When people think of Florida, they may immediately picture Disney World or Miami. After all, these places are full of fun activities, sunshine, and palm trees, which most visitors look for when taking a trip to The Sunshine State. The downside? Everyone else is thinking the same thing, too.
Fortunately, Florida is full of lesser-known gems that hold just as many beautiful places and exciting adventures, without the drag of a large crowd. One of these gems is situated right on the Southwest coast in Bradenton. With a stellar beach, artsy scene, and plenty of delicious eats, Bradenton is your can’t-miss stop on your next trip to the land of Mickey Mouse. Below are the top five sights of Bradenton, Florida…
Anna Maria Island
Right next to the center of Bradenton is Anna Maria Island, famous for its white, sandy beaches and pristine waters. Here, you can soak in the rays while taking in the unparalleled sights of the Gulf of Mexico. If you want to take a break from the strong Florida sunlight, you can explore the area’s abundance of small shops and eateries or grab a nice, cool drink at one of the hip bars on the island. With way less of a crowd than Miami’s South Beach and double the amount of space, you won’t find a better spot to be a beach bum than Anna Maria Island.
This 1.5-mile park on the north tip of Bradenton opened in 2012 and has attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors since. This outdoor gathering space is filled with outdoor seating, including benches and individual seats to take in the view of the harbor. Alternatively, you can try your hand at volleyball at the Beach Volleyball Court, bring your skateboard along to skate at the Skate Park, or have a splash with your family at the Family Fun Zone and Splash Pad!
The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature
This museum prides itself on being the largest natural and cultural museum of the Gulf Coast of Florida. If you’re a history buff, nature lover or fan of all things museums, you will want to make this art center your go-to. Highlights include a large planetarium with stargazing shows, and a collection of rare fossils found in Florida. Even better, it’s just a hop, skip and jump away from Riverwalk.
Red Barn Flea Market
Flea Market fans unite: Bradenton’s red Barn Flea Market has it all, and much more. Located smack dab in the middle of the city, this flea market covers an area of 145,000 square feet packed with food, clothing, books, cards, jewelry, furniture, and everything in between. Each season brings different events, performances, and vendors, making this market worth a visit at any time of year!
DeSoto National Memorial Park
Located just 5 miles west of Bradenton, the DeSoto National Memorial Park is rich in history, culture, and natural views. In 1539, Conquistador Hernando de Soto and his men first made landfall in the Tampa Bay area. Here, you can learn all about de Soto’s journey while enjoying hikes in the park’s many trails. You will come across plenty of statues and landmarks that depict various scenes of de Soto’s expedition. In the winter months, the park puts on demonstrations of de Soto’s adventures, perfect for a family excursion!
If you want the best that Florida has to offer without the hassle of a large crowd, Bradenton may be just the right choice for you.