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The lake is a big draw here. There are plenty of sites to see if you like alligators, wading birds and vultures.
Myakka River State Park
Closest available address
13208 State Road 72 Sarasota, Florida 34241
Park is open 8:00am-dusk. Park concession is generally 9-5, but hours vary by season.
Best time to visit
Fall, Winter, Spring
Myakka River State Park is a 37,000 acre park that includes diverse habitats and a number of facilities. The park is best known for a large, shallow lake with abundant alligators. The lake also attracts a variety of birds, including many wading birds. As a result of the alligators and birds, the park also attracts a lot of humans. Some of the more popular attractions and activities include boat rentals and boat tours, biking, and a canopy walk. There is also a restaurant, small museum and rental cabins.
The idea for a park originated in the 1920s from local officials. Eventually 17,000 acres were acquired from a cattle ranching family. Additional lands were either donated by the family or foreclosed upon. The Civilian Conservation Corps later helped to develop park facilities, many of which are still in use today. The park opened to the public in 1942.
The museum is near the main entrance, and it covers park history and biodiversity; there are a handful of short films as well. The museum was a bit dated but was still informative and is worth a visit. A canopy walk and accompanying nature trail are must visits. The canopy walk offers a great view of the park at a bird’s eye view. The nature walk was in excellent condition, clear and level, and was a pleasant excursion. As for the lake, you can rent a canoe and see it on your own terms and time or take an airboat tour which lasts about an hour. If you like the idea of seeing wading birds and alligators up close, the canoe option will be of interest. There is a separate review of the airboat tour. The park also offers a “back woods” tram tour to see otherwise closed areas of the park but it was not very interesting or memorable. There is a birdwalk that extends into the lake on the north end of the main drive that is worth a visit to see more wildlife. Myakka is a great option for a family outing. It’s highly accessible, has bountiful plants and animals and enough activities to appeal to most tastes.
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