Bradenton, Florida

After visiting the “Friendly City” of Bradenton, Florida, and reliving the history of Manatee County then cross over Sarasota Bay to the town of Bradenton Beach on Anna Maria Island where a glorious day awaits you on the Gulf of Mexico’s coastline.

Share this
View MAP

1 Marina along Manatee River in Bradenton, Florida

The Manatee River has always been an important part of Bradenton’s history. It started with the Native Americans before the arrival of Spanish explorers in the early 16th century. During the 1850s, it was a critical source for transporting sugarcane that was produced by local plantations. Its first pier, now called the Memorial Pier, was built in 1878. Today, this waterfront along the western edge of downtown is home to the Twin Dolphin Marina and perched seagulls.

1400 1st Ave W, Bradenton, FL 34205
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

2 Pier 22 Restaurant in Bradenton, Florida

If you are looking for a restaurant in Bradenton that offers a beautiful view on its menu then you will want to dine at Pier 22. This Spanish-style, two-story landmark opened in 1928 in honor of local men who died during WWI. It is located at the end of the Memorial Pier facing the Manatee River and is surrounded by the Twin Dolphin Marina. As you can see, its 225 slips are a popular place to dock yachts and other pleasure boats.

1200 1st Ave W, Bradenton, FL 34205
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

3 Carnegie Library in Bradenton, Florida

This Carnegie Library in Bradenton, Florida, was one of 3,000 that were partially funded across the United States by grants from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie during the early 20th century. It opened in 1918 and was the city’s main library until 1978. The building, which is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, now serves as Manatee County’s Historical Records Library. It contains local government data dating back to 1856.

1405 4th Ave W, Bradenton, FL 34205
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

4 Rippey Building on Old Main Street in Bradenton, Florida

So many Florida locations are filled with tall condos and too much glitz that is designed to attract tourists. So it is refreshing to stroll along Old Main Street in Bradenton where the storefronts have not changed much in nearly one hundred years. Here you can enjoy a three-egg omelet at Robin’s Downtown Cafe while listening to the locals talk about the weather and politics. Or smell the wonderful aromas next door inside of Cork’s Cigar Store. Nearby is the farmer’s market where people arrive early to squeeze and then purchase the freshest produce. This is the way a small town was meant to be. No wonder it is called “The Friendly City.”

424 Old Main St, Bradenton, FL 34205
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

5 Fullerton Building in Historic Downtown Bradenton, Florida

Bradenton was named after Dr. Joseph Braden. This early settler built a huge home in 1850 that became known as the Braden Castle for its ability to defend against Seminole Indian attacks. The town was incorporated in 1903 and then merged with neighboring Manatee in 1943. This yellow rock structure is the Fullerton Building. It opened in 1905 and housed the Manatee River National Bank. It is located at the corner of 12th Street and Manatee Avenue in the center of historic downtown Bradenton.

1206 Manatee Ave W, Bradenton, FL 34205
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

6 First Baptist Church in Bradenton, Florida

This magnificent building with its red brick façade and red tiled roof is the First Baptist Church in Bradenton, Florida. It was founded in 1889 by Elder T. J. Sparkman. He built the first wooden structure for worship in 1892. In 1912, it was replaced with this Romanesque Revival building along Manatee Avenue West in the heart of downtown. The “Old Sanctuary,” which is surrounded with stained glass windows, is now reserved for ceremonies and special occasions since a new, larger church was built next door in 1982.

1306 Manatee Ave W, Bradenton, FL 34205
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

7 County Administrative Building in Bradenton, Florida

Manatee County was formed in 1855 and named after Florida’s species of the “sea cow.” As the county grew to its present size of over 340,000 people, it built increasingly larger government buildings. The area’s earliest courthouse was constructed in 1860 and is preserved at Manatee Village. The next one opened in 1894 and can be found near the law enforcement memorial. It was replaced by a third in 1914. Nearly 100 years later, that courthouse received an extensive renovation. It can be visited across the street from this County Administrative Building which contains nine floors and was finished in 1989.

1112 Manatee Ave W, Bradenton, FL 34205
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

8 South Florida Museum in Bradenton, Florida

The South Florida Museum in Bradenton, Florida, is a natural history museum with exhibits about Florida’s Gulf Coast. It also houses the Bishop Planetarium and the Parker Manatee Aquarium where the star resident and county’s mascot is Snooty, a Florida manatee who was born in 1948. That makes him the oldest manatee in captivity. He lives in a 60,000 gallon pool with two other manatees.

201 10th St W, Bradenton, FL 34205
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

9 Green Bridge Turned Golden in Bradenton, Florida

The concrete span of the Green Bridge leading into Bradenton, Florida, turns a beautiful shade of gold at sunset. Although this 740 foot bridge which crosses the Manatee River is a nightmare for morning commuters, it’s a haven for joggers and fishermen at dusk. This 1964 bridge is part of U.S. 41, also called the Tamiami Trail.

1986 9th St W, Bradenton, FL 34205
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

10 Yacht at Sunset along Riverwalk in Bradenton, Florida

The Riverwalk in downtown Bradenton is a 1.5 mile walking path that overlooks the Manatee River. Here you can enjoy parks, a pavilion, an amphitheater, a fishing pier and about twenty pieces of outdoor art. It is also the scene of numerous events with plenty of nearby venues for shopping, eating or an active nightlife. High on my list was watching how magical it becomes at sunset.

808 3rd Ave W, Bradenton, FL 34205
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

11 Manatee County School Board in Bradenton, Florida

This is the Manatee County School Board building. Inside are the administrative offices which oversee 440,000 students. There are 34 elementary, 10 middle and six high schools. This public school system has over 5,300 employees which makes it the largest employer in Manatee county.

215 Manatee Ave W, Bradenton, FL 34205
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

12 Historic Steam Engine at Manatee Village in Bradenton, Florida

As soon as you park your car and walk towards the Manatee Village in Bradenton, Florida, you see this historic black steam engine. When the train ran supplies for the Manatee Crate Company, it was named “Old Cabbage Head” because of its unique, rounded smokestack. An original plaque indicates it was built in 1918.

1404 Manatee Ave E, Bradenton, FL 34208
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

13 Wiggins General Store Façade at Manatee Village in Bradenton, Florida

The Whistle Stop Gift Shop was originally the K. Wiggins General Store. It was built in 1903, the same year the town of Manatee was incorporated. It is also the welcome center for Manatee Village in Bradenton, Florida. Admission is free to this wonderful historical park. It is well worth a visit.

1404 Manatee Ave E, Bradenton, FL 34208
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

14 Inside Wiggins General Store at Manatee Village in Bradenton, Florida

At the turn of the 20th century, the Wiggins General Store served the early settlers to the area now known as Manatee County. Inside this building at Manatee Village you will find shelves filled with antiques. They make you feel like you just opened the door to history and are being greeted by King Wiggins who was the original storekeeper. Upstairs he ran a boardinghouse. It too has been lovingly preserved along with exhibits that explain what life was like back then.

1404 Manatee Ave E, Bradenton, FL 34208
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

15 Historic Courtroom at Manatee Village in Bradenton, Florida

This courtroom was built in 1860, making it the oldest county courthouse in Florida. This room is where all judicial and government activities were performed until 1866 for the people who lived within 5,000 square miles. The one-room building was moved to the Manatee Village in 1975 and restored to its near original appearance. Next door is the Manatee Methodist Episcopal Church which was built in 1887.

1404 Manatee Ave E, Bradenton, FL 34208
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

16 Old Boathouse and Windmill at Manatee Village in Bradenton, Florida

You will be delighted to explore several restored buildings at Manatee Village that date back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In addition to this boathouse built by Bat Fogarty, you will find this windmill which used to power a sugarcane mill, a farmhouse originally owned by the Will Stephens Family, a smokehouse, an old barn plus a historic church, courthouse and general store. They are all so well restored inside that you expect the original settlers known as “Florida Crackers” to come around the corner and shake your hand with a hearty “welcome.”

1404 Manatee Ave E, Bradenton, FL 34208
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

17 Palma Sola Causeway Park in Bradenton, Florida

Palma Sola Causeway Park is a delightful area a short distance from Bradenton, Florida. It offers the perfect getaway for a couple of hours or a full day. This dog-friendly park has everything you’ll need while on shore including picnic tables and grills. Then, use the dock to enjoy sailing, canoeing, kayaking, jet skiing or fishing in the calm, protected waters of Palma Sola Bay.

9917 Manatee Ave W, Bradenton, FL 34209
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

18 Beach on Anna Maria Island in Bradenton Beach, Florida

Anna Maria Island is a barrier formation in Florida’s Manatee County. It was named Ana-Maria Cay in the early 16th century by Spanish explorer Ponce de León in honor of the Virgin Mary and her mother Anne. This very narrow key has seven miles of spectacular beaches along the Gulf of Mexico. This beautiful surf and sand is at Bradenton Beach. The island’s eastern edge is formed by the Sarasota Bay and the Anna Maria Sound.

104 Gulf Dr S, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

19 Bridge Street Bistro in Bradenton Beach, Florida

Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach, Florida, derived its name from the days when a wooden bridge from the mainland connected to Anna Maria Island at this location. This historic district has been revitalized in the last few years and is now a small yet very quaint neighborhood. An example of its charm is the Bridge Street Bistro. You can enjoy a bite to eat or drink along their sidewalk seating. Or for a real treat, reserve a spot on their third floor terrace for good food along with a colorful sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.

111 Gulf Dr S, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

20 Bridge Street Pier Sign in Bradenton Beach, Florida

This sign announces your arrival to the Historic Bridge Street Pier in Bradenton Beach, Florida. It is a popular location for those who love the tranquility of watching sailboats bob up and down on Sarasota Bay. If you are a fisherman you will enjoy catching redfish, jack, snapper and other species plus the pier’s bait store, restroom and bar. The City Pier was closed for much of 2014 because several storms had rendered it unsafe but it opened again in 2015 after a $1.5 million restoration.

1 Laverne Dr, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

21 Clock Tower on City Pier in Bradenton Beach, Florida

This clock tower was built at the entrance of the City Pier in Bradenton Beach in 1996 and a bell was added in 2003. As you can see, it is almost cocktail hour although many people don’t wait until 5:00 before sipping a beer in this resort town. The original wooden boardwalk, also called the Bridge Street Pier, was constructed in 1921. At the end of its 300 foot length is a lovely pavilion that shields the sun while you’re enjoying an afternoon overlooking Sarasota Bay.

450 Bridge St, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

22 Man Overlooking Sarasota Bay in Bradenton Beach, Florida

It is a short drive from Bradenton across the Cortez Bridge and over the northern part of Sarasota Bay to Bradenton Beach on Anna Maria Island. The city has less than 1,500 residents living within its 1.1 square miles. However, it welcomes many times that number of tourists who come to enjoy its beaches along the Gulf of Mexico. On the other side of Gulf Drive South is this scenic view of Sarasota Bay.

200 Bridge Street Pier, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

23 Ice Cream Parlor in Bradenton Beach, Florida

During a hot day at the beach, few things are more refreshing and delicious than cold ice cream. If you are sunning at Bradenton Beach, one of the favorite places to go is Joe’s Eats & Sweets. Their building is as colorful as the 40 choices of ice cream that they serve inside. For a special treat, try their homemade fudge. Yum!

219 Gulf Dr S, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

24 Romantic Stroll on Sand in Bradenton Beach, Florida

When you visit Bradenton Beach in Florida it will not be long before you are inspired to take off your shoes and go for a romantic stroll along the white sand and warm surf of the Gulf of Mexico. Your bare feet never had it so good.

308 Gulf Dr S, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

25 Young Couple in Love in Bradenton Beach, Florida

This young couple found the perfect place at the end of an old cement pier in Bradenton Beach to talk and cuddle while waiting for a spectacular sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. However, they were so infatuated that I doubt they saw anything other than each other.

599 Gulf Dr S, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions
TOP