Experience Bradenton Beach During Your Vacation

If you’re planning a stay in one of our Anna Maria Island rentals, there are a few things you should know before you come so you can make the most out of your vacation. The first thing to remember is that Anna Maria Island is divided into three unique cities: the city of Anna Maria, Holmes Beach, and Bradenton Beach. 

All three cities have their own fascinating history and exciting attractions, but here, we’re going to be talking all about Bradenton Beach.

This section of Anna Maria Island is popular with travelers of all kinds, from those going solo to couples to families. It offers tons of gorgeous beaches, delicious restaurants, interesting historic sites, and easy access to the mainland of Florida. If you’re curious about all the best things to do in Bradenton Beach, you’ve come to the right place! 

About & History

While experts aren’t completely confident about when the first inhabitants of Bradenton Beach made their way to the area, there have been artifacts discovered in town dating back to at least 2,000 years ago, and likely longer. Some experts believe that not many Native American tribes considered the area to be hospitable for long-term settlement, but it’s thought that the region was frequently used for hunting and fishing grounds. For more permanent residences, many tribes stayed closer to the Tampa Bay area.

The first Europeans to reach the Bradenton Beach area were led by Hernando de Soto in 1539. He brought his fleet of Spanish troops who laid claim to the beaches. In the following few centuries, there still wasn’t much habitation to the island, as just a few groups settled here independently of one another. The first long-term settler wasn’t recognized until nearly the 20th century, when George Emerson Bean developed a homestead (now called Bean Point) in 1893.

Bean’s home area is still a beautiful place on the island, and the first resident of AMI enjoyed his privacy for quite a while. Even after Bean settled down, there still weren’t that many other people on the island throughout the next couple of decades, mainly because it was incredibly hard to reach AMI except by boat. Finally, in 1922, a bridge was built to link the nearby village of Cortez to Cortez Beach, which we now know of as Bradenton Beach. The city soon started to grow, and Bradenton Beach was officially incorporated in 1952. 

bradenton beach on a map
Photo from Shutterstock

Historic Sites

Since Bradenton Beach is so steeped with history, it makes sense that the city would have plenty of interesting historic sites paying tribute to its unique past. For instance, the Manatee Village Historical Park is a great place to see what homes were like back in the day. This park holds several restored homes and some buildings that have been partially recreated to show what life was like back then. Some of the buildings were even present in the area when Bradenton Beach was founded!

Of course, one of the biggest attractions in town is Historic Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach, which combines the interesting history of the city with brand-new attractions to enjoy. Many of the restaurants located on Bridge Street are housed inside of restored buildings dating back decades, so you can get an incredibly unique history lesson while you enjoy a great meal!

To learn more about the history of the island as a whole, make your way north to the city of Anna Maria to visit the Anna Maria Historical Society. This museum gives you an extensive walkthrough of the early days of the island, including a lot of information about the early days of Bradenton Beach. You can also view early structures that once stood on the island. If you’re curious about something in particular, just ask the helpful staff and they’ll be happy to share stories with you!

Things to Do

Bradenton Beach has tons of history to discover, but that’s certainly not the only thing to do in town! There’s so much more to explore while you’re staying here. As you can probably guess from the name of the city, Bradenton Beach has some absolutely beautiful beaches. The most popular stretch of shoreline in town is Coquina Beach. This area is well-loved by families but is significantly less crowded than its counterpart, Manatee Public Beach in the town of Holmes Beach. You can come here to sunbathe, splash in the waters, hunt for unique seashells, or simply watch the waves roll in.

While you’re on Bridge Street, it’s the perfect time to find that perfect souvenir you’ve been keeping your eye out for. Bridge Street Bazaar has all of your beach equipment needs from t-shirts and swimwear to toys and souvenirs. You can also stop in to Bridge Street Interiors to find that perfect new decoration for your home or visit Back Alley Treasures to try to find a special antique while you grab a delicious cup of coffee from their café!

anna maria island bike rider
Photo from Shutterstock

Bradenton Beach is also home to some of the island’s most popular restaurants. Whether you’re looking for something casual and laid-back or upscale and fancy, we’ve got it here! The Anna Maria Oyster Bar is a family-friendly spot serving up some of the freshest seafood around, while the Bridgetender Inn & Dockside Bar provides a little something for everyone, from seafood to steak to pasta, sandwiches, and so much more. If you’re searching for an incredible breakfast or lunch spot, don’t miss out on a visit to the Island Creperie. And if you’re seeking a meal that’s truly amazing, Blue Marlin serves up Gulf classics inside of an original 1920s cottage!

But not all the best meals in Bradenton Beach are restricted to just Bridge Street. For a fantastic meal that’s also sustainable and eco-friendly, Beach House Waterfront Restaurant is the place to be. Wicked Cantina is perfect for satisfying your craving for Mexican food, while those in the mood for classic French cuisine should head to French Table. No matter what, you should definitely plan to spend at least one meal at Daquiri Deck. You can grab some delicious fresh oysters or choose another seafood option, pair it with a specialty cocktail, and enjoy some live music while you relax with your friends!

Plan Your Next Visit

If you want even more access to all the best attractions in the city, why not stay here? We’ve got tons of properties in Bradenton Beach, including our highly sought-after Anna Maria Island pet-friendly rentals! Contact us today to learn more and to start planning the vacation of your dreams!

How to Get There

Now that you know about all the fun things to do in Bradenton Beach, you just have to know how to get here! Once you’re on Anna Maria Island, it’s really simple to reach Bradenton Beach: just head south! If you don’t want to deal with directions or traffic, simply hop on the free Anna Maria Island trolley. There are stops every 2-4 blocks along the route, so there’s sure to be one near you wherever you’re starting from. The trolley stops both on Bridge Street and at Coquina Beach, so it’s easy and affordable to get here!