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Focus on Manatee: Haven’t been to downtown Bradenton in a while? Here’s what you’re missing

This eighth-floor view of the Manatee River is breathtaking

Take a look at the view of the Manatee River from the eighth floor of Bradenton's new SpringHill Suites hotel. The hotel opened Friday, May 17, 2019.
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Take a look at the view of the Manatee River from the eighth floor of Bradenton's new SpringHill Suites hotel. The hotel opened Friday, May 17, 2019.

If you haven’t spent time in downtown Bradenton lately, you are missing out on some exciting development that continues to revitalize our urban core.

Everywhere from the Riverwalk to Village of the Arts, new restaurants, hotels, shops and more are opening — all of which serve a purpose to our downtown area and continue to fill it with new life.

In May, the new SpringHill Suites opened on the Riverwalk with 131 rooms, a rooftop pool and bar, and soon an in-house Oak & Stone Tavern.

With water views from nearly every room, this hotel brings a new type of accommodation that our downtown area hasn’t yet seen and should be appealing to visitors and locals alike. The restaurant (complete with a self-serve craft beer wall) and rooftop bar will be open for the public to enjoy later this year.

The City Centre parking garage, nearing completion, has 500 parking spaces, 300 of which will be available for paid parking.

The parking garage built for the hotel near city hall will also debut a new look this month. Artist James Simon will be installing a 6-foot-by-120-foot mural on the north wall of the garage that will reflect the vibrancy of downtown Bradenton with images including baseball, wildlife, fishing, music, walking along the river and more.

The Riverwalk continues to flourish not just from the addition of the SpringHill Suites but also with additional public art and a planned extension toward the east.

Award-winning actress Jane Seymour told a crowd gathered at the Bradenton Riverwalk how her “Open Hearts” design began during the unveiling of a sculpture of her design.

In January, world-renowned actress and artist Jane Seymour revealed her newest addition to her “Open Hearts” sculptures on the Riverwalk across from Veterans Monument Park, the only one of its kind in Florida.

The sculpture, which Seymour encourages visitors to interact with and photograph, continues to be a draw for those who want to see this icon up close.

The one-and-a-half-mile expansion of the Riverwalk will include a game patio and a peninsula on Riverside Drive. To find out more, visit Realize Bradenton’s website.

In April, the long-standing community staple South Florida Museum re-branded itself as the Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, a fitting name that better describes what the museum has in store when you walk through its doors.

The South Florida Museum in Bradenton has been renamed The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature.

Soon the museum will open its Mosaic Backyard Universe, a long-awaited addition that will appeal to children and adults alike.

Further west, 12th and 13th streets are seeing growth as well. New restaurants such as Oscura Café & Bar (a bright and modern space for a good cup of coffee or a round of live music) and Chateau 13 Restaurant and Wine Bar (an upscale establishment brought to us by the owners of the Palmetto Riverside Bed & Breakfast) are popping up along 13th Street.

Château 13 Restaurant & Wine Bar opens at 535 13th St., W, Bradenton. Comfortable, upscale dining comes to heart of the city.

Tellers, a former bank teller window turned walk-up coffee shop, is proving to be a popular spot for people working downtown, especially to those who work in the nearby shared working space Connect Bradenton.

And there’s certainly more to come for our downtown core. Everything from yoga studios to boutique shops are constantly opening.

Be sure to keep your eye on this area and plan to spend some time there with family and friends this summer.

Elliott Falcione is the executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and can be reached at or 941-729-9177, ext. 3940.

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