A great revitalization is taking place in Manatee County right now, and the people of Palmetto want you to know they are part of the hoopla. Rich in history and showcasing a revamped downtown area, Palmetto is experiencing the same exciting growth that has been happening in Bradenton. What should be great news for one unified county has turned into a bit of a power struggle between these two towns, and Palmetto is saying “Hey, wait a minute, take a look over here.”
There have been a few hiccups along the way that have disappointed Palmetto residents. In 2012 the Manatee Civic Center was renamed the Bradenton Area Convention Center, much to the dismay of local officials. Fast forward a couple years and the Riverwalk Regatta was held on the Manatee River, but Palmetto saw very little of the action, and merchants and residents were disappointed with the way things played out. Recent news finds the Ribfest being moved from the county fairgrounds over to McKechnie Field in Bradenton. Palmetto folks are feeling a little underappreciated.
So what does Palmetto have to offer anyhow? Well the answer is so much! This once sleepy town has transformed itself into a real player in the relocation games. Baby boomers and retirees are finding their way to Palmetto in droves. The deep water boating, excellent fishing, and beautiful climate combined with a charming small-town feel are making Palmetto very attractive to newcomers. Corporations like Feld Entertainment and It Works Global both have headquarters located in Palmetto. Sysco has been operating in Palmetto for years, and West Coast Tomato, LLC also calls Palmetto its corporate home. They represent countless other companies who are moving to Palmetto to take advantage of the weather, the adept workforce and affordability they can find there.
Palmetto sits on the Manatee River and offers some of the most expansive water views found. It is the home of Port Manatee, the closest U.S. deep water seaport to the Panama Canal. A little over seven square miles in size and a population of about 14,000, it’s the little city that could. The cost of living is slightly less than the U.S. average, and a number of manufacturing and packing facilities provide employment for many of the county’s residents. Palmetto has been able to not only capitalize on its prime location, but also on its historic district and the over 200 historic buildings found in the city. Quaint shops, cool eateries, art galleries and bed and breakfast establishments are taking up shop in some of these gorgeous old structures. In an era when older homes and buildings are being razed for condos and high rises, Palmetto seems to understand their importance and embraces its heritage. Elegant “old Florida” homes sit along the river conjuring up images of how things were in days of yesteryear. How lovely to walk out your front door, down your dock and onto your boat for a fun day on the Manatee River.
Situated right over the bridge is the Regatta Pointe Marina, which features 350 boat slips, restaurants and spas and bills itself as “Florida’s premier live aboard and deep slip marina.” Located right on the Manatee River and with quick access to Tampa Bay, Palmetto has always been known for its great boating and fishing. Emerson Point Preserve on the beautiful Snead Island is a favorite among residents and tourists. It’s a gorgeous park with scenic views of the Manatee River and Terra Ceia Bay. People from all over enjoy spending the day here picnicking, hiking, biking, fishing and just enjoying nature’s splendor. Also found here is Florida’s largest Native American Temple Mound, so it’s a great place to explore Florida’s history and beauty all in one place. With a total of 12 parks and over 60 acres of green areas, combined with gorgeous waterfront properties, Palmetto is truly nature’s playground.
There’s always something going on in Palmetto. Several popular festivals are held throughout the year including the Manatee County Fair, fireworks over the river on the 4th of July, Taste of Manatee, Desoto Food Festival and the Manatee County Fair. In addition, fishing tournaments and car shows are also held frequently. It’s a great time to walk around Palmetto, taking in the sights and foods and mingling with the friendly people of Palmetto.
Palmetto also offers a great variety of restaurants, including everything from fresh seafood and fish at Crab Trap I and Riverhouse Reef and Grill to a tasty breakfast at Norma Rae’s or a great sandwich at Popi’s Place. There are great eateries everywhere. Small cafes serving authentic Cuban and Mexican specialties are found scattered around the city along with mom and pop diners where the locals mingle and always run into a familiar face. Palmetto has larger chain restaurants too but with the abundance of local produce and fresh fish and seafood, there are a ton of eateries that are run and owned by locals. There are also quite a few fun bars and cool waterside cafes to enjoy a libation or socialize with friends. Some of the local’s favorites include Terra Ceia Oyster Bar, Chatterbox Bar and Grill and Peggy’s Corral.
Palmetto is a fantastic place full of life with a bustling downtown area, gorgeous water views and friendly people who are very proud of their little city. Bradenton is a great city too, but Palmetto deserves a closer look and perhaps a little more attention. For all of you who live and play there, Bravo! You are in a great place. And for those who haven’t ventured over the bridge in a while, come take a look! Emerson Point & Regatta Point Photos by Gerald Bone on Flickr. Riverside Photo by Bill Rogers on Flickr.