23 Things to Do in 2023
A New Year brings hope and excitement for new adventures and lifelong memories. We’ve compiled a list of 23 fun experiences to get 2023 started in memorable fashion here in the Bradenton Area.
1. Float High In The Sky
Some of the best views of our pristine beaches are from above! Float high in the sky and soak in spectacular vistas while parasailing near the beach. Pulled behind a special boat from a secure tether, this parachute-like sail has a special harness that allows thrill-seekers to safely sit high in the sky. There’s nothing like the thrill of floating nearly 400 feet in the air, and the rare opportunity of seeing Anna Maria Island from a new perspective. Keep your eyes peeled, you might spot a manatee swimming below!
2. Take a turtle walk
Join Anna Maria Turtle Watch on a turtle walk or a turtle talk to learn the importance of sea turtle conservation. If you’re in town over the weekends, stop by sand say “Hi!” at their Turtle Watch booth at the Anna Maria City Pier Park Farmers Market.
3. Fly Nonstop to Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport (SRQ)
You’ll want to savor every minute of your vacation to the Bradenton Area, and flying to the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) means spending less time in long lines and more time basking in the Florida sun. At SRQ, you’re literally minutes from walking off your plane, picking up your bags, and heading to our beautiful beaches.
4. Get A Massage On The Beach
Everyone deserves a little pampering in the New Year, and there’s no better way than a relaxing beach massage. The balmy breeze and relaxing sounds of the shore are the perfect backdrop to this serene cabana in the sand dunes. Contact the friendly staff at Sea-Renity Beach Spa & Eco Boutique to schedule your session.
5. Reel in the big one!
Our waters teem with remarkable gamefish, which are perfect for sustainable catch-and-release fishing. Grab your pole and head for the famous Anna Maria City Pier, Jiggs Landing, or one of the other hotspots. Need a guide? No worries, local charter captains will provide you with all of the necessary gear to safely and responsibly fish the local reefs, grass flats, and more. If you’re an angler looking to enjoy the abundance from the Gulf of Mexico, you’ll be delighted to learn that many local restaurants offer hook-and-cook service, like the Seafood Shack. Simply bring in your catch and the chefs will prepare your meal just as you like it, including all the accoutrements.
6. Dine Dock-To-Table
With a lengthy coastline stretching along the bountiful Gulf of Mexico, the Bradenton Area is home to some of the best seafood in Florida. It’s easy to find fresh, local fish and shellfish, especially when dining in the Historic Fishing Village of Cortez. You’ll literally watch fishermen unloading their daily catch dockside, which means that the tastebud-tingling freshness is out of this world.
7. Take in the peace of a natural preserve
The Bradenton Area is home to a dozen nature preserves that are found across the destination—but not all of our preserves are alike. Some are hundreds of acres, some are small natural wetlands, and some are relics of an ancient time. But one thing’s for sure, each one offers you the experience of exploring the untouched beauty of Florida’s west coast.
8. Explore Our Newest Park
Situated in downtown Bradenton, Manatee Mineral Springs Park is one of the newest public spaces in the area. This park is named after a natural spring that once flowed at this location, but the history of this plot of land dates back for many more centuries. Native Americans and Angola Freedom Seekers have been traced back to this area as early as the 1700s. Today, the heritage of these people is honored through interpretive art panels, sprawling green spaces, and picture-perfect vistas of the Manatee River. Pack a lunch, you’ll want to spend time under the giant, whispering pine trees.
9. Spend Time In The Sand
Bradenton Area beaches are extraordinary because the sand that lines the shore is made of nearly 100% quartz crystal. This mineral was originally formed in the Appalachian Mountains, but over the millennia, erosion helped break down and transport these tiny, transparent gemstones to the Gulf Coast of Florida. Though quartz is nearly as hard as diamond, this special sand has to be felt between your toes to be believed—it’s nearly as soft as powder.
10. Sit For A Sunset
Grab your phone (or camera!) and head for one of the many beaches to witness a famous Bradenton Area sunset. The clouds explode with vibrant, pastel colors as the sun slowly slips into the Gulf of Mexico. Every sunset is unique, so be sure to compare your photos after uploading them to Instagram. Don’t forget the #BradentonArea hashtag!
11. Rent The Whole House
The Bradenton Area has an abundance of whole-house vacation rentals that are perfect for your getaway or staycation. You won’t find any towering condominiums here, but a variety of unique places to call “home” for the next few days. From modern, multi-story houses to beachfront bungalows and charming cottages, you’ll find all of the necessities—and maybe a little more.
12. Be Amazed At The Bishop
The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature is the largest natural and cultural history museum on Florida’s Gulf Coast. In addition to the vast collection of local artifacts, you’ll find a manatee rehabilitation aquarium, an all-digital planetarium with mind-blowing shows, and The Backyard Universe, a place to get hands-on with nature.
13. Slip slidin’
Descend the two spiraling waterslides, dodge the spills on the play structure, or take a dip the large swimming pool at Lincoln Aquatic Center. This family-friendly, community water park is the perfect place to visit when your kiddos are ready for a beach break. For a modest fee, you can spend the afternoon splashing around and soaking in the sun. The best part? You won’t have to deal with sandy feet in the car when the day is done!
14. Practice SUP Yoga
Anna Maria Island is a popular place for meditation and outdoor yoga. The gentle Gulf breezes and warm sun offer the perfect setting to quiet your mind and tune out the stresses of everyday life. Harmonize with a little H20 and practice yoga on a stand-up paddleboard with the seasoned instructors of the Salty Buddha.
15. Shop the Farmers Markets
With a lengthy growing season, you’ll soon learn why local produce is readily available at our farmers markets. Stop by and chat with farmers as you shop for vegetables at the Anna Maria City Pier Park Farmers Market or the Bradenton Farmers Market on Old Main Street. But don’t just visit for the veggies, there are dozens of vendors displaying their art, hand-made home goods, and other unique treasures for purchase.
16. Have A ‘Cheeseburger In Paradise’
We all know the song, now sink your teeth into the real ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’ at Bar & Chill in Margaritaville’s Compass Hotel. This lobby bar is the perfect place to enjoy the vistas over Anna Maria Island sound as you dine on that one-of-a-kind burger—cooked to order, and topped just how you like it. We suggest lettuce and tomato, Heinz 57 and french-fried potatoes!
17. Love It Like a Local
The Bradenton Area is home to Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key, both of which feature beaches that are popular with visitors and locals. But it takes a little TLC to keep these stunning stretches of sand in pristine condition. Whether a resident or spending some time on holiday, we encourage everyone to Love It Like a Local, which can be easily done in a multitude of ways. Not only is it easy to visit responsibly, you’ll also feel good knowing that you’re keeping these treasures in tip-top shape for future generations.
18. Shop ‘Till You Drop
With 130 shops featuring well-known name brands in apparel, accessories, and home furnishings, you’re sure to spend the entire day shopping Ellenton Premium Outlets. This covered, outdoor mall has lush landscaping, an ample food court, and plenty of places to rest your feet during your wallet-friendly shopping excursion.
19. Take in a show at MPAC
Manatee Performing Arts Center is the Bradenton Area’s premier theater and a regional center for cultural, educational and artistic expression. The MPAC team hosts quality prodcutions for all ages, throughout the year. MPAC is a short walk from some of the area’s most popular restaurants, so make a night of it with dinner and a show in downtown Bradenton.
20. Enjoy a Bradenton-brewed Beer
The Bradenton Area is home to a handful of breweries, two wineries, and a distillery, each with their own distinct atmosphere. From the largest Beer Garden in Florida to a family friendly brewhouse, you’re sure to have a delightful time sampling some outstanding (and award-winning!) local beer, wine, and spirits.
21. Take me out to the ballgame!
Did you know the Bradenton Area’s sister city is Pittsburgh and that the Steel City’s Major League Baseball team, the Pirates, have called Bradenton their spring home for more than 50 years? Spring Training games at LECOM Park are a “must” if you’re visiting the area in February or March, when temps are perfect and hope springs eternal for every team that takes the field. If you can’t swing by for a Grapefruit League game, you can watch baseball’s rising stars when the hometown Bradenton Marauders take on Florida State League competition. Either way, LECOM Park is one of the best places to get player autographs before and after games.
22. Venture into the Village
The Village of the Arts is an eclectic blend of colorful, early 20th century bungalows, Florida cracker homes, and modern houses, all of which allow artists the opportunity to live and create in their own gallery space. You’ll find a vast assortment of art in the Village, including sculpture, painting, culinary, healing arts, and specialty shops. Plan your visit for ArtWalk, which occurs during the first weekend of each month. During this two-day event, the Village explodes with creativity and the galleries and shops open their doors to the public.