Lettuce Lake Park is located at 6920 East Fletcher Avenue in Tampa Florida. This park opened in 1982, is part of the Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation Department, and has quickly become a very popular place. The 240 acre site located northeast of the Fletcher Avenue bridge crossing the Hillsborough River offers something for everyone. All these photos are from my first visit on 4-19-11.
Upon arriving you are greeted by the scenic moss draped majestic oak trees that form the many canopies along the road throughout the park. You will also notice the many bike and hiking trails that are available for the adventurous. Also there is a very large childrens play area with a large variety of slides and swings that will keep the little ones busy and super happy.
The Visitors Center has lots of information and brochures, things to do in the area, etc. Also you can see interactive exhibits on display on the various animals that are routinely seen in the park. This is also where the rest rooms are located which are clean and modern. The boardwalk starts and ends here so this is the perfect place to cool off, wet your face, etc., after being out along the river.
Directly behind the visitors center is the entrance to the boardwalk. You cannot help but notice how quiet and peaceful it is along here. And ocassionally the silence will be interrupted by birds calling out to each other. Very cool. While one side of the boardwalk is on the Hillsborough River, the other side is basically a swamp.
Routinely spotted here are turtles, alligators, egrets, herons, squirrels, ibis, hawks, and many others. You will routinely see many people on the boardwalk who are in a big hurry and will miss lots of sightings, while more experienced nature people will slow down and catch lots of animals that are camouflaged in the thick woods and swamp area.
By slowing down along the boardwalk, you can spot a lot more birds than most everyone else. They are everywhere. Here is a Limpkin I spotted in a tree about 6-8 feet above me on a recent visit. This bird loves snail shells. It's always very busy searching along the riverbank for them. Ocassionally you may get lucky to see the Limpkin find a snail shell, then start removing the snail. It is really very interesting to watch. The shells are then discarded at the base of cypress trees, so if you really look good as you proceed along the boardwalk you will see piles of them.
Another thing that makes Lettuce Lake Park a great place is the observation tower. It's at least 40 feet high and the view from the top is incredible to put it mildly. Three levels make up the tower. The steps are larger and wider than most other Towers I've visited in Florida which makes it nice. People who have binoculars can spot lots of wildlife across and along the river.
How can you beat the admission price at Lettuce Lake Park? Only $2.00 per car for up to eight people, and $1.00 for each additional person over eight. Very nice. A great value and extremely affordable in this economy. I'm really desperately in need of getting back here. Coming from Sarasota, the I-75 traffic is just so crazy.
Turtles usually are spotted along the boardwalk starting late morning and early afternoon. Walking really slow around them and being very quiet is the best way not to scare them off allowing you to get photos and enjoy them more.
These are called cypress knees and come from the cypress tree. Huge cypress trees and knees are all along the boardwalk. Very scenic. Cypress grows very slow. About twelve to eighteen inches a year, then even slower as the tree gets older. Cypress is also a very hard wood and retail prices are pretty high.
I couldn't resist shooting lots of photos here on 4-19-11. My best ones always go on my Facebook page and my Flickr photostream (I have almost 4000 photos). Flickr is a Yahoo website and is the biggest and best photo site online. Lots of professional photographers have their work on Flickr. A lot. Plus it's a great place for marketing a business through photos.
Recently added at the park are affordable canoe and kayak rentals. For only $25.00 you can rent either single or double kayaks or canoes for four hours. Just a great bargain. The sights on the river are fantastic. Plus spotting birds, turtles, and gators are a lot easier. Lettuce Lake Park is a beautiful and fantastic place to visit. I would highly recommend it. Spending time here is a real treat and very special. I live in Sarasota and the drive doesn't bother me at all. It is more than worth it for sure.
Bottom line visitors can never go wrong visiting places with boardwalks and observation towers. That has been my experience in Florida. Thanks for seeing my little blog.