Bradenton, pop. 54,000+ (Wikipedia) co-anchors its own Gulf Coast metropolitan area with similar-sized Sarasota, just to the south of Tampa Bay.  While Sarasota is better known and characterized by more upscale panache, Bradenton is a down-to earth waterfront city with a skyline of its own fronted by an inviting downtown riverwalk.  The city of Palmetto sits across the Manatee River from Downtown Bradenton and is home to the Bradenton Area Convention Center.  Nestled between the city and the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Anna Maria Island is Bradenton’s beach escape.  The island’s communities have a casual “Florida Keys” feel complete with an array of “mom and pop” inns and tropical-style beach cottage rentals.



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