Ainger Creek Park
Ainger Creek is a popular place for recreation near Manasota Key. You can kayak or canoe and launch your boat from the public boat ramp. If you bring your own boat, you will need to have your boating license displayed on it.
Cedar Point Environmental Park
on route 775 Cedar Point Environmental Park has five nature trails, picnic tables, a small playground and a visitor center with kids’ touch table. Bald eagles and gopher tortoises live among the 88 acre park’s pine flatwoods, oak scrub, salt flats and mangroves fringing Lemon Bay Aquatic Preserve. The park offers guided tours every Saturday and Sunday (in season) at 10:00am.
Port Boca Grande Lighthouse (Gasparilla Island)
At the extreme southern end of Gasparilla Island, 21 miles from Manasota Key, you can visit the harbor and the restored Port Boca Grande lighthouse. The structure was erected after the discovery of phosphate in the early 1880s. It consists of a one-story dwelling with a square tower. On top there is a circular lantern room designed to protect the lens, which produces a white light interrupted by red flashes. As the phosphate trade was growing, the railroad line extended to Port Boca Grande, north of the lighthouse. In 1969, Port Boca Grande was Florida’s fourth busiest port, and a bridge for vehicles connected the island with the mainland. The lighthouse, the dwelling and the surrounding area became the Gasparilla Island State Park, with a museum that covers the history of the area from Native Americans to the present time.
Cayo Costa State Park
Cayo Costa State Park is a small barrier island that can be seen from Boca Grande Pass. This recreational, natural and scenic resource is accessible only by boat and contains 9 miles of pristine beaches and 5.5 miles of trails meandering through a variety of natural communities suitable for hiking and biking. Bike rentals, primitive cabins and tent camping are available on the island. The two-year waiting list for cabins attests to the popularity of this park. An amphitheater provides educational programs about the island’s ecology and history. Visitors can use the boat dock, or anchor off the beach to enjoy the swimming, shelling or viewing the native wildlife, including manatees, dolphins and various species of birds.
Don Pedro Island State Park
Don Pedro Island was purchased by the state in 1984 under the “Save Our Coast Program.” This barrier island, accessible only by boat, covers approximately 225 acres with approximately 1 mile of white sandy beaches on the Gulf of Mexico. At this Blueway Trail, there are 12 dock slips for public use, picnic tables, grills, and a large picnic shelter with beach boardwalks and restroom facilities. In 2005, the state expanded the park facilities to include a 90-acre addition from the mainland of Englewood with the main entrance on Placida Road. A ferry also provides service to and from the state park. Water taxis are also available.
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
Corkscrew Sanctuary is located northeast of Naples and operated by the National Audubon Society. The Sanctuary’s 11,000 acres are within the Big Cypress Swamp. They contain the country’s largest remaining stand of 400 to 700 year-old virgin bald cypresses. The Sanctuary provides the largest breeding ground for the endangered wood stork.