activities include a wildlife preserve, homemade orange products, kids’ playground, tram rides and so much more!
Before you purchase items, they also will offer you samples. Check out some of the items you must try on your visit to Mixon Fruit Farms.
- Address: 2525 27th Street E, Bradenton, FL 34208
- Phone: (941)748-5829
Florida Maritime Museum
It is not surprising for the Sunshine State to have a nautical richness which includes scuba diving and snorkeling. The museum has almost five acres and includes a century-old school. Its exhibits cover sailing, commercial fishing and maritime tourism, spanning centuries to a time before Florida was incorporated.
The Florida Maritime Museum focuses on documenting Florida’s maritime history. The museum was founded to showcase and display the importance of the regional fishing sector with an array of exhibitions showing historic artifacts, photographs and instruments. The research library is available with journals, books, periodicals, plans and documents.
- Address: 4415 119th St W, Cortez, FL 34215
- Phone: (941)708-6120
Day Trip to Myakka Elephant Ranch
If your family loves animals check out the Myakka Elephant Ranch. This up-close experience can include bathing, feeding, and touching elephants. Prices range from $29 dollars and up.
Keep in mind it is East of Bradenton, but would make a great day trip! It is roughly a 20-mile drive from downtown.
- Address: 4450 Verna Bethany Rd, Myakka City, FL 34251
Shop Till You Drop at Ellenton Premium Outlets
Just outside of Bradenton is the Ellenton Premium Outlets. I would be amiss if I didn’t mention them since people from St Petersburg, Sarasota, and other nearby areas will drive out of their way to shop at this mall. Some of the outlet stores include Ralph Lauren, Coach, Lacoste, Saks Off Fifth, Carter’s, and many more!
After a day of shopping, there is nothing like a nice meal by the water. For lunch or dinner near the outlet mall, check Woody’s River Roo.
- Address: 5461 Factory Shops Blvd, Ellenton, FL 34222
- Phone: (941) 723-1150
Gamble Plantation Historic State Park
The Judah P. Benjamin Confederate Monument at Gamble Plantation Historic State Park is a 16-acre Florida State Park. It is the only surviving plantation home in South Florida.
Gamble Plantation was once an extensive sugarcane farm and was donated to the state by the Daughters of the Confederacy. The park showcases an impressive antebellum house constructed in 1874 by Major Robert Gamble.
The cost is FREE to enter the park. To view the inside of the plantation house, tours cost $6 per adult and $4 for kids ages 6-12. The grounds are immaculately kept and you will be swept away by the history of the period.
- Address: 3708 Northeast, Patten Ave, Ellenton, FL 34222
- Phone: (941)723-4536
Village of the Arts
Village of the Arts is a fun, eclectic artsy community located in the heart of the central Bradenton area. It offers more than 275 individual properties, restaurants, cafes, art galleries, studios and workshops. The artists bungalows are easily noticed from their colorfully decorated exteriors dating back to the 1920s. Utilize the map for location, hours, and more information.
Sunset Horseback Riding on the Beach
Looking for a fun and unique activity to do with your family? Why not try horseback riding and swimming at the beach?
My family had a horse farm for many years, so being around horses is always on my list of fun things to do! At C Ponies, you can meet beautiful horses and learn about their amazing stories. Many of them are rescues, so you’ll be sure to appreciate each one’s unique story.
Plus, you might even get to see some wildlife like manatees, stingrays, and dolphins! Palma Sola Bay is a natural habitat for manatees, so keep your eyes peeled.
Not to mention, the views of the bay are absolutely stunning. So why not give horseback riding at the beach a try? It’s sure to be a fun and unique experience for you and your partner.
C Ponies offers multiple excursions including a Sunset Platinum Excursion which is a favorite for proposals, honeymoons, and other romantic dates. They also have trail riding and daytime horseback riding on the beach which is a lot of fun for families (kids over 13).
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is Brandenton
Bradenton is located just north of Sarasota on the Manatee River in Manatee County. It is only a 10-mile drive from the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.
How far is Bradenton from Tampa?
Bradenton is approximately 45 miles from Tampa on I-75. If you take I-275 it is approximately 46 miles. Taking I-75 or I-275 largely depends on which part of Tampa you plan to visit and the amount of traffic. I-275 also has a toll plaza to cross the Skyway Bridge from Bradenton into St Petersburg.
When is the Best Time to Visit Bradenton Florida?
Bradenton gets breezes from the Gulf of Mexico which helps provide reasonable temperatures most of the year. June through October tend to be the hottest months and can have less than ideal conditions with potential hurricanes.
If the heat of the day is too much, Bradenton offers a range of indoor activities. Its mildest weather can be found from December to February.
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