I didn’t see any moccasins, but I did see some big spiders. Moccasin Lake Park in Clearwater, Florida has a long trail running over several boardwalks and ending in a shelter surrounded by trees. Along the way it passes a beautiful little pond also surrounded by trees. The pond is full of turtles and birds and peacocks roam free on the trails.
The nature center keeps and cares for many animals and birds. I saw an owl, a bald eagle, a vulture, turtles, a frog, a tarantula, and a scorpion. The owl walked right up to me. In many ways it is like McGough Park in Largo. Most of the birds are injured or have become accustomed to humans and are no longer suited to the wild. They also have taxidermy exhibits and a butterfly garden.
2750 Park Trail Lane, Clearwater, Florida
Whether you just want to sit on the porch in the shade of the trees with a coffee while you write your next novel, meet your friends for pesto chicken wraps in the cozy indoor nook, or wander from room to room enjoying the sculptures, pottery, glasswork, woodwork, jewelry, and paintings of local artists, at The Craftsman House in Saint Petersburg, you can do all three in the same day. At least, this is what I would do if I went again. Everything is for sale, including the stone-like salt shakers and the glass spheres decorating the dining room window. Where else can you find pasta salad (an amazing work of art itself), beer, wine, apple cider (cold, hot, or hard), roast beef sandwiches (haven’t tried them yet), and squash that looks like this?
I would probably eat a lot more squash if it were always that pretty. On second thought, I’d probably break my teeth that way. Never mind. I also do not recommend eating the flowers, the lobster, or the gnomes – unless of course you have metal jaws like those guys below.
There is an open pottery studio on site and sometimes concerts. Check the website for hours, menu, and special events.
2955 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, Florida
Just north of the giant blue pipe that runs over the canal next to 301 is Veterans Park. It is an inspiration and a tribute to the bravery and memory of those who have served in the armed forces, especially those with a connection to Hillsborough County. It makes one proud to be part of Florida, knowing how our fellow citizens look out for each other. In the small museum are framed medal of honor citations of those who left positions of safety to rescue others in the line of duty. Also in the museum are the types of guns (handheld and those much larger) used in the various wars that Floridians have been involved in. I even saw in a case the actual machete used by a citizen of Hillsborough County while in the Pacific. There were also buttons from Spanish Army uniforms during the Spanish-American war.
3602 North US 301, Tampa, Florida
Brooker Creek preserve in Tarpon Springs, Florida offers a nice shady walk any day of the week. There is no admission cost. Thursday through Saturday the educational center and store are open. There are hands-on ecological exhibits, including a tortoise burrow replica big enough to crawl through. From the parking lot there are two ways into the woods:
The boardwalk leads straight to the center after passing under an artistic metal helix. It seems to be several strands of metal woven together. One end terminates in a set of flat rings; the other in glass bulbs. What is it?
Across the small field is the bridge over tiny Brooker Creek where alligators are often seen. From there one can walk a short distance to the bird blind or take the dirt trail around to join the boardwalk near the center. From the center a four-mile loop extends into the woods.
Amy Webb may not always be mad, but she has always been a potter. Before she turned it into a business, plant care was her life-long hobby. Now she decorates public and private spaces with her living artwork. Her company offers maintenance, delivery, and on-site arrangement of container gardens anywhere in Pinellas County. She can give décor advice and knows how to pick out the right plants that will last.
A little art always helps to bring a space to life, but plants offer even more. Sometimes I like to go to the park and just stare at the complex, interwoven textures and shades of green climbing over each other in a desperate race for sunlight. I love the diversity. Flowers are merely a bonus. Bringing them in to a backyard, lobby, or outdoor restaurant means I won’t have to go out of my way.
Originally an art major, Amy soon switched to biology. Now she not only knows which plants make the prettiest arrangements, but also knows all about which plants grow best next to which plants, their tolerances to sunlight, and how often they should be watered. This vast reservoir of knowledge she combines with her passion for digging in the dirt to produce living, growing sculptures for any venue.
“I consider my work to be living art, and the amount of knowledge and creativity it takes to successfully design plants is both fulfilling as a creative outlet and mentally stimulating. I also love being filthy and physically tired at the end of the day- it's truly gratifying.” – Webb
Lake Park in southern Lutz just off the Dale Mabry is a great getaway and public resource. It has not only wooded trails, picnic areas, large fields, and canoe rentals for the several ponds, but there is a remote-control car racing track, a playground, a youth campground, a horse arena, a volleyball net, and a BMX biking track, adjacent to which is a smaller bike track for the kids. An archery range exists at the opposite side of the park. There is much to do. I even saw someone with a drone.
There it was, chained to a signpost with an owl on the handlebars, and a flamingo on the back fender, its frame wrapped in bark. It’s little things like this that make Sarasota great. Does anyone ever ride this bike, we wonder, or is it an art statement? Will we ever know?
Written by Lucille Noe
This beauty of a park has picnic spots, a playground, hiking trails, biking trails, and a paved path over a mile long with signs along it placed to show the relative distances of the planets from the sun. This is quite possibly the best park I have so far been to in Florida. It is my new favorite. There were stunningly beautiful zones of thin trees that let in much sunlight. In other places the brush was thicker, creating semi-secluded areas. The ground was soft and covered in crushed pine needles in most places. One spot to the side of the trail had pine needles piled up so thick that they made a sort of crunchy mattress. There were also places of white sand. Live oaks are common. I saw gopher tortoises, armadillos, and a small snake.
10500 Wilderness Park Blvd, New Port Richey, Florida
Written by Daniel Noe, WayOutLife.com
I love long boardwalks – especially when they run through heavily wooded swamps. Everything was green. The water was covered in green. The trunks of trees were covered in green. It was green as far as I could see, which wasn’t too far considering the density of the growth. I heard several birds, but couldn’t find them. Maybe they were green too. Green!
Pinellas Heritage Village is just that – an entire village of houses built between 1850s and the 1910s all around Pinellas County and carried there in the 70s and 80s. Most of them you can now go inside and see what they were like. They often have interesting artifacts laid out and two of the houses have docent tours. They tell you in detail how people used to live and what all the artifacts do.
LOVES TAMPA BAY