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Bradenton Beach - Florida
Choose Your Beach
The town of Bradenton is on Florida's Central
Coast, just south of the Tampa/St. Petersburg area,
tucked between Sarasota Bay and the Manatee River.
the Gulf are Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island -- both
barrier islands with a wide variety of resorts to stay,
and places to eat, plus lots of beach activity to keep
First settled in the 1840s, the area has had its booms
and busts, and now has a thriving tourism industry, based
on the island beaches, and other recreational activity
along the Central Gulf Coast.
beaches & parks | where to stay | where
What to See & Do
Bradenton -- the mainland town -- sits on the
northeastern corner of Sarasota Bay, and the city
of Sarasota is found on the eastern shore. Several
smaller, funkier, communities are spread along the two
barrier islands that shelter the bay from the waters of
the Gulf of Mexico. Anna Maria Island (to the
north) has its small namesake community near the northern
tip. Just to the south are Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach. As you continue driving south,
along Gulf Drive (Route 789), you pass through the town
of Longboat Key. Most tourists take a loop drive
along the two islands, starting at either the south or
north access point, and returning to the mainland at the
opposite end. The drive, with only a few sightseeing
stops, takes an hour to 90 minutes.
But there's not much sense in just driving down the
islands without enjoying the beaches and other scenic
spots on Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key. Many
visitors stay on one or the other island, to enjoy the
very unhurried and low-key beach experience.
Aside from the beaches, most area attractions are on
the mainland, including the superb Ringling Museum of
Art, located at 5401 Bay Shore Road, in Sarasota.
Here is the fabulous estate of the circus family,
including a European-style palace which was the Ringling
home, named Ca' d'Zan. After John and Mabel Ringling
built their palace (1924 to 1926) they built the art
museum, which was completed in 1929. Upon his death, John
Ringling bequeathed the entire estate and art collection
to the people of Florida. The complex includes the Ringling Circus Museum, which celebrates the art
of the circus, and was redesigned in 1988. The Museum of
Art now includes art covering a creative span of more
than 500 years -- most of it purchased by Ringling. You
can spend a day or even two on the estate, and never
retrace your steps. The complex is open daily, except on
major holidays, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Visitor
Services: (941) 359-5723. For a recorded info line, call
Nature lovers just have to visit Marie Shelby
Botanical Gardens. Also in Sarasota, this non-profit
center is found on a peninsula on the downtown
waterfront, off South Palm Avenue. In addition to
greenhouse displays, you'll find outstanding outdoor
gardens. The huge orchid collection has more than 6,000
plants. Many of the species come from trips made by
collectors to tropical rainforests. It's open daily
except Christmas, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 811 South Palm
Avenue; Information: (941) 366-5730 or 366-5731.
This is a good area for golfing, although the courses
are on the mainland, in Sarasota, Bradenton, and
Palmetto. The Manatee County (public) Golf Course is at 6415 53rd Avenue West, in Bradenton. The Palma
Sola Course, at 3807 75th At. W., in Bradenton, is a
par 72 course -- quite scenic with creeks and ponds, with
a restaurant. The River Run Golf Links are also
found in Bradenton (1801 27th St. E., call 941-747-6331)
You must give two days advance notice for obtaining tee
times. 18 holes, par 70.
There are 27 holes at the excellent University Park
Country Club, on University Blvd. There are
undulating fairways, a few lakes, and a pleasant
restaurant with outdoor dining. You might also like to
try the challenges at the 18-hole, par 58 course at the Village Green Golf Club, 1401 Village Green Pkwy,
in Bradenton. This is a well-treed, fairly flat course.
In all, there are a dozen golf courses in the immediate
Island Beaches &
At the extreme northern top of Anna Maria Island,
is Bean Point. The beach here is blessed with
extra fine sand, with tall dunes vegetated by seaoats.
This is a great beach for walks and ramblings. No
lifeguards at this beach.
Bayfront Park is found just north of the Anna
Maria Oyster Bar. This is more of a family playing place,
equipped with picnic tables, grills, and restrooms. No
lifeguards here either.
Manatee County Public Beach is located in the
village of Holmes Beach. Drive to the end of Manatee
Avenue. You'll find picnic areas, beach cabanas, a
restaurant, playground, restrooms, and lifeguards.
Farther south, via Gulf Drive, Coquina Beach has picnic tables, beach cabanas, a playground,
restaurant, and lifeguards.
Palma Sola Bay offers additional recreational
opportunities, including horseback riding. You can rent
watercraft here. Other features include restrooms, and a
restaurant. Unlike at the other island beaches, you can
walk your dog on this one.
Seafood is the preferred cuisine focus on
Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key. And THE placec to go
for the seafood experience are the Anna Maria Oyster
Bar at 6696 Cortez Road West in Bradenton. There are two other restaurants in the group: in Ellenton, across the Manatee River, and another in Bradenton. This is the
original, serving a wide variety of seafood appetizers,
salads, sandwich platters, pasta with seafood, crab
cakes, and surf and turf, plus the main fish and
shellfish entrees. You can get Maine lobster here, for a
price, but why do that when you can get seafood from the
Gulf waters in a fresh state -- grouper, flounder, Key
West shrimp, scrod, the list goes on and on. For
information, call (941) 792-0077. The restaurant is open
Mon.-Thurs & Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday & Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Another long-time favorite for seafood, is Moore's Stone Crab Restaurant, at 800 Broadway, on
Longboat Key. (941) 388-1748
Rotten Ralph's is another, famed for
its quirky name and ambience. The food is good. It's at
200 Bridge Street - Bradenton Beach, on Historical Bridge Street Pier For information, call
For a relaxed atmosphere, try the City Pier and Restaurant, in Anna Maria, on Pine Avenue (941) 778-3953.
The setting is superb, and the food is good. The restaurant has a small pub with lots of microbrews.
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