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Camping

There is no substitute for spending the night under the stars . Sarasota County is home to some of the most spectacular  wilderness camping destinations in Florida. Pack your swim suit, shorts,a shirt and sandals. You can pitch a tent on Turtle Beach and fall asleep to the gentle rythym of the Gulf of Mexico. Or move inland to water of a different sort. Pack up the family and spend a week at Myakka State Park. All ages love to canoe, fish and  take a ride aboard The Gator Gal. If you want to burn s'more calories, climb up the canopy walk and see what life is like in the trees. There is much more to do than you'll have time for in just one trip.  A crackling campfire is a wonderful way to spend some time with the people you love most, away from your everyday lives.

Check It Out!

Knights Trail Park
3445 Rustic Road
Nokomis FL
http://www.scgov.net/ParksandRecreation/RecreationCenters/KnightsTrail.asp

Knights Trail Park is located off of Rustic Road in Nokomis. Within the parks 271 acres several activities are available to the public including archery, hiking, camping and the shooting sports.


Myakka River State Park
13208 State Road 72
Sarasota Florida
Phone: 941-361-6511
www.myakkariver.org

Myakka River State Park is one of Florida’s oldest and largest state parks, famous for its panoramas of lakes, river, marshes, hammocks and prairies, and for its abundant wildlife populations. Deer, alligators and many species of wading birds are abundant, as well as thousands of waterfowl in the winter months. Ospreys, bald eagles and sandhill cranes are commonly seen. A visitors’ center has exhibits of wildlife and plant communities on display. Park rangers provide videos, guided walks and campfire programs according to seasonal attendance. During the winter, they offer bird watching for beginners. A 7,500-acre wilderness preserve resembles Florida as it looked before the arrival of Europeans. A limited number of visitors are allowed to visit this preserve each day on foot or by boat. All plant and animal life is protected in state parks. Intoxicants are not permitted in any area of the park.

Park Highlights: Over 28,875 acres of pristine area, wildlife trails, canoeing, biking, camping, visitor’s center, elevated tree canopy walk, snack bar and highly recommended airboat rides and tram tours; each ride and tour takes about an hour, and no walking is required.

Canoes and bicycles are available for rental, picnic tables are located near boat and tram tour rides. If you are planning to take one of the tour rides, getting there early is a good idea. No reservations are accepted. Group rates and charters are available.

Tour Highlights: Extremely knowledgeable and entertaining tour guides; ranger-guided walks Sat. mornings at 9 a.m.; “Gator Gal” (the world’s largest airboat); alligators, deer, bobcat and bald eagles in the wild; plenty of fresh air. Fares: Adults $10; children (6-12 years) $5; toddlers (5 and under) free if held in lap.

A Brief History of Myakka River State Park
In the early 1920s, A.B. Edwards, a prominent resident and Sarasota’s first mayor, launched a movement to set aside a natural area for recreation and preservation. Edwards persuaded the Florida Internal Improvement Fund to buy more than 17,000 acres (at 37.5 cents an acre!) from the A.C. Honore Estate. A few weeks after the purchase, Honore and Potter Palmer donated more than 1,900 acres to the state — a memorial to their mother Bertha Palmer. In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps (one of many federal relief agencies established through President Roosevelt’s New Deal to help ease the Depression) brought in 200 men to make the 26,000 acres usable. From 1934 to 1941 the crew built roads, bridges, cabins, dug drainage ditches and planted over 100,000 trees. Everything constructed was done with native materials. The park opened to the public June 1, 1942.


Oscar Scherer State Park
U.S. 41 (Tamiami Trl.)
Osprey Florida
Phone: 941-483-5956
www.floridastateparks.org/OscarScherer

Hours: 8 a.m. until sunset
Admission: $4 per car (up to 8 people), sunset entrance $3
This park includes The Lester Finley Nature Trail, a special hiking trail constructed in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The park originally consisted of 462 acres of scrubby flatwoods and mesic flatwoods; South Creek, a blackwater stream, flows through this area. An additional 922 acres acquired in 1992 contain tracts of depression marshes, pine forests and additional flatwoods on the banks of a small tidal creek. The park is noted for its population of Florida scrub jays, a threatened species (some will land on your outstretched hand). Bald eagles, as well as bobcats, river otters and alligators, are often seen in the winter months, as are many birds. The rare gopher tortoise, gopher frog and indigo snake are occasionally seen here. Pick up an animal identification booklet at the entrance.

Highlights: Self-guided nature trail, voicebox information stations, freshwater lake swimming, picnic area, canoe rentals, fishing, both freshwater in the lake and saltwater in South Creek, campsites with water and electric hookup, plus the very impressive Lester Finley Nature Trail for outdoor enthusiasts with disabilities — a sight-impaired-adapted and wheelchair-friendly hike with touch-activated audio speakers that provide interpretive information.


Turtle Beach
8862 Midnight Pass Rd
Sarasota FL 34242
http://www.scgov.net/ParksandRecreation/Parks/Turtle_Beach.asp

Quarter-mile of developed sandy beach on the Gulf of Mexico located at the south end of Siesta Key, two and a half miles south of Stickney Point Road on Midnight Pass Road. Very popular for family outings and gatherings; its picnic shelters are used extensively for this purpose. For reservations, call 346-3207.
Parking, restrooms, showers, picnic tables, horseshoe courts, volleyball court, playground equipment and dune walkovers. No lifeguards. Boating facilities, group facilities, handicap facilities, public transportation drop off/pick up.


Venice Campground
4085 E Venice Ave
Venice FL
http://www.campvenice.com/index.html

This is a sliver of Old Florida and a great place to pitch a tent near the Myakka River. The campground is located in an old-growth oak hammock with miles of waterfront for fresh and saltwater fishing and canoeing. 


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