5 things to do in the ‘friendly city’ of Bradenton, Florida

Have you been to the Manatee River? The possibilities for great views are endless.

Photo by Keith Dunlap. (GMG)

OK, there are plenty of cities that would advertise themselves as friendly, but Bradenton, Florida takes it a step further with its motto, “The Friendly City.”

It’s a popular destination for travelers with its location along the Manatee River and warm climate, but what exactly is there to do in Bradenton?

While it is a lengthy list, we’ve narrowed it down to five things in particular that you need to do upon visiting The Friendly City.

1. Walk/bike along the bridge or riverwalk.

Photo by Keith Dunlap (GMG)

Want some incredible views of the water and million-dollar boats? Just take a stroll along the 1.5-mile riverwalk next to the Manatee River, or go along the biking/walking portion of the Desoto Bridge to get even more scenic views of the water and your surroundings. The bridge stretches to neighboring Palmetto and there’s really no bad view along the way.

2. Dine at waterfront restaurants.

Photo by Keith Dunlap (GMG)

With its location along the Manatee River, there naturally are plenty of places to enjoy waterfront dining in Bradenton, and you could possibly see some actual manatees swimming along while you do so! Pier 22, Caddy’s and Mattison’s Riverwalk Grille are popular spots, as is the Riverhouse Waterfront Restaurant, which is actually on the other side of the river in Palmetto.

If you want a higher and more breathtaking view of the river and surrounding area, the Oak and Stone in downtown Bradenton has an outdoor patio eight floors up that is worth a visit.

3. Take in the culture.

Photo by Keith Dunlap (GMG)

If there’s a rainy day or it’s a little too hot to walk around, the downtown offers a nice slice of culture at the following places:

  • The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature: There are exhibitions, a Manatee habitat and a planetarium at this place of learning.
  • ArtCenter Manatee: At this spot, people have a chance to purchase gifts made by local artists and view exhibitions from artists throughout the region and nation. There are different exhibitions throughout the year, art classes and summer camps for kids, and classes for adults to create various type of art through glass, painting, clay, drawing or jewelry.
  • Manatee Performing Arts Center: Various musicals and shows are conducted throughout the year, featuring the Manatee Players and other local performers.

4. Visit old downtown.

Photo by Keith Dunlap (GMG)

The main historic downtown features an assortment of bars — especially a horde of Irish bars to enjoy a drink— cafes, and restaurants to enjoy, many of which offer outdoor dining. There is also shopping and a good opportunity for a casual walk.

5. Head to nearby beaches.

Photo by Keith Dunlap (GMG)

We’re cheating a little bit here, because they technically are not in downtown Bradenton, but the nearby beaches are plentiful. From downtown Bradenton, you can get to Bradenton Beach or Anne Maria Island in 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the traffic.

Beaches in Sarasota and Siesta Key are only a 30-minute drive, also. If you feel like taking a trip north, beaches in St. Pete and Tampa are 30 to 45 minutes away.

About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.