Travel Itineraries - Central West

Cockroach Bay Preserve State Park/Little Manatee River State Park

Cockroach Bay Preserve State Park is a series of barrier islands, collectively more than 617 acres in southeast Tampa Bay in Hillsborough County. The islands are located in the mouth of the Little Manatee River and extend southward along the shore of Tampa Bay. The state park protects water quality and wildlife habitat and provides nature-based recreation.

The islands are surrounded by the 4,800-acre Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve. The bay is considered the least disturbed part of Tampa Bay, which makes it popular for canoeing, kayaking and fishing and a premier spot for nature observation. 

Nearby Little Manatee River State Park offers tent and RV camping facilities from which to base your regional explorations.

Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park

Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park covers more than 43,000 acres in northeast Charlotte and Lee counties. The state park consists of several noncontiguous parcels that protect five aquatic preserves: Pine Island Sound, Matlacha Pass, Gasparilla Sound-Charlotte Harbor, Cape Haze and Lemon Bay Aquatic Preserves. It is the third largest Florida State Park and serves to protect water quality and create continuity of wildlife habitat.

Visitors can take advantage of opportunities to hike, fish and paddle to observe wildlife in the park’s many natural communities, including mangrove forests, marshes, tidal creeks, scrub habitats and pine flatwoods.

Egmont Key State Park and Tampa Bay

This park is home to mangroves, wetlands, hardwood/palm hammocks, mudflats and scores of native plants. The location and variety of natural habitats makes the park one of the most popular bird-watching and outdoor recreation locations in Florida.

The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail reports 325-plus species of birds.

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