The top things to do with kids in the Bradenton area

The top things to do with kids in the Bradenton area

The Bradenton Area on Florida’s west coast is known as “The Friendly City” for a reason, so expect to find virtually endless fun that the whole family can enjoy no matter what kind of vacation experience you’re going for. You’ll find a variety of things to see and do, including beaches and other outdoor attractions along with indoor fun and delicious restaurants. Take a look at the best things to do in the Bradenton Area that your family will love.

view of Bradenton area and the cortez bridge from above, showing white sand beaches and colorful water© Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

Family-friendly beaches

The best beaches in the Bradenton area have a lot to offer, including super soft, white sands and welcoming waters that let you escape the hustle and bustle of daily life. Bradenton Area beaches tend to have a variety of amenities that make your trip easier than ever before, so you can visit with peace of mind and enjoy conveniences of all kinds just a few steps away. Take a look at some of the best Bradenton Area beaches that you may want to add to your vacation itinerary.

Manatee Beach

the beach at manatee beach featuring a lifeguard stand© Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

At Manatee Beach on Anna Maria Island, you’ll find plenty of family fun with soft sands, a playground, and quite a few different amenities that make your visit as easy and as fun as possible. The beach is patrolled by lifeguards, so the whole family can go for a swim with peace of mind. Volleyball courts are available at this beach, as are umbrellas and chairs to rent. You’ll even find expansive public parking nearby that’s entirely free. Don’t forget to check out the restaurant here, which is known primarily for its breakfast food—especially its all-you-can-eat pancakes. This beach is especially popular, so be sure to arrive early to get the best spot.

Coquina Beach

coquina beach with lifeguard stand© Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

Take it easy at Coquina Beach, where you can enjoy a relaxing day in the sun by the water with plenty of space to take in the atmosphere. It’s a flat beach with dunes lining its edge along with some waving grasses, all creating a remarkably peaceful feel. One of the most important things to remember here is that it’s a popular beach for sea turtles. While you’re free to look at these fascinating creatures, please make sure to leave them and their habitats alone. Additionally, you can enjoy several activities here, as this beach is home to playgrounds, a bike path, and several volleyball courts. Lifeguards are on duty, so you can feel safe as you venture into the water.

Outdoor attractions

Spending time outside in the Bradenton Area offers plenty of fun you can enjoy no matter what your interests are. Whether you’re looking to get active or simply enjoy the environment, you won’t have to look far to find fun outside, especially around the Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key areas. You’ll find outdoor activities for teenagers, preschoolers, and every other age group, so check out the best this area has to offer.


girl in a pink shirt on a zipline at TreeUMPH© Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

Test your skills at TreeUMPH!, an obstacle course located up in the trees. At this activity center, you can go climbing, swinging, and adventuring through the trees and enjoy the fun of being high up while being safely secured with a harness. Situated among more than 10 football fields of space, these aerial adventure games are expansive and thrilling, offering obstacles suitable for the whole family. Keep in mind, however, that the youngest age that can participate here is 5 years old, and you can find plenty of adult-level challenges if you’re looking for something more exciting. This is also one of the best places to ride a zip line in the Bradenton Area.

Andersen RacePark

Three people racing around the track at Andersen Racepark in red go-karts© Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

Go fast at Andersen RacePark, one of the most popular go-kart tracks in the Bradenton Area. You can enjoy a friendly race, or you can enroll in one of the driving classes to hone your skills. Either way, the track has plenty of twists and turns to enjoy with top-of-the-line karts for you to drive. There isn’t technically an age requirement here, but drivers must be at least 5 feet tall. The track itself has 13 turns and runs 0.6 miles, though a single session is going to be multiple laps. The track can also be configured based on the expertise level of the driver.

Paradise Boat Tours

Dolphin leaping out of very blue water© Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

The intracoastal waterways are home to a wide variety of stunning sights and adventures, and with Paradise Boat Tours, you can see them for yourself. The wildlife is especially stunning around the Bradenton Area, and on 95% of these boat tours, you will see dolphins. In addition to dolphins, you’ll find manatees and rays along with colorful fish you can sometimes see swimming close to the surface. Plus, it’s one of the best outdoor activities for preschoolers and other young visitors, as all ages are welcome to participate on one of the best boat tours in the Bradenton Area. In fact, kids can enjoy wearing the captain’s hat and sitting at the helm to learn about how the boat is run if they want.

Bradenton Riverwalk

Family of four walking on the Bradenton Riverwalk© Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

Taking a stroll along the Bradenton Riverwalk is one of the most popular pastimes in the area, and you’ll find plenty to enjoy along the way. The walk itself stretches 1.5 miles in total, and it’s completely ADA-accessible. Along the way, you’ll find a volleyball court and a day dock if you want to arrive by boat. The family fun zone is especially popular when you’re traveling with kids on a hot day, thanks to the splash pad and shady benches. Fishing and public events are available here too, with everything set on a gorgeous backdrop of vibrant greenery and the clear-blue waters of the Manatee River.

Hunsader Farms

two horses looking at the camera through a fence at Hunsader farms© Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

Hunsader Farms lets you enjoy relaxing nature activities in a more slow-paced environment compared to what you’ll find downtown or by the popular beaches. At this farm, the whole family can find things to do, from a farm market with fresh food and homemade items to a petting zoo. The diversity of the animals here might be a bit more than you expected from a farm. They have donkeys, ponies, goats, and sheep, as you might expect, but you’ll also find porcupines, monkeys, lemurs, and tropical birds. Consider visiting around October or December, as the farm hosts seasonal festivals with extra activities for the whole family.


Picture from above of the NEST center canopy, on Robinson Preserve© Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

The NEST is one of the most iconic attractions in the entire Bradenton Area. Officially known as the Mosaic Center for Nature, Exploration, Science, and Technology, which lends the NEST’s acronym, this facility is home to extensive programming throughout its multipurpose space. It’s part of Robinson Preserve, so you’ll find plenty of walking trails among the surrounding nature, but if you’re looking for solely indoor activities, the facility is easily accessible and offers activities like yoga and workshops. Many of the events held here are hands-on and interactive, so it’s especially appealing when you’re looking for something to do with kids.

Indoor attractions

Indoor family activities in the Bradenton Area have a lot to offer, so you never have to let a bit of heat or rain get in the way of making the most out of your visit. Inside activities can vary quite a bit as well, with options like museums, special exhibits, and even a planetarium. Of course, that’s just a small taste of everything this town has to offer. Take a look at some of the best inside activities in Bradenton.

Bishop Museum of Science & Nature

planetarium at the bishop museum of science and nature© Matt Marriott/ Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

When you visit the Bishop Museum of Science & Nature, you’ll find yourself at one of the largest natural history museums along Florida’s Gulf Coast. All Bradenton Area museums have something special to offer, but this one is particularly appealing, as it features its own planetarium, backyard universe exhibit, and manatee rehabilitation habitat. The Bradenton planetarium here utilizes digital full-dome imagery to showcase high-fidelity depictions of space. Meanwhile, the Mosaic Backyard Universe is perfect for kids and those who simply love to learn about natural history with opportunities to dig for fossils. The museum’s Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat is particularly popular with kids and adults alike, as everyone can see these fascinating creatures swimming around in 60,000 gallons of water.

Florida Maritime Museum

a wooden canoe in the florida maritime museum© Jeremy Piper / Bradenton Area Visitors Bureau

Explore the state’s history at the Florida Maritime Museum. The fishing industry had a huge impact on making Florida what it is today, and this museum offers a glimpse into that rich history with stories, artifacts, and memorabilia from times past. From surviving hurricanes to depressions, the maritime history of Florida is built on perseverance, and that’s what you’ll see through the museum’s numerous exhibits. Given their impact on local history, it should be no surprise that there’s an entire exhibit dedicated to the history of Florida’s hurricanes that showcases their immense power and what it takes to persist in the face of such a fierce force of nature. You can even check out the folk school that teaches classic skills through hands-on classes suitable for all ages.

Shiny Fish Emporium

Picture of the interior of the shiny fish emporium in bradenton© Anastasia Taylor/ Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Shiny Fish Emporium is a comprehensive shopping experience by the soft-sand beaches of Anna Maria Island that the whole family can enjoy. Among the emporium’s most popular items are sand dollars that are hand-painted by Rebecca Preston, the creative director of the entire shopping experience. Of course, you’re always free to paint a sand dollar yourself if you’re feeling particularly creative during your visit. The picturesque beaches and natural features of Anna Maria Island are known to evoke artistic creativity in all sorts of visitors.

Best restaurants with kids

Bradenton Area restaurants offer a diverse array of options that the whole family can enjoy. While you’ll find plenty of variety on most local menus, seafood does tend to stand out, as you might expect in a town on the coast. In addition to the food itself, many local restaurants are located right by the shore and offer stunning views and atmosphere alongside the delicious food. Take a look at the best restaurants in the Bradenton Area, FL, and Anna Maria Island, that you won’t want to miss out on.

The Ugly Grouper

picture of a tin fish statue at the Ugly Grouper, a restaurant in the Bradenton area© Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Ugly Grouper is an iconic restaurant in the area with plenty of drinks and seafood, all served in a laid-back outdoor atmosphere. Fresh black grouper is their specialty, but you’ll also find mahi-mahi, pork, chicken, burgers, and their famous fish tacos. Quite a few local craft beers are available, with some more widely known domestic favorites as well, and there’s also a comprehensive liquor list you can choose from. Additionally, you’ll find a kids’ meal here, so you can enjoy a family dinner or have a more adult-oriented experience.

Gulf Drive Café

dining area right on the sand at the gulf drive cafe© Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

When you visit Gulf Drive Café on Anna Maria Island, you’ll find a laid-back atmosphere and some of the best food options in town for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The breakfast menu includes bagels, eggs, and pretty much anything you can cook on a skillet, while lunch and dinner offerings are packed full of sandwiches, pasta, and surf-and-turf delights. Don’t forget to check out the Kokonut Hut when you visit if you’re looking for a drink, as this full-service tiki bar has a little bit of everything. Plus, the entire restaurant is dog friendly, so you can really bring the whole family along. It’s also a beachfront restaurant in the Bradenton Area that faces west, so sunset visits are especially picturesque.

The Donut Experiment

a box of a dozen colorful donuts © Anastasia Taylor/ Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

No trip to Anna Maria Island would be complete without stopping by The Donut Experiment, one of the more quirky places to eat in the Bradenton Area. As the name suggests, this restaurant offers boutique-style donuts in a wide variety of flavors that you can enjoy. They’re customizable as well, as you can choose your icing, your topping, and your drizzle. There are some specialty donuts available too that aren’t customizable but already have brilliant combinations included. If you can’t decide what you want, don’t worry. They’re always happy to give you a mixture of their most popular options.

This content has been written in partnership with the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau