Things to do in Bradenton, Florida. We list 27 attractions that are perfect for everyone. Fun and adventures in Bradenton are endless!
*This article was written by Wayne Kask*
27 Best Things To Do In Bradenton, Florida
Looking for the best things to do in Bradenton Florida? I got you covered. Nestled near the Florida Gulf Coast, this paradise offers beautiful attractions and unforgettable experiences for everyone that will keep you coming back for more. From the pristine beaches and exciting water activities just a few miles away, this charming town serves both fun and relaxation at the same time.
As someone who loves the Gulf Coast of Florida, we will take a tour and unveil the best kept-secrets and must-visit spots in Bradenton FL for a more unique and fun experience.
Let’s not keep you waiting. Let’s jump in!
1. Manatee Village Historical Park
Step back in time and immerse yourself in the rich history of Bradenton by visiting the Manatee Village Historical Park. This national historic site showcases intriguing exhibits and interactive displays that will help you learn more about the evolution of Bradenton Florida and the history of this town from past generations.
As you go for a short walk around these well-preserved artifacts and interpretative panels, you will get the chance to understand the town’s maritime heritage, culture, and the long journey that has brought Bradenton to where it stands today.
2. Bishop Museum of Science and Nature
For those who have a great passion for knowledge and a curious mind, the Bishop Museum of Science and Nature is a great place for you. Located at the 10th St West of Bradenton FL, this remarkable museum offers an awe-inspiring collection of artifacts, fossils, and interactive exhibits that span the fields of science, history, and nature.
Marvel around as you see life-sized dinosaur replicas or explore the wonders and mysteries of our galaxy at the planetarium. This South Florida museum will guarantee both enjoyment and educational experience for all ages.
Pro Tip: Check out these other awesome museums in Florida!
3. Bradenton Riverwalk
Imagine yourself taking a stroll along the serene waters of the Manatee River – that’s the experience waiting for you at the Riverwalk. This 1-and-a-half-mile outdoor park is the best destination for travelers and even art lovers.
Here, you will find lots of fun things such as art displays from local artists as you walk along the scenic path and embrace the soothing ambiance. You can also grab a snack or go for a picnic as you watch boats passing by right in the heart of Bradenton Florida.
4. Leffis Key Preserve
If you’re seeking an off-the-beaten-path adventure, Leffis Key Preserve is a sanctuary of unspoiled wilderness. Walk along the winding boardwalks as you pass through the lush green mangroves and coastal habitats.
Also keep your eyes open for an array of wildlife that is waiting for you including different species of birds, sea turtles, and lizards.
Don’t forget to immerse yourself in the moment and enjoy the panoramic views as you hike towards the observation tower and admire the spectacular beauty from above.
5. Longboat Key
Just a short drive from the main town in Bradenton, Longboat Key is a popular location for those who want to recharge and unwind with nature. Soak yourself in the crystal-clear waters and pristine white sands of the beaches of Longboat Key.
More than the beautiful beaches, Longboat Key also offers an excellent luxury experience where you can try waterfront golfing, fine dining or book a stay at one of the luxury resorts. Be sure to visit the public beach on the south end of Longboat Pass Bridge.
6. Robinson Preserve
For all nature lovers, visiting the Robinson Nature Preserve is a must! This sprawling sanctuary offers an oasis of serenity with its lush mangrove tunnels and captivating wildlife. The meandering hiking and biking trails are also ideal for those who want to be in the outdoors and simply reconnect with nature.
This natural sanctuary is also a perfect spot to go kayaking and paddleboarding. Glide through the mangrove forest of Bradenton Florida and witness its stunning wildlife that you won’t see in any other area.
7. Lake Manatee State Park
For incredible outdoor activities, head over to Lake Manatee State Park. With its expansive lake, hiking trails, and camping facilities, this park caters to both adventure seekers and those looking for a perfect place for relaxation.
Even though it is named Lake Manatee, you can’t see manatees here due to the dam that blocks the mouth of the Manatee River and prevents manatees from entering the area. However, the excellent freshwater is ideal for fishing and boating activities for a more fun and enjoyable visit.
8. Bridge Street Pier
If you’re craving breathtaking waterfront views and a taste of local life, the Bridge Street Pier won’t disappoint. You can go for a leisure walk as you watch different boats and fishermen in action. Explore the boutique shops and stores in the area and discover amazing souvenirs and great finds!
After all the strolling and shopping, make a stop at one of the restaurants and savor some of the best dishes in the area. Grab a bite to eat at Bridge Tender or Bridge Street Bistro.
Lastly, this place is famous for being one of the best spots to catch a magical sunrise or sunset in Bradenton Beach.
9. Coquina Beach
No trip to Bradenton Florida is complete without visiting one of the most popular attractions in the area, Coquina Beach. Situated on the southern part of Anna Maria Island in Bradenton Beach, this stunning stretch of shoreline offers the softest white sands and crystal blue waters in Florida.
This beach has ample space for everyone to hang out and there is free parking for those with cars. The beach also has a spacious picnic area where you can hang out with your friends and your whole family. Visitors can play volleyball at the beach volleyball court, or just simply unwind as you listen to the waves for a quintessential beach experience.
Don’t forget to also check out other neighboring beaches in Anna Maria Island such as Holmes Beach, Manatee Public Beach, and Bayfront Park.
10. Family Heritage House Museum
History buffs will be enthralled by the Family Heritage House Museum. It is an African-American art gallery located on a college campus in Bradenton. Learn more about the history of the African and African American heritage in this historic building.
Explore exhibits that delve into the town’s cultural roots, including the different stories of its diverse community. This museum offers a window to the past and a great opportunity to connect with Bradenton Florida’s culture.
11. Palma Sola Botanical Park
Palma Sola Botanical Park is a 10–acre paradise filled with meticulously maintained gardens featuring a diverse collection of flora from around the world. Immerse yourself in nature as you stroll through the themed gardens.
Be ready to take photos and admire the beautiful colors of exotic flowers and plants in this botanical park. They are open daily with free admission to all guests.
12. Dolphin Tours
Don’t miss your chance to witness incredible dolphins in the waters of Anna Maria Island and Tampa Bay.
Enjoy a private dolphin watch or sunset cruise and be prepared for a unique experience. Pack your sunscreen and go on board a dolphin cruise for easy access from Bradenton, FL.
Aside from dolphins, other tours also offer exciting wildlife experiences which will be a great time for you to see other animals including manatees, birds, and even sea turtles along the way.
13. De Soto National Memorial
Situated 5 miles away west of Bradenton is De Soto National Memorial Park. This park showcases the memorial of the historic landing of Hernando de Soto in Florida in 1539.
Learn more fascinating history from this national monument in the Manatee River and discover the rich cultural heritage of the indigenous peoples who inhabited the area before European settlement.
14. Public Pier
The Bradenton City Public Pier is a great go-to place for those who want to take a leisurely walk and relax with great ocean views alongside boats and birds by the pier. It is also a popular place for fishing, for both locals and visitors to the area.
More than just a fishing spot, however, the city pier in Bradenton Florida is a vantage point for catching breathtaking sunsets at the Gulf. Don’t forget to bring your camera and capture this picture-perfect scene!
15. Anna Maria Oyster Bar- Cortez
If you’re looking for the best seafood and local delights in the Bradenton area, then you should head to the Anna Maria Oyster Bar. This hidden gem can be found in the historic fishing village of Cortez, which is well-known for its mouthwatering seafood dishes and laid-back ambiance. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy some oysters and meet the locals at the same time in Bradenton Florida.
16. Carousel Sea Horses
Another unique experience that you should try in Bradenton is the Carousel Sea Horses. Operated by Carousel Sea Horses Llc., this excursion will take you on a wonderful horseback riding adventure by the sea.
Feel the wind in your hair as you ride the horses along the beautiful shoreline, taking in the breathtaking sunset views of the Gulf of Mexico.
Get to know these horses and appreciate the ride, with the help of a professional guide. That will ensure a safe and memorable experience.
17. Gamble Plantation Historic State Park
Also known as the Gamble Mansion, Gamble Plantation Historic State Park situated in Ellenton is a historic landmark in Florida. Built in 1844 as a sugar plantation during the war, this 2-story building is highly visited by many tourists because of its rich history and interesting exhibits inside the house. Go back in time and learn more about the history of the sugar plantation industry in Florida.
The park is open from 8 AM until sunset to all visitors and 9 AM to 5 PM for the center and museum from Thursdays to Mondays.
18. Explore the restaurants and bars of downtown Bradenton
One of the best things to do in Bradenton that you shouldn’t miss is the diverse food scene and vibrant nightlife in the downtown area. With so much to offer, you can choose from a variety of local restaurants and coffee shops depending on your mood.
Whether you want to grab some drinks at the O’Bricks Irish Pub & Martini Bar or enjoy classic fine dining at the Pier 22 restaurant, exploring the downtown part of Bradenton is a great way to immerse yourself with the locals.
19. Grab a sweet treat at Corwin’s Ice Cream
If you have a sweet tooth and are craving some desserts, then Corwin’s Ice Cream along the Manatee River in Bradenton Florida is your best choice!
They offer plenty of flavors to choose from including sweet coconut, indulging chocolates and almonds, fruity flavors, and many more. There is always something to satisfy all your sweet cravings!
They also serve delicious milkshakes to quench your thirst in the sunny city of Florida.
20. Breakfast at Anna Maria Island Kokonut Hut
Take an early morning cruise and grab your breakfast at the Kokonut Hut in Bradenton Beach. With a spectacular beach location, this local restaurant offers the best views for breakfast.
The Kokonut Hut serves a variety of breakfast options for everyone, from seafood to classic American dishes. The lively atmosphere and outdoor seating also add to the charm of the restaurant.
21. 3 Keys Brewery
Another addition to the best places for food and drinks in Bradenton is 3 Keys Brewery. This family-friendly brewery has been a favorite spot for locals and tourists who want to enjoy awesome food and beers. Don’t miss out on the wide selection of beers, and tasty tacos and pizzas.
The Keys Brewing also has amazing live entertainment which is perfect for celebrations and groups who want to have the best time and enjoy themselves.
22. Donut Experiment
If you are a fan of donuts and sweets, the Donut Experiment in Anna Maria Island is something that you should try. With a selection of unique flavors and toppings, the donuts in this bakery are exceptional. The best part is you can choose a topping of your own choice!
I suggest you order the assorted flavors to taste different flavors and pair them up with some coffee to complement your sweets.
23. Riverwalk Splash Park
The Riverwalk Splash Park is a must-visit destination for families with young children. It features interactive water fountains, a splash pad, and a playground where your kids can play and enjoy water sports.
This fun park offers a refreshing escape from the Florida heat. It also has green and shaded gardens and picnic tables where you can take your family or pets.
24. Sarasota Jungle Gardens
Get up close and personal with nature at the Sarasota Jungle Gardens just a few minutes away from Bradenton FL. Walk through the unique green trails and discover wildlife and exotic animals in this garden sanctuary. Watch out for flamingos, they walk freely, and you can even feed them if you like.
This zoo is perfect for families and kids who want to enjoy an interactive experience with nature and animals.
25. Motorsports Park
If you’re seeking a thrilling adventure, then you shouldn’t miss going to Bradenton Motorsports Park. Showcasing a wide range of racing competitions, and special events including motorcycle and drag races, this park is the perfect spot for adrenaline-seekers and speed enthusiasts.
They operate year-round, providing an opportunity to witness exhilarating races and enjoy a fun day out with friends or family.
26. Smugglers Cove Adventure Golf
Enjoy a fun-filled day playing mini-golf with your family at the Smugglers Cove Adventure Golf near Cortez Beach. This miniature golf adventure park features a unique setting, with pirate ships and caves, which is perfect for first-timers and kids. You can also get a chance to feed baby gators at the pond for a more exciting adventure.
This place is a perfect destination for those who want to have some fun and games to spend the day with the family. They are open from 9 AM to 11 PM and located at Cortez Rd in Bradenton, Florida.
27. Neal Preserve
Famous for its picturesque wetlands and abundant wildlife, the Neal Preserve in Manatee County, Florida is a must-visit. With more than 100 acres of land area of coastal habitats including mangroves, this national preserve offers the best views and nature scene. It also has a long boardwalk nature trail which is ideal for outdoor activities like walking and jogging.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Bradenton worth visiting?
Absolutely! Nestled in sunny Florida, this charming city offers the best attractions and activities everyone will surely enjoy.
From historical sites and stunning beaches nearby to vast wildlife, Bradenton is a hidden gem you don’t want to miss.
What is Bradenton mostly known for?
Bradenton is mostly known for its proximity to white sand beaches, historical attractions, a fishing pier, and amazing specialty shops and restaurants. This small town in Florida offers more than meets the eye.
Which is better, Sarasota or Bradenton?
When it comes to choosing between Sarasota and Bradenton, it ultimately depends on what you’re looking for on a vacation.
If you’re looking for a more peaceful vibe, then Sarasota is the better choice.
However, when it comes to the cost and expenses, Bradenton has cheaper prices compared to Sarasota.
Nevertheless, both destinations offer their own unique experiences and attractions, so it really comes down to personal preference.
Wrapping Up: Things To Do In Bradenton Florida
Do you want a captivating slice of the paradise of Bradenton Florida? You’re in luck! From this blog post, we have delved into the main attractions and the best ways to enjoy the vibrant beach of Bradenton Fl.
From educational historical buildings and theme and state parks to enchanting wildlife and natural preserves, the fun and adventures in Bradenton are endless.
Don’t forget about the awesome restaurants and bars, for a more satisfying vacation.
About The Author: Wayne is a travel blogger and creator of Always On The Shore. He loves to write about the best attractions, restaurants, and resorts in Florida and the southeastern U.S. When he is not writing, he is running outdoors, spending time with family, or planning his next trip.
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