Located on Florida’s west coast on Tampa Bay near the Gulf of Mexico, Tampa is a thriving metropolitan city. You will find all the trappings of city life in their museums, sports events, colleges, and even beaches. However, there are also plentiful outdoor activities and nature to explore. Break out the bug spray and sunscreen and let’s go for a walk in the most beautiful park I’ve seen in a while.
Lettuce Lake Park
6920 Fletcher Ave/Tampa, FL
Lettuce Lake Park covers 240 acres and has everything from picnic areas, jogging trails, boardwalk, to canoes and kayaks for the more adventurous. This swamp forest is home to a diverse ecosystem that is easily explored on foot or by water.
Begin at the boardwalk, taking your time to meander along as you look for alligators, turtles, birds, and if you’re lucky, you might even see a snake or two. Here’s what we saw on our boardwalk stroll:
If you haven’t passed out from the heat and humidity and are looking for adventure, rent a canoe or kayak from the rangers at the front gate. It’s well worth the extra effort and you will get an entirely new perspective on the swamp from eye level. Lettuce Lake leads into the Hillsborough River which is where you want to head toward. Along the way, you are likely to see:
This park was one of the highlights of the Tampa trip and I recommend visiting if you’re in town. Make sure to bring lots of water if you’re going canoeing, you’re going to need it. A few tips: /1/ keep your eyes open for gators resting in the floating greenery (they are perfectly camouflaged), /2/ the gators will see you before you see them- bubbles on the surface of the water mean there is a gator right below, /3/ I recommend a canoe over kayak for the added stability. Most important, have fun and take a camera!