Florida Guide > Places to Visit
An Introduction to Bradenton
We were waiting for the Illuminations firework display to begin in Epcot when we engaged in conversation with an middle aged American couple who had driven up for the day from their home in Bradenton, Florida.
We had skirted close to their hometown on a previous trip around Tampa Bay but with a warm recommendation to visit their city a day out was pencilled in on the calendar.
Bradenton sits on the south side of Tampa Bay, not far from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, and is about a one and a half hour drive from the Orlando area. It prides itself on its beaches, water sport activities and is also regarded as a golfer’s paradise, although on this ocassion we didn’t have the time to check any of that out.
We did however, spend a bit of time in the heart of the city trying to get a feel for the place, and quickly understood why our two American friends had enthused so vehemently about Bradenton as a good place to live.
The downtown area around Old Main Street and Barcarotta Square is exquisite with its tree lined shopping thoroughfares and Mediterranean ambience. Just to the south lies the Village of Arts which features an ongoing cottage restoration project which had delivered homes and business opportunities for local residents specialising in arts and crafts.
A look around the many studios and galleries is a must, and you just might come across that perfect painting to buy and take home.
Bradenton is trying very hard to blend the old with the new and just to the east of downtown we found the Antiques District which is a browser’s paradise. Interspersed among the quirky little shops are pleasant pavement cafes and sandwich bars at which to grab a little bit of sustenance to help you on your way.
Back in downtown Bradenton the city boasts a museum, aquarium and also a planetarium for those of you who have a special interest in history, the oceans or astronomy, and may wish to visit during your stay.
Within walking distance of downtown is Rossi Waterfront Park which has recently been upgraded to include a brick pavour promenade and is just ideal for an evening stroll along the nearby Manatee River just as the sun is setting.
We enjoyed our time in Bradenton but so much has been left untouched, the beaches and water activities in particular, so another visit needs to be scheduled next time we come to Florida.
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