Does the idea of living in a place called “The Friendly City” appeal to you? Tucked in between Tampa and Sarasota on the Gulf Coast of Florida is the friendly city of Bradenton. This city of 54,437 residents is located in Manatee County, Florida, and is surrounded by miles of waterways, both fresh and saltwater.
Besides being a friendly place, Bradenton is known for its beautiful beaches, its pleasant mixed socioeconomic culture, its vibrant arts events, top-notch golf courses and being the spring training home of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Several large businesses call Bradenton home, including Tropicana's juice production facilities and Beall’s Department Store corporate headquarters and distribution center.
Bradenton is home to the Village of the Arts, a renovated neighborhood located just south of downtown. In this area, special zoning laws permit residents to live and work in their homes. This development project has converted many dilapidated buildings into studios, galleries, small restaurants and other small businesses. The Village of the Arts is the largest arts district on the Gulf Coast and has a monthly artisan event called “First Fridays,” which celebrates the different holidays and seasons.
The multi-year award–winning Manatee Players put on regular performances at the Manatee Performing Arts Center in Bradenton. There are numerous annual arts events, including the Bradenton Blues Festival, the ArtSlam public art festival and several smaller events that thrill audiences throughout the year.
Much of Old Florida heritage is represented in the parks and preserves of Bradenton. Robinson Nature Preserve and DeSoto National Monument are both popular destinations with great walking and hiking paths.
The vibrant downtown area has plenty of things to see and do, including museums and a nice collection of galleries and boutiques. When you want to enjoy the water, boaters have the convenience of Bradenton’s busy marina, within easy walking distance of downtown. Historic Main Street is home to a number of bars and restaurants and live music events.
The median home value in Bradenton is $210,900. The Lakewood Ranch neighborhood is a popular area of mixed homes, including single-family homes, condos and townhomes. The Wares Creek neighborhood just west of downtown has one of the region’s best collections of 1920s and 1930s cottages mixed in with newer but still vintage homes.
If the idea of a small-town feel with a progressive urban vibe appeals to you, Bradenton could be the right friendly fit for you.