South Florida Museum

This museum features informative displays that detail prehistoric sea life, local maritime culture and traditions, and the area’s complex tropical ecosystems.

The South Florida Museum is the biggest natural and cultural history museum on the Florida’s Gulf Coast. The museum covers millions of years of natural history, from the Pleistocene era to the present day. Learn about local maritime traditions, 16th-century Spanish exploration history and early 20th-century medical practices in the museum’s history galleries. Discover the environmental biodiversity of the tropical Florida coast with the museum’s informative ecological displays.

See fossil evidence of early mammal and marine animals alongside a remarkable collection of prehistoric archaeological artifacts. Discover Florida’s rich maritime heritage and the community’s cultural, economic and geographic history. The museum’s second floor features a collection of antique medical artifacts and devices displayed inside a recreated doctor’s office and surgery room.

Learn about the area’s unique flora and fauna and ecological systems in the Environmental Hall. This exhibition features three main displays: Riverine, Pine Uplands and Estuary. See the museum’s entire viewable collection in the rotating exhibitions of the Visible Storage Gallery. Thousands of cultural, historical and ecological artifacts are available for viewing in this gallery. The museum also has two galleries dedicated to showing touring and temporary exhibitions.

Be sure to visit Snooty, possibly the world’s oldest living manatee, at the Parker Manatee Aquarium within the museum complex. The Bishop Planetarium is also under the same roof as the museum, so set aside a full day to explore this exciting complex.

Admission to the South Florida Museum includes exploring the two floors and visiting the manatees at the aquarium. Discount combination tickets for touring exhibitions are available. Kids under three and active military can enjoy free admission. Planetarium shows are priced separately.

The museum is closed on some Mondays; check the website for open hours and special events, lectures, family nights and social evening programming. The museum is located in Bradenton, a riverside city approximately 13 miles (21 kilometers) north of Sarasota. Free parking is available north of the complex.