201 10th St W, Bradenton, FL, United States
Have you heard of a large sea creature called a manatee, once mistakenly described as an ugly mermaid by Christopher Columbus? Curious about what a manatee really looks like or what they eat? You can watch Manatees being fed lettuce, kale, carrots and sweet potatoes in their 60,000 gallon indoor tank at the South Florida Museum in downtown Bradenton. A skilled narrator tells you the secrets of these large underwater vegetarians as he feeds them. Later, wander over to another section of this combined museum, aquarium and planetarium. Lean back in a truly comfortable seat, look up, and learn about our universe and our planetary system in a facility that some would compare to the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. It is remarkable that a city of under 55,000 population has such excellent facilities. If the manatees and planetarium aren't enough, visit the several impressive dioramas depicting life as it was before the Spanish landed in Florida in the 1500s. A skeleton of a 19-foot tall mastodon stands just beyond the museum entrance. Enjoy one of the most comprehensive collections of ancient artifacts from Florida's archeological digs. Absolutely worthy of a side trip, the museum is a short and easy drive from Interstate-75. There is free street parking.