Sitting between St. Petersburg and Sarasota, Bradenton is a coastal community on the Braden River, home to a rich archaeological heritage and a national park, DeSoto National Memorial.
With surrounding suburbs stretching out to the edge of Tampa Bay, as well as access to Anna Maria Island and Bradenton Beach, it offers a surprising number of offbeat natural lands. Bradenton is the heart of exploration for Manatee County, where there are city parks, beachfront parks, and parks along the Little Manatee and Manatee Rivers.
Trails and Parks near Bradenton
- Coquina Baywalk - Explore Leffis Key on a series of trails and boardwalks through mangrove tunnels on the Coquina Baywalk.
- De Soto National Memorial - Commemorating the landing of Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto, De Soto National Memorial is a significant archaeological site where the Manatee River flows into Tampa Bay.
- Emerson Point Preserve - Where the Manatee River meets the Gulf of Mexico, Emerson Point Preserve protects a significant archaeological site: the Portavent Mound. Trails loop around the peninsula.
- Gamble Plantation Historic State Park - Flanked by three-hundred-year-old oaks, the grand entrance to the Gamble Plantation Historic State Park evokes Tara. It's an unmistakable landmark along US 301, which cuts through what was, in 1843, Major Robert Gamble's 3,500-acre sugar plantation along the Manatee River.
- Lake Manatee State Park - Stretching for three miles along the south shore of one of South Florida's larger lakes, Lake Manatee State Park is a great place to cast for largemouth bass.
- Little Manatee River Trail - Scenery, rugged landscape, and botanical diversity are all important factors for a great Florida hike. You'll find that on the 6.5-mile Little Manatee River Hiking Trail, one of our long-time favorites.
- Myakka Hiking Trail - For immersion in Florida's central prairies, the 39-mile Myakka Hiking Trail is a serious backpacking destination in South Florida near Sarasota
- Myakka River Canopy Walk - At Myakka River State Park in Sarasota, the Canopy Walk provides a sky-high view of the Myakka River basin as well as an intimate immersion in the live oak canopy in a beautiful hammock of oaks and palms.
- Myakka River State Park - With tall waving grasses, saw palmetto, and the sound of birds, Myakka River State Park immerses you in Florida's Big Sky country amid wide open prairies and riverside marshes.
- Palma Sola Botanical Park - A former 10-acre nursery, Palma Sola Botanical Park is a showcase for temperate and tropical species, including collections of palms, fruit trees, and flowering tropical trees.
- Robinson Preserve - Farmland turned back to mangrove marshes: that's Robinson Preserve, with more than 4 miles of hiking on shell and wild pathways along Tampa Bay at Bradenton.
- Terra Ceia Preserve State Park - Home to a plenitude of wading birds, Terra Ceia Preserve State Park is an aquatic preserve protecting the ragged northern shoreline of Terra Ceia, open for exploration by water.
More near Bradenton
- Florida’s Best Urban Parks (Oct 2016) - When you live in a tightly packed space, you need somewhere green as your go-to place nearby. These are our top picks for parks in Florida's urban areas, chosen for their diversity of outdoor activities and/or their unique green spaces.
- A ramble through Robinson Preserve (Dec 2011) - Several years ago, while researching Exploring Florida’s Botanical Wonders, I stumbled across the newly opened Robinson Preserve in Palma Sola. Managed by Manatee County and directly across the road from Palma Sola Botanical Gardens, this preserve of mud flats and mangrove-lined shores has one of the best observation tower views in Florida, as well as …
- How to backpack Myakka State Park (Nov 2011) - With 39 miles in four loops, the Myakka Hiking Trail at Myakka River State Park in Sarasota is one of the state’s finest destinations for a weekend or long weekend holiday hike. I frequently get asked about places backpackers can go during hunting season – deer season starts very soon throughout Central Florida – and …