Just south of Tampa on the west coast of Florida on the Manatee River, Bradenton is a charming city with rivers, waterways, inlets, bays and many nature parks. Named after sugar magnate Joseph Braden, neighboring cities include Bradenton Beach, West Samoset, Palmetto, Memphis, and Bayshore Gardens. First called the Village of Manatee in 1842, it’s now the largest city in the county with a population over 50,000 and growing.
Comfortable hotels and resorts include the Holiday Inn Riverfront, Holiday Inn Express, Days Inn near the Gulf, Shorewalk Vacation Villas, Quality Inn & Suites, Linger Lodge RV Resort & Restaurant, Arbor Terrace RV Resort, Betts House Bed & Breakfast, and Comfort Inn.
From fresh seafood to steaks, Bradenton’s popular restaurants include Fisherman Joe’s, Anna Maria Oyster Bar, Beach House Restaurant, Bonefish Grill, All Star Steakhouse, Thai Café, Gulf Drive Café, Loretta’s Kitchen, and Java Jazz.
Things to do and places to see include Pirates’ Cove, the Old Main Street Market, Longboat Pass Parasail, Tampa Bay Extreme Fishing, Around the Ben Nature Tours, Manatee Airboat Tours, South Florida Museum & the Parker Manatee Aquarium, Family Heritage House Museum, and the De Soto National Memorial Park. There’s also the De Soto Speedway for stockcar racing.
Some of the historic landmarks to visit are the Manatee Burying Ground, Dr. Joseph Addison Braden Castle Ruins, Braden Castle Village, Gamble Mansion (the only existing antebellum plantation house in southern Florida), William Shaw Tabby House, and the Historical Records Collection Library.
Annual events include the Chili Cook-Off, Festival Under the Oaks, De Soto Fishing Tournament, Florida Heritage Festival, and De Soto Oktoberfest.
Golfers will discover a paradise in Bradenton. Courses include the Peridia Golf and Country Club, Village Green Golf Course, Legacy Golf Club, David Ledbetter Golf Academy, Rosedale Golf Club, and Woodlands Golf Course.
Shopping venues include the Red Barn Flea Market, Village of the Arts, and the De Soto Square Mall.
Written by: Natasha Lawrence