Meet Our Locals

What is the one secret ingredient that differentiates a ho-hum location from a warm and friendly destination? It’s the people who fill that place with their creativity, charisma and charm.Without them, buildings are just empty structures waiting for some personality. As you can imagine, a place like the Bradenton Area is filled with warm and welcoming people whose stories are as interesting as their stores, restaurants and resorts.So much so, we created a Meet our Locals YouTube playlist, where you can hear their stories in their own words. Here is a just a sample of the fun and friendly people you will meet there.

Nick & Kelly at The Farm Experience

Only about a 15-minute drive from downtown Bradenton is an experience that feels world’s away from today’s hustle and bustle. Tucked into the sleepy neighborhood of Palmetto, husband-and-wife team Nick and Kelly run The Farm Experience, where you can get up close to more than 40 (43 and counting, to be exact) animals who call it home — including 12 cows, 2 horses, 3 goats, 2 geese, 6 ducks, 8 chickens, 3 rabbits, 4 dogs and 3 cats.

Nick and Kelly have been together for 12 years and married for eight. Other than their love for each other, what binds them together is a passion for animals, the outdoors and sharing their lifestyle with others – for some a once-in-a-lifetime experience. “Where else can you learn to milk a cow, hug a horse, ride a horse, cuddle with a cow, hold a goose, collect eggs or play with our silly goats?” Kelly says.

For Dan, it’s helping maintain the deep cultural heritage of the area. “Manatee County has a rich history of agriculture,” Dan says, “and we’re proud to be a part of that.”

Dan & Rebecca at Shiny Fish Emporium

Shiny Fish Emporium is located on Pine Avenue, the heart and soul of Anna Maria Island. This sand-lined thoroughfare is just under a mile long and bookended by a beach on one end and a pier on the other. In between, you can shop, eat, and even find a little local history.

Step inside Shiny Fish and what you find is a bright and colorful mash-up of retro Florida, the artistic flare of Soho and a sprinkle of beach glam. The merchandise is just as eclectic: an irresistible array of specially selected items and gift ideas from local and global artists, imported toys, handbags, trinkets and tropical candles and more. There are also Hawaiian ice cream bubbles and confections to consume while browsing the aisles. For families, there’s a play area for kids and a very popular activity for a one-of-a-kind souvenir: sand-dollar painting.

What do they think of life on Anna Maria Island?

“If you’re on vacation here, it feels like home away from home,” says Rebecca. “And if you live here, you feel like you’re on a permanent vacation,” Dan adds.

Jenn Sayko at Chateau 13

In the heart of downtown Bradenton, there’s a spot that combines fine dining and European flair. Chateau 13 Restaurant and Wine Bar, which just opened its doors in 2019, brings you the best in western European cuisine – including French, Spanish, Italian and Belgian influences — with a Bradenton Area twist. Cheese and charcuterie (slices of meat) are a focus at the restaurant, as are curated wines from around the world.

If the word “chateau,” which literally means “castle,” sounds excessively large and intimidating, rest assured, nothing is further from reality. Chateau 13 is intimate and comfortable, from the stone and wood surfaces to the tastefully lit red, gray, black and white accents that run throughout the restaurant. A point of pride for Jenn Sayko, proprietary partner and general manager, is the way the restaurant is designed: there is one spot from which she can see and easily welcome every guest.

“Chateau 13 is my dream come true,” says Jenn. “Basically, I just wanted to bring a place that I absolutely would love to experience to my hometown.”

Don’t forget to subscribe

Meet the locals is just one of the inspirational playlists you’ll find on our Bradenton Gulf Islands YouTube channel. For more vacation inspiration, local profiles, upcoming events and more, be sure to subscribe and ring the bell for instant notifications when new videos are added.

You never know what you’ll see or who you’ll meet!