Highlights of the Tamiami Trail & Bradenton Beach Scenic Highway

    By VISIT FLORIDA staff

    Highlights of the drive along Bradenton Beach Scenic Highway and Tamiami Trail Windows to the Gulf Coast Waters Scenic Highway.

    While only 2.8 miles in length, the Bradenton Beach Scenic Highway offers panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico and Sarasota Bay as it travels along S.R. 789 (Gulf Dr. N.) from the south end of Bradenton Beach at the Longboat Pass Bridge through unique beach towns and past some of the most beautiful beaches in Florida.

    One of these beaches is Coquina Beach, located at the southern end of Anna Maria Island. Coquina Beach is one of the largest beaches in the area, and the surrounding warm waters are known as "The Nursery," due to the large number of bottlenose dolphins that live and raise their young here. If a trip to the beach is on your list, you won't want to miss Coquina Beach.

    A few miles east of the Bradenton Beach Scenic Highway is the Tamiami Trail scenic highway, which travels south along U.S. 41 from Bradenton to Sarasota for a total of 70 unforgettable miles, providing an urban driving experience with roadside attractions all along the highway. From S.R. 789, take S.R. 684 (Cortez Rd. W.) east and travel approximately eight miles to 14th St. W. Make a right onto 14th St. W./U.S. 41 and head south towards Sarasota along the Tamiami Trail scenic highway, so named because it once was the main route from Tampa to Miami.

    One of the "must-see" attractions in Sarasota is the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, 941-359-5700. Recognized as the State Art Museum of Florida, the museum is the remarkable legacy of circus entrepreneur, collector of art and financier John Ringling and his wife, Mable. The 66-acre estate includes the Museum of Art; the Venetian-Gothic Cà d’Zan mansion, winter-residence of John and Mable Ringling; the 18th century Historic Asolo Theater; the Circus Museum, including the home of the Wisconsin railroad car and the world’s largest miniature circus at the Tibbals Learning Center; the Rose Garden; and beautifully landscaped grounds overlooking Sarasota Bay. 

    Another location to visit is Sarasota Jungle Gardens, (941) 355-5305, located along U.S. 41 just south of the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport. The Gardens are home to thousands of native and exotic plants, trees, flowers and wildlife. All shows are presented in the Gardens including "Critters and Things," "Birds of the Rainforest," "Reptile Encounter" and "Birds of Prey." The Gardens offer visitors of all ages a wonderful learning experience and some truly incredible sights.

    For more information on Florida's Scenic Highways, visit www.floridascenichighways.com.