Bradenton is better than ever.
That’s why our celebrations of Bradenton continue to grow each year – because the City of Bradenton grows for the better each year.
This isn’t the same Bradenton that was merely a passing thought, a dot on a road sign that motorists glanced at on their way from Sarasota to Tampa Bay. Bradenton is no longer a “bedroom” community, a stop over on the way to somewhere else.
Bradenton is here, moving into the 21st Century with a bang. Not only one of the most beautiful cities on Florida’s Gulf Coast, but also home to nationally-known companies, a nationally-acclaimed neighborhood, and a growing downtown that’s home of the Bradenton Riverwalk. If you haven’t heard of it yet, give it time. You will.
Our neighborhoods are places like the Village of the Arts, once a crime-ridden neighborhood less than 15 years ago. An initiative led by City leaders, the Downtown Development Authority and local artists turned it into an arts colony which helped Bradenton earn recognition from Art Calendar magazine, a nationally-known business magazine for visual artists, which called Bradenton one of the top cities in the country for working artists. ArtStyle magazine has ranked Bradenton as high as second place in its annual Top 25 destinations for public arts and cultural amenities.
The arts colony is located just south of the neighborhood we all share – downtown Bradenton, which sits along the south shores of the scenic Manatee River. The 1.5-mile park known as Riverwalk, a shining example of a public asset created through the efforts of public-private partnerships, connects downtown Bradenton to the river with walking trails, a bike path, a boat dock, fishing pier, a very popular skateboard park, a botanical garden and other features.
Downtown is home to the South Florida Museum, which has a state-of-the-art planetarium, an aquarium with Southwest Florida’s most famous marine resident – Snooty, the world’s oldest living manatee born in captivity – and a collection of artifacts that prompted a member of the Smithsonian to dub this museum one of the best small museums in the country.
Downtown also is home to the new Manatee Performing Arts Center, ArtCenter Manatee and the “Pink Palace,” a 9-story hotel currently under renovation that has withstood the test of time at the north entrance to Bradenton for nearly a century. Restaurants of various dining, pubs and other small shops abound downtown. Downtown is hopping on the third Thursday of every month (except July and August) with Main Street Live, the City’s largest “street party.” Other downtown events include the annual Hernando DeSoto Historical Society events throughout April, the Christmas-themed Winter Wonderland, Bradenton Beer Fest, the Halloween celebration called Zombie Fest, the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration and a pep rally for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Major League Baseball’s Pirates have trained at Bradenton’s McKechnie Field since 1969. Their Advanced-A minor league team moved here in 2010. McKechnie Field has been dubbed the “Fenway Park of spring training” because of its age, fan-friendly atmosphere. While it retains those qualities, it has added several new amenities over the past several years including lights that make night games possible, new seats, an outfield boardwalk with a tiki bar and more.
Business matters and Bradenton knows it. We’re home to numerous businesses, including nationally-known Tropicana Products Inc., the famous juice maker; Champs Sports, and the corporate offices of Beall’s Department Stores.
Bradenton is a growing city. But it has always maintained a gentle, southern atmosphere with a downright small-town feel that has rightfully earned it the nickname “The Friendly City.”
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