If year-round sunshine, surf, and leisure sports are your idea of a perfect vacation, we have the perfect vacation rentals for you in Bradenton—a friendly tropical spot south of Tampa Bay on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Life can be as lazy or as active as you like during your Bradenton holiday. You can simply laze around on the silken sands and let the Florida sun warm you up—or you can try out some wave action, or go boating, kayaking, fishing, or diving. If you prefer dry land, there’s golf and horse riding—and good old retail therapy!
Today’s winterbirds flock to Bradenton, an area originally called “Bradentown,” first explored in 1539 by the Spanish. Spanish explorer and conquistador Hernando De Soto discovered this area while looking for gold—what he discovered instead were fertile riverbanks, lush landscapes, and breathtaking natural beauty. The city got its name from Dr. Joseph Braden, whose “Braden Castle” was a haven for early settlers. The history of Bradenton as a vacation destination pretty much dates back to the time when the area’s gloriously sandy, sun-splashed shores started attracting beach-niks.
There’s a stretch of sand for everyone in Bradenton—from family-friendly to romantic—and you can sample them all to enjoy the beach vacation of your dreams. Bradenton Beach has good surfing and beach volleyball, Whitney Beach is just right to simply laze around, while Coquina Beach offers you the opportunity for dolphin, pelican, and ibis-spotting.
Charming Bradenton is not only about the balmy beaches. When you get some time off from soaking in the sun, you’ve got to visit The Village of the Arts, an eclectic live-work community. Housing many galleries, studios, small restaurants, and specialty shops, The Village of the Arts is Florida’s largest art community. The thirty-plus shops in the Village are housed in colorfully restored historic cottages dating back to the 1920s and 1930s. Why not take a step back in time at the Manatee Village Historical Park? This unique collection of restored buildings from Manatee County’s pioneer past—which includes a courthouse, a schoolhouse, a farmhouse, a general store, and a bunkhouse—is a delight for the whole family.
If you are a culture vulture, another must-visit is the South Florida Museum, which houses dozens of historical artifacts, ecological exhibits, and prehistoric collections. Apart from fossils of Florida’s mammals and marine life, the museum also showcases a full-scale replica of a 16th century manor house. The Bishop Planetarium—ranked one of the most advanced Planetarium technologies in the world—and the Parker Manatee Aquarium are also part of the museum, and are not to be missed. Speaking of museums, the Florida Maritime Museum, nestled in the historic fishing village of Cortez, tells a number of stories about Florida’s maritime heritage. Housed in an authentic 1912 schoolhouse, the museum showcases the unique Florida Gulf Coast heritage through a wide assortment of charming exhibits.
If you are the outdoorsy type, you can head out to Robinson Preserve for a day of birdwatching, horseback riding, or canoeing. Ascend the 40-foot tall observation tower for a fantastic view of four counties and five water bodies—and an opportunity to check out the native plants and wildlife. The 487 acres of coastal marsh and mangrove habitat attract rare wildlife such as roseate spoonbills, wood storks, white pelicans, bald eagles, and terns. Do you feel like riding a bike on the paved trail in the preserve—or do you wish to explore the coastal trails on foot? How about taking a canoe or a kayak, and navigating through mangrove tunnels and marshes? Nature lovers should not miss the chance to stroll through the grounds of Palma Sola Botanical Park. This tranquil 10-acre park is home to a collection of rare flowering trees, palms, fruits, and subtropical plants where you can relax for an hour or two next to one of the three large lakes and enjoy the picturesque views.
A must-visit for eco-tourists and history lovers alike is the De Soto National Memorial park. Built to commemorate the Hernando De Soto expedition, the monument’s natural environs offer you the opportunity to experience the coastal mangrove environment that confronted the Spanish upon their arrival in the area. You can choose to explore Florida’s ecosystems with an afternoon of cycling around the nature trails at the park, or opt for a trail walk with one of the Park Rangers to learn more about the rich heritage of the grounds. If you are lucky, you will get to see herons, egrets, or ospreys nesting in the mangrove canopy; encounter raccoons or armadillos move through the grounds; or catch a glimpse of dolphins or manatees swimming in the coastal waters. Don’t forget to check out Camp Uzita, an authentic re-creation of a 16th century Native American village. Other attractions here include a few small and intimate beaches, and an anchorage for small boats.
Tired of the outdoors? Head downtown and check out the beautiful Bradenton Riverwalk! Boasting a splash fountain area, play areas for children, sculptures and artwork, steel drums— and, of course, a fishing pier—this is the place to go to for picnicking, river-gazing, skating, kite-flying, and people-watching. If you’re looking for fun options not just in Bradenton but also around Bradenton, you could contemplate feasting on succulent seafood at Anna Maria Island, or you could go browse Longboat Key’s exclusive boutiques.
Catch a flaming Florida sunset or sip a classy cocktail—whatever you do, just relax and enjoy the laid-back paradise that is Bradenton. This part of the coast strives hard to retain its Old Florida charm—and succeed in that task it does, that too in spades! The first step to joining the fun is viewing our Bradenton vacation rentals and picking out the perfect one for you!