Anyone interested in Florida's history will enjoy a visit to the South Florida Museum in Bradenton. Visitors can learn about the lost Indian tribes of Southwest Florida and explore the 1,200 year-old temple mounds at Emerson Point. Spanish Conquistador Hernando DeSoto began his 4,000-mile search for El Dorado, the lost city of gold, at the current site of the DeSoto National Memorial. A lesser known figure came centuries later to settle the Bradenton area and the city still bears his name, Joseph Braden, who was the owner of a major sugar plantation located along the Manatee River. To this day, Bradenton remains a center of agriculture, producing mainly tomatoes, citrus and cut flowers.
Of course, modern Bradenton is also a tourist Mecca and an unparalleled resort community replete with premier tennis (Nick Bollettieri's Sports Academy) and golf facilities, five-star hotels and exotic Spanish/Mediterranean housing with breathtaking waterfront views. And although Bradenton is the southern home of Pittsburgh Pirates baseball, the city couldn't help but catch Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneer fever in 2003.
Of local historical interest, Bradenton attractions include the Bishop Planetarium, the Gamble Plantation and the Gulf Coast Railroad Museum. Adults and children alike will love Snooty the Manatee, whose home is the Parker Aquarium, and the Pelican Man's Bird Sanctuary, which cares for injured shorebirds on two waterfront acres. Nearby Sarasota also offers a vast array of arts and cultural attractions, including the acclaimed Sarasota Ballet of Florida and the Asolo Theatre.
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