If you’re looking for a vibrant, yet affordable small city for college students, look no further than Manatee County. From the warm and inviting beaches to the never-ending list of areas to explore, the city of Bradenton and Manatee County have a lot to offer.
Take a look at a few of the many reasons why so many choose to live in Manatee County while attending USF Sarasota-Manatee.
Connect with Other Students Nearby
Manatee County may not be your typical “college town,” but the Sarasota-Manatee region has more than 15,000 students enrolled in local schools all within a few miles of each other. These include USF Sarasota-Manatee, New College of Florida, Ringling College of Art & Design and State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota.
When you attend school here, you have the opportunity to meet a diverse group of interesting and motivated individuals. It also allows you to network with other students at partnering institutions regularly or take classes at a few different schools if you so choose.
Beautiful beaches galore!
It’s nearly impossible to talk about any coastal town in Florida without mentioning the beaches. Not only are there dozens to choose from, but they’re also the perfect place to spend each weekend or vacation from school. From Longboat Key to Anna Maria Island and special spots in between, you will find miles of sugary white sand right on the Gulf of Mexico.
The Bradenton Riverwalk
The Gulf isn’t the only body of water to see around here – care for a walk along the riverside?
The Bradenton Riverwalk is a 1.5-mile park that spans downtown Bradenton and overlooks the Manatee River. Features of the Riverwalk include a popular skate park, the 400-seat Mosaic Amphitheater, beach volleyball courts, “outdoor living rooms” and nineteen pieces of public art!
There are also a variety of events hosted along the Riverwalk throughout the year for you to enjoy!
Stargazing in Style
A big fan of the big sky? Bradenton’s own Bishop Planetarium is the perfect spot for you!
As part of the South Florida Museum, the Bishop Planetarium is a premier astronomy education facility. It also offers visitors a variety of films, lectures, live music and digital art performances in its multimedia theater. Interested in visiting soon? Check out the full online list of upcoming shows!
Break a leg!
Speaking of stargazing . . . are you a seasoned actor or looking to audition for your first production? The Manatee Performing Arts Center offers ample creative opportunities for seasoned and beginning artists alike. View the list of upcoming auditions here, or come watch their shows!
Lake Manatee State Park
Looking for some solitude out in nature? With Lake Manatee State Park only 15 miles east of Bradenton, you’ll have no problem discovering some wildlife on an afternoon walk.
The park stretches across three miles alongside Lake Manatee, and offers visitors a wide array of activities, including: hiking, camping, fishing and swimming. You’ll find that this is the ultimate place for busy students needing a back-to-nature diversion from a hectic semester.
What team could be more at home on the Gulf Coast than the Pirates?!
Yes, the Pittsburg Pirates have been getting ready for baseball season in Bradenton since 1969.
Give yourself a springtime study break—round up your friends, bring your mitt and get ready to catch a pop-fly at LECOM Park (previously known as McKechnie Field) in February and March.
Village of the Arts
Within walking distance to downtown Bradenton is an eclectic live-work community called the Village of the Arts. Here you’ll find a colorful mix of historic cottages hosting everything from locally-owned restaurants and gift shops, to art studios, galleries and bakeries.
Just north of Bradenton, you’ll find the beautiful Sunshine Skyway Pier State Park. Take a drive up I-275, park the car and join fellow locals and tourists as they fish alongside the nation’s longest fishing pier. Be careful, though: you’ll never know when a pelican may fly by hoping to snatch one of your fish!
University Town Center & Ellenton Outlets
If you’re looking for places to shop and eat, two of our nearby shopping centers have what you’re looking for: Ellenton Premium Outlets ® and The Mall at University Town Center. Here you’ll find quality retail and dining experiences tailored to a variety of budgets and cravings, perfect for a weekend outing.
Stay Up to Date
Looking for a collective list of upcoming events, festivals or performances? Check out these local event calendars online:
Looking to attend a university in the Sarasota-Manatee area?
Whether you’re looking for a vibrant place to live and launch your career, or you know and love Manatee County already, consider earning a degree at USF Sarasota-Manatee! Between the endless opportunities for culture, diversity, entertainment, activities and job growth, Bradenton is one of the best places to be for a college student year-round.
Learn more about our campus by taking a tour, exploring our website or reaching out to our Admissions team. Contact us online here, or call us at 941-359-4331 for questions about our programs and community.