Florida coast to coast: art, heritage and magnificent mammals in Bradenton

Simon Calder mixes with manatees, goes round gardens and galleries and treats himself to tacos as he continues his sunrise to sunset drive across the Sunshine State

Simon Calder
Tuesday 20 February 2018 11:04 GMT
Florida coast to coast: art, heritage and magnificent mammals in Bradenton

A fascinating mix of retrospectives and fresh perspectives on the Sunshine State: that’s the city of Bradenton, just 40 miles south of Tampa, two hours from the theme parks of Orlando and a few minutes from the Gulf Coast.

Start at Manatee Lake, a pretty body of water in Manatee County. Then follow Highway 64, which soon becomes Manatee Avenue and leads to the Parker Manatee Aquarium.

The manatee has been around for far longer than humanity: more than 60 million years. But since man arrived in Florida, these magnificent mammals, also known as sea cows, have faced challenges. At the aquarium, injured manatees are nursed until they can be released back into the wild.

Bradenton has plenty of art as well as nature. The Village of the Arts is a real artists’ community in a rejuvenated neighbourhood of cottages dating from the Twenties and Thirties. You can explore the galleries and gardens in the company of Carrie Price, who runs a gallery called Yoga Arts and leads Art Walks on the first Friday and Saturday of every month.

“It just gives people the chance to experience everything in the village, walking around appreciating the Florida weather and the architecture,” she says.

After your walk, dine on works of culinary art on a struggling artist’s budget. The Birdrock Taco Shack in the village sells tacos at $2, $3, $4 and $6 each.

Bradenton may not be on your radar. But with so much colour, heritage and those ever-present manatees, it’s well worth putting on your list.

My America Holidays offers holidays to Bradenton from £789 per person*. Visit myamericaholiday.co.uk or call 020 8290 9751.

Hertz car hire in Florida starts from just £21 per day. Visit Hertz.co.uk

Discover more at visitflorida.com @VisitFlorida #LoveFlorida

*Price includes flights and accommodation and is based on 2 sharing on a bed and breakfast basis with selected travel dates and departure airports. Prices may vary, are subject to availability and correct as of 5 February 2018.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in