There are tons of great Bradenton Activities to explore while visiting Anna Maria Island. Just a short drive over the Manatee Bridge, Bradenton is on the mainland of Manatee County. This area has a quaint downtown with both family friendly things to do along with a great night life.
Top 11 Bradenton Activities
When you visit Anna Maria Island it’s totally worth driving inland for Bradenton activities!
Downtown Bradenton Old Main Street
If you want to shop, dine, and unwind then Old Main Street is the perfect spot. This is truly the heart of Bradenton. Here you’ll find boutiques, tons of bars and restaurants too. Old Main Street offers quaint old architecture reminiscent of a small southern town, and fewer modern structures. It’s really a pleasant place to relax while taking in the scenes and window shopping.
Wander down the street to the Riverfront and you’ll find the Pier and Twin Dolphin Marina. The pier not only offers great views of the Manatee River, but also has a very nice restaurant called Pier 22.
If you are looking for a night spot this is the best place for a bar crawl. You’ll find many different bars, pubs and lounges all along Old Main Street. Each bar is unique and draws a different crowd. Just be sure to drink responsibly!
Riverwalk – Free outdoors entertainment.
The Bradenton Riverwalk is a great place to stroll along the Manatee River and enjoy Florida’s year round perfect weather. This strip of public space offers a splash park, playground, day docks, picnic areas, skate park and butterfly garden. Enjoy sights of the river while relaxing too.
Mixon Fruit Farms
Mixon Fruit Farm is a short drive east of downtown. Here you’ll find many fun family attractions including farm tours, wildlife refuge, and a large gift shop too. Be sure to try a free sample of fresh squeezed orange juice and grab a piece of fudge from the gift shop.
While visiting Anna Maria Island in the Spring, you can catch the Pittsburg Pirates Spring training games at Mckechnie Field. Check out their schedule to see all the different activities happening at this amazing facility.
Village of the Arts
The Village of the Arts is a commercial-residential community on the southern side of the downtown area. Here you’ll find art galleries, specialty shops and restaurants. The first Friday of each month the Village holds an artwalk, however, some of the shops are open Tuesday-Saturday weekly.
Manatee Performing Arts Center
The Manatee Performing Arts Center has a long history of producing plays and entertaining Bradentonians since the late 1940’s. First started by the Bradenton Junior Women’s Club, the troupe became known as the Manatee Players. Now with a new large facility and location the thespian tradition continues. Check their calendar to see what is happening!
Red Barn Flea Market
The Red Barn Flea Market is a Bradenton tradition. Here you’ll find the areas best Flea Market with produce, restaurants, and a unique assortment of vendors. Open Tuesday through Sunday.
South Florida Museum
The South Florida Museum offers a great look at prehistoric Florida. From Dinosaurs to early native inhabitants, this museum is an impressive facility. You’ll find Paleontology and Archaeology featured in addition to local history too. See Manatees in their aquarium and also learn about outer space in their planetarium.
The Bradenton Ghost Tours are a newer feature to the downtown area. Learn about encounters and documented stories from locals. While taking you through areas with unusual encounters you’ll also learn about Bradenton History. Not only are the tours offered in Bradenton, but you can catch a tour on Anna Maria Island’s Bradenton Beach too.
Manatee Village Historic Park
Learn about Bradenton’s past when you visit Manatee Village Historic Park. Here you’ll find relics from the past including Fogarty Boat Works, The Baldwin Steam Locomotive and the old school house.
Visit Bradenton Breweries for a nice local cold one. Motorworks and Darwin’s Brewers are both on the south side of Downtown on 9th Street West. While the local handcrafted beer movement takes off, Bradenton has hopped on the trend.
During your next visit to Anna Maria Island be sure to head into the Mainland and try these Bradenton Activities!
Bradenton Real Estate
Island Real Estate can help you find your next home on Anna Maria Island or in Bradenton! Give us a call at 877-778-6066 or visit IslandReal.com to see our listings.
Restaurants Anna Maria – Boating is a hugely popular recreational activity in Florida, and Anna Maria Island is no exception to this rule. With the island situated on the Gulf of Mexico, Tampa Bay and Sarasota Bay there are plenty of fun spots on the water to explore. If you get hungry during your boating excursion many waterfront restaurants offer boat parking so you can dock and dine.
Below is a list of the top 15 restaurants to visit by boat in Anna Maria Island, Cortez Fishing Village, Longboat Key and Bradenton. Click on the links to learn more about these great dock and dine destinations.
Anna Maria Island – Bradenton Beach
1. Bridge Tender Inn – Located in Bradenton Beach just south of the City Pier, the Bridge Tender Inn is located right on Sarasota Bay for beautiful views of the Intracoastal and Cortez Fishing Village. The Bridge Tender Inn offers both indoor and outdoor dining along with a full service bar. Enjoy live music, delicious food and great views from this old Florida style locals favorite hangout. Pull your boat up to the dingy dock right out front, or you could even step right out of a kayak into the outdoor dining area! Coordinates: 27°27’55.2″N 82°41’48.0″W
2. Anna Maria Oyster Bar (AMOB) – AMOB is located at the base of the Bradenton Beach City Pier south of the Cortez Bridge. The pier offers a public day dock for anyone looking to visit both the pier and Bridge Street. Day dock space can sometimes be crowded with boats, but is convenient for those looking to dock and dine or sight see on Bradenton Beach. Find great views, delicious fresh seafood, a full service bar and friendly service at AMOB. Bonus stops: after you park your boat, you can walk down Bridge Street to many restaurants including The Bridge Tender Inn, Island Creperie, The Blue Marlin, Island Time Bar and Grill, Freckled Fin, The Bridge Street Bistro, or the Beach House Restaurant right on the gulf. Coordinates: 27°27’59.1″N 82°41’39.9″W
Anna Maria Island – Anna Maria
3. Anna Maria City Pier – located on the north end of Anna Maria Island, the city pier overlooks Tampa Bay and the Skyway Bridge. The Pier offers a little of something for everyone to eat, and also offers a jewelry shop to peruse. Toward the end of the pier, near the restauarnt, there is a spot for boats to dock and dine. Coordinates: 27°32’04.2″N 82°43’49.7″W
4. Rod and Reel Pier – A favorite spot of Anna Maria locals for a cold beer and fresh seafood, the Rod and Reel Pier has great food serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. You’ll enjoy gorgeous views of Tampa Bay and the northern end of the island. Come by boat, and take a load off at this great old Florida restaurant perfect for a dock and dine excursion. Coordinates: 27°32’18.2″N 82°44’21.5″W
5. Ocean Star – Ocean Star is an excellent Japanese restaurant in the city of Anna Maria offering both sushi and hibachi grills. Located at the Galati Marina, Ocean Star has both indoor seating and covered patio seating looking over the Marina and Bimini Bay. To get to Ocean Star by boat you’ll have to enter into Bimini Bay from Tampa Bay. Coordinates: 27°31’35.0″N 82°43’15.4″W
Cortez Fishing Village – Intracoastal
6. Tide Tables – One of the newest restaurants to Cortez Fishing Village, Tide Tables is operated by the same owners as the infamous Starfish market and restaurant. Tide Tables is located at the base of the mainland side of the Cortez Bridge at Intracoastal Waterway Marker 48. Enjoy fresh seafood and amazing views at Tide Tables when you dock and dine at this great spot! Coordinates: 27°28’09.0″N 82°41’21.0″W
7. Seafood Shack – The Seafood Shack has been an iconic restaurant to the coastline of Cortez since the 1970’s. Seafood Shack offers both indoor and outdoor dock side seating in addition to their great banquet space. The Seafood Shack offers temporary dock space or slips for overnight stays. In the past few years the Seafood Shack has made a great deal of updates both to the restaurant and Marina. The Seafood Shack is located on the northern side of the Cortez Bridge at ICW marker 49. Coordinates: 27°28’13.5″N 82°41’23.7″W
Cortez Fishing Village – South Shore
8. Starfish Market and Restaurant – One of the most popular eateries in Cortez Fishing Village, Starfish offers a glimpse into the world of the local fisherpeople who bring Florida fresh seafood to our tables. Starfish has outdoor seating only with the dining area right on the docks used by fishing boats. When you dock and dine tie up to any free spot you can find and don’t forget to bring cash as cards are not accepted. To get to Starfish you’ll have to head east along the southern shoreline past the Coast Guard station and the large building labeled A.P Bell. Coordinates: 27°27’57.2″N 82°41’07.2″W
9. Swordfish Grill and Tiki Bar – heading farther along the southern shore of Cortez Fishing Village you’ll find both Swordfish Grill and our #10 stop Cortez Kitchen. Swordfish has been in business since 2011 and offers great views of Sarasota Bay, live music everyday, cold drinks and fresh off the boat seafood. Swordfish offers plenty of dock and dine spaces for those coming by boat! Coordinates: 27°27’56.8″N 82°40’54.3″W
10. Cortez Kitchen – Just like Starfish and Swordfish Grill, Cortez kitchen offers great fresh seafood with beautiful views of Sarasota Bay. Enjoy covered outdoor seating weathered fishing boats, and live music! Coordinates: 27°27’57.5″N 82°40’53.1″W
11. Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant and Pub – Owned by the Chiles group, Mar Vista is the Longboat key sister restaurant to the Beach House and Sandbar on Anna Maria Island. Just as the Beach House and Sandbar, Mar Vista offers fresh food with great service. Enjoy great bay side views along with several spaces for those looking to dock and dine. Mar Vista is located on the northern bay side of Longboat Key. Coordinates: 27°26’17.0″N 82°40’54.7″W
12. Dry Dock Grill – Located on the southern end of Longboat Key in the Boathouse Marina, Dry Dock Grill is just a short drive north of St. Armands Circle. To get to Dry Dock by boat you’ll have to leave Sarasota Bay heading south past quick point and into Zwick’s channel near marker 6. Dry Dock offers three wet slips for those coming to dock and dine. Coordinates: 27°20’20.5″N 82°35’24.0″W
13. Pier 22 – Located on the Manatee River in downtown Bradenton, the Pier 22 restaurant offers a casual upscale dining experience with an extensive menu. Pier 22 offers dining indoors, covered outdoor dining or outdoor dining right along the riverfront. Pier 22 offers a 180 foot courtesy dock perfect for boaters looking to stop along the river for a convenient dock and dine. The Marina offers a great place for overnight or extended stays. To get to Pier 22 you’ll exit lower Tampa Bay at marker #2 into the Manatee River. Follow the river about six miles to marker 22. Coordinates: 27°30’02.2″N 82°34’24.9″W
14. Riverhouse Reef and Grill – Across the river from Pier 22 you’ll find Riverhouse Reef and Grill in Palmetto. Located in one of the most luxurious marinas on the west coast of Florida, Riverhouse Reef and Grill offers plenty of space for boats to dock and dine. Coordinates: 27°30’42.2″N 82°34’32.5″W
15. YachtSea Grille – heading further down the Manatee River you’ll find the public day docks at the Bradenton Riverwalk. Park your boat enjoy the beautiful riverfront, and experience a great meal. Head east from the day docks to find YachtSea Grille for great food and service in downtown Bradenton. YachtSea is just west of the Desoto Bridge and nearby to the downtown skate park. YachtSea is not directly on the riverfront, but is just across the street from the water. Coordinates: 27°29’58.0″N 82°33’49.7″W
There are tons of great places to explore for a fun dock and dine experience around Anna Maria Island.
Anna Maria Island Accommodations and Vacation Rentals
Bradenton – Riverview Pointe Preserve is south of De Soto National Memorial park, and is just a short drive from Anna Maria Island. This 11 acre park in West Bradenton offers a unique Florida ecosystem along with packed shell trails and wildlife viewing.
Riverview Pointe Preserve
The Preserve was added to the “Shaws Point” Archaeological district by the 1939 United States De Soto Expedition Commission. This area is among what is believed to be the landing spot of the Hernando De Soto expedition of 1539. Riverview Pointe and surrounding areas are the site of prehistoric native coastal villages dating back to 356B.C. to 110A.D. However, all evidence of these natives was destroyed in the early twentieth century.
Hiking Trail and Florida Wildlife
The hiking trail here is less than a mile long, but offers a peaceful place for a relaxing stroll. Starting off in a dry sandy upland area, the trail takes you down through coastal hammock and out to the riverfront. A great deal of the local wildlife are nocturnal, but this trail is still a great area for bird watching. Unique animals of the park include a thriving Gopher Tortoise population. Additionally, they prefer upland habitats such as those found at Riverview Pointe Preserve.
The hiking trail brings you from uplands to riverfront, and there are a diverse array of plants here. Enjoy large old Sand Pine and Scrub Oak in the uplands area, and salt resistance species like Mangrove and Buttonwood on the river front. You’ll find many Florida native species of plants like beauty berry, wild grape and poison ivy. It’s a good idea to stay on the hiking path to avoid damaging this rare environment.
Dogs are welcome on the trail, but must remain on a leash. The park has pet waste stations.
Entrance to the park is free with the hours changing seasonally. Typically Manatee County parks are open dawn to dusk, but be sure to check closing times listed at the park entrance.
There are several activities going on for Anna Maria Island Easter Holiday. From egg hunts to brunch the island is the perfect place for your family gathering.
Sandbar Easter Egg Hunt for Anna Maria Island Easter
The 30th Annual Sandbar Easter Egg Hunt will be held on the beach in front of Sandbar restaurant March 26th at 9am sharp. Refreshments will also be served at 8:30am. Bring your own baskets for collecting eggs, and meet in the weddings and event pavilion while everyone is arriving. After the kids make a mad dash for the eggs, line up behind the Easter Bunny for a parade down Pine Avenue to the Egg roll and Easter Bonnet Contest.
Additionally, enjoy Easter lunch or dinner on the 27th at the Sandbar with traditional Easter menu items along with fresh fish selections.
Pine Avenue Easter Egg Roll and Bonnet Contest
The Easter Egg Roll on March 26th is a fun time for kids with face painting, children’s activities and complimentary photos with the Easter Bunny too. During the egg roll there will be an Easter Bonnet contest for both adults and children. The kids contest winner will receive lunch for 4 at the Sandbar, and the adults contest winner will receive a two night stay at the Anna Maria Guest House on Pine Avenue. The Sandbar will also be providing food and refreshments while the activities are going on. The Easter Egg Roll will take place from 9:30am-noon, and the Bonnet Contest will be held at 10:30am.
Mar Vista Egg Hunt
Longboat Key’s Mar Vista Dockside restaurant will be holding their 28th annual Easter Egg Hunt at 10am on March 26th. Kids will be split up into two age groups for egg hunting. Stick around after the egg hunt for a delicious meal at Mar Vista!
G.T. Bray Egg Hunt
The G.T. Bray Egg Hunt is on March 20th from 2-4:30pm in Bradenton. The egg hunt will take place in the G.T Bray softball field at 5502 33rd Avenue Drive West. There is a $2 entrance fee per child to enjoy the egg hunt with activities to follow. Enjoy bounce houses, music, clowns, cotton candy and the Easter Bunny. Information at 941-792-3462.
Bridge Street Bistro Easter Sunday Dinner
Finally, enjoy Roasted Leg of Lamb at the Bridge Street Bistro for Easter dinner March 27th from 1-8pm. In addition to Lamb, the regular dinner menu will be available. Call 941-782-1122 for information. The Bridge Street Bistro is located at the corner of Gulf Drive and Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach above Island Time Grill.
Bradenton – The De Soto National Memorial was created in 1948 to commemorate the 1539 expedition of Spanish conquistador Hernando De Soto. This memorial also reminds us of the impact he made on southeast American Indian societies. Open all year long, the Park offers many different outdoor activities. You’ll also find educational opportunities to learn about the controversial history of the area.
Canoe and Boat
The park is located in Bradenton on a 26 acre plot of land. This is where the Manatee River meets Tampa Bay. De Soto National Memorial offers fabulous kayak and canoeing along the 3000 feet of shoreline. Launch your kayak, canoe or paddle board from the northwest shore of the park. You could also leave from Riverview Point Preserve located just south of De Soto Memorial. Paddle north across the river to explore Emerson Point Nature preserve, or head west through shallow grass flats to Anna Maria Island. De Soto Memorial does not offer a boat launch, however, does offer a temporary anchorage area in the small cove east of De Soto Point.
De Soto National Memorial trails and beaches
The nature trails at De Soto Memorial offer different Florida ecosystems including Mangrove wetlands. Walking trails have signage explaining both the natural history of the area along with information about the 1539 expedition. Pets are welcome on the trails, however bicycles are not.
There are several areas for enjoying the beach at the Memorial with areas located west and south of De Soto Point. Beach goers are urged to swim with caution as there are no lifeguard stations. The beaches south of De Soto Point are more popular as they don’t experience the strong currents sometimes found on the western beaches.
A picnic shelter can be found near the parking lot on a first come first serve basis. Grills and alcohol are not permitted in the park or picnic area.
The Memorial offers seasonal events great for the entire family.
December through April the parks living history area “Camp Uzita” is open. The Camp is an example of a 16th century Native village. It’s complete with living history reenactments and educational information.
In the winter the park offers several special events including a Halloween themed event called “Desoween”. This is for adults and kids 7 years and older. In December luminaries light the trials for one night. Also, information is available describing how people from the 16th century celebrated the winter. February brings a music festival to the park. March offers a five centuries of history event. Additionally, April brings a live reenactment of the Landing of the De Soto expedition.
May through October the park offers Ranger led kayak tours. learn how early settlers utilized the bay and estuary along with an explanation of Florida’s unique ecological systems.
In June and July a kids Junior Ranger program is also available. This teaches kids 6-10 about the history, ecology and conservation of the park.
The visitor center is open daily 9am-5pm, and the parking lot also closes at 5pm. However, the park is open dawn to dusk. Any cars left in the parking lot after 5pm will remain locked in the lot until the next morning. Cars are subject to ticketing. New Years day, Thanksgiving and Christmas the park closes. Entrance into the park is always free, but donations are welcome. Groups may visit the park registering ahead of time. For additional information about the park call 941-792-0458 or visit online.
De Soto National Memorial:
8300 De Soto Memorial Hwy
Bradenton, Florida 34209
Bradenton vacation rentals.
If you are looking for the perfect vacation rental while visiting the area Island Real Estate has almost 300 homes to choose from!
Enjoy our list of off Anna Maria Island activities. While lazing on the beach with a cold drink is an amazing way to vacation, visit off island too.
Off Anna Maria Island
Beyond the powder sand and crisp blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico find things to do. There’s a ton of activities to experience on Anna Maria Island. However, if feeling adventurous, here’s a list of 40 activities less than a two hour drive from the island.
The city of Cortez is located just over the Cortez Bridge when leaving Anna Maria Island. One of the countries oldest fishing villages, Cortez is a place to explore old Florida charm, shops, and seafood. Be sure to visit Starfish Company restaurant for dockside views, and the best Florida seafood you’ll taste. If you visit in February be sure to check out the annual Cotez Fishing Festival. Find some of the areas most delicious sweets at Tylers Ice Cream. Learn all about the history of Cortez Fishing Village at the Maritime Museum.
Heading 45 minutes East into Manatee county brings you to Lakewood Ranch. This area offers an outdoors shopping area along Main Street with a few other activities surrounding. Visit the Lakewood Ranch cinema followed by a great meal at Polo Grill and Bar. Play a round of Golf at the prestigious Legacy Golf Club.
St. Petersburg is a 45 minute drive north over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Here find a growing art scene with ton’s of galleries, studios, boutiques and entertainment. Check out the Sundial shopping district along with the great waterfront restaurants. Enjoy fine works by artist Salvador Dali at the Dali Museum.
Myakka State Park has many activities including boat tours, nature watching and bike trails. The city of Myakka is just a little over an hour drive from Anna Maria Island. It also offers one of the nicest State parks in Florida. While in Myakka support your local farmers with a tour of Dakin Dairy.
Tampa offers many fun attractions perfect for a day trip from Anna Maria Island. Just about an hour drive brings you to the famous Florida attraction Busch Gardens. The Car Museum of Tampa is a fun stop for old car enthusiasts.
Orlando is a two hour drive from Anna Maria Island, but offers tons of family friendly activities. Check out our list of fun things to do in Orlando below:
Westfield Mall has all the big name retailers you are looking for. Brandon is also only an hour drive east of Anna Maria Island toward the Tampa area.
Ruskin is a quiet small Florida town with a fabulous old Drive in Theater. Just under an hour drive from the Island, Ruskin Drive also provides hours of inexpensive entertainment.
If you visit the Island during spring months, you may be lucky to catch the Florida Strawberry Festival. The Strawberry Festival has been celebrated since the 1930’s. This 10 day event provides tons of fun too!
Cortez – The Anna Maria Island Privateers invite you to set sail on their Cortez Pub Crawl Saturday, August 22 starting at 2pm. Get a chance to bar hop via the Privateers beloved pirate ship parade float for a good cause. Meeting at Mexicali Border Cafe on Cortez Road, the ship will continue on to ports of call at RJ Gators, Clancy’s Irish Bar, Cortez Clam Factory, Cortez Kitchen, Swordfish Grill and then back to Mexicali Border Cafe. Tickets cost $40 per person with limited space available. Proceeds will go back to helping kids and the community.
Reserve your spot aboard Skully Wag by calling Dan Hill at 941-812-8318 or Dianne Gritzmacher at 941-705-1325. Guests are encouraged to wear their best swashbuckling attire!
Bradenton – Just over the Manatee bridge leaving Anna Maria Island is one of the areas most popular nature preserves attracting visitors year round. Coming up are two reasons among many to enjoy Robinson Preserve while on vacation.
Robinson Wagon Tour
On Saturday, February 7th from 8-10am, a tour guide while cart you around Robinson Preserve while explaining the preserve’s history, wildlife, flora and fauna. The tour is suitable for all ages and seats are on a first come, first served basis.
Valentine’s Date at Robinson
Start your Valentine’s celebration early on Tuesday, February 10th from 6-8pm with a master naturalist and two chef’s. Melissa, the master naturalist, and chef’s Brian and Aedan will take you and your partner on a date at Robinson Preserve. You’ll enjoy a sunset from the observation tower where you get learn what really happens iwth the birds and the bees. You’ll also discuss the courting strategies of the preserve’s wildlife. You’ll finish the night up with a delicious desert over a campfire. The night is recommended for ages 16 and up. To reserve call 941-748-4501, ext. 6039.
Directions: Take SR 64 (Manatee Avenue) east from Anna Maria Island to 75th Street West. Turn north on 75th Street West and drive to 17th Avenue Northwest. Turn left and continue to the end of the street. Robinson Preserve is located on the corner of 17th Avenue Northwest and 99th Street West
Address: 1704 99th Street Northwest, Bradenton, FL 34209
Bradenton – The weather is beautiful and although you don’t need a reason to be outdoors, there is always something in the area that helps you figure out what to do once you get out of the house. Robinson Preserve is hosting a series of free events this week to give you a taste of the beautiful Manatee County sights and sounds.
On Thursday January 15th from 10am-11am experience a Tai-Chi and Qigong class. Suitable for beginners and experts, it will include an exploration of both styles of martial arts. Reservations are required. Call 941-742-5757 ext. 6.
Enjoy a Master Gardener tour on Sunday January 18th from 9am-11am with Master Gardener Sam Starrett.
The annual Robinson Preserve Race at Couch to 5K takes place on Tuesday January 20th from 5pm-6pm. The walk and run program starts out slow and is good for runners of all experience levels 13 and up. Reservations are required. Call 941-748-4501 ext. 6044.
The Preserve Ambassadors for Robinson Preserve are joining on Wednesday January 21st from 2pm-4pm. They will be hosting a course designed to help volunteers learn more about Manatee County’s preserve system. The first course focuses on Robinson Preserve’s history, habitats and wildlife. All participants will receive a certificate of completion and pin for this course. Reservations are required. Call 941-748-4501 ext. 6039.
Bradenton – Don’t miss out on trying TREEUMPH Adventure Courses just off the island in Bradenton. Enjoy a day of outdoor play in the trees at Southwest Florida’s only elevated adventure course. Bring the family, get together with friends or grab a group from the office for an adrenaline-pumping activity that has something fun for everyone ages 7 and older.
>>> Ages 7 to 9 challenge themselves on our child only course – about a 1.5 hour experience.
>>> Ages 12 and over experience 5 adventure courses and our giant zip line – typically a 3 to 4 hour excursion!
>>> Ages 9 to 11 experience 3 of the 5 courses and our giant zip line – a 2 to 3 hour tour!
Plan. Play. TreeUmph! Book your reservation, come prepared, then swing into action on wobbly bridges, hanging nets, bungee swings, swinging logs, foot bridges, Tarzan ropes, ZIP lines and more. Book your adventure now!