With 7 state parks in Manatee and Sarasota Counties and at least another dozen within an hour's drive, amazing opportunities for camping, hiking, kayaking, visiting historical landmarks, and a plethora of other activities are available to residents and tourists alike. Below are the local offerings...
East of I-75 on the south side of State Road 64, Lake Manatee State Park borders the the lake that was formed by the damming of a portion of the Manatee River back in the 1960s. Facilities include boat launches (maximum 20 horse power motors), fishing piers, a small swimming area (no lifeguards), hiking/biking/horse trails, restrooms, picnic areas and camping.
Located just south of I-275 off US19, this ceremonial mound is made up of shell, sand, and archaeological debris dating back as far as 2000 years. Minimal facilities include picnic tables.
One of Florida's largest parks, Mayakka River State Park includes 2 lakes and the Myakka River, along with 58 square miles of wetlands, prairie, oak hammocks, and pines. Facilities include cabins, camping, a treetop canopy walk, bike trails, tour trams and river cruises on two of the word's largest airboats, biking/hiking trails, canoe/kayak rentals/launches, restrooms, and concessions. On State Road 72 about 9 miles east of I-75.
It's hard to believe you're so close to civilization once you pass through the gate at Oscar Scherer State Park. South Creek meanders through the center of the park and spills out into Blackburn Bay. Enjoy it to the fullest by renting a canoe or kayak in the park. East of US41, in Osprey, Oscar Scherer's additional features include a lake beach, camping, hiking/biking/roller blading, picnicking, a playground, ad restrooms.
Off State Road 62 about 11 miles east of Palmetto, South Fork State Park is an undeveloped nature preserve with
limited access on foot. Abundant species of plants and animals exist here, perfect for the amateur or professional photographer. No public facilities available.
Historically, the area included in Terra Ceia Preserve was once used for
agriculture and is now in various stages of habitat restoration. Though minimal improvements are planned, currently the primary activity is canoeing/
kayaking. No public facilities available. For access call 941-741-3028.
Covered with a wide variety of native vegetation and wildlife, Wingate Park is a minimally developed preserve south of State Road 64 about 25 miles east of Bradenton. Wingate Creek and Johnson Creek merge in the park and flow into the Upper Manatee River. No public facilities available. For access call 941- 741-3028.