Bradenton, between Sarasota and St. Petersburg, on the south side of Tampa Bay, has hikes to explore among the southernmost reaches of Hillsborough County – which offers some offbeat natural lands – as well as all of Manatee County, where there are city parks, beachfront parks, and parks along the Little Manatee and Manatee Rivers.
Trails and Parks in Bradenton
- Arrowhead Nature Trail - Explore coastal habitats on the Arrowhead Nature Trail at Fort De Soto Park, an interpretive walk where you'll learn about salt-dependent plants along Mullet Key Bayou.
- Barrier Free Trail - The 0.4 mile Barrier Free Trail at Fort De Soto Park has a graded path wide enough for two wheelchairs to pass and six touch-activated interpretive speakers along the path.
- 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.
- Florida’s Best Urban Parks - 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.
- 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 Hiking Trail - At Little Manatee River State Park, experience nearly a dozen different habitats along your choice of loops on one of Central Florida’s most interesting day hikes
- 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.
- Soldier’s Hole Nature Trail - The interpretive Soldier's Hole Trail at Fort De Soto State Park offers a close look at the three varieties of mangroves that grow in Florida plus some gorgeous views of Bunce’s Pass.
- 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.
- Florida’s Best Urban Parks (10/27/2016) - 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.
- Tegus establish a foothold in Florida (7/31/2014) - It's big. It's colorful. And it's the newest non-native species to establish breeding populations in Florida. Meet the black and white tegu.
- A ramble through Robinson Preserve (12/2/2011) - 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 (11/10/2011) - 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 […]