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  • Writer's picturePeter

Myakka River State Park - Sarasota, FL

For those with wanderlust, let me present a park that holds a special place in my heart: Myakka River State Park in Florida. This is my state park I grew up with. And I have to admit, I didn’t appreciate it until I moved away.

Many come to Florida for attractions on or close to the east coast (Disney, etc.), but if you find yourself on the west coast (which you absolutely, 100% should because it offers more than you think), plan a trip to this park.

There’s plenty to explore at Myakka, but these are the 3 must-dos:

1. The Bridge (photo 3) - this place doesn’t really have a name, but just a short way into the park on the main road, you’ll come to a bridge. There will be people and cars will be parked on the side of the road. This is your first stop for alligator viewing central. They frequently hang out along the banks and swim up and down this stream.

2. The Canopy Walk (photos 1-2, 4-7) - this is just a ways up the road from the bridge, and you’ll see signs for it. Follow a short nature path to this wooden stairway that takes you up to a walk through the trees. And then if you dare, climb the rest of the steps at the other tower, up 76 feet, to see above the trees for miles. (This might be a bit much for people scared of heights. It also does wobble a bit, especially if it is windy. But it is boarded well to make it safe for littles - Ruth went all the way to the top.)

3. The Picnic Area (photos 8-9) - this is another great area to view alligators along a waterway, as well as get some grub. Boat rentals and tours available here, but they are not cheap. (I’ve never done one.) We love this area to take a rest, recharge with food, and see a wide variety of birds and gators.

Some logistics:

• Entrance fee: $6/car

• There is a boardwalk for viewing birds & paved roads that could be considered stroller-friendly, but on the whole, the park is not.

• Bathrooms available, but spaced out. Changing areas are slim. I would be prepared for a car-change if necessary.

• No swimming. Keep a distance from alligators. They are unpredictable.

This park truly gives you a slice of what Florida’s natural ecosystem looks like. I hope you love it as much as we do!

(Note: We're currently working on updating our website with our reviews. This review was originally posted on Instagram on December 29, 2023, and Facebook on May 21, 2024.)

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