Weedon Island Preserve

This huge Tampa Bay preserve is an important archeological site and offers plenty of outdoor activities.

Although it’s only a 20-minute drive from downtown St. Petersburg, Weedon Island Preserve feels like it’s a thousand miles away. Come here to appreciate a vast landscape of unspoiled aquatic and wetland ecosystems. Weedon Island Preserve is a peaceful place suited to a relaxed day-trip. If you feel like getting active, hike the boardwalk trails and spot wildlife such as herons, turtles and lizards.

Begin your visit at the Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center, which is free to enter. Explore the interactive exhibits that aim to teach you about Florida’s natural past, or participate in a workshop. Stock up on maps and supplies and find out about the hikes.

The boardwalks provide 2 miles (3 kilometers) of manageable hiking routes for visitors and are suitable for prams and wheelchairs. The boardwalks cut through mangrove forests and tidal flats, which is an excellent way to view the creatures that live in these habitats without getting your feet wet.

To increase your chances of spotting the wildlife, head to the 45-foot (13-meter) tall observation tower on the west boardwalk route. Another recommended hiking trail is the Boy Scout Loop, which leads you through pine flatwoods and past giant oaks. Rent a canoe or kayak to see the trail from a different perspective.

Go fishing on the pier and try to land sheepshead, jack or snook. Find more details about fishing on the website prior to your visit, or ask the staff at the Cultural and Natural History Center.

In 2011, a prehistoric canoe was extracted from the shoreline. If Native American history is of interest to you, speak to someone at the Cultural and Natural History Center to see if there are any archeological digs or lectures happening.

Weedon Island Preserve is accessible daily from early morning to just before sunset. The Cultural and Natural History Center is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday. To get to the preserve, drive northeast from downtown St. Petersburg, a trip of about 10 miles (16 kilometers).

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