Last-Minute Travel Ideas
From authentic Florida beaches to a wide variety of experiences and accommodations, the Bradenton Area is full of travel inspiration that’s perfect for a spur-of-the-moment trip. Whether you’re hopping in the car and road-tripping or booking a last-minute flight through Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, you’ll find countless ways to enjoy your getaway.
Where to Stay
Part of to the charm of Anna Maria Island is that you won’t see oversized condos or towering hotels looming along the shore, but you will discover a variety of vacation rentals. From small villas and cottages to multi-story luxury homes, it’s easy to find something that fits your travel style, budget, and timeframe. Many rentals offer quick beach access, private swimming pools, kitchens with all the necessities — and even rooftop terraces for unforgettable views of the sunset. Sometimes you can even nab a discount on a last-minute booking!
If you prefer a hotel or resort, you’ll find a selection of name-brand chains across the Bradenton Area.
If you’d like to stay on Anna Maria Island or close to it, check out Waterline Villas & Marina or Compass by Margaritaville. These two island-themed resorts offer an all-inclusive feel, with luxurious accommodations, fantastic dining, and lush swimming pools. You can moor your boat at docks at both locations, making them perfect for passionate boaters. We know that boats don’t fit into overhead bins on airplanes, so ask the helpful front desk staff where you can rent one after you arrive.
On the mainland, there’s an even larger selection of hotels to choose from, especially when considering downtown Bradenton or Lakewood Ranch. Check out Hampton Inn & Suites or Springhill Suites if you want to stay close to the arts and culture of historic downtown Bradenton, or Hyatt Place and Fairfield Inn & Suites in bustling Lakewood Ranch, where you can golf to your heart’s content.
With miles of coastline along the Gulf of Mexico, you’re bound to experience some of the freshest seafood around. For off-the-boat fish, shrimp and shellfish, visit the Historic Fishing Village of Cortez, where you can dine dock-to-table at restaurants like Star Fish Co., Cortez Kitchen and the Seafood Shack. Besides watching the sun dip below the horizon in a splash of color, you’ll be able to spot local fishermen unloading the catch of the day. No reservations needed!
The Bradenton Area is known for more than just seafood. It’s also home to talented chefs and chef-owned restaurants. From fine dining to delightful cafes, there are more eateries than you can probably experience in a single trip.
If you’re looking to savor the flavors of the world, stop by the Village of the Arts in downtown Bradenton. This vibrant and colorful live-work arts community is home to many galleries, shops and restaurants. Taste the tantalizing tacos at Birdrock Taco Shack, enjoy the authentic flavors of Italy at Ortygia and Arte Caffé, or stop in for a sip of refreshing kava or tea at Adobe Graffiti Lounge.
Shop til You Drop!
Anna Maria Island is home to Pine Avenue, the self-proclaimed “Greenest Little Main Street in America.” This sustainable thoroughfare has great local shopping, especially if you’re looking for gifts or garments with an island flair.
Along the north side of the street lies Shiny Fish Emporium, Pink & Navy, and Bella by the Sea. These coastal-chic shops offer something different (like sand-dollar painting!), so be sure to browse each boutique. You’ll also find many other stores and galleries lining Pine Avenue, so explore both sides of the street until you reach the newly constructed Anna Maria City Pier.
You’ll find unique stores and galleries in downtown Bradenton as well, especially along Old Main Street. The century-old Jenning’s Arcade offers multiple shops and galleries, like Ruff Life and the Unique Boutique. If you’re in town between October and May, the historic, oak-shaded street comes to life every Saturday morning for the Bradenton Public Market. Here you will find unique vendors offering a variety of items, like farm-fresh produce, local art, hand-crafted home goods, and more.
With 130 shops featuring well-known name brands in apparel, accessories, and home furnishings, you could easily spend an entire day shopping Ellenton Premium Outlets. This covered, outdoor mall has lush landscaping, an ample food court, and places to rest your feet during your wallet-friendly shopping excursion.
With miles of pure, quartz-crystal sand, Bradenton Area beaches are typically one of the first stops for visitors on holiday. The tranquil, emerald-colored waters of the Gulf of Mexico stretch across the horizon, leaving you with nothing but views of sand and surf. From secluded Bean Point to family-friendly Coquina Beach (and even Adrenaline Row), you’ll easily find a beach that suits your mood.
At TreeUmph! Adventure Course, you defy gravity by spending time safely suspended in the canopy though multiple ropes courses and ziplines. If you have the need for speed, visit Andersen RacePark. Here you can learn the art of racing go-karts and speed around their challenging track, leaving your friends and family in the dust.
For leisure-minded travelers looking for something a bit slower paced, you will find plenty of relaxing outdoor activities, like hiking Emerson Point Preserve. This 365-acre preserve sits at the mouth of the Manatee River where it meets lower Tampa Bay. You can explore the preserve’s unique history as you wander the shaded trails through a tropical hammock. Visitors can take in the beauty of Florida’s wildlife and native plants, while exploring both prehistoric and historic sites. For the golfer, the Bradenton Area is home to a wide variety of courses for every level. From family-friendly miniature golf courses like The Fish Hole to PGA-level challenges like the Concessions or Lakewood National, you’re sure to have loads of fun.
Don’t miss the Bradenton Riverwalk, a popular outdoor gathering place that overlooks the Manatee River. It’s 1.5 miles long and is a great spot to get in some exercise or hang out with friends. The ADA-accessible park has many features incluing an ampitheater, state park, beach volleyball, a fishing pier, and a great space for skate boarding.