I went to the Bradenton / Sarasota area recently with the intention of checking out the local beaches and parks. However, once I got there I realized that it was beyond Florida hot and anything outside would have to wait. It’s not like I didn’t know it was hot before we left, I just chose to ignore it in hopes it would magically get better.  It did not. So instead we decided to visit the Museum of South Florida where we could stay out of the heat.

Turns out I have great ideas. The only hitch was that the name has changed, it’s now The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature. Google took us straight to it, then I stood outside for a few thinking I was in the wrong place because of the name change. So, you’ve been warned. A really pleasant surprise is they allow you to reenter if you want to go grab lunch and come back.

The museum has what I consider to be an eclectic mixture of exhibits, a little something for everyone. The basic museum displays are there. There are lots of fossils of creatures that were here in Florida since way back and also archaeological items. If you go don’t forget to look in the drawers underneath the more obvious exhibits, there is a lot of neat things to be found.

My favorite part was the planetarium. We only caught one of several shows, Passport to the Universe. It showed exactly where in the observable universe we are, and I had no idea how much there was to the observable universe. Honestly I could have spend the entire day in the planetarium. 

They museum also has a second stage rehabilitation facility for manatees.  That means it homes manatees that were previouly injured or orphaned and treated elsewhere.  It’s a place where the manatees can stay until they are ready to be released back into the wild. I hadn’t realized that injured manatees where treated in a different place then they were kept to recover, but it makes sense considering how many there are to be taken care of.  There are several presentations given throughout the day where you can learn about what they do at the facility and also about the individual manatees that are currently there. 

When I visited they had 3 manatees that were all there due to being orphaned.  ONeal, Obsidian, and  Slate. They can’t release young manatees until they reach 600 pounds, and then only towards the end of winter.  The woman giving the presentation I attended said they are released in the winter into warm waters because that will allow them to know where to come back to every winter. They sort of imprint on that spot and come back every winter to avoid suffering from cold stress. I’ve attended several presentations on manatees in different places and I always learn something new.

Here’s what you need to know to play tourist:

The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature
201 10th St. W
Bradenton, FL 34205
(914) 746-4131