Brandon is an unincorporated community located in Hillsborough County, Florida. The community is situated about 10 miles east of Tampa, near Florida's Gulf Coast. Easily accessible from Interstates I-4 and I-75, Brandon is the largest unincorporated community in the state of Florida.
Named for founder and landowner John Brandon, the community originated in the late-nineteenth century and has since grown in spurts; at first sporadically until around 1950, when a real growth period began. By the early 1960s, Brandon's population was around 8,000 and it was estimated that on average a new family moved into town every day. By the late 1980s, the population had climbed to around 100,000 with over 2,500 businesses having sprung forward. Although still unincorporated, Brandon has grown by leaps and bounds and today could well be considered a major urban area, with an ongoing influx of new public schools, corporate centers and industries.
Located within minutes of downtown Tampa, Brandon combines small town living with easy access to the big city. There is plenty to do within Brandon itself, but even more when including the beaches and attractions nearby. Brandon is home to Westfield Shopping town (originally known as Brandon Town Center), a 900,000+ square-foot shopping facility and the Tampa area's premier shopping destination. One of Brandon's most notable annual events is the Brandon Balloon Classic. Held every April, the two-day celebration features over 50 hot air balloons from all over the country.
The city of Orlando is about 90 minutes away from Brandon. In addition to Walt Disney World, attractions in the Orlando area include Universal Studios and Sea World Florida. The Tampa area, only minutes away, has its own share of popular attractions, including the following:
- Busch Gardens Tampa Bay: An African-themed family entertainment park with a combination of world-class animal habitats, thrilling rides, live entertainment, dining, and shopping.
- The Florida International Museum (St. Petersburg): Features a permanent Kennedy Exhibition in addition to a variety of changing exhibits.
- The Florida Aquarium: Includes over 10,000 plants and animals, plus exhibits featuring Australian sea dragons and invertebrates.
- Florida Holocaust Museum: The fourth-largest Holocaust museum in the country.
- Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI): The largest science center in the Southeast with 450 interactive activities.
- Tampa Museum of Art: Exhibitions range from contemporary to classic with a permanent collection of Greek and Roman antiquities.
- WildLife on Easy Street: More than 200 big cats and other animals.
Sports fans can enjoy professional action of both the major league and minor league variety in nearby Tampa, home to the following teams:
- Football: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL)
- Baseball: Tampa Bay Devil Rays (MLB)
- Hockey: Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL)
- Arena Football: Tampa Bay Storm (AFL)
- Minor League Baseball: Tampa Yankees (Single-A affiliate of the N.Y. Yankees)
Tampa is also the Spring Training site of Major League Baseball's New York Yankees. The city of Lakeland, less than 30 minutes away, is home to the Lakeland Flying Tigers, the Single-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. Lakeland also serves as the Detroit Tigers Spring Training site.
Palmetto is a waterfront community located on the Gulf Coast of Florida, midway between Tampa / St. Petersburg to the north and Sarasota to the south.
The City offers many enjoyable features, including:
- 12 city-owned parks
- Numerous festivals
- Over 60 acres of green space
- Basketball and tennis courts
- An estuary park abutting the Manatee River
There are residential options for every lifestyle, including:
- Waterfront, single - family homes
- Golf and country club communities
- Historic, downtown, old - world homes
The City boundaries are comprised of approximately seven square miles with a population of just over 14,000 residents.
Palmetto has seen dramatic growth and expansion of several condominium developments, many with dramatic water views. The City continues to balance growth and expansion while maintaining the “Old Florida” charm that residents and visitors have come to love.
Parrish, Florida, is a small community in Manatee County, about 15 miles northeast of Bradenton. It is mainly a residential area, with shops and restaurants, with one main tourist attraction -- the Florida Railroad Museum. It is within a short drive of several other things to do, ranging from championship public golf courses to nearby state parks.
Florida Gulf Coast Railroad Museum
Parrish's main attraction is the Florida Railroad Museum (frrm.org). The museum opened to celebrate the area's rich railroading history, which dates back to the 1860s when the railroads first came to Florida. It features weekend train excursions and special themed train rides throughout the year. The caboose can be rented for private parties. Additionally, guests can rent a locomotive to receive hands-on training in locomotive operation.
Golfers can choose from several nearby courses, including the Buffalo Creek Golf Course (buffalocreekgcpublic.com). It is an 18-hole, links-style public golf course, four miles away in nearby Palmetto. Additional amenities include a practice area, equipment rentals, an on-site pro shop and a snack bar. Another nearby option is the Manatee County Golf Course (manateegcpublic.com). It is 19 miles away from Parrish, in West Bradenton. The course is an 18-hole championship course that features groomed fairways, challenging bunkers and strategically placed water hazards to challenge golfers of all abilities.
Manatee County Attractions
Manatee County, as a whole, offers additional attractions including the annual Manatee County Fair (manateecountyfair.com). The fairgrounds are in nearby Palmetto, a 22-minute drive from Parrish. It has been held annually since 1916 and features live entertainment, various exhibits, rides, and refreshments. Another county staple is its Art Center (artcentermanatee.com). It is 13 miles southwest of Parrish, in Bradenton. The Art Center features an artists' market with gifts and local artwork, classes for all age groups and exhibits displaying a variety of pottery, photography, and paintings completed by local and national artists.
Nearby State Parks
Several state parks are near Parrish, including the Gamble Plantation Historic State Park (floridastateparks.org). It is a 15-minute drive, 8 1/2 miles away, in nearby Ellenton. The park features a historic mansion that was donated to the state in 1925. Visitors to the park can tour the home -- the only plantation house still standing in South Florida -- six times daily. Additional park features include picnic areas, restrooms, and a visitor center. Another nearby park is Lake Manatee State Park (floridastateparks.org). It is a 30-minute drive, 15 miles southeast of Parrish, in nearby Bradenton. The park is sprawled along three miles of shoreline on Lake Manatee and features activities such as swimming, wildlife observation, kayaking, hiking, boating, and camping. The park also has a picnic area and restrooms with showers.
For many visitors, a Sarasota vacation is a chance to get away from it all and do nothing. But relaxing isn't for everyone. Luckily, from its vibrant arts scene to action-packed outdoor experiences, Sarasota County has activities and attractions for all.
One of Florida’s primary Gulf Coast cities, Sarasota offers visitors an eclectic blend of culture and fine dining, circus thrills and pristine beaches, and a wide array of shopping opportunities. The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art pays homage to the Ringlings, the family behind America’s most famous circus. Check out the old costumes, wagons, and the world’s largest miniature circus. Art lovers can appreciate the largest collections of Rubens canvasses in the world, plus works by Old Masters. You can also tour Ca' d'Zan Mansion, a magnificent 56-room Venetian Gothic palace and the Ringlings' old family home. Fine shopping is available in many places, including St. Armand's Circle close to the coast.