Back in April, we took our first official trip as a family of three! Between the pandemic hitting right before Millie’s first birthday and life in general, this trip had been a long time coming. Brent and I both love to travel, so it was wonderful to jet-set together again! We stayed at the adorable Little Blue House in Palmetto, Florida and visited the surrounding areas including Bradenton and Sarasota. It was such a wonderful trip that I knew I wanted to highlight more about it upon our return. Today I’m going to share about our Airbnb in Palmetto and discuss things to do in Bradenton and the surrounding areas. If you’re looking for a fun place to visit for a family vacation, I highly recommend checking out these Florida towns!
Traveling to Palmetto
For this blog post, I’ll be referring to it as both a Bradenton and Palmetto vacation. Technically the Airbnb is in Palmetto, but it is only a few minutes away from Bradenton. There are two small airports nearby, Tampa and Sarasota. Both are approximately a 30-45 minute drive from the Palmetto Airbnb. We actually flew into Tampa and flew out of Sarasota and had great experiences at both. Small airports are simply the best! We rented a car so that we could easily explore all of the fun things to do in Bradenton, Palmetto, and Sarasota.
Little Blue House Palmetto Airbnb
When we arrived at the Little Blue House Palmetto Airbnb we all instantly fell in love! I knew from the vacation rental’s pictures and Instagram stories that it would be nice, but there were so many special little details that surpassed my expectations. The owner, Sarah, had thought of absolutely everything!
Hands down, our favorite feature of this Palmetto Airbnb was the front porch. It is everything you would dream of when picturing a southern front porch. We spent every morning and evening swinging on the porch swing and enjoying meals at the adorable table set up outside.
The inside of the house was impeccably decorated with a mixture of new and modern furniture and decor combined with beautiful antique pieces. There were three bedrooms and four beds, two and a half bathrooms, a fully stocked kitchen, and a wonderful living room and dining room. There was also an upstairs balcony with a stunning view of the nearby river.
And not only was the Airbnb beautiful, but it included everything needed for a Florida vacation. And I mean everything! The softest Weezie bath towels, robe, and beach towels, beach chairs and an umbrella, a kitchen fully stocked with appliances, a washer and dryer, and house slippers for the guests. Sarah even left the sweetest welcome package for Millie with a beach bag and some fun activities. It was absolutely wonderful!
Things to do in Bradenton
The afternoon we arrived I had a photo shoot, so Millie and Brent ran to the grocery store while I shot content. Afterward, we headed to Bradenton Beach for a family photo shoot with Jessie Roffer Photography. If you’re going on a beach vacation, I highly recommend that you consider doing a family photo shoot. It was Millie’s first time on a beach and it was so special to have pictures of the joy on her face. It was a long, exhausting day and I probably wouldn’t recommend doing this on the same day you fly in, as we did. But, I will forever cherish these pictures!
Bradenton Beach was around 25 minutes from the Palmetto Airbnb. And while it wasn’t the most beautiful beach I’ve ever been to, it was still a nice nearby option. There were some cute shops and restaurants close by as well.
Later in the week, we spent a day at the Bradenton Country Club pool. Unfortunately, this is a private pool and we were only able to access it due to a friend allowing us to use her pass. But I do believe they have some public pools and waterparks nearby. So, a pool day could still be an option if you’re looking for things to do in Bradenton.
Things to do in Bradenton: Dining
After our family photo shoot we grabbed pizza at Joey D’s and it was delicious! A few days later, we ordered pizza from Agrigento’s and ate it on the front porch. We ate a lot of pizza during our trip and honestly, I loved each and every one of them (and I can be a tough pizza critic).
Later in the week, we had a quick lunch at First Watch in Bradenton. I typically avoid chain restaurants while traveling, but we all really like First Watch and it’s an easy option for people with food allergies. Millie is a big fan of their coconut chia pudding!
We had dinner with friends at the Bradenton Country Club. The meal was wonderful and the outdoor setting on the golf course was so pretty.
Lastly, before heading back to the airport we stopped at Oak and Stone for lunch. Their rooftop dining overlooks the Manatee River and it is truly a picturesque view. We also enjoyed a short walk along the marina after our meal. And once again, the food was wonderful! I highly suggest mapping out time in this area if you’re planning things to do in Bradenton during an upcoming vacation.
For dessert while at the Little Blue House, we enjoyed Frosty Oasis ice cream. It wasn’t my favorite ice cream from the trip (keep reading for that!), but I did appreciate that they had dairy-free options for me and Millie. Plus, this ice cream shop is less than a five minute drive from the Airbnb.
A Day Trip to Sarasota
If you’re looking for things to do in Bradenton, I highly recommend taking a day trip to Sarasota. From our Palmetto Airbnb, it was a 45-minute drive and totally worth it. We spent an entire day in this city and it was one of my favorite days of our trip!
We started the day by walking around St. Armand’s Circle. This area is full of shops, boutiques, and restaurants. The entire circle is just as cute as can be! I would love to go back someday when Millie is older and do some “real” shopping here…as anyone with kids knows, shopping with them isn’t exactly easy!
For lunch, we ate at Cha Cha Coconuts on St. Armand’s. Honestly, this was our least favorite meal of the trip and the one restaurant I wouldn’t recommend. The food just wasn’t great. However, we followed it up with ice cream from Ben and Jerry’s, which of course, was a win! Millie still talks about the dairy-free cookie dough she had!
Next, we visited the Mote Aquarium. This was Millie’s first visit to an aquarium and of course, she loved it! There was tons of fun sea life for her to see – stingrays, jellyfish, and even manatees. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for things to do near Bradenton with kids.
After the aquarium, we decided to go to a park for Millie to play a bit before dinner. Originally, we planned on visiting Bayfront Park, but unfortunately, it was under construction. So we ended up at a random Sarasota park that we drove by and let her run wild!
Our day in Sarasota ended back on St. Armands Circle. We had dinner at Venezia and OMG, it was so good! We all left feeling happy, full, and ready for bed!
A Day Trip to Anna Maria Island
Another fun day trip we took was to Anna Maria Island, which was a 30-minute drive. The Palmetto Airbnb owner recommended visiting Bean Point Beach and I’m so glad we listened. The beach was absolutely beautiful with crystal clear water and white sand. Plus, it wasn’t nearly as busy as other areas on Anna Maria Island. Millie had the best time collecting seashells, which now reside in a special jar in our home. It was truly a beach day I’ll never forget!
For lunch, we ate at The Sandbar, which had a great extensive menu. It had outdoor dining, which was so pretty, but we opted to eat inside in the air conditioning. With the large windows facing the beach, the indoor dining view was still wonderful! It was another great lunch spot.
As for family activities on Anna Maria Island, Pine Avenue is full of cute little shops and boutiques. My friend Grace recommended that we take Millie to the Shiny Fish Emporium and I’m so glad that she did! At this store, kids are able to paint sand dollars and then turn them into Christmas ornaments to take home as souvenirs. It was so much fun and Millie was so proud of her creation!
Bradenton Family Vacation
If you’re considering taking a family vacation to this area of Florida, I say go for it! There are so many fun things to do in Bradenton and the neighboring towns. And the Little Blue House Palmetto was such a gem located in the cutest southern neighborhood. I can’t recommend this Airbnb enough! Overall, our first family vacation was a success and I’m already eager to book the next!
If you have any questions about our Palmetto trip feel free to leave them in the comments below! And if you’ve traveled to this area of Florida and have additional recommendations, I’d love it if you’d leave those as well. I know others will appreciate any and all recommendations!