- Egmont Key
Primarily a wildlife refuge, it is a nice place to relax and collect shells along secluded, pristine beaches. Accessible only by private boat, Egmont Key has a unique natural and cultural history, including a lighthouse that has stood since 1858. During the 19th century, the island served as a camp for captured Seminoles at the end of the Third Seminole War and was later occupied by the Union Navy during the Civil War. Located at the mouth of Tampa Bay, southwest of Fort DeSoto Beach.
Warning: Parts of this island (South End) are a wildlife and seabird refuge, as well as a turtle sanctuary and are off limits... Navigating the shipping channel is also dangerous to attempt on your own or by an inexperienced sailor. #1 Causeway Boulevard. Dunedin, Florida 34698. (727) 893-2627
- Gamble Plantation State Park
The only surviving plantation house in South Florida, this Antebellum mansion was home to Major Robert Gamble and headquarters of an extensive sugar plantation. In 1925, the house and 16 acres were saved by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and donated to the state. Guided tours of the house are given six times a day, Thursday through Monday and there are picnic tables on the grounds. The visitor center is open from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. 3708 Patten Avenue. Ellenton, Florida 34222. (941) 723-4536.
- Lake Manatee State Park
Extends along three miles of the south shore of Lake Manatee, and serves as a water reservoir for Manatee and Sarasota counties. A boat ramp provides easy access to the lake; boat motors must be less than 20 horsepower. Canoeing and kayaking are popular activities. The lake offers excellent freshwater fishing, and anglers can fish from their boats or from the park's fishing dock. Swimming is permitted in a designated area. Picnic area is near the lake. A picnic pavilion may be reserved for a fee. Campers can enjoy full-facility camping, just a short walk from the lake. Located 15 miles east of Bradenton. 20007 State Road 64. Bradenton, Florida 34212. (941) 741-3028
- Myakka River State Park
One of the oldest and largest state parks. The Myakka River, designated as a Florida Wild and Scenic River, flows through 58 square miles of wetlands, prairies, hammocks, and pinelands. Visitors can enjoy wildlife viewing from a boardwalk that stretches out over the Upper Myakka Lake, then take to the treetops with a stroll along the canopy walkway. The park´s river and two lakes provide ample opportunities for boating, freshwater fishing, canoeing, and kayaking; a boat ramp provides access to Upper Myakka Lake. Hikers can explore trails that cross large expanses of rare Florida dry prairie. Scenic lake tours are offered daily on the world´s two largest airboats. Full-facility campgrounds and primitive campsites are available. Five palm log cabins, built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, have been modernized for comfortable lodging. Located nine miles east of Sarasota. 13207 State Road 72. Sarasota, Florida 34241. (941) 361-6511
- Oscar Scherer State Park
Scrubby pine flatwoods. Fifteen miles of trails for hiking, bicycling, and wildlife viewing. Canoeists and kayakers can paddle along South Creek, a blackwater stream that flows to the Gulf of Mexico. Canoe and kayak rentals available. Freshwater and saltwater fishing along the creek. Lake Osprey is the park´s swimming destination. Picnic areas equipped with grills, and pavilions can be reserved for a fee.
New Audio Tour Feature: A new Mobile Phone Audio Tour Spotlights the Parks. Easily accessed from any cell phone, the Mobile Phone Audio Tour is the first of its kind in Sarasota County. By dialing (941) 926-6813, you can hear up to 15 different educational messages about watersheds (Oscar Scherer is #9.) While you can listen to a message from anywhere, visiting the sites listed on the menu provides an up-close and personal experience. 1843 S. Tamiami Trail. Osprey, Florida 34229. (941) 483-5956.
- Skyway Fishing Pier State Park
The world's longest fishing pier. Anglers love being able to park their cars or campers within a few feet of their favorite fishing spot. The bridge is lighted at night, so anglers can see to rig a line, bait the hook, and get a good look at their catch. The light also attracts many species of fish after sundown. catches include snook, tarpon, grouper, black sea bass, Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, cobia, sheepshead, red snapper, pompano, and more. Snacks, drinks, bait, and fishing supplies are available. The pier is open 24 hours a day year-round. Located north and south of the Skyway Bridge on I-275 (U.S. 19). 4905 34th Street South #5000. St. Petersburg, Florida 33711. (727) 865-0668