kayak and observation tower

5 Fun Things to Do at Lettuce Lake Conservation Park

Natural oasis has observation tower, boardwalk, canoes and kayaks, picnic shelters, among other amenities

Lettuce Lake is the most popular of Hillsborough County's conservation parks.

Located halfway between the Hillsborough River's headwaters and its mouth in downtown Tampa, the wooded park is a mecca for suburban residents, students at the nearby University of South Florida, and others seeking a break from civilization.

There are many fun things to do and see at the 240-acre park. Here are seven of them:

Stroll a 3,500-foot boardwalk through a hardwood swamp, and climb a 3-story observation tower overseeing the swamp and the Hillsborough River.

Alligators are a common sight off the park’s boardwalk and observation tower.

Photograph some of the area's most striking birds, reptiles, mammals, and insects, as well as pervasive and often colorful flora.

Jog on the park's 1.25-mile paved path. Most of the trail lies in the dappled shade of a canopy of trees.

See an alligator. The large reptiles are abundant at Lettuce Lake. You're most likely to see them from the boardwalk or observation tower.

Picnic with family members and friends at one of the park's shelters.

Attend a birding walk hosted by the Tampa Audubon Society, or a native plant tour led by the Suncoast Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society.

Paddle boat rentals are available.

Rent a kayak or canoe. It's a great way to explore the Hillsborough River and its natural features.

More than half of Lettuce Lake Conservation Park is in the Hillsborough River's natural floodplain. The river provides much of the area's drinking water, and is a prominent feature of the cities of Tampa and Temple Terrace. Both communities are downstream from the park.

Run by Conservation & Environmental Lands Management, the park is on Fletcher Avenue, between Interstate 75 and the University of South Florida. It is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. in spring and summer, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in fall and winter. There is $2 charge per vehicle to enter the park.

Top photo: An observation tower and kayak rentals are among fun things to check out at Hillsborough County's most popular conservation park.


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