Although Bradenton is a quiet "bedroom community", with a historical downtown, a beautiful river and beach, I am surprised that the Bradenton Travel Pages doesn't include the surrounding areas. The attractions are only limited to the city limits. Most travelers have a car!
North: Tampa 1 hour, Ybor City 1 hour, Clearwater 1 hour, St Peterbergs Beach 1 hour, City of St Petersburg 40 minutes, John's Pass 1.5 hours. East: ORLANDO is 2 hours away, Lake Okawakchobe (sp?) South: Sarasota, 30 minutes, Venice, 45 minutes, Fort Meyers area 1.5 hours, Naples and Marco Island 2 hours, Alligator alley 2 hours, Everglades 2.5 hours, Ft Lauderdale and Miami 4 hours!
BRADENTON is centrally located!
Things to Do within 60 minutes of Bradenton:
FISHING (Spring to Summer): Clearwater, Tampa Bay and the intercoastals, old Bay Bridge under the new Skyway Bridge- north and south Allows night fishing). Bean's Point and the Rod n Reel Pier (day and night fishing with a bar and resturant on site) on Anna Maria Island. Passage Key (need a boat to access) Most marinas have charters, half day and full day boats. Fish include: Tarpon, Cobia, Jacks, Snook, Red Fish, and Grouper, just to name a few. Check the local papers (island/key) they usually have an Angler's Report on what is hot and what is not.
Ruth Eckerd Hall-Venue for named touring star concerts and theatre.
Raymond Games Stadium-Home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Ybor City-On Friday and Saturday night it is New Orleans' Bourbon St South. Holidays and festivals are Mardi Gras wild with parades costumes and BEADS. Beware some nudity and a whole lot of drinking going on!!! Best is Gasparilla in January (celebrating the infamous pirate which founded the area) Gay Pride in June and Guavaween just before Halloween. Partying until 4AM. The police block off the side streets at about 6-8PM and you can walk up and down the historical streets visting, restuarants, cigar shops (area was originally known for their hand rolled cigars), beer gardens, discos and night clubs. Things for everyone, but leave the kids home after 7PM. It is stictly PG rated in the AM hours it is R rated!
Coachman Park-Annual Jazz Festival in April. This year April 22.
Headliners last year: David Sanborn, Fat Burger, Paul Taylorand many more. Bring your sunblock and glasses a comfortable lawn care. Food and beverages(sodas, beer and wine) available at the venue. No coolers!
Old Town-downtown Clearwater next to Coachman Park on the water. Shops, resturants and historical buldings. It beautiful! Also, down the road a bit is the original HOOTERS.
CLEARWATER BEACH (the key that parallels mainland Clearwater): White sand beaches, condos, resturants, shops, hotels, and fishing pier.
ST PETERSBURG BEACH, similar to Clearwater Beach with more high rise condos. Noteable, is Fort De Soto State Park and Beach. It is at the southern most tip of the peninsula (State 679 Pinellas Bayway S). Spectacular views of Tampa Bay, the Gulf, Manatee River, Eckerd and Anna Maria Island.
ST PETERSBERG: On the bayside of the peninsula. A great town. The downtown is on the water! Resturants, shops, an aquarium on the pier, an international Art Musuem on the water. There are several parks along the water. This is the site of several venues. Noteably, is the Mainsail Art Exhibit in April. On the scenic bay in St. Pete. 100's of exhibitors. Top notch artists and craftsmen. Great food tents from the local resturants! A great weekend. Call St Pete City of Commerce for actual dates in April.
Emerson Point State Park, Palmetto(north of Bradenton on the otherside of the Manatee River). On the point. Drive west on 10th Ave and follow the signs.-(if you want directions send me a message).
Palmetto Marina. North of Bradenton on the otherside of the Manatee River.
DOWNTOWN. Historical downtown. Resturants, shops museums, Riverwalk, marina, Art League, theatre playhouse and much much more..
BISHOP Observitory (may be closed for remodel) SO FLORIDA MUSEUM which has some neat stuff for kids including 2 live manatees on display. Traveling Exhibits. Downtown Bradenton 12th Street.
Village of the Arts, 12St and 11thAve, Bradenton. First Friday 6-9PM and Saturday 11-2PM Art Walk. Turn of the century cottages turned artist gallery and workshops. Say hi to my friends and tell them Diana sent you.
Jungle Gardens, Us 41, and 67th Ave Bradenton. Small
botanical gardens with wildlife. Admission.
Smugglers Cove miniature GOLF course on Rt 41, north of the Sarasota airport, and near Jungle Gardens. Miniature GOLF course on Rt 41, near the Sarasota airport, called Smugglers Cove.
Cortez Fishing Village, Bradenton. Cortez Rd and the intercoastal on the mainland side at the Cortez Draw Bridge. One of the last "fish camps" in Florida. An actual fishing fleet and their old style "craker" cottages. It is a historical land area. Also, boat, jet ski, fishing day boats and parasailing rentals.
Beach House, July 3rd Annual Fireworks, 9PM on the beach in Bradenton Bch, Cortez Road and Gulf Drive. Parking off the residential sidestreets. Get there early, parking is a "B". Bring a cooler and sand chairs. If you sit by the Beach House you can hear the music!
July 4th Fireworks: Manatee River of the Bradenton "green" bridge downtown. Viewable from any side street along Riverview Bld. north of Manatee Ave.
Mote Marine Aquarium which is just a few minutes south of Bradenton Beach on Longboat Key. They have tons of aquariums, touch tanks, shark tanks & more. The Mote is a working marine research and institute. The aquarium is an offshoot. The staff researches and monitors the area's marine life. It also rescues and nurses aquatic life back to health until it can be released into the wild. The Mote is supported by aquarium admissions, donantions and grants. Conveniently, right next door, is the Pelican Man Bird Sanctuary.
Pelican Man Bird Sanctuary, next to the Mote, is simular to the Mote, but with aviaries. A non profit organization, the Sanctuary rescues Pelican, Egrets, Herons, and more. The birds are kept in large aviary cages until they can be released into the wild. Alas, some are so injured they can not survive in the wild so they are permanent residents. The Sanctuary is totally supported by donations.
LIDO & BIRDMAN KEY:
St Armands Circle. Upscale shops, Ben and Jerry's, resturants, etc. and a park in the center of the driving circle. The park has frequent events and concerts (check local listings for up and coming events). Resturants on the circle: ChaCha Coconuts is good for a burger and the Columbia for Cuban food. I like to dine on the street at Europa Cafe and Charlies (?) Seafood.
South Lido State Park. LIDO KEY. This is were the love affair with the area began. In 1997, my husband was on a business trip. We got in late on a Friday night, and didn't make any advance reservations, so we traveled up and down Gulf Dr for hours ar 11PM. Everything was full. We finally found a motel called the Half Moon Bay Inn. Woke up in the morning and walked down the beach. It was love at first site. I knew I was home!
SARASOTA, and all its attractions, is 10 miles south on US 41, or interstate 75 (I75):
Historical downtown. Resturants, cafes, shops, Opera House, and Library.
Ringling Museum & Circus (Cad Z un Mansion, Mabel's Gardens, Art Musuem, Aslo Theatre and the CIRCUS) on US 41 is 1 mile out of Bradenton's area. US 41 (AKA Tamiami Trial), in Sarasota, at the John and Mable Ringling Museum and Circus (the circus is in the back of the property to the right across from Mable's Garden and near Cad Z un (sp?) Ringling's Mansion and Museum. They have daily shows. The "kids" will love the indoor circus. The adults will enjoy the tour of the mansion and the art museum. The grounds are beautiful. Admission and stated hours.
Car Museum, across the street from Ringling Musuem on US 41 and University. Antique automobiles and more.
Van Wezel Auditorium, Fruitville and US41 Sarasota. Venue every weekend including concerts, Broadway shows, plays, etc. Check the newspapers for what is playing.
Anslo Theatre, Ringling Museum US41 near Sarasota airport. Venue for traveling shows and plays. Check local listings.
Traveling Art Exhibit. Ringling Art Museum. Check local listings for tickets.
Sarasota Opera and Ballet, downtown Sarasota. Season is January to April. Check local listings.
Selby Art Museum and Galleries. US 41, Sarasota at the Rigling School of Art and Design. Visiting and named artists. Check local listings for events.
Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota. Near Bayfront and Mound St. Follow the signs. Orchids, Banyans, Palms and ferns to name a few. Admission charge and stated hours. A must See!!!!
Marina Jack's, Ringling Blvd and Bayfront Dr. Sarasota- Resturant, pier, boat, fishing gear and charter rental.
Women's Exchange, So.Orange and Oak St in downtown Sarasota. If you love to go "tiquing". You will love the Women's Exhange consignment store. When all of the 'Northerners" retire they consign their better furniture, household goods and antiques to the Exchange for Florida style home decor.
Towles Court: US 301 and Adams Lane, or Merril St , turn west, in Sarasota, Turn of the century cottages turned artist gallery and workshops. Resturant and Monthly Art Walks.
July 4th Fireworks: Sarsota Island Park, near Marina Jacks and Selby Gardens, Ringling Blvd and Bayfront Dr.
Downtown and beach, Midnight Pass on Siesta Key. Cozy little town with shops and resturants. Public Beach is unbeatable!
Sarasota Cigar Boat Races. The weekend before the 4th of July. Lido Beach to Siesta Key. Beer and wine OK on Lido Beach. I don't know about Siesta. Get there early, parking is tough after 10-11AM. Races usually start about 1PM. Bring binoculars and a radio (the races are broadcasted). Don't be surprised if the races are delayed or paused, because of manatees or turtles in the race route. Also, about 3-4PM the thunderstorms usually come in from the east. On Friday night before the race there is a party tent at the Van Wezel's parking lot, US 41 and Fruitville, Sarasota , where the boats are displayed.
MYYAKA River State Park: is 30 minutes on southbound I75. Interstate 75- Bee Ridge and State Road 72 (take SR72 turnoff), south of Sarasota about 30 minutes, it is Florida 60 years ago! All nautural park preserve, old log cabins, lakes, rivers, a tree canopy walk! All sorts of wild life freely moving about: turtles, BIG alligators, boat tours, etc. I actually saw a man in a canoe with a thrashing alligator, the size of his canoe, within feet of him!!!!! A must See!
Bradenton is not for everyone. If you want a hot night life and 5 star resturants, go to Miami or Tampa. Bradenton is a residential community, an old (historically speaking) community. Yes, some of it is run down (east and south of downtown), but it is being revitalized. The Baby Boomers are coming! There is new construction and remodeling everywhere.! I can't tell you how much it has changed in the last five years!
So if you want quiet uncrowded sugar sand beaches, gorgeous clear WARM water (in the summer it gets up to 90 degrees along the shore. It rarely drops below 70 in the winter). Tropical breezes, and so much more come on down! But don't tell anyone, we don't want it to get crowed and big highrises to block our view!
If I left anything out, I apologize. There is just too much to do!
FYI, I have no affliation with any business, or government agency. I just love the area and you will too.
Check out my other posts from the "local" dlferra weather, restaurants and the best beaches!
Have a good trip. Love to hear from you. TaTa!