There are few activities more enjoyable than spending the day on the clear blue water with friends and family. Whether you own a boat or are renting one, there is a lot of beauty, along with numerous fun activities, in the Bradenton area that is just waiting to be discovered. You have so many options available to you around Bradenton that it may be difficult to choose.
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We have narrowed down the list to 5 of our favorite boating places in the Bradenton area:
Primarily a wildlife refuge, Egmont Key State Park can only be accessed by private boat. It is a great place to relax and collect shells. It is secluded and the beaches are pristine. Visitors can view the Egmont Key Lighthouse and the ruins of a fort from the Spanish-American War era, called Fort Dade. The park also offers great swimming, fishing, and opportunities to view wildlife, with brick paths that are great for hiking. Note that there are no amenities like convenient stores or public access to drinking water on the island, so you will have to bring your own supplies.
City Island is the byproduct of a dredging project aimed at creating a harbor for larger ships. The project was abandoned and the dredged area filled in, which led to the artificial island attaching itself to Lido Key, creating a peninsula. City Island is home to Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, where you can view Florida wildlife up close. You can drop anchor at City Island Park, which offers numerous activities for visitors of all ages. If you enjoy fishing and picnicking, there are picnic areas with docks available.
3. Longboat Key
Located to the north of St. Armands Key, this island was originally home to Native Americans, but now offers a mixture of waterfront golf and spectacular scenery. There are also lots of activities for visitors to enjoy, ranging from paddle boarding to surfing. Dining options are abundant as well, with the area offering multiple eateries, including high-end restaurants. There are 12 miles of white sand beaches and numerous amenities, ranging from grocery stores to pharmacies. The gulf side of the key consists mostly of beaches.
Longboat key also has Beer Can Island, which is a boating park that overlooks Sarasota Pass. Along with the free boat parking, Beer Can Island offers many great places to fish. The excellent fishing is one of the reasons that this is a local favorite.
This park spans 1.5 miles, overlooks the Manatee River, and offers a place where you can dock your boat for the day. It has numerous features, including its expansive lawns that are perfect for picnics, or for simply enjoying a view of the river. There are beach volleyball courts as well, where players can engage in a pickup game or enter a tournament. If you are a skateboarder or have one in your family, a skate park is available, as well as options for smaller kids, like a play area. The whole family can walk to a variety of restaurants, museums, and other downtown destinations right after docking.
5. The Regina
If you are into snorkeling or scuba diving, Bradenton Beach has a great option for you. Anchor your boat near the Regina and explore. The Regina was a sugar barge that sank off Bradenton Beach in 1940. Its wreckage is one of Florida's Shipwreck Underwater Preserves. The Regina lies about 150 feet off the beach and is about 20 feet below the water's surface. The spot is marked with a buoy. If you are not particularly interested in diving this wreck, you may be interested in seeing the hundreds of tropical fish that have been attracted to it since it became a reef.