Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wekiwa Springs State Park

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Wekiwa Springs State Park is located at 1800 Wekiwa Circle in
Apopka, Florida. That's just north of Orlando, take the I-4 exit for State Road 434. Besides the cold spring fed swimming area there is also canoeing and kayaking--rentals for both--on the Wekiwa River, hiking and horse trails (byo horse). There's also a board walk, camping and a snack bar all surrounded by lush

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Follow the road--or the nature trail if you're feeling hardy--and eventually you'll come to the horse coral and Shadow Lake. 
Park entrance fee is six bucks per car load or four bucks if you're by yourself. The park is open from 8am to 5pm for day visitors (don't know if hours are extended in the summer or not) and it's a great place for a cool dip in the springs on a hot day. Here's a link for more information:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Upper Tampa Bay Park

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Upper Tampa Bay Park is located at 8001 Double Branch Road just off of West Hillsborough Ave in Tampa, Florida. Over 2000 acres of woodlands, wetlands and estuaries open to the public from 8am to 6pm seven days a week except for Christmas Day. Entrance fee is only two bucks. Visitors can hike, picnic, camp, fish, use the boat ramp to launch their own or rent canoes or kayaks on site. Go early if you plan on birding--sun gets high and hot quickly--and be aware some of the trails are shelled so not so easy to move stealthily through the forest primeval.
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Even so it's worth the price of admission and worth visiting. A great variety of birds--including raptors--nest there. There are pine wood flats, hardwood hammocks, brackish wetlands and the islands of Upper Tampa Bay.
For more information go to the Hillsborough County Parks web page.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Florida Railroad Museum

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The Florida Railroad Museum, also known as Florida Gulf Coast Railroad Museum, is one of six railroad museums located in the state of Florida.  Located just off Highway 301 and just outside of the town of Parrish it features vintage locomotives, freight, passenger cars and several little red cabooses.
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Visitors can also enjoy a ride on a working train accompanied by a lecture in an open air car as they move down the tracks.  It is a scenic trip through the lush green Florida landscape.   At the far end of the line are several locomotives and cars in various states of restoration.   

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The museum is open on weekends.  Trains leave twice daily and a seat is a modest fourteen bucks--way less than admission to "mouse land"--kids 3-11 for $10 and little boogers three years and younger ride free.

The FRRM is only a 45 minute drive south of Tampa.   Take scenic Highway 301 and the museum is on the left on 83rd Street just before Parrish.   Or take I-75 if you're in a hurry and get off at exit 229 and take 97th Street East (Moccasin Wallow Road) which becomes County Road 683, turn right on Highway 301 and the museum is just a short stretch down the road from there.

Follow the link for more information.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Ballast Point Park

     Ballast Point Park, best known for the Ballast Point fishing pier, is located just off Interbay Boulevard in the neighborhood of Ballast Point in Tampa, Florida.   Popular with fisher folk--the pier seems to be open around the clock--joggers and picnickers or people looking for a scenic place to just relax.  
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     Downtown Tampa can be seen just across the Hillsborough Bay from the pier.  There is also a boat launch and concessions (A Taste Of Boston).   Besides people with a love for the water and fishing the park is also popular with many species of marsh birds and waterfowl.
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     To reach the park follow Bayshore Boulevard--in record books for the longest unbroken stretch of sidewalk--north as it runs along side the bay until it connects with Interbay Boulvard and the park is on the left.  Parking is free but the lot fills quickly.  There is also a playground and incorporated into the park is old Jules Verne Park, dedicated to the writer who's novel From the Earth to the Moon features Tampa.   

For more information follow the provided link. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Weedon Island Preserve

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     Weedon Island Preserve is a 3700 acre nature preserve located on the western shore of Tampa Bay in Pinellas County.  Several miles of trails wind their way through scrub and along marshes and boardwalks through wetland areas and out to the water.  It is home for several species of marsh birds and raptors.  
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There is also a visitor/cultural center but once away from that it's all undeveloped ecosystem so dress for rough going and bring your own water and food.  
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To get there from Tampa or any points east take I-275 west and once the Howard Franklin Bridge is crossed exit at 4th Street North and head south. Turn left on Gandy Blvd then right on San Martin Blvd NE (watch out that you don't end up on the Gandy Bridge because the next turn around isn't until you get back to Tampa). The preserve is open 7am until just before sunset 365 days a year. Follow the link for more info.
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