Nearby Attractions

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Here are nearby attractions that make nice day trips for visitors and family. They have been chosen mainly for their appeal to young people. If you know of additional places that would be of interest, or if you visit these and find the information is incorrect, please let me know.

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Canoe Outpost, 3 miles South on Route 301

  • Canoe outpost rents canoes for leisurely trips down the Little Manatee River which runs through the Little Manatee River State Recreation Area. The Little Manatee has a constant flow for easy paddling. It is a shallow river with a white sandy bottom. It offers a pristine view of the wilderness splendor that once was common in Florida. The canoes can be rented from 8am to noon. The 6-mile trip takes about 2+ hours and costs $25. The 10-mile trip takes about 4+ hours and costs $28. They will meet you at the end (1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm, 6pm) and transport you and the canoe back to the starting point. Bring a picnic lunch, because about one-and-a-half hours into the trip, you can stop at the Recreation Area where there are picnic tables, a playground and modern restrooms. To get to Canoe Outpost, go towards Wimauma to the intersection of Routes 674 and 301. Turn south (right) on 301 for 3 miles. Just after you cross over the bridge over the Little Manatee, you'll see them on the right. You should make reservations. Their phone number is 634-2228. They suggest that you wear a visor hat and old shoes and take with you sunblock, insect repellant and, if you wear glasses, a retainer cord for them.

Dooley Groves, Ruskin

  • Dooley Groves is a citrus orchard. During the winter (from late October) they offer tours of their facilities. They also have retail stores, including one here in Sun City Center. They are located at 1651 Stephens Road, which is on the east (left) side of Route 41, 3.5 miles south of the intersection of Routes 41 and 674 in Ruskin. Their phone number is 645-3256.

Florida Gulf Coast Railroad & Museum, Parrish

Manatee Viewing Center, Apollo Beach

  • Tampa Electric (TECO) operates a Manatee Viewing Center at their Big Bend power station north of Apollo Beach. The Center is staffed by retired TECO employees and has exhibits and video tape shows about manatees and the adjacent power plant. The highlight of the Center is an observation platform for visitors to view the manatees that inhabit the warm discharge canal during cold weather. The colder the weather, the more manatees there are. There is also a boardwalk out over the tidal area. They are opened from December through March from ?am to ?pm. There is no admission charge. To get there, go north on Interstate 75 to Exit 47 and then west on Big Bend Road to the power plant and follow the signs. You can also go to Ruskin and north on Route 41 to Big Bend Road.

Myakka River State Park, Sarasota

  • Myakka River is Florida's largest state park (28,876 acres). For day visitors, the admission is $4 per car. The park rangers are friendly and available and will direct visitors to: Park roads where they can view wildlife, Hiking trails (wheelchair accessible), Canoe rental, Bicycle rental, Guided boat tours, Fishing (you need a Florida fishing license), Picnic shelters, Playground and Visitor center. Campfire programs, beginner birding classes and nature walks led by rangers are offered on weekends from Thanksgiving through Easter. In the summer, rangers give nature walks at 9am on Saturdays. A tram takes visitors on guided tours from Dec. 17 through the end of May. The park is located on State Route 72. To get there, travel south on Interstate 75 to Exit 37, then east for 9 miles and the entrance gate will be on your left. Their phone number is 1(914)361-6511. Take a hat and insect repellent. If you plan to hike, take plenty of water and a compass.

Ringling Museum, Sarasota

  • There are three parts to the Ringling Museum:
    • The Art Museum: Florida's official art museum, has 18 galleries where "you can experience one of the world's most important collections of 17th centrury Baroque art, mingled with a 500-year pageant of European and American works". It surrounds a European formal garden.
    • Ca' d'Zan: The Ringling's built the 30-room palace in 1926 at a cost of $1.5 million as their winter home and filled it with marble, tapestry and elaborate furnishings.
    • The Circus Museum: includes displays of rare drawings and photographs, vividly colored posters, gilded wagons, calliopes, costumes and a scale model circus.
    Regular admission $8.50, Seniors $7.50, Children (12 & under) Free. On Saturdays, anyone can tour the Art Galleries at no cost. The museums are open 10am to 5:30pm every day except New Year's, Thanksgiving and Christmas. To get to the Museum, go south on Interstate 75 to Exit 40, then west on University Parkway and follow the signs. Their phone number is 1(941)355-1660.

Simmons Park, Ruskin

  • Simmons Park is operated by Hillsborough County. It is on Tampa Bay and includes beaches, picnic tables, pavilions, a playground and restrooms. There is no admission charge. Their summer hours are 8am to 8pm. Winter hours are 8am to 6pm. To get there, from 674, turn right on Cypress Creek Drive (just beyond the WalMart shopping center) or turn right on 30th Street (just beyond the Publix shopping center) which is the more scenic route. When you come to the T at 19th Avenue, turn left (west). Continue straight, across the railroad tracks, through the four-way stop at 12th Street to the traffic light at Route 41. Continue straight through the traffic light until you get to the end of 19th Avenue and follow the signs into the park. Their phone number is 671-7655.

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