Southern Business & Development magazine has named downtown Bradenton as one of “Ten Wonderful Small Town Central Business Districts in the South.” Bradenton is nicknamed the “Friendly City” for good reason. Nestled between the Gulf of Mexico and the Manatee River, the small-town city, with a population of just 50,000, welcomes its guests with the charm of a laid-back coastal town. At the heart of Bradenton is its downtown, and front and center is the recently renovated and redeveloped Riverwalk, which runs along the Manatee River. Featuring a little bit of everything from the 400-seat Mosaic Amphitheater to the Family Fun Zone (complete with a splash fountain), the Riverwalk is open year-round and showcases concerts, festivals and other community activities. In addition to the Riverwalk, downtown Bradenton boasts a creative arts scene with the Manatee Players, a national, award-winning theatrical group, leading the way. The organization, whose upcoming season features well-known shows such as Evita, Fiddler on the Roof and Miss Saigon, performs in the new Manatee Performing Arts Center adjacent to the Riverwalk. Founded in 1943, when the Florida legislature merged the cities of Manatee and Bradentown, Bradenton covers roughly 15 square miles, but is a bustling area with an eclectic mix of arts, culture and heritage. Check out Realize Bradenton for cultural information.