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Coquina Beach, Bild: bonandbon / shutterstock

Bradenton – Florida with a difference

At first glance, Bradenton seems to be an inconspicuous city of 50,000 inhabitants in the US state of Florida. In reality, you have the opportunity to get to know the real Florida here – away from the crowds and entertainment tourism. The city is not considered a major tourist destination, but it is still easy to reach. In the immediate vicinity is the Sarasota/Bradenton Airport and not too far away is the larger Tampa International Airport.

In the charming city centre, you can visit the local restaurants and numerous shops or enjoy the mix of historic and modern architecture while strolling. In the area of the Bradenton riverfront, there are parks to immerse yourself in nature, an amphitheatre, as well as numerous concerts and events take place here. There is an amusement zone for families, sports fields and a skateboard park. For a short breather, there is an “outdoor living room” with armchairs and a view of the river.

Many companies in Bradenton specialize in tours that bring tourists closer to Florida’s marine life. So if you feel like seeing dolphins or manatees up close, you should organize such a boat tour. Bradenton’s surroundings are also home to the sunny islands of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key and invite you to soak up the sun on white sandy beaches.

So much to discover!

Historic Pier Bradenton
Historic pier to Anna Maria Island, Image: Mark Winfrey / shutterstock

The Myakka River State Park is one of the largest and oldest state parks in Florida, the swamps and wetlands are not only full of Virginia oaks and sabal palms, but also home to alligators and bobcats. It is also home to many species of turtles and birds. In the visitor centre, you can visit exhibitions and gather information, for example about the route of the Boylston Nature Trail, which leads to an observation tower with breathtaking views over the park.

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The Robinson Preserve is made up of 682 acres that offer endless opportunities for entertainment. Hiking, kayaking, canoeing, roller skating, picnicking, camping and wildlife watching – all in one place. From the observation tower you can see four counties and five bodies of water.

The De Soto National Memorial was named after Hernando de Soto, the first European to extensively explore the southern United States , enslaving and murdering hundreds of Native Americans in the process. The monument is intended to commemorate the controversial history of the USA, visitors can try on armor or retrace a recreated path of the conquistadores. Hiking through nature trails, fishing and bird watching are also popular activities.

Art and culture

Particularly worth seeing is the artists’ quarter “Village of the Arts” in downtown Bradenton with its colorful houses and charming roof decorations; the ideal place for art lovers to recharge their batteries. There are over 40 galleries here, which are also inhabited by the numerous artists, sculptors and photographers. This makes the “Village of the Arts” the largest artistic community on the Gulf Coast. Every month, the artists open their studios to art lovers for two days. Of course, unique paintings, furniture and fashion can also be bought here. The residents of the neighborhood wanted to form a community where artists could live and work in harmony, and they succeeded.

The first stop on a museum tour should be the South Florida Museum, the largest natural and cultural history museum on the Gulf Coast – there is also a planetarium, the Bishop Planetarium, to discover here. Lovers of the sea will be hit by the Parker Manatee Aquarium in close proximity. This was where the mascot, manatee Snooty, lived, who became known as the oldest manatee in captivity (and perhaps ever). She died at the age of 69. So in just one place you can learn about Florida’s history, experience multimedia shows and attend lectures.

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Also worth a visit is the ArtCenter Manatee, a 930m² center for art and art history. Inside there are three galleries, classrooms and a specialized library with a considerable number of works.

Throughout the year, Bradenton hosts events that make it even more interesting for art and culture lovers: the annual Bradenton Blues Festival, the ArtSlam art festival and many small art and music events.

Sport in good weather

In terms of climate, the largest city in Manatee County convinces with typical Florida weather: humid, subtropical summers and warm winters. The sun shines here almost 250 days a year, with minimum temperatures of 11° C in January. Of course, there is plenty of exercise in Bradenton even when the weather is nice. Legends such as Andre Agassi and Maria Sharapova have trained at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, but the doors are also open to visitors.

The Bradenton Riverwalk, as the name suggests, runs one and a half kilometers along the Manatee River. The illuminated path along the riverbank invites you to walk for hours, but fishing or playing volleyball is also allowed here.

LECOM Park is the most famous baseball field in the area. Many members of the Baseball Hall of Fame have played here. Tennis and golfers also get their money’s worth in Manatee County, for the latter the River Run Golf Links is particularly recommended.
The beautiful weather is particularly inviting for swimming, diving, jet skiing or windsurfing. Canoeing on the Peace River or renting a sailboat or motorsport boat are also excellent ideas – the possibilities seem almost endless in Florida.

A shopping marathon can also be seen as a sport: the Ellenton Premium Outlet is the right destination for shopping in the “Friendly City”, where you can find designer brands at affordable prices. Vintage jewellery can be found in the Village of the Arts, unique souvenirs in the cute shops on the coast.