BRADENTON, Fla. — Plan to spend more time in downtown Bradenton during your next visit. Realize Bradenton released WalkBradenton.com, an interactive website that highlights the city’s unique places to eat, shop, see, stay, and play on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. The website is now live and available to the public at WalkBradenton.com.
The website, part of Realize Bradenton’s place-making strategy, is a business development initiative to attract residents, visitors, and businesses to downtown Bradenton to build economic development and enhance quality of life.
“Many people may not realize that we have over 145 local businesses and restaurants, 58 pieces of public art, and dozens of local historical sites that make downtown Bradenton a distinctive destination,” says Jodi Carroll, Special Projects Manager for Realize Bradenton. “We identified these locations on an easy-to-use, map-based website so anyone can find their current location and explore the city from their home, hotel, or while they’re eating an appetizer at a downtown restaurant,” Carroll continued.
WalkBradenton.com is a user-centric website designed to highlight the assets of downtown Bradenton, and encourage on-foot exploration of its many neighborhoods: Old Main Street, Village of the Arts, Downtown Bradenton, and the Riverwalk. In addition to neighborhoods, categories allow users to further customize their experience: places to eat and drink, public art, shops and galleries, historical landmarks, hotels, public parks, parking, health tips, and more. Using GPS technology built into nearly every smartphone and tablet, the user’s location is identified as a smiling emoji icon on the map. Every point of interest, which is marked with a unique icon, has a ‘location card’ that appears once the icon is tapped. These ‘location cards’ feature detailed descriptions, photographs, videos, and links.
Encouraging people to walk is more than a marketing pitch. Studies reinforce links between pedestrian-friendly cities and higher property values, increased consumer sales, healthier residents, stronger social connections, and civic pride. Three planning studies in the City of Bradenton emphasize the importance of connecting strategic areas, including the Riverwalk, Old Main Street, Village of the Arts, and LECOM Park. Realize Bradenton, a nonprofit organization, was created from one of the studies.
“You are getting an authentic downtown experience through WalkBradenton.com, something you won’t find using search engines or online maps,” said Johnette Isham, Executive Director of Realize Bradenton. “The website supports the local economy by connecting people to businesses, restaurants, and cultural attractions that are otherwise missed by single-destination patrons who park and then leave. We are making it easy to explore Bradenton and to explore all that downtown has to offer,” Isham explained.
Over the past year, Realize Bradenton collaborated with hundreds of local businesses, historians, health professionals, volunteers, and other organizations to make the website useful and genuine to the Bradenton area. Businesses and organizations can update information on their ‘location card,’ including menus and flyers, videos, links, and even coupons and discounts.
In keeping with Realize Bradenton’s dedication to community health and wellness, WalkBradenton.com encourages walking with purpose. The website identifies the user based on their current location (currently in beta testing), and provides directions, estimated walking time, and total distance in miles to their desired destination. General wellness tips are also found throughout the website, in collaboration with Florida Department of Health, Manatee County.
“We’re encouraging everyone to visit WalkBradenton.com to experience downtown Bradenton from a new perspective,” Isham said. “This is ‘phase one’ of the website, and we will have additional content added over the summer, including videos of artists discussing the creation of public art, additional historic images, and residents talking about Bradenton’s past,” Isham continued.
To introduce WalkBradenton.com to the public, Realize Bradenton produced an engaging video about the project on RealizeBradenton.com/Walk. A campaign consisting of monthly blog posts on RealizeBradenton.com/Blog, social media, and Google AdWords is designed to reach visitors throughout the US, as well as prospective relocating businesses, and young professionals considering the Bradenton area.
WalkBradenton.com was developed by Realize Bradenton, in collaboration with the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau; Bradenton Downtown Development Authority; Mosaic; Florida Department of Health, Manatee County; and Manatee County Historical Records Library.
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About Realize Bradenton
Realize Bradenton is a nonprofit organization that brings people together to create a vibrant and prosperous Bradenton area. For more information visit: RealizeBradenton.com.