Port Manatee supports the City of Palmetto by adding over $2.3 billion and 24 thousand jobs to the regional economy. Port Manatee also contributes to local projects and offers outreach programs that educate the public about the port. Port Manatee conducts public tours to give people a behind-the-scenes look at an operating port.
Port Manatee and Palmetto have a humid subtropical climate with hot summers and mild winters. The rainy season lasts from April through October, and thunderstorms are common on summer afternoons. Temperatures range from an average 33°C (92°F) in July and August to an average low of 12°C (54°F) in January. Port Manatee gets about 46 inches of precipitation each year.
Port Manatee plays an active role in protecting the area's environment, assuring that the ecosystem surrounding the port thrives. Due to this contribution, Port Manatee has earned many environmental awards. Port Manatee also participates in protecting the ecosystems of Tampa Bay. Port Manatee conducted an important and award-winning seagrass mitigation program and the Manbirtee Key bird sanctuary project.
The Manbirtee Key Bird Sanctuary is a man-made island that resulted from the original 1060s dredging project that created Port Manatee. The 60-acre island bird sanctuary won honors from the American Association of Port Authorities in 2004 when Port Manatee undertook extensive efforts to restore and maintain the sanctuary. Since then, Manbirtee Key attracts over 120 species of birds.
Manatee County is home to many beautiful beaches where the pristine coastline supports wonderful bird-watching, water sports, and oceanside activities. Pavilions are available for groups at many of the beaches near Port Manatee.
Visible from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, the northern tip of Anna Maria Island is home to the Anna Maria Bayfront Park. Open from dawn until dusk, the park offers pavilions, grills, picnic tables, a playground, restrooms, showers, and receptacles for trash and recyclables. The ADA accessible Anna Maria Bayfront Pavilion has seating for 104 people at 13 tables as well as one double grill and two small grills. Within walking distance of the restrooms, the pavilion is also adjacent to the playground.
Also located on Anna Maria Island, Manatee Beach Park is open from dawn until dusk. It has a café and gift shop in addition to picnic tables, grills, playgrounds, restrooms, and showers.
Port Manatee is also near two par 72 golf courses that are owned and operated by the county. Buffalo Creek Golf Course, just three miles east of Interstate 75, has wide fairways and fast-putting greens. Manatee County Golf Course in Bradenton is about 14 kilometers (9 miles) south of Port Manatee. It has five teeing areas and wonderfully landscaped fairways that all skill levels of golfers will enjoy.
Also in Brandenton is the South Florida Museum which features the Florida gulf coast's natural and cultural history. Covering Florida history from the prehistoric, the museum is 15 kilometers (9 miles) west-southwest of Port Manatee. Visitors to the Museum will want to check out Bishop Planetarium, an all-digital domed theater with one of the world's most advanced projection systems.
The Museum is also home to the Parker Manatee Aquarium. The aquarium can house three adult manatees in its almost 60-thousand gallons of water. With both shallow and deep water, the manatees can practice their natural feeding behaviors. Visitors can view the manatees from both above and below. The aquarium is also a second-stage rehabilitation facility for sick and injured manatees. The Manatee Aquarium's most famous resident is "Snooty" the manatee.
About 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) east-southeast of Port Manatee is Gamble Plantation Historic State Park, an antebellum mansion and South Florida's only surviving plantation house. Furnished like a prosperous mid-19th Century plantation (before the Civil War), guided tours are available six times each day from Thursday until Monday. The plantation house is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Days.
The Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez is 21 kilometers (13 miles) southwest of Port Manatee. The museum is located in a restored 1912 schoolhouse on the Cortez Nature Preserve grounds. The Museum highlights the maritime history of Florida's gulf coast, emphasizing the historic 19th Century fishing village of Cortez. It also has a boat shop that restores and recreates historic vessels.
Fishermen and outdoor lovers will enjoy the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Piers. Built over Tampa Bay in 1954, the middle of the old Sunshine Skyway Bridge collapsed after a barge accident. The remaining sections of the old bridge were left in place, and artificial reefs were created from the concrete and steel rubble. The reefs attract a wide variety of fish including sea bass, snapper, cobia, grouper, Spanish mackerel, kingfish, tarpon, and sharks.
Both the North and South piers are open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. The Skyway Pier Bait Shop on the pier offers bait, tackle, rods, beverages, ice cream, and snacks. People can pack a picnic an drive up to their favorite spot for fishing. Pier fishing licenses come with the paid entrance pass. The South Pier is located on Highway 19 South in Palmetto, about 7.5 kilometers (4.6 miles) south-southwest of Port Manatee.