Go To The Bishop Museum Of Science And Nature
Your list of fun things to do in Bradenton FL with kids isnt complete without a good indoor activity. Even though you may primarily be interested in the beach, you never know what the weather is going to do.
The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, located in downtown Bradenton, gives a look at natural history in this area of Florida. Theres a mix of both static and traveling exhibits. It also has a planetarium with different programs throughout the day. Theres also a manatee rehabilitation center and habitat, although that is currently being renovated. All of this is included in your admission ticket.
My favorite part about the Bishop Museum was Priscilla, who is a mastodon found in this area. Youll see him right at the entrance. Thats right him. Pricilla was named before archeologists discovered he was a he and just kept his name.
Covid protocols included lots of hand sanitizer available and distance markers on the floor. The flow of the museum has been restricted to a one way path to further eliminate contact. Youll need to reserve your spot for Bishop planetarium shows in advance. They have capacity limits and do a great job at keeping people at least six feet apart. Face coverings are mandatory.
Exploring downtown Bradenton is fun on its own theres a mile or so of scenic riverwalk.
Have An Epic Bradenton Beach Day
There are lots of options for family-friendly beaches in this area and you dont have to look far to find the perfect beach. Where youre staying is probably going to drive which beach spot you pick. Popular Bradenton beaches include: Cortez Beach, Coquina Beach and Manatee Beach.
These beaches have gentle waves and very soft sand. Theyre definitely popular spots from spring break on through the summer but its easy to carve out your own space and maintain social distance. And you wont find a wild, college spring break party atmosphere in Bradenton.
I recommend renting a cabana and beach amenities. If youre road tripping, it might not be a big deal to load your beach gear into your car but, if youre flying, this is definitely an essential service. My beach setup was arranged by AMI Adventure Rentals. AMI Adventure Rentals offers all sorts of rentals that can make your beach day and your entire trip easier. In addition to cabana rentals and beach gear, AMI Adventure Rentals can also secure bicycles, golf carts, and even baby gear. You can use them to book private tours and charters, too.
Treeumph Adventure Course Bradenton Florida
TreeUmph! Adventure Course is an elevated outdoor adventure park that offers a fun day for the whole family. Set in a forest just outside of Bradenton, TreeUmph! Adventure Course features a variety of exciting and exhilarating adventures from climbing, swinging, and crawling along suspension bridges to zipline courses for all levels. TreeUmph! Adventure Course has two locations in Bradenton and Brooksville and caters to visitors of all ages and abilities, with a range of activities to suit everyone. Training is provided on how to move through the courses safely and efficiently and all safety equipment, including harnesses and helmets, are provided.
21805 E State Rd 70, Bradenton, FL 34202, Phone: 941-322-2130
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Enjoy A Meal Overlooking The Beach At Gulf Drive Cafe
Another one of our favorite spots on Anna Maria Island is grabbing a meal at the Gulf Drive Cafe in Bradenton Beach, a waterfront restaurant. Their large, delicious menu has a variety of traditional and seafood favorites, delicious desserts, and an onsite gelato bar! This is definitely one of our favorite places to eat with kids in Anna Maria Island.
Getting Around Anna Maria Island
Anna Maria Island is very popular during spring and summer. From March through September, expect it to be busy. There is not a lot of parking and popular + limited parking isnt a great combo. You can drive your car or rent a golf cart. A golf cart is a great way to get your gear to the beach, although, if youre going to eat or shop, youll run into the same challenges with parking as you would driving a car.
There are two forms of free transportation the free Anna Maria Island Trolley or the Monkey Bus. The trolley stops are plentiful and theres an app you can download to help you better use the service. There are 14 different stops so youll be able to get where you need to go using the trolley. Look for the green trolley sign they are not hard to spot.
Another option is the Monkey Bus. Call for a free ride from noon to 3:00 a.m. 565-6542. These busses are fun to look at and are karaoke-equipped. How fun does that sound? Please tip your Monkey Bus drivers.
My best advice for getting around Anna Maria Island is to fully embrace being on island time and in vacation mode. Use the free transportation, ditch the idea of a schedule or timetable and truly enjoy being where you are.
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Things To Do In Bradenton Florida
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Manatee County Golf Course
Totaling nearly 6,500 yards from the back tees, the Manatee County Golf Course in West Bradenton is a popular option for local golfers, who appreciate its reasonable greens fees, scenic vistas, and well-maintained holes.
Much of the course resides in natural wetlands that, along with its tight fairways and ample bunkers, make it challenging without being impossibly difficult.
Depending on your age, gender, and level of ability, youll have five sets of tees to choose from, but remember that if you plan on playing during peak times especially on the weekends itd be wise to book your tee time well in advance of your trip.
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Walk The Trails Or Ride Bikes At Robinson Nature Preserve
Since moving to Florida weve really been missing our mountain bike trails back in Arkansas. But one trail that we really love to ride is located in Bradenton! The Robinson Nature Preserve consists of 682 acres of preserved mangrove, tidal marsh, and former agricultural lands that have been transformed into a coastal wetland habitat.
Within the Robinson Preserve youll find paved and off-road biking and walking trails, a 2.5K rubberized pedestrian-only trail, kayak launches and trails, picnic spaces, and educational and event spaces. One of these spaces includes the new NEST and canopy zone.
Kayaking in the Robinson Nature Preserve
The kayak launch is located at the entrance of the Robinson Preserve and follows a network of 3 miles of internal trails that connect to the Manatee River, Perico Bayou, and Palma Sola Bay.
New to the Robinson Preserve expansion is the NEST, which also stands for the Mosaic Center for Nature, Exploration, Science and Technology. This space serves as a multipurpose space hosting hands-on programs for all ages and is available to rent for special events.
The Real Beach Horses
Take a scenic trail ride on horses through the gorgeous Deer Prairie Creek Preserve. It is a unique way to see a variety of animals and nature on this fun thing to do with kids in Anna Maria ages 8 and up. But they offer much more than this. You can take air or water tours too at the Real Beach Horses.
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Explore The Robinson Preserve
Vacation should be about relaxing and getting away from the screens for a while, and visiting a local nature preserve is a great way to do that. The Robinson Preserve in Bradenton features nearly 700 acres of land for you to explore, holding unique habitats like the mangroves and marshes. You can hike, bike, or kayak through the area to spot all kinds of fascinating plant and animal life, or you can head to the NEST center for some hands-on exhibits you and the kids will love. They are constantly holding fun programs, so be sure to see whats going on while youre in town!
Why Vacation On Anna Maria Island With Kids
On top of the many outdoor activities it provides, there are so many reasons to vacation on this beautiful island. Here are my top reasons:
- The pristine beaches are far removed from more commercialized beach locations, which makes it feel like an old-style Florida beach vacation.
- You wont find many chain restaurants and hotels here.
- There are various sunset cruises suitable for the entire family. There are several companies that offer tours like this.
- It is not a party atmosphere. but you’ll be able to enjoy some live music here and there.
- There are so many great things to do on Anna Maria Island, but everything is at a slower pace, so you return from your vacation rested instead of frazzled.
- Have I mentioned the teal crystal clear water and soft white sand?
- It’s one of the hidden gems families love you’ll find fewer crowds compared to places like Key West. It’s a good place to unwind without the crowds.
Youll love how you can step back in time to enjoy a family beach vacation like those years ago while still enjoying todays amenities. Its almost like a secret that you likely wont see on a list of popular Florida beaches, and we prefer it that way.
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Get Your Picture Taken At The Old Anna Maria Jail
Or get your picture taken at the old Anna Maria Jail.
Built in 1927, this open-air jail housed people arrested for minor crimes where they were swarmed by the mosquitos on the island. The punishment worked because no one wanted to spend the night there again!
If you want to learn more about the island’s history and its first settlers, stop by Anna Maria Island Historical Museum and Park next door.
Ted Sperling Park At South Lido Beach
2201 Ben Franklin Drive and 190 Taft Drive
Embark on a self-guided canoe or kayak tour, get an up-close view of the mangroves, and then settle in for a sunset picnic at a wooden table while the children hit the playground. Tip: Before venturing to Lido Key’s southern tip, stop by the main pavilion’s Lido Beach Restaurant and snag peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for supper.
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Hike Fish Swim And Boat In Little Manatee State Park
Formed in the late 1960s, Little Manatee River State Park is a Bradenton treasure! You can do practically everything here , including fishing, swimming, and boating. Want to hike around and see all the local flora and fauna? You can do that too, and see all sorts of birds, turtles, snakes, and alligators! Like almost every attraction here, there are also free showers and bathroom facilities. The park is about 15 miles outside of Bradenton, so its close. You and your entire family will love it, we guarantee!
Boat Jet Ski Rentals And Paddle Sports
Want to rent a jet ski or a boat? Try Wave Splash Water Sports, 102 Bridge Street, Bradenton Beach: Rent jet skis, go parasailing, or just rent a boat. Wave Water Splash offers several packages. Open 7 days a week.
Bradenton Beach Marina, 941-778-2288, This marina is a full-service marina and also has a boat club as well as daily rentals. Choose from a wide selection of rental boats for a half or full day. You can also rent jet skis, parasail, or take a dolphin or sunset cruise.
Anna Maria Island is sprinkled with boutique shops that offer a variety of treasures to take home. There are several little villages that make up most of the shopping, but you will also find shops along Gulf Drive as well.
Pine Ave Shops: This little village offers something for everyone, including an art gallery, doggie spa, and donut shop. Your trip isnt complete without a specialty donut.
The donuts are made fresh while you wait, all you have to do is select your decadent toppings and enjoy. The donut shop is only open in the morning so come early, there is always a line during the season. Pine Avenue also features great restaurants. After lunch or dinner, take a short walk to the beach or the City Pier and get a look at the Tampa Bay Bridge.
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Stroll The Path On The Bradenton Riverwalk
The Bradenton Riverwalkis located in downtown Bradenton. It is an outdoor gathering space that overlooks the Manatee River alongside a 1.5-mile park. Some of the amenities youll find on the riverwalk are a beach volleyball court, public fishing pier, a tidal discovery zone, splash pad for kids, skate park, the Mosaic Amphitheater, and a lawn or covered outdoor living room spaces perfect for picnics or relaxing.
The Regatta Plaza within the Bradenton Riverwalk area is home to many local special events like kite flying, drum circles, boat race viewing, and outdoor music shows. You can also enjoy the seasonal Downtown Bradenton Public Market. The Public Market is where you can purchase fresh produce, art, music, and other activities alongside Old Main Street!
Location: 452 3rd Ave W, Bradenton // MAPHours: Open 24 hours
Parks And Walking Trails
Mixon Fruit Farms, 2525 27th Street East, Bradenton: You can not only get great citrus products but also a tour of the orange grove, which includes a wildlife refuge.
Injured birds, reptiles, and various animals are brought here on a rescue basis with the intent of returning them back to their natural habitat. When you are there, make sure to visit their gift shop and Groveside Cafe where you can enjoy their orange swirl ice cream and other homemade citrus products.
Palma Sola Botanical Park, 75th and 17th Ave., Bradenton: Admission is free. Leashed dogs are welcome. This 10-acre site is home to exotic fruit and nut trees. The garden is exquisitely decorated with flowers and well maintained with shell walking paths and shaded areas for just enjoying the tranquil atmosphere.
Robinson Nature Reserve, 1709 99th St NW, Bradenton: This preserve is 487 acres and offers hiking and biking trails, a kayak launch, and an observation tower. You can kayak through to Tampa Bay. Leashed dogs are welcome. When you are there, go up to the observation tower. You can get a great view of Tampa Bay. Fishing is allowed on the bridges.
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Lake Manatee State Park Bradenton Florida
Extending for 3 miles along the south shore of beautiful Lake Manatee, Lake Manatee State Park is a 556-acre state park that is situated 15 miles east of Bradenton and offers excellent freshwater fishing, boating, canoeing and kayaking, swimming and sunbathing, hiking, and picnicking. Created when a dam was built across the Manatee River in the mid-1960s, Lake Manatee State Park is a welcoming outdoor space that offers a variety of activities and attractions for the whole family to enjoy. The parks natural habitats are made up mainly of sand pine scrub and pine flatwoods with some hardwood forests and depression marshes, and it boasts full camping facilities a short walk from the lake as well as a pretty picnic pavilion. A lakeshore beach is ideal for sunbathing and swimming, and there are modern restrooms with showers located near the beach.
20007 E State Road 64, Bradenton, FL 34212, Phone: 941-741-3028
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Brew Pubs & Distilleries In Bradenton
The Bradenton area has been overflowing with new brewpubs. Not every place has food options, however, many have food truck night and other offerings.
Darwin Brewing Company, 803 17th Ave West, Bradenton. These Brewmasters studied in Germany and are world-renowned for their beers. On the first Mondays of every month, Darwin offers a 3-course dinner paired with their beers. New stuff is brewingfrom festivals to Tapas and Taps. Locally owned.
Motorworks Brewing, 1014 9th Street West, Bradenton. Motorworks has the largest Florida outdoor beer garden, complete with a large shaded deck and 22 ft projection screen. The taproom has over 30 craft brews on tap, as well as a full-service bar. Motorworks doesnt have a restaurant but they do partner with food trucks and local restaurants. Although they do not cook there, it still has the restaurant experience because servers take orders and deliver the food to your table. Motorworks has live music and other events including tours of the brewery.
Good Liquid Brewing, 4824 14th St West, Bradenton. This is just a few short miles away from Anna Maria Island. I was here recently and have to tell you that not only is the beer great, but come hungry! They have a good menu and my personal favorite is the fried cauliflower.
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