The Bradenton Area and Gulf Islands

Provided by Bradenton Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau

A Real Authentic Florida Experience Awaits You On National Plan Your Vacation Day

The Bradenton Area and Gulf Islands

The Bradenton Area and Gulf Islands on Florida’s West Coast has always stayed true and grounded, down to its sugary sand shores. On this National Plan Your Vacation Day, come relax and enjoy the only U.S. beach featured on Travel + Leisure’s Top 50 Places to Travel in 2024. 

Be tempted by the turquoise waters on the seven miles of coastline on Anna Maria Island, an enclave that specializes in quiet luxury experiences where you’ll be hard pressed to find a chain restaurant or a building higher than three stories. Tour the eclectic urban arts and culture scene in the Village of the Arts. Full-on foodie? Grab your phone and snap a pic before dining on freshly caught Floribbean flavors available at quaint locally owned seaside restaurants.

Soft adventure more your speed? Take a sunset cruise to see playful dolphins as they chase behind your boat’s wake or be immersed in the 682 acres of wetlands at Robinson Preserve. Need a break from the beach? The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature houses a manatee rehabilitation habitat, a planetarium and several hands-on exhibits for kids of all ages.

Ultimate relaxation can wear one out. When it’s time to dust off the sand from your toes and rest, head inside to one of the hundreds of luxe accommodations in this Florida paradise. This Bradenton Area is friendly to all, and especially families with spacious vacation rentals that cater to multi-generational travel parties. Mello On The Beach features a unique “mod” aesthetic and is pet friendly. Prime Vacations is the hub to over 1,400 rental properties and eight hotel properties. The Zota Beach Resort on Longboat Key is a place to find your Zen in stylish accommodations. 

Getting here is a gulf breeze. The Bradenton Area is home to the fastest growing airport in the U.S., the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) SRQ has more than 50 nonstop flight destinations, making it a convenient landing spot both domestically and from Canada. Shake off the snow and slather on the sunscreen. 

You can also feel good about your vacation, thanks to the destination’s robust sustainability efforts. The Bradenton Area was named Florida’s first Leave No Trace destination, thanks in part to the Love It Like a Local initiative that encourages visitors to leave a positive impact while dipping their toes in local sand. 

And now you can get around the Bradenton Area in style with the brand-new Gulf Islands Water Ferry, an alternative mode of transportation along the Manatee River that conveniently connects visitors and locals to downtown Bradenton and Anna Maria Island. The open air 50-foot catamarans are equipped with ADA-accessible seats and ramps to provide an experience all can enjoy. 

This real, authentic Florida experience can only be had in the Bradenton Area, the turquoise jewel of Florida’s West Coast.