By  Mike Miller  Updated November 13, 2023

Bradenton, Florida Things To Do, Lodging, Dining, & Real Estate At End Of Article

Bradenton, Florida is located on US-41 between Tampa and Sarasota. It can also be entered from I-75 by exiting west on State Road 64, or by US-301 coming in from the north.

It is a short drive from the southern end of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge that crosses Tampa Bay from St. Petersburg.

The city has a population of about 59,000, making it the 48th largest city in the State of Florida.


Bradenton Village of the ArtsBradenton Village of the Arts


The Bradenton area has a rich history that includes the Native American tribes that occupied the shore thousands of years ago.

Shaw's Point near Bradenton was discovered in 1539 by Hernando De Soto on one of his voyages to the New World.

Braden Castle, Florida MemoryBraden Castle
Florida Memory, State Archives

The first town in the area was the Town of Manatee, incorporated in 1888. 

Bradentown was incorporated in 1903. 

Vintage Postcard Main Street BradentownVintage Postcard Main Street Bradentown

It was named for Dr. Joseph Braden whose fortress-like house had been a refuge for settlers during Indian attacks.

Dr. Braden had moved to the area from Virginia in the 1840s and established a large sugar plantation worked by slaves. 

The Site of Dr. Braden's CastleThe Site of Dr. Braden's Castle

The economy of the early Bradenton area was based on agriculture including sugar and commercial fishing.

Bradenton Fishing Boats in 1902Bradenton Fishing Boats in 1902
Florida Memory, State Archives

The modern city of Bradenton was formed in 1943, when the town of Manatee merged with Bradentown.

The name of the new town became Bradenton, along with its new spelling.

Hotel Dixie Grande Bradenton Florida PostcardHotel Dixie Grande, Bradenton, Florida Postcard


Bradenton, Florida is surrounded by water, both fresh and salt.

It is the access point for more than 20 miles of beautiful Southwest Florida beaches on the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay.

Bradenton is located on the mainland on the south bank of the Manatee River, and is separated from the outer barrier island beaches by the Intracoastal Waterway.

These island beaches include Anna Maria Island with the small cities of Anna Maria, Holmes Beach, and Bradenton Beach, and Longboat Key south of Anna Maria Island.

Old downtown Bradenton is located on the west side of the city.

Bradenton Pier and MarinaBradenton Pier and Marina

Most of the office and government buildings in the county are located downtown.

The tallest buildings in town are the 12 story Bradenton Financial Center and the new 9 story Manatee County Judicial Center.

The new judicial center is right next to the historic Manatee County courthouse built in 1913 and on the National Register of Historic Places.

Historic Manatee County Courthouse, Built in 1913Historic Manatee County Courthouse, Built in 1913

Bradenton's downtown area is delightful and loaded with museums, historic buildings, fine dining restaurants and shops. It is a compact area, and everything is within an easy walk.

The large downtown marina is the center for many water oriented activities including sailing and jet skiing.

Just south of downtown is Bradenton's Village of the Arts.

This is a neighborhood district with special zoning that allows residents to live and work in their homes. The village has some unique art galleries.

Bradenton Village of the ArtsBradenton Village of the Arts

The creative zoning paid off. About 50 once rundown houses have been converted into studios, galleries, restaurants and other small businesses.

Many of the small buildings are painted in beautiful bright colors reflecting every shade of the rainbow.

The Village of The Arts has attracted national recognition because of its innovative approach.

Bradenton was recently recognized as one of the Top 10 cities in the country for working artists.  This award was made by Art Calendar, a well known business magazine for visual artists.

The Londoner Bed & Breakfast, BradentonThe Londoner Bed & Breakfast, Bradenton


  • Holiday Inn Express Bradenton West. This hotel is right downtown and is reasonably priced. 4450 47th St West, Bradenton, FL 34210. Tel: 941-795-4633.
  • The Londoner Bed and Breakfast. Very neat, clean and cozy in the heart of downtown. 304 15th Street West, Bradenton, FL 34205. Tel: 941-748-5658.


  • Pier 22 Restaurant. Indoor and outside dining on the waterfront. Good seafood and steaks, reasonably priced. 1200 1st Ave West, Bradenton, FL 34205. Tel: 941-748-8087.

  • Central Cafe.  Good salads and pizzas, full menu. 906 Manatee Ave East, Bradenton, FL 34208. Tel: 941-757-0050


  • Manatee Players Riverfront Theater 
    102 Old Main Street, Bradenton, FL 34205. Tel: 941-748-0111

    One of Florida's finest community theaters. The Manatee Players are an award winning troupe. 
  • South Florida Museum 
    201 10th Street West, Bradenton, FL 34205. 941-746-4131 

    This is a one stop location for the museum, Bishop Planetarium and the Parker Manatee Aquarium. Location on Manatee River right downtown. 
  • ArtCenter Manatee
    209 9th Street West, Bradenton, FL 34205. Tel: 941-746-2862

    Located in the heart of downtown, ArtCenter Manatee is Manatee County’s premiere visual arts center. Nestled in the nearly 10,000 sq. ft. building are three galleries, five classrooms, an Artists’ Market gift shop and an art library featuring over 3,000 art volumes. 
  • Manatee Village Historical Park
    1401 Manatee Avenue E., Bradenton, FL 34208. 941-749-7165  

    This is an open air museum that preserves the heritage and history of the county.

  • The historic fishing village of Cortez is located between Bradenton and Bradenton Beach.  It has several nice little bars and restaurants with fresh seafood. Quaint and scenic little working town.
Cortez Florida WaterfrontStarfish Company, Cortez, Florida


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