Quality of Life

Manatee County Boasts High Quality of Life

Dating back centuries, Manatee County’s rich history owes its success to individuals who thrived by making use of the abundant resources in the area, such as the Manatee River and Gulf of Mexico. The area was home to the Tocobaga tribe who lived in villages that consisted of mounds of stone, earth and shell. Theirs was a fishing and hunting culture. In 1539, Herdando de Soto and his men arrived at the mouth of Tampa Bay in pursuit of gold. When de Soto left the area, he headed northeast through what is now Georgia, Alabama and Arkansas. He later died near the Mississippi River.

Three hundred years later, settlers were offered land in the area free of charge under the condition that they stay for a minimum of five years. One of the settlers was Josiah Gates, who lived in what was then the Village of Manatee — present-day East Bradenton.

In the 1840s, Hector and Joseph Braden settled in the area that bears their name. The ruins of Braden Castle remain protected to this day. Robert Gamble settled in what is now Ellenton. In 1855 — the year Manatee County was officially established — the area was booming with citrus growers, cattle ranchers and farmers. With the turn of the 20th century, Manatee County was enjoying major inventions and the Manatee River propelled the area’s agricultural sector.

The annual De Soto Heritage Festival has honored the area’s rich history for nearly 80 years, commemorating the past while looking to the future. The festival receives regional and national recognition. Both residents and visitors alike enjoy frequenting the historical parks, landmarks and museums, which are full of Manatee County’s vibrant past and culture.

Anna Maria

Anna Maria spans seven miles along the Gulf of Mexico and is home to about 1,800 residents. This island boasts sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and many attractions, such as museums, shops and local eateries.


With more than 56,000 residents, Bradenton is known as “The Friendly City.” It is the largest city in Manatee County, with the award-winning Village of the Arts, DeSoto National Memorial Park, Spring Training for Major League Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates, cultural attractions and a thriving downtown business district. Extension of the nationally recognized Riverwalk is underway.

Bradenton Beach

Situated at the southern tip of Anna Maria Island, Bradenton Beach is perfect for individuals who enjoy fishing, fresh food, and beautiful beach vistas. This cozy town is home to more than 1,200 locals.


With over 4,200 residents, this historic village area is chock full of history and culture, fresh-caught cuisine, kayaking, jet skiing and many other outdoor pursuits. The area is also known for its commercial fishing interests and maritime museum.


The region’s outlet shopping destination, Ellenton offers its nearly 4,300 residents a high quality of life and proximity to the Manatee River, as well as major transportation connections. This portion of Manatee features the Gamble Plantation State Historical Site, south Florida’s only surviving plantation.

Holmes Beach

With 3 miles of pristine shoreline, this island offers residents beaches, boating access, shopping, dining and more, all within minutes. Approximately 4,300 people reside in Holmes Beach.

Lakewood Ranch

Featuring nearly 18,000 acres, the community is recognized for its award-winning master planning. Fast-growing Lakewood Ranch boasts many housing options, attractions, golf courses, business clusters, outdoor activities and more. It is focused in on active, connected communities.

Longboat Key

With a foot in both Manatee and Sarasota counties, Longboat Key is home to more than 7,200. The town boasts golf courses, numerous restaurants, unique boutiques and breathtaking Gulf Coast views, including Beer Can Island and Whitney Beach.

Myakka City

Located in southeastern Manatee County, Myakka City combines ranching and agriculture with parks and lakes. Many residents have deep-rooted family ties to the area. Be sure to visit the Crowley Museum and Nature Center.


Home to almost 14,000 residents, Palmetto is one of the largest cities in Manatee County. It is a hub for history, with more than 200 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. Enjoy a stroll down lush walkways and parks, as well as the Native American Madira Bickel Mound State Archaeological Site for hours of exploration.


The Florida Railroad Museum, which features a six-mile ride through some of Manatee County’s original stomping grounds, is one of Parrish’s must-see attractions. The area’s natural beauty enhances residential areas and a growing business sector.