The CurbCrusher clan headed south for President’s Day Weekend. It’s been way too cold this winter in Central Florida, but the 150 miles or so that we went south didn’t help a whole lot. We spent the weekend at Lake Manatee State Park located just east of Bradenton, Florida. The park is a great place to relax, and is near some cool stuff to do.
The park itself is fairly large, and Lake Manatee is a good size lake. There is a boat ramp which allows folks with boats of less than 20 horsepower to launch and wander the lake. Further around the lake is a day use area that has a playground, restroom and a number of pavilions. A short walk on a trail will take you to the campground.
The campground has sixty sites with some having a look at the lake. The roads in the campground are paved, and most of the sites are good sized and have vegetation between them giving you the feeling of privacy. All the sites have water and electricity, and there is a dump station on the park exit. We arrived in the middle of a day long rain event and noted that a number of sites retained water through noon the next day. The sites on the interior of the loop seemed to be the worst having pooled water that took the better part of the day to drain completely.
I don’t have the campground map and pictures up at my campground map site yet, but I do have the pictures of about half the campsites on flickr. Interestingly enough, this is the first campground where I’ve been hassled about taking pictures of the sites. Lady CurbCrusher and I were walking around taking site pictures. A lady walking around the loop came up to us and asked what we were doing. I explained that I took pictures of the sites so that we could remind ourselves what the sites looked like. She looked at us strangely and wandered off. A couple of minutes later a ranger pulled up and asked us what we were doing. I explained it to him, and also mentioned that I don’t take pictures of sites with people outside unless I chat with the folks first. He told me that he couldn’t stop me from taking pictures, since there was nothing wrong with it, but that we had “freaked out” some other campers. So we stopped taking pictures, unless the site was totally empty. Hopefully I’ll get the campground map scanned and posted soon.
Stuff to Do – Other than hanging around the park, there are some other things to do in the area. We visited the De Soto National Monument, which is located near where Hernando De Soto came ashore in the New World to make his fortune. There is a great Junior Ranger program at his park, and the “living history” demonstration we saw on 16th century weapons was one of the best demonstrations of that type that I think we’ve seen. There is a picturesque walk along the water, and if it hadn’t been cold and windy we would have enjoyed it much more. Also nearby is the Gamble Plantation Historic State Park, which has a 19th century home that at one point was the southernmost home on the mainland. In the mid 1850’s the folks that lived here had to go to St. Marks (on the Gulf just south of Tallahassee) for their mail. There is a tour that last about an hour, and the ranger did a great job interpreting the site.