Oct 302016
 

7-things-to-do-in-the-bradenton-florida-area

If you follow me on Instagram you already know that I recently visited the Bradenton, Florida area for the first time. During my time there, I stayed on Anna Maria Island with three fellow bloggers (yes, just like The Real World) in this beautiful house from Anna Maria Vacations.

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Anna Maria Island, Florida is a seven-mile strip of beautiful white-sand beaches that lies between the turquoise Gulf of Mexico and the bay. The island is so quaint and cozy and it truly makes you feel as though you have taken a step back in time because of all of the “old” Florida charm.

On AMI (Anna Maria Island), you won’t find any high rise condos or fast food joints. Instead you’ll find a wonderful selection of local eateries and everything from quaint cottages to deluxe beach houses by the sea. Honestly, you need never leave the island to find fun and relaxation.  From watching the sunset while dining at many of the water front restaurants on the island to shopping in some of the wonderful specialty shops to good old fashioned people watching – there is something for everyone on Anna Maria Island.

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I spent three glorious days in the area and my schedule was filled with all sorts of fun adventures while I was there.  If you are planning on visiting the Bradenton area, here are some things you will want to add to your list of things to do.

1. Stop by Beach Bums on Pine Ave for a rental.

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Beach Bums has a full rental fleet of cruiser bikes, kayaks, paddle boards, surrey bikes, beach supplies, and street legal golf carts. Yeah, street legal golf carts!!  They rent out all their equipment by the hour, day, week and month to help you make the most of your time on the island.

While I was there, I had the chance to go out and explore the island on a golf cart. They go up to about 25 mph, so golf carts really are a great way to get around and see a lot.

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Thinking about renting a golf cart? Know before you go:

  • All golf cart drivers need to over the age of 18, have valid insurance and driver’s license. Drivers need to sign the liability waiver as well as provide license information and proof of auto insurance prior to driving the cart.
  • Their Golf Carts are Low Speed Vehicles (LSV). This means they can be driven anywhere the speed limit is 35 mph and below. This encompasses the entire island up until Coquina Beach. LSVs must obey all traffic regulations.

I loved spending time checking out AMI. I got to see the City Pier:

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The Old Jailhouse:

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And this cottage that fell into the bay at one time:

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One of the things I love the most about Beach Bums is that they know that your time on Florida’s Gulf Coast is limited, so they offer free delivery and pick up to your Anna Maria vacation rental for any of their recreational equipment small enough to fit in their truck. They will then give you a safety briefing and make sure the equipment fits your needs. They also provide FREE life jackets for kayak renters and FREE cycle helmets for bike renters.

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Beach Bums is located at 427 Pine Ave. Anna Maria, FL 34216

2. Hit the Beach!

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Anna Maria Island is just that – an island, so it’s surrounded by beaches on all sides. Anna Maria Island has six to chose from: Coquina Beach, Manatee Beach, Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach, Cortez Beach and Anna Maria Beach.

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The white sand is just as gorgeous as everyone says it is.

3. Eat a cinnamon bun the size of your head.

For a unique experience, be sure to stop by Ginny’s & Jane E’s. It’s a cafe, bakery and gift shop all in one – it’s definitely more of an experience than just a stop for breakfast or lunch.

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In the cafe, they offer a full menu of hot specialties drinks. We make lattes, cappuccinos, Italian style macchiatos, breve’s and Americanos.  Plus there is a variety of flavorings to add to their drinks, such as vanilla, caramel, mocha, and many many more! Of course, if you just want a good old cup of coffee, they offer our fresh ground french roast. There is also house decaf, along with a flavor of the day.

Their in house bakery compliments the cafe. If you do not have time for a full breakfast or lunch, try a decadent Cinnamon Bun or a fresh baked muffin or scone. For dessert there is an assortment of pies and cakes to choose from.

The front of the building is a store and it’s unique collection of local art and antiquities. They have things like one of a kind post cards, handmade bracelets and necklaces, custom t shirts, handmade art made from shells and refuse found on the beach. They also sell beach supplies, like suntan lotion, sunglasses, flip flops and other items to help you have fun and stay comfortable while at the beach.

Ginny’s & Jane E’s is located at 9807 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria, FL, 34216 and they are open every day 8am-5pm.

4. Visit the South Florida Museum

South Florida Museum is the largest natural and cultural history museum on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Highlights include fossil evidence of Florida’s earliest mammals and marine species.

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Other exhibits include local maritime traditions, early 20th-century medical practices and Spanish exploration in the New World. Spanish Plaza has full-scale replicas of a 16th-century manor house, chapel and conquistador Hernando DeSoto’s birthplace.

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The Bishop Planetarium, featuring one of the most advanced all-digital projection systems in the world, presents astronomy programs the whole family will enjoy.

The Parker Manatee Aquarium, part of Florida’s manatee rehabilitation network, is home to the oldest known living manatee. The facility is the permanent home to Manatee County’s most famous resident and the oldest known manatee in the world, Snooty.

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The Parker Manatee Aquarium is designed to house three adult manatees.  The nearly 60,000 gallon pool offers both deep and shallow water, allowing the manatees to maintain natural feeding behaviors. An exhibit area within the facility helps to educate the public about manatee anatomy and offers above and below water viewing.

The South Florida Museum is located at 201 10th Street West in Bradenton FL 34205.

5. Stop by Mixon Fruit Farm

At Mixon’s you can watch fresh squeezed Orange Juice being made, enjoy one of their famous “Orange Swirl” ice cream cones, browse the 14,000 sq. ft. gift shop, tour the citrus groves and visit their Wildlife Care & Education Center.

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Hop on Mixon’s Orange Blossom Express to tour the grove and visit the Wildlife Rescue. Their tours are packed full of educational tidbits and trivia. At the Wildlife Inc. Rescue, we enjoyed an interactive educational show with rescued Florida animals, reptiles and birds.  It’s definitely fun for the whole family.

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On the tour we found out that they provide much needed land and shelter for orphaned and injured Birds, Animals and Reptiles. Their mission is to rehabilitate Florida wildlife for release back into the wild, and to promote education, appreciation, and respect for wildlife.

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At Mixon’s you will also find a Children’s Magical Maze, Wedding Pavilion, Gazebo, and Wetlands Pond.

The gift shop is filled with unique Florida Gifts, Gourmet Specialties, Teas, Honey, Marmalades, Salsas and much more. Store hours are Monday through Saturday, 10:00am to 5:00pm.

Mixon Fruit Farm is located at 2525 27th St E in Bradenton, FL 34208.

6. Eat a donut from The Donut Experiment

At The Donut Experiment they only serve made to order donuts. Enough said, right?

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They start with a delicious, fresh-made cake donut and then you pick from their huge selection of icings and toppings. Yours can be as simple as plain or glazed or as crazy as key lime, maple bacon or Sriracha.

The Donut Experiment is located at 210 Pine Avenue in Anna Maria, FL 34216 and they are open Monday – Sunday: 7am – 1pm.

7. Go on a dolphin tour.

Paradise Boat Tours offers 90 minute fully narrated tour that combines the wildlife of the area with the rich history. No two tours are exactly the same but they strive to make all of their tours fun and informative.

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According to the boat captain, they see dolphins approximately 95% of the time, but of course it’s not guaranteed. and if you don’t see dolphins on your tour they will do their best to accommodate you on another tour free of charge. Our tour actually got cut short because a storm rolled in, but we were able to see a few dolphins before we made it back to the dock (I wasn’t quick enough to get any pictures, though).

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We also got to see this sunken ship while we were out, though, and I have to say that it was a pretty cool thing to see. Maybe not so cool for the owner, but I thought it was neat.

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The tour costs $30 for adults and children are $20. Paradise Boat Tours have several tours each day so you can choose a time that’s convenient for your schedule. Reservations are not required, but are suggested. You can book online or give them a call.

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The tour leaves from the Bridge Street Pier located at 200 Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach, FL.

If you’re spending time on the island and don’t want to worry about finding parking, there is a Free Trolley. Daily service on the trolley runs from 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. every 20 minutes from the Anna Maria City Pier on the north to Coquina Beach (in the city of Bradenton Beach) on the south.

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Trolley Stops are two to four blocks apart along the route and there are three main stops: Anna Maria City Pier, Manatee Public Beach, and Coquina Beach where the trolley will wait approximately three minutes before continuing the route.

Anna Maria Island is a perfect vacation spot for families, honeymooners, couples, or even a girls weekend away. I loved my time in the Bradenton area and can’t wait to go back.

Disclosure: I was provided with an all expenses paid trip to Anna Maria Island thanks to the BACVB, but that did not influence my opinions in any way.

  79 Responses to “7 Things to do in the Bradenton Florida Area”

  1. So much fun to be had in the Brandenton Florida area. I’d love to go with my family, there’s a little bit of everything for everyone and I love that!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing these! We’ve been talking about going to Bradenton, so this is perfect.

  3. Way Robin, Anna Maria Island sounds like my kind of weekend Getaway to regroup and simply chill out. I love the beach Bum mentality and I believe I just got a new Bucket list item.
    Those Donuts look divine yummmm! Thanks for sharing with us 🙂

    Julie Syl

  4. I could really go for a visit to the beach right now. And one of these amazing-looking doughnuts! I love that you can top your own.

  5. I have never been to FL, but I really want to go some day. It looks beautiful and those donuts have my mouth watering! My kids would love the golf cart limo! hehe!

  6. This is the kind of adventure we love!! Not super touristy but like getting a slice of life on Anna Marie Island- I would love to see the manatees, check out that paradise boat tour and enjoy all those yummy eats! Thanks for sharing!!

  7. The museum looks like so much fun! I have never traveled to this area of Florida. We typically go to Jacksonville because we have family there.

  8. What great ideas! the South Florida Museum looks like a ton of fun! I cant wait to visit and see these places.

  9. This is a lovely area, we stayed in a beach front condo for an event last summer and love it. This is great since we want to go back with our girls!!

  10. It looks like a great place to visit, I added it to my must visit travel destination list. Great pictures also!!

  11. This reminds me a lot of life here in SoCal, but a little more tropical. It looks like you had a blast and there truly is something for everyone!

  12. Woww! Looks like a wonderful place to go. I have to add it to my bucket list.

  13. It looks like an amazing place to visit! I will definitely check it out! Thank you for sharing it!

  14. My husband actually has family from this area. He has visited them many times and I hope to join him in the near future.

  15. Oh yes! I would love that whole package!
    Maybe one day.
    I just want a vacation that I can actually enjoy without worry and fights.

    Love the photos! What an adventure!

  16. I love visiting Florida. There is always so much to do and see. I love visiting the beach and I think that cinnamon roll looks awesome.

  17. What a wonderful trip for you. When I worked in NJ – on a barrier island – many of my customers wintered in Bradenton. It’s quite similar to where I grew up in NJ.

  18. That looks like a fun place to visit. I love Florida and all things Florida. I want to visit everything in Florida.

  19. So, Florida is my second home. I love it, and want to move there! Everytime I see new places to visit in FL, I bookmark it. These white beaches are calling my name!

  20. The golf cart rentals look like so much fun! Definitely something my husband and I would enjoy.

  21. I would love to see the Manatee Aquarium. They’ve always been on of my favorite sea animals. Next time I’m in the area, I will have to give AMI a visit.

  22. You have made me want to go right now! The only problem I would have is that I wouldn’t be able to decide what I wanted to do first! Probably get one of those cinnamon buns 😉

  23. Looks like a great place for vacation with the kids! It seems amazing and a lot of fun activities!

  24. This sounds like my kind of vacation spot. I would love to go here and spend time relaxing and visiting the shops and beach. Bookmarked!

  25. I would love a good rental to pack up for the beach. You can’t go wrong with a golf cart for touring a beach town. It’s so much fun.

  26. It’s so beautiful and looks like such fun. I haven’t been to Florida since I was in university. I’d love to go visit Bradenton. It’s one of the few places in the state I haven’t ever been to!

  27. This looks like our kind of beach, quaint, not too crowded and relaxing, pinning for the next time we head to Florida.

  28. I love to go to Florida a few times a year. I will have to plan a trip to Bradenton, Florida next time.

  29. Bradenton, Florida looks like a fun place to go vacation with the family. We will be going to Florida this winter. I will have to see if we can go there.

  30. Oh Wow!! What a fun place to go. I particularly love the donuts! I love a little different on something that is commonplace!

  31. You’re making me want to go back to FL. I was just there in August. It’s perfect in the fall.

  32. Vacation there sounds glorious. I was sold with the cinnamon roll and the donut experiment.

  33. That looks so fun and there’s so much to do! I have a friend in Florida who keeps inviting me, but I didn’t have the chance to go. I should plan a trip there.

  34. I have family that lives there and it is truly beautiful! Those places you visited look amazing, I will have to stop by there the next time I am there.

  35. This looks like a great place to spend the Holidays! My family will surely love it!

  36. I love visiting Florida. I will have to check out Anna Maria Island. There is so much to do there.

  37. What a great place to visit. I would love to see some dolphins and check out the Aquarium.

  38. Wow, this place looks very interesting. I’m sure you had a great time in your vacation.

  39. It would be awesome to be able to vacation here with the family. The cold weather is making me miss the beach! That cinnamon bun is awesome.

  40. This would be a great place to visit! That cinnamon bun looks so delicious.

  41. What a beautiful place. I love Florida but I’ve never been to this area.

  42. This seems like such a beautiful place to visit. The cinnamon roll with all the icing made my mouth water!

  43. Such a great list of fun things to do! It’s so cold here in the north east I’d gladly take a trip to Florida!

  44. I can’t wait to get down to Florida to visit my family and friends. I have never heard of Bradenton. I will have to see how close it is to the people I know and maybe go check it out.

  45. There’s so much to see and do. I’d love the orange groves, but I am sure my kid’s first pick would be the aquarium!

  46. I love your pictures.
    And you gotta love a store called “Beach Bums.” 🙂
    I would have loved to see the manatees.

  47. This place looks amazing. I’m so happy that I came upon this article because I had never heard of this place. Those donuts look amazing. Going to look into this and how I can get there from NJ

  48. My girlfriend and I are always travelling to Florida for disney obviously so its great to read about other places in Florida to visit! I love any town with old school charm and this sure seems to have it! Great article thanks for sharing.

  49. This looks like a great vacation! I love that there are only beach houses and cottages around – that in and of itself sounds so relaxing to me!

  50. We’re gearing up for a florida vacation in January, not sure we’ll get out to this area though. We’re heading to Disney for the marathon.

  51. I love Florida and visiting there!! We were just in Florida earlier this year and loved it was so nice and warm.

  52. I would love to visit the “air-conditioned” jail. We live in South Florida and visit museums at least once every two months. I’d love to stop by South Florida Museum.

  53. Anna Maria Island is the best! We used to have a beach house out that way. It’s gorgeous. I can’t wait to get back there.

  54. I love Florida, and I wish I still lived there! This looks so gorgeous. I hadn’t heard of this area, but it looks worth visiting.

  55. This looks like a fun little town! Those donuts look amazing! I may go visit just for those!

  56. Ooooo it looks like you had an awesome time!!!! I would
    Love to visit Anna Maria Island some day

  57. What a gorgeous place to visit! I think it would have been fun to tour the area on a bike!

  58. What a gorgeous place to visit! I think it would have been fun to tour the area on a bike!

  59. I have never been to Florida so I find posts like this helpful! I get to learn about different areas and what they offer!

  60. I have never heard of this area! It looks gorgeous!!! There are so many places in FL I would love to go to!

  61. Ok, you had me at beach and cinnamon roll as big as my head, but you took it home with the manatees! I need a beach vacation!

  62. Beautiful post. It makes me long for Florida! I really do need a vacation

  63. I love this post. I miss being on the beach. It has been a while since I have been able to go. That looks like such a quaint little place!

  64. What an amazing trip! I could really use a trip to the beach right about now, it looks so fun and relaxing in this area. Great for families too!

  65. I never realized there was so much to do in Bradenton! I may have to check it out on our next Florida trip!!

  66. Oh wow, now I’m in the mood to head to the beach. I’m sure we’d check out Beach Bums because we love renting bikes on vaca.

  67. this looks like such a fun place. i love that florida has so many cool places to visit.

  68. I could have definitely used this list not too long ago. My husband and I spent two weeks in Florida!

  69. EPIC List. my friend christine is in florida and she’s always asking that i visit. with vies and trips like this how can i hold off any longer

  70. DANG! That cinnamon bun is huge. I would love to see if I could eat it all hahaha

  71. We love Anna Maria Island! Its one of our favorite places on the west coast of Florida.

  72. I have been to Florida couple of times, such a beautiful place to visit anytime. The Anna Maria Island looks amazing and I love that we have lots to do around and the pictures are quiet stunning as well. I am sure you had a great experience out there!

  73. I have never been to a Bradenton, Florida, but it sounds like a place I’d love to visit with my family someday. Especially to visit Anna Maria Island! 🙂

  74. I would love to visit Florida one day! Looks absolutely gorgeous with tons of fun.

  75. First of all can I just say awwwwh to the Manatee I feel so bad for them. My mom loves them and wanted to swim with them before. Beach Bums would so be me, and that golf cart I wish I had one as of right now. I love riding them.

  76. Oh my goodness! The house you stayed in is beautiful! I’ve never visited the Bradenton area but you’re making me want to!!

  77. This definitely looks like my kind of place. So much to do and explore.

  78. I think I’d like to spend most of my time on the beach, since we don’t have one.

  79. Oh wow what an incredible place to visit, definitely screams relaxation and I would love to visit the Parker Manatee Aquarium, looks awesome