Explore Florida’s Past Present and Future at the South Florida Museum

Many attractions boast that they have “something for everyone”, but in the case of the South Florida Museum it is absolutely true. This mega museum attraction in Bradenton includes the South Florida Museum, the Bishop Planetarium and the Parker Manatee Aquarium all under one roof and all included in a single admission price.

South Florida Museum Bradenton, Sarasota, Florida attractions. Must Do Visitor Guides, MustDo.com

Photo credit Nita Ettinger

The South Florida Museum is the largest cultural and natural history museum on Florida’s Gulf Coast, covering prehistoric history from the Pleistocene period to an Environmental Wing dedicated to Florida’s eco biodiversity The entrance brings you into the main South Florida Museum and the Planetarium at one end is a good place to start your visit. Although the planetarium itself may not light up the imagination of younger visitors, the scheduled performances certainly will. Check your daily timetable to catch some of the excellent movies and documentaries presented.

Must Do Visitor Guides, MustDo.com | Bishop Planetarium at the South Florida Museum Bradenton, Florida

Photo credit Nita Ettinger

Take a Trip Through Space in the Bishop Planetarium

Short movies and shows in the Planetarium dome change regularly. They include some fascinating topics such as Life: A Cosmic Story. Told by Jodie Foster, this past-paced presentation uncovers the history of the earth right back to where the start of life on earth began. Perfect Little Planet allows visitors to fly over Pluto, encounter lightning storms on Jupiter and dive through the rings of Saturn. Passport to the Universe is an exciting virtual tour through the Milky Way. It’s enough to make any young visitor want to work at NASA!

MustDo.com | Mastedon exhibit at South Florida Museum Bradenton, Florida

Photo credit Nita Ettinger

Back to earth, visitors can explore the main South Florida Museum exhibits which are laid out on two floors. The first floor explores prehistoric mammals and marine life that existed in and around the Gulf Coast of Florida.

MustDo.com | South Florida Museum shell exhibit Bradenton, Florida

Photo credit Nita Ettinger

Fossils and archaeological finds give a fascinating insight into our ancestry, particularly in the Tallant Gallery collection of artifacts of Florida natives.

MustDo.com, Learn about Florida's pioneers at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton, Florida. Must Do Visitor Guides

Photo credit Nita Ettinger

MustDo.com, Florida fossil exhibit South Florida Museum Bradenton, Florida. Must Do Visitor Guides.

Photo credit Nita Ettinger

The second floor galleries include exhibits on medical history while the Environmental Hall displays Florida’s past, present and future through three separate geological exhibits on Riverine, Pine Uplands and Estuary environs.

MustDo.com| Florida Black Bear exhibit at South Florida Museum Bradenton, Florida

Photo credit Nita Ettinger

Visitors can look behind the scenes at some of the 20,000 objects in the drawers and illuminated cases of the Visible Storage Gallery or explore Spanish Colonial history in the Spanish Plaza. Changing exhibits occupy the Curator’s Choice Gallery which currently has a display of Little Buildings, from doll houses to Lincoln Logs buildings.

See a Manatee at Parker Manatee Aquarium

MustDo.com, Must Do Visitor Guides. World Famous manatee Snooty Parker Manatee Aquarium at South Florida Museum in Bradenton, Florida.

Beloved Snooty, the World’s Oldest manatee – Photo courtesy South Florida Museum

One of the most talked-about areas of the South Florida Museum is the Parker Manatee Aquarium. Visitors can meet manatees in the huge rehabilitation facility. With above and below-water viewing areas, visitors can get up-close to these slow-moving creatures and see them feeding and swimming.

MustDo.com South Florida Museum, Bishop Planetarium and Parker Manatee Aquarium Bradenton, Florida USA. Must Do Visitor Guides

Photo credit Nita Ettinger

Manatees are frequently injured around the coast of Florida and this medical pool provides care and a temporary home for injured manatees that will later be returned to the wild. Snooty was the oldest known manatee in the world. He was born in captivity in 1948 and lived at the Parker Manatee Aquarium until his death in July 2017.

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Nita Ettinger is the co-publisher for Siesta Publications and the Editor in Chief for Must Do Visitor Guides. Must Do Visitor Guides provides Southwest Florida visitor information through printed publications and the website MustDo.com. Must Do Visitor Guides are published bi-annually and are available at no cost in Sarasota, Lee, and Collier County chambers of commerce, visitor information centers, select Southwest Florida hotels, and wherever free publications are found.

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