Things to Do in Bradenton

Bradenton, the county seat of Manatee County, is brimming with historic attractions, sports events, state parks, and beautiful beaches. It’s equally popular with families, couples, and retirees looking for fun things to do in Bradenton during their stay in sunny southwest Florida. Here are just some of the must-do’s to look out for.

Historic Attractions in Bradenton

The DeSoto National Memorial is a great way to introduce the family to Florida history. This historic attraction includes indoor and outdoor exhibits celebrating the life of the Spanish Conquistador, Hernando De Soto and events are brought to life with colorful costumed interpreters. Join a ranger-led kayak tour, hike the trails, go fishing and boating and spot local wildlife at this living history site.

A stroll along Manatee Avenue will reveal several historic properties such as the 1860 Courthouse, the Iron Block Building, and Bradenton Bank and Trust within the free Manatee Village Historical Park. History buffs will particularly appreciate the restored schoolhouse, cracker-style homes, smokehouse, and church.

The Village of the Arts is a neighborhood of restored houses that are now used as studios, jewelry workshops, potteries, and galleries for artists to live and work. First Fridays in each month offer art walks, live music, and incredible food and should definitely be on your list of top things to do in Bradenton.

Bradenton Beaches and Watersports

Coquina Beach white sand beach Gulf of Mexico Sarasota, Florida. Must Do Visitor Guides,

Photo credit Nita Ettinger

Bradenton is surrounded by rivers and waterways including the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay. Its main attraction is the beaches including family-friendly Coquina Beach and Bradenton Beach on Anna Maria Island which is a surfer’s paradise when conditions are right. It has a broad stretch of soft sand, warm Gulf waters, a fishing pier, showers, and a playground.

Manatee Public Beach stretches for 900 feet and has excellent amenities, volleyball, playgrounds, and free parking.

The Riverwalk overlooks the Manatee River estuary and offers beach and ocean views, waterfront restaurants, and shops. Further upriver, Lake Manatee State Park is prime for fishing and swimming with forested areas for hiking. One most unusual activity in Bradenton is the chance to ride and swim on horseback with

The rivers and estuaries are ideal for watersports such as kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and standup paddleboarding. Boats and jet skis are a great way to explore the waterways and encounter Florida wildlife and birds.

Robinson Nature Preserve offers trails for walking and biking among a wetlands area that is teeming with wildlife and birds.

Family-Friendly Attractions in Bradenton

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

Photo credit Nita Ettinger

The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature are a one-stop attraction with something for everyone. The aquarium was home to Snooty the manatee, the first ever recorded manatee born in captivity in 1948.

McKechnie Field is the place to catch a baseball game as it is home to the Marauders and is used for spring training for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The city also has an IMG Academy, which offers a variety of sports camps and customized sports training programs. Bradenton Motorsports Park hosts national races and weekly “Throwdown Thursdays” when anyone can race for just $10.

Spectacular public golf course Esplanade Golf & Country Club Lakewood Ranch in Bradenton, Florida. Must Do Visitor Guides,

Photo courtesy Pope Golf

Golfers have a choice of places to tee off, including the challenging Esplanade Golf & Country Club and Manatee County Golf Course. The entire family can play miniature golf at Smugglers Cove Adventure Golf, which includes water hazards, feeding live alligators, and an arcade.

Watch the amazing Herrmanns' Royal Lipizzan Stallions perform their equestrian moves at their winter training home in Myakka City (Sarasota) Florida. Must Do Visitor Guides,

Photo courtesy Herrmanns’ Royal Lipizzan Stallions of Austria

One final unforgettable attraction in Bradenton is Herrmanns’ Royal Lipizzan Stallions, which perform classical equestrian shows from December to April.

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Written by:

Nita Ettinger is Co-publisher for Siesta Publications Inc. and the Editor in Chief for Must Do Visitor Guides. Must Do Visitor Guides provides Southwest Florida visitor information through printed magazines and the website Must Do magazines are published bi-annually and are available at no cost in Sarasota, Lee, and Collier County Chamber of Commerce, visitor information centers, select Southwest Florida hotels, and wherever free publications can be found.