Best Places to Enjoy Nature Near Tampa Bay

Florida is made up of miles and miles of ocean coastline, palm trees, and consistently warm weather. Get outdoors and enjoy the local nature of Tampa Bay at these exciting attractions.

tampa bayImage Source: Flickr

1.  Manatee Viewing Center

Florida is known for its large population of manatees. Manatees are often considered the “cows of the ocean” with the average manatee weighing approximately 1,200 lbs. and measuring 10 feet long. They are gentle, friendly, and a truly interesting sight to see. You can view Florida’s manatees at the Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach.

The center acts as a refuge for the local manatees. Manatees tend to prefer warmer water temperatures. Because the viewing center is situated in a canal with an average of 68 degrees, it’s a common spot for the wild manatee to roam. There is also a 50-foot-tall observation tower that gives you views all the way across Tampa Bay.

2.  Weedon Island Preserve

Weedon Island Preserve stretches out over 3,190-acres of land, offering the perfect outdoor respite for Tampa Bay travelers. The preserve is home to many of Florida’s local wildlife including birds, fish, and water mammals. The calm waters of the Weedon Island Preserve make it a popular spot for canoeing and kayaking. There are also over three miles of hiking trails and boardwalks to explore.

3.  Indian Rocks Beach

Indian Rocks Beach is a great place to avoid the large crowds that are often found on the other local beaches. With over three miles of sandy beachfront directly on the Gulf of Mexico, you will have plenty of room to stretch and run. The beach is also known for its spectacular sunsets. Grab a bite to eat or shop at one of the local souvenir shops along the boardwalk.

Indian Rocks Beach is one of the best shelling beaches in the area. The well-maintained beach makes it a great spot for adding to your collection of unique seashells. Be sure to check the beach after a storm for the best opportunities. Choosing hotel accommodations in the Indian Rocks area will give you more time to experience the local beach culture and explore the miles of beachfront land.

4.  Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve

The Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve is made up of multiple separate parks, making it one of the largest outdoor recreational spaces in all of Florida. The Hillsborough River State Park is included in the wilderness preserve, offering over 3,000 acres of protected land, including a primitive canoe trail.

There are over 60 miles of trails, perfect for hiking, biking, or stopping for a relaxing picnic. Florida waterways run through many of the wilderness preserve parks. Connect with nature by renting a kayak or canoe for the day. You are likely to see wild birds, turtles, and even alligators along your adventure. And while you’re there, don’t forget to visit campgrounds and RV parks in Tampa.

The Tampa Bay area is one of the best places to explore Florida outdoors. With miles of beaches, preservation areas, and wildlife viewing centers, you will never run out of entertainment and adventure.

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