Manatee County is located on Florida’s breathtaking Gulf Coast. It is bordered by Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg to the north, Hardee and DeSoto counties to the east and Sarasota to the south. The beautiful beaches of Anna Maria Island fade into the Gulf of Mexico to the west.
Many believe our shores were the initial landing spot for Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1539. Manatee County – so named for the slow-moving sea cow known as the manatee – was founded in 1855 and included a vast expanse of more than 5,000 square miles. That huge area was eventually divided into seven different counties, leaving Manatee County at 741 square miles.
About 315,000 people call Manatee County home, but our population increases considerably in the winter when high temperatures vary between 65 and 75 degrees. Many northerners, affectionately known as Snow Birds, have second homes or rent a winter home here.
The Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, located on the Manatee-Sarasota County border, provides service to more than one million passengers per year. The area is also served by Amtrak Train Service and the Greyhound Bus lines. Manatee County Area Transit System provides inexpensive public transportation to most developed reaches of the County. Other areas are easily accessible by car. Interstate 75 traverses north and south through Manatee County and is a major artery to get to other interstate routes.
Manatee County’s top industries are tourism and agriculture. Tomatoes, strawberries and peppers are our highest-grossing crops. Bealls Department Store is headquartered in Bradenton. Tropicana is one of the top employers in the County. Commercial fishing is found, especially in the Village of Cortez.
Manatee County is also the Spring Training home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Each March, the Pirates tune up for the Major League season at McKechnie Field in Bradenton. The field is also home to the Bradenton Marauders, the new minor league affiliate of the Pirates. Manatee County is the home of IMG Academies, where students from around the world learn soccer, tennis, basketball, baseball and golf.
Manatee County’s picturesque conservation areas are ideal for families, nature lovers and hikers. Emerson Point, Robinson Preserve and Duette parks are a handful of our scenic preserves. Manatee County also boasts several recreational parks. G.T. Bray Park is the largest of these and offers tennis, swimming, skate boarding, recreational leagues and walking trails. There are also many boat ramps located on the Manatee River, Lake Manatee, Palma Sola Bay and the Braden River.
Manatee County is also home to several higher learning institutions, including State College of Florida, New College, Ringling School of Art & Design and the University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee campus.
In short, Manatee County is a wonderful place to live, work, play and visit. We’re proud to call it home!