Located in Manatee County in west central Florida, Palmetto is a city of 12,000 residents ideally located to provide visitors with a variety of activities to choose from.
Palmetto is close to Tampa, one of the largest cities in the state, and the Gulf Coast region is known for its more laid-back vibe than many of its East Coast cousins.
Fishing and relaxing on the beach are popular vacation pastimes, but there are many historical and cultural attractions nearby, and some world-class theme parks are just a short drive away.
Here are 15 things to do in Palmetto, Florida that are high on many travelers’ to-do lists.
1. Blackrock Park
For a variety of recreational options, there’s no better place for the energetic traveler than Black Rock Park.
Open daily from sunrise to sunset, the park is conveniently located on 14th Avenue West near downtown.
Facilities include baseball and softball fields, squash courts, soccer fields and a children’s playground.
There is also a skate park popular with teenagers. There are also food deals for those who would rather eat on site than leave and come back.
Sports fields are usually reserved for leagues, but are mostly open to the public when not in use.
2. Manatee County Fair
The Manatee County Fair is approaching its 100th anniversary, making it one of the oldest fairs in the Sunshine State.
Although it started small, it has grown by leaps and bounds over the years. It’s now one of the region’s premier annual attractions, and includes farming and livestock activities, theme park-style rides and games, live entertainment, and many delicious food options.
The fair is held at the Manatee County Fair for 11 days from mid-January to the end of the month.
With so much to see and do, it’s worth checking out their website to make sure you don’t miss anything.
3. Independence Day Celebrations
During Independence Day, small towns across the country come alive with parades, festivals and fireworks displays, many of which have been passed down from generation to generation.
Palmetto Bay Park is home to Palmetto’s 4th of July festivities, and while the fireworks don’t start until after 9:00pm, it’s an all-day event with rides and games, arts and crafts, and plenty of food .
The first few guests commented that although the fireworks display was short, it was full, and it was even more shocking than expected.
The event is free to the public, but overnight parking tends to become scarce quickly, so consider arriving as early as possible.
4. DeSoto Seafood Festival
Rumor has it that when Hernando de Soto landed on the Florida coast in 1539, his first words were: “When is the Seafood Festival?”
As it turns out, DeSoto predates DeSoto by centuries, but since 1986 the town named after the explorer has hosted an annual event dedicated to the state’s wonderful seafood at Held in April for three days.
The festival attracts seafood lovers from across the state and region, with an estimated 100,000 annual visitors.
It’s a great way to experience local culture, sample food, and support the community.
5. Boca Shega Bay Sunset Cruise
Located on Florida’s West Gulf Coast, Palmetto is the perfect place to catch a spectacular sunset or two. While it can be done on land, there is something special about watching the sunset on the horizon from the deck of a boat.
Boca Ciega Bay Sunset Cruises depart from Dolphin Landing in St. Petersburg and generally last about two hours.
The cruise includes complimentary soft drinks; beer, wine and cocktails are also available for an additional fee.
Even during the summer months, the temperature on the water can be very cold, so bring an extra sweater or sweatshirt just in case.
6. Calypso Breeze Tropical Party Self-Guided Cruise
Sunset cruises are a great option for travelers looking to enjoy the state’s picturesque natural environment, but for those interested in more lively pursuits, the Calypso Breeze Tropical Party Self-Guided Cruise is just the ticket.
Calypso Breeze cruises include buffets, great music, delicious drinks and lots of dancing.
Tours depart from Madeira Beach on a 70-foot boat with two island-themed enclosed, air-conditioned dining areas.
The buffet includes a wide variety of food, including soups, fruit, salads, as well as seafood, beef and chicken dishes.
Alcohol is only for those 21 and older, children under two are free but must be included at registration.
7. Outerlife Studios Escape Room
Room escapes have become popular in recent years, and while many travelers don’t consider them vacation activities, they’re the perfect way to experience something new and spend a few hours away from the elements.
Outerlife Studios is one of the most popular escape rooms in St. Petersburg. It offers several options with different themes designed to instill anxiety and excitement in the participants.
Escape rooms are great date ideas for two and fun for corporate events and wedding parties.
Advance bookings are recommended, especially on weekends, so book as early as possible.
8. Emerson Point Preserve
Emerson Point Preserve spans over 360 acres on Snead Island in the Manatee River.
The land in the reserve is as pristine and undeveloped as you might find anywhere in the area. In addition to its natural beauty, the reserve is also home to many sites of historic interest.
The views of Boca Ciega Bay and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge are stunning, especially in the evening as the sun slides down the horizon.
The reserve’s multi-use trails are open to walkers, joggers, and cyclists, as well as canoe and kayak launch pads and some covered seating areas.
9. Manatee County Agricultural Museum
Agriculture has always played an important role in the history and development of Manatee County, and the Manatee County Agriculture Museum is a top attraction for those in the area who want to learn about it.
The museum’s exhibits touch on citrus growing, livestock and even commercial fishing, and include photographs, farming tools and first-hand accounts of the people who settled in the area more than a century ago.
The museum is open Tuesday to Friday and the first and third Saturday of every month.
Admission is free, but most visitors leave a few dollars to help with the maintenance and upkeep of the museum.
10. Florida Maritime Museum
Like its agricultural history, Florida has a rich history of maritime trade and exploration. It dates back to the 16th century, when Spanish explorers first landed on the Atlantic coast.
Located on West 119th Street near Cortez, the Florida Maritime Museum grounds include a historic school building and a wealth of equipment, memorabilia and artifacts related to the area’s nautical past and history.
Items on display include ship logs, maps, newspapers and replica boats. Most guests end up staying over an hour to be fully accepted.
11. Art Village
Located on 12th Avenue near Bradenton, the Arts Village is a unique and eclectic artist community with residences, galleries, studios, and many restaurants and coffee shops.
The village covers nearly 40 acres and features homes from the 20s and 30s, as well as visiting artists from around the world.
The Art Village is the perfect place to spend a relaxing afternoon strolling, drinking coffee and finding art you won’t find anywhere else. There are also live entertainment, festivals and fairs during most of the year.
12. Tampa Museum of Art
Founded in 1979, the Tampa Museum of Art’s collection includes modern and contemporary works, as well as some that are centuries old.
The museum is housed in one of Tampa’s most architecturally distinctive buildings, at West Gasparilla Plaza along the scenic Hillsborough River near downtown.
It is convenient to see with other nearby attractions. In addition to permanent and temporary exhibitions, staff provide educational programs, workshops and guest speakers throughout the year. They also host outdoor shows and special events during the cooler winter months.
13. Tampa Riverwalk
Not all of Florida’s top attractions require a lot of money to visit. The Tampa Riverwalk is a free-to-visit, easily accessible destination that offers visitors a range of exercise and activity options.
The path of the Riverwalk follows mainly the Hillsborough River and includes stunning views of the city and natural areas. Along the way are waterfront parks, galleries, museums, restaurants, and even some live entertainment.
The Riverwalk is especially popular in the afternoon and evening, when the temperature and sun are dropping, and many bars and restaurants offer happy hour specials.
14. Big Cat Rescue
Sometimes even giant cannibal feral cats need help. When they do, they usually end up at the Big Cat Rescue on Easy Street in Tampa.
Big Cat Rescue works to rescue and rehabilitate injured, orphaned or abandoned big cats. Their ultimate goal is to release as many of them back into the wild as possible.
Founded in 1992, Rescue is now home to more than 100 cats of a wide variety, both native and exotic.
Guided tours are the only way to visit the facility, so do some research online and book before your visit.
15. Glazer Children’s Museum
Located on the streets of the Tampa Museum of Art, the Glazer Children’s Museum includes dozens of different areas designed to attract and entertain curious young adults.
Each area has its own theme, with a total of more than 150 interactive exhibits covering engineering, animals, the natural world, history and technology.
Regardless of the age and interests of the children you travel with, there is likely to be something that will fascinate them. During the summer months when schools are closed, staff offer many special programs including guided tours, field trips and hands-on learning experiences.
Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Palmetto, FL (FL)
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