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Your guide to exploring the

Bradenton Area

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2 • Map

Map key Airports

Information Major attractions

ORLANDO TAMPA

Beaches

Bradenton Area

Parks MIAMI

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Sports

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Welcome • 3

You deserve a little We Time

It’s Florida, but not as you know it. This is a region that feels off the beaten path, but is surprisingly easy to get to

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holiday in the Bradenton, Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key area is like a journey back in time to ‘old Florida’. Cut the cord from modern life and its digital distractions and connect with your family or friends instead of the wifi. Life here is about breathing the salty air and appreciating what really matters, like good food and quality time. You won’t find theme parks or mega shopping malls in the Bradenton Area, but instead a warm and unpretentious vibe. Located on Florida’s west coast, between St Petersburg and Sarasota, it has 16 miles of relaxed sugar white beaches along with quaint, laid back little towns, begging to be explored.

Action stations

There’s plenty to do in Bradenton, but no pressure to do much at all. You can laze the days away on the beach or get out on the water and spot wild manatees; you can browse boutique shops and historic houses or find a pavement café and tuck into some delicious local crab. Families can escape the fast and furious theme parks and let their children explore in a safe environment. Excitement here comes from nature rather than artificial thrills – kids

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can see wild dolphins, fish for their own crabs and pick Florida oranges straight from the tree.

Switch off

Take off your shoes when you arrive and don’t put them on again until you leave. Powder-soft beaches, endless horizons and serene waters offer complete and utter relaxation. Removed from freeways and highrise buildings, in this slice of Florida We are minutes from you’ll find nature preserves and the Sarasota Bradenton hidden creeks. Wake up to birdsong International Airport (SRQ) and finish the day with a vivid sunset.

Come find us

Local flavour

and just 45 minutes south of Tampa International Airport (TPA)

Authenticity isn’t commercialised here, organic and farm to fork cuisine is the norm. Delicious local delicacies include luxurious Bottarga, the sun-dried and salt-cured roe of grey striped mullet which sells for a $100 a pound. Head to Cortez, the oldest working fishing village in Florida, to see the fish market and perch on the pier.

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4 • Accommodation

Hotels & holiday homes

It’s not about finding a place to stay, it’s about finding a home away from home where you can disconnect and return to real life rested - this is the holiday homes capital of Florida’s coast

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alm trees reign supreme in the Bradenton Area, where you won’t find any high-rises blotting the landscape. You're just one hour from Busch Gardens in Tampa and two hours from Orlando's myriad attractions – a location which is perfect for a twin centre. Chain hotels are in the minority here – although you will find familiar names like Courtyard by Marriott and Holiday Inn. The emphasis is really on independent properties with true character and charm. There’s a perfect spot to suit everyone, ranging from luxurious beach resorts to boutique hotels and an unbeatable choice of independent condos, villas and real Florida homes which vary in character and style and suit all budgets. Whether your Florida dream includes relaxing in a pastel-coloured cottage, a luxurious spa treatment in a luxury hotel, a condo to call your The Bradenton Area is own for the week or a luxury villa one of the best destinations and pool for the whole family, in Florida for quality there’s something here.

Do it yourself

self-catering accommodation

Going green

There are camping options across the region, including state parks, beachside camp grounds and full-service RV resorts and smaller campgrounds near the Gulf. At Lake Manatee State Park you can drive up and 'plug in' before exploring the beautiful lake by motorboat or canoe. RV resorts offer pools and games facilities and if you don’t arrive on wheels there’s often rental cabins or trailers you can call home for a few days.

Zota Beach Resort

Located on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico on Longboat Key, Zota Beach Resort is one of the area’s

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newest luxury hotels. The style is contemporary, fresh and light, with clean white lines reflecting the powdersoft beach it sits on. The 187 modern rooms include views of the pool or Gulf along with high-end bedding, a fridge, microwave and coffee maker. Onsite facilities include a fitness centre, access to water-sports, a climate-controlled outdoor pool and hot tub and innovative onsite dining.

Waterline Marina Resort & Beach Club

On the east shore of Anna Maria Island, the new Waterline Marina Resort & Beach Club aims to unite the destination’s Old Florida charm with new experiences, a modern coastal design and luxury amenities. Waterline features 37 two-bedroom suites with gourmet kitchens and sits amidst a marina offering a variety of water activities. An oversized sun deck extends into the marina and guests have the run of the signature restaurant Eliza Ann’s Coastal Kitchen as well as resortstyle swimming pool and a Beach Club offering kayaks, stand up paddleboards, lounge chairs, umbrellas and beach toys.

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Accommodation • 5

Hotels & resorts

Cottages

If you’re after a spot of simple living then check out one of the many charming beach cottages, nestled among the palm trees and pine trees of this beautiful region. Imagine traditional wood cladding painted in vibrant shades, tropical blooms in the garden, perhaps a pool, or a view of the beach, and an Adirondack chair for watching the world go by.

If you crave the comfort of a larger property, with room service at your fingertips and a whole range of activities and services to enjoy, there’s plenty to choose from. Choose from luxurious full-service resorts with eateries on-site or lowkey boutique hotels with more personal service and a whole host of local recommendations and top tips on the best places to see.

Villas & condos

The Bradenton Area has a huge variety of luxury villas which can accommodate anything up to 16 people, all with modern amenities. TripAdvisor recently included Anna Maria Island in its Top 20 rising holiday rental destinations in the USA. If you need a little more space and more home comforts, consider renting a house or condo. From modern and sleek spaces to cosy, quaint beach houses, the options for a home-away-from-home abound.

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6 • Wow moments

Top ten

WOW moments

Prepare to switch off from the relentless pressures of a connected modern life and immerse yourself in authentic Floridian culture

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Time to go Downtown

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Get wet and wild

Bradenton’s atmospheric Downtown has small town warmth and unpretentious culture. Adults can browse the farmers’ market or sip a local tipple in the Motorworks Brewery, while kids will be wowed by the South Florida Museum’s manatee aquarium and planetarium and the Riverwalk area offers outdoor arts, botanical beauty and free al fresco concerts and events for the whole family.

Catch & cook

Organic, locally sourced and farm to fork is par for the course in this bountiful region. You can even fish for your own dinner! Feast on succulent heritage seafood from the Gulf of Mexico – stone crab is a local speciality – and enjoy locally-picked fruits and vegetables. Snack on a handmade burger in a casual beachside café or enjoy gourmet Italian in a historic setting.

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Get sandy toes

The warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico make the perfect playground for watersports enthusiasts. Take a paddleboard or a kayak and cast off from a pristine beach to search the clear waters of the area’s nature preserves for manatees, dolphins and turtles, or feel the wind in your hair with some parasailing, windsurfing or jet skiing.

From wild and untamed shores to family hotspots with barbecue pits and picnic pavilions, there is a stretch of sand for everyone. Observe nesting birds at Bean Point on Anna Maria Island; search for pristine shells on Coqunia Beach, which Conde Nast ranked as having the ‘best sand’; or head to Manatee Beach to watch a volleyball match or roast marshmallows over an open fire.

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Wow moments • 7

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Something fishy

Take a boat ride out to sea and watch the local bottlenose dolphins frolic between the gentle waves. Learn about these quirky creatures’ habits and their social pods and enjoy beautiful views of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key, before watching the famous Florida sun dip below a sandbar.

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Good old

fashioned fun

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Love is in the air

Sun drenched beaches and blood orange sunsets make the Bradenton Area the perfect destination for couples. Anna Maria Island is known as Florida’s beach wedding capital but you’ll find fragrant gardens and historic mansions too. Romantic experiences range from a couples’ massage at an eco-spa to a candlelit dinner at a beachside bistro.

Quirky vibes

Bradenton’s Village of the Arts is a unique, eclectic community of historic 1920s cottages in rainbow colours, housing everything from award-winning restaurants to art galleries and craft shops. Whether you’re searching for the perfect coffee, a healing yoga session or vintage vinyl, you’ll find it here.

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There’s plenty to entertain away from the sea. Kids and adults love the TreeUmph! Adventure Course, a collection of ziplines, hanging nets, bungee swings and swinging logs making up a forest obstacle of fun. If that sounds too extreme then visit Mixon Fruit Farm for a tour of the citrus groves and a chance to meet the residents of its wildlife refuge.

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Retail therapy

As well as picking up unique gifts from the independent shops in the Bradenton Area, there’s the chance to grab a bargain at Ellenton Premium Outlets – 25-65% off designer and name brands including Gap, Nike and Polo Ralph Lauren – and the excellent University Town Centre Mall and its array of premium stores.

Boutique paradise

Anna Maria Island’s Pine Avenue stretches from shore to shore and is called “the greenest little main street in America,” thanks to its eco friendly credentials. Visit, and escape, the historic local jail house, shop for artisan produce, browse exotic organic vegetables in the community garden or enjoy a soft, sugary donut with the topping of your choice from the sweetsmelling Donut Experiment.

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March

ARTSLAM

Working in teams artists, sculptors, dancers, poets, painters, designers, photographers, musicians and other creatives will create temporary works of public art and performance in Downtown Bradenton.

April

PICKIN' PICNIC

This fun, family-friendly event takes place on downtown Bradenton’s Riverwalk, overlooking the Manatee River. Bring blankets or deck chairs and enjoy a programme of local music, craft beer and food trucks.

November

This heart-stopping spectacle can be watched from Bradenton’s Riverwalk and downtown Palmetto. See boats racing at speeds of over 120mph and electrifying jets skiers.

December

February

THE BRADENTON AREA RIVER REGATTA

October

Events calendar LONG TABLE AT THE STATION

Enjoy a locally sourced, six-course, fine-dining experience with awardwinning chefs, fine wines and craft beer pairings at Bradenton's longest table, surrounded by public art.

SYMPHONY ON THE SAND

This beachfront concert at Coquina Gulfside Park is the chance to enjoy the award-winning 45-piece Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus & Orchestra with a sunset backdrop.

BRADENTON BLUES FESTIVAL

This annual festival features an outstanding lineup of top blues artists from around the region, plus delicious speciality food vendors, local craft beers and beverages.

How to book

The Bradenton Area is sold by numerous UK tour operators, travel agencies and receptive operators, some of which are listed below: AMERICA AS YOU LIKE IT 0208 742 8299 americaasyoulikeit.com

NORTH AMERICAN VACATION HOMES (B2B ONLY) 01444 450034 - usahomes.co.uk

US AIRTOURS / TRAVELPLANNERS 020 3542 8888 travelplanners.co.uk

FUNWAY / MY AMERICA HOLIDAY 0208 290 9751 myamericaholiday.com

OCEAN FLORIDA 0207 939 7775 ocean-florida.co.uk

VACATIONS TO AMERICA 01582 469 777 vacationstoamerica.com

For more inspiration visit bradentongulfislands.com Proudly published by BMI Publishing Ltd 2017 © 2017. Suffolk House, George St, Croydon, Surrey, CR9 1SR, UK | T 020 8649 7233 | enquiries@bmipublishing.co.uk | sellingtravel.co.uk | Publisher: Sally Parker, Commercial Director: David Clare, Editorial Director: Steve Hartridge, Deputy Editor: Laura Gelder, Creative Director: Matt Bonner, Designer: Louisa Horton, Production Manager: Clare Hunter, Managing Director: Martin Steady Whilst every effort is made to ensure accuracy, BMI Publishing cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. Photo credits: Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

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Bradenton Guide  

It’s Florida, but not as you know it. This is a region that feels off the beaten path, but is surprisingly easy to get to