Downtown Bradenton offers everything a walker might want: a picturesque, easily accessible waterfront park; public art; and a charming historic district.
Park in the public lot across from the Manatee Performing Arts Center, a short stroll from the Bradenton Riverwalk. Young and old enjoy this 1.5-mile public linear waterfront park that hugs the Manatee River. It meanders past sand volleyball courts, a skate park, splash pad, amphitheater and discovery trail with educational signs for kids. All the recreational activities make this a popular spot, ideal for both people watching and for admiring the boats that pass under the bridges connecting Bradenton and Palmetto.
After a mile, you’ll reach the intersection of Riverside Drive and Waterfront Drive across the street from Manatee Memorial Hospital. Turn around and head back toward the public lot and continue walking down the west side of the Riverwalk.
You’ll pass the Riverwalk tower sign and walk under the U.S. 41 bridge to the Twin Dolphin Marina on the right. Across the street, you’ll catch a glimpse of the Bishop Museum of Science and Nature and the Bradenton Municipal Auditorium. The city pier on the right leads to Pier 22 restaurant, known for its weekend brunch.
Keep your eyes peeled for “postcards of the Friendly City,” along the Riverwalk and throughout downtown—art installations depicting Bradenton’s early history. Check out “Our Roots Run Deep,” on Third Avenue West, paying homage to Manatee’s earliest settlers and fishermen. Or look out for “When Old Main Street Was New,” on Fourth Avenue, depicting what Old Main Street looked like at the turn of the 20th century.
Be sure to walk down Old Main Street, or 12th Street as it’s called today, home to some of Bradenton’s most established pubs and cafés, including The B’Towne Coffee Co., where you can get a latte to-go, and McCabe’s Pub, an Irish-themed establishment with a party scene.
Eventually, make your way back to the Riverwalk, stopping at the farthest west point for a spectacular viewing spot of the river. For all its activity and growth, Bradenton retains its small-time charm on a beautiful riverfront that is easy to experience and offers a great way to get some fresh air and exercise.
The Manatee Central Library: The library opened its doors in 1978, when the idea for a large central public library was proposed by the county.
The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature: The museum houses a planetarium and natural history and environment exhibits, and a rehabilitation center for manatees.
Old Main Street: Also known as present-day 12th Street, it combines Bradenton’s original architecture with modern restaurants and bars.
The B’Towne Coffee Co.: Located on 12th Street, the cafe has a nice outdoor seating area and delicious iced lattes. McCabe’s Irish Pub on 12th Street is a great spot to sit down for a cold beer.
ArtCenter Manatee: The center on Ninth Street offers several art exhibitions in its gallery, and art classes for all ages.