Florida State Parks: #3 Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park

There is plenty of native Florida flora and fauna to see at Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park in Port Richey, FL #Florida #FL #FloridaStateParks #CornacopiaInThePark #travel #nature #flora

Located in Port Richey, Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park doesn’t look like much when you first approach. The main entrance is off a very busy highway and, if you weren’t looking for it, you would easily pass right by it. I’ve passed by its entrance many times and didn’t even know it was there! The park is located about 28 miles north of Clearwater, 11 miles north of Tarpon Springs and 1 hour west of Tampa International Airport.

Entrance Sign to Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park, Port Richey FL #FLStateParks #Florida #FL #CornacopiaInThePark #LoveFL #naturalFlorida #travel

A protected 4 mile area that backs up to the Gulf of Mexico, the salt springs were used during the Civil War to excavate salt for the southern troops and during World War II was used as a spot to catch mullet to send overseas to the Allied troops.

Cost

Be sure to bring cash with you when visiting Werner-Boyce – there is no guard station when you enter, only a money box. It’s based on the honor system. Florida State Park pass holders just drive through (I took my card out and waved it around in case anyone thought I wasn’t paying!).

The cost to enter is $3 per vehicle, up to 8 people. If you’re riding a bike in or walking in, the cost is $2 per per person.

Things To Do

The park is small so there aren’t a lot of the activities that you might see at the large state parks. It’s still a serene place to relax for half a day.

Hiking

There are three entrances to Werner-Boyce. The main entrance is off of US Hwy 19 and gives you access to the main hiking areas. There are two more side entrances, at Scenic Drive and State Road 52 that provide access to two additional trails but don’t have as many amenities as the main entrance.

Looking across water at Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park #Florida #FL #FLStateParks #CornacopiaInThePark #LoveFL #travel

I hiked the springs trail at the main entrance. The landscape is varied from traditional Florida scrubs to high grass areas and there are seven sections, each less than a half mile each. There were a lot of people walking the trails on the weekday that I went, but in some spots it can be secluded. At one point I saw a trail made from the salt springs into the high grass area which to me meant ‘alligator!’. I never saw my assumed trail mate, but it was a good reminder to me to be aware of my surroundings, even though it was so peaceful and relaxing on the trails.

Grassy portion of Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park in Port Richey, FL #Florida #FL LoveFL #FloridaStateParks #travel

 

Paddling

There is access to the mangrove areas of the park at the main park entrance for you to put in a canoe or a kayak. The paddling trails can take you through the salt springs or out to the Gulf of Mexico. Since the mangroves protect the shoreline, there is no swimming or beaches at Werner-Boyce.

Before scheduling time to go out, make sure you check the tides. Paddling needs to be done during high tide due to the mangroves.

Path as you approach the paddling launch at Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park in Port Richey, FL #Florida #FL FLStateParks #CornacopiaInThePark #kayaking #kayak #travel

On the first Saturday of each month a park ranger will take a group out for a guided kayak tour. Tours are limited to the first 12 kayakers. The tour company that rents out kayaks and canoes also offers tours and events. Check with park rangers that are onsite or at the information board next to the concession trailer for more information.

Birding and Wildlife

Werner Boyce has an extensive amount of birds living within its park. In additional to the traditional wading birds found in this area of Florida, bald eagles, Roseate spoonbills, black rails and other types of birds have been seen in the park.

In addition to birds, there are traditional Florida wildlife to be seen such as alligators, snakes, racoons and gopher tortoises.

Beware of alligators sign at Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park, Port Richey, FL #FloridaGators #FL #Florida #gators #FLStateParks #CornacopiaInThePark

Pet Friendly?

Dogs on retractable 6-foot leashes are welcome on the trail. Please don’t forget to pick up after your pet!

Food & Restrooms

Restrooms and a small concession stand that offers sodas, water, bagged snacks, sunscreen and bug spray are both located at the main park entrance.

Get your Florida State Parks passport stamped at the concession stand.

Rentals

Canoes, kayaks and stand up paddleboards  are available for rental from Paddling Adventures. Rentals are available every day from 8am to 3pm and rentals are due back no later than 5pm.

Kayaks are available for rental at Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park in Port Richey, FL #Florida #FL #FLStateParks #CornacopiaInThePark #LoveFL

There are no picnic pavilions available for rental at this park but there are picnic tables located along some of the trails.

Accommodations

There are no sleeping accommodations at Werner-Boyce.

Hours

Werner-Boyce Salt Springs is open from 8am to sunset, 365 days per year.

Getting There

There are three entrances to the park. The main entrance (where most accommodations including restrooms and concessions are located) is at 8737 US Hwy 19 N, Port Richey, 34668. The park is on the west side of the highway – if you’re coming from the south you’ll need to make a u-turn to get into the entrance.

The Scenic Drive trail entrance is located at 10333 Scenic Drive, Port Richey. The Black Rail trail entrance is located at 6641 SR 52, Port Richey.

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Florida State Parks: #1 Honeymoon Island State Park

Beaches of Honeymoon Island
30 minutes west of Tampa International Airport and just north of Clearwater, Honeymoon Island is located on over 350 acres of land, Honeymoon Island State Park is a great place to go to the beach, find some shells and take a hike.

Welcome to the first official article on My Cornacopia about the Florida State Parks system!* As we’ve written in a previous post, we’ll be attempting to visit all 175 state parks in Florida. Some people don’t really experience Florida when they come to visit;  they go to an amusement park and then head home. Which is like going to England, visiting Buckingham Palace and leaving. There’s so much more to Florida than rollercoasters and we’d like to introduce you to the unique outdoors that are available in the Sunshine State. Our first park is Honeymoon Island State Park.

On the west coast of Florida about 30 minutes west of Tampa International Airport and just north of Clearwater, Honeymoon Island  is located on over 350 acres of land (not including water areas). Honeymoon Island was voted the #10 beach of the Top 25 Beaches in America by TripAdvisor in 2009.

Entrance sign at Honeymoon Island

Cost

The cost to enter is $8 per car and $2 per bicycle. With your Florida State Parks Individual annual pass, admission is free for one person with additional people costing $2. With a Family annual pass admission is free for up to 8 people.

Things To Do

Beach umbrellas on Honeymoon Island

Honeymoon Island has about 4 miles of sugar sand beaches that are undeveloped outside of the restaurant/restroom areas on either end of the beach.

While the park can get crowded on certain days,  it’s a big difference from visiting Clearwater Beach or the other beaches in the area. Those beaches are developed and can be extremely crowded during the tourist season. Visiting Honeymoon Island’s beaches is like taking a step into the past. Be sure to use caution when swimming the beaches. Honeymoon Island does not have lifeguards on duty and sometimes you may encounter riptides.

Shelling

Honeymoon Island has some good shelling for the area. Caladei Island State Park has some better selections, but if you don’t want to take the ferry out there, Honeymoon Island is a nice alternative. Since it’s not as populated as other beaches in the area you’re more likely to find whole shells. Tips when shelling:

  • Bring your own shelling bag so you can have free hands and also easily rinse the shells off when you’re done
  • Go when the tide is low – you’ll find more shells
  • Bring a diving mask or swim goggles and maybe even a snorkel – you’ll be able to get a little farther out in low tide and look for shells in the water

Remember that live shelling is not allowed at Honeymoon Island. When you find a shell, turn it over and see if anyone is making the shell its home. If it shell has an occupant throw it back into the water. Nothing in it? It’s yours to take!

Hiking

If you feel like taking a hike, there are two trails on Honeymoon Island: Osprey Trail, which is 2 miles long, and Pelican Cove Trail, which is less than a mile. We saw lots of osprey and osprey nests when we walked the beginning of the Osprey Trail. Don’t feel like trekking by foot? Osprey Trail allows you to ride your bike if that’s your preferred mode of transportation. Both trails have minimal grade so they’re good for beginners.

Bring a pair of binoculars with you – there’s lots to see. On Osprey Trail you’ll see a variety of flora (wax myrtle, goldenrod, Christmas berry, winged sumac) and fauna (osprey, snakes, raccoons, gopher tortoise). Wherever you walk on Honeymoon Island, aside from the beach area, be sure to wear comfortable closed toe shoes while hiking. Rattlesnakes are prevalent on the island and while you’re most likely not to run into one, it’s best to stick to the official trails and not allow your dogs to go into the brush.

Osprey in its nest at Honeymoon Island

After your hike make sure you visit the Nature Center. This is where you’ll get your stamp for your Real Florida Passport (or purchase a passport book if you need one), but it also has a complete history of the island and a garden of native plants of Florida.

Honeymoon Island Nature Center

While visiting the Nature Center you’ll find out how Honeymoon Island got its name, see images of some of the island’s animal inhabitants and learn about Myrtle Scharrer. Myrtle was the only child born on what was then known as Hog Island. She lived there  with her dad and rowed herself to school every day 2 miles each way across St. Joseph Sound.

Signage at Nature Center on Honeymoon Island

Pet Friendly?

Honeymoon Island is rare because it has a pet friendly beach which is located at the southern part of the island (near the ferry pickup for Caladesi Island). Pets on a 6-ft leash are also allowed on the trails.

Food & Restrooms

Food is available at two restaurants, Honeymoon Cafe and Honeymoon Pavilion. Both restaurants are located on the south side beach which is closest to the entrance. Each offers a variety of cooked foods such as hamburgers, hot dogs, fried fish and fries along with ice cream, water and sodas. Sit on their patios and you’ll have a great view of the water while you eat.

View from Honeymoon Cafe

You can also bring your own cooler and food if you’d like. Leave the alcohol behind because alcohol is not permitted at Florida State Parks. If you feel like enjoying a beer or wine while on Honeymoon Island you can visit one of the restaurants. They sell alcoholic beverages but they must be consumed on the restaurants’ patio areas.

Restrooms are available at both beaches (which also have changing stalls), the nature center and near the playground.

Rentals

While visiting Honeymoon Island you can rent kayaks, beach chairs, beach umbrellas and 4-wheeled tricycles at the cafes. There are also pavilions available for rental for picnics and grilling (grills available) and a playground for kids near the entrance to Osprey Trail. To rent a pavilion call (727) 469-5942.

Honeymoon Island Playground

Accommodations

There is no overnight camping or accommodations on Honeymoon Island.

Hours

Honeymoon Island State Park is open from 8am to sunset, 365 days of the year

Getting There

Honeymoon Island is located at the end of the Dunedin Causeway in Dunedin, FL.

 

*We’ve previously written about Weeki Wachee Springs State Park – so even though this is our ‘official’ first article in the series, we acknowledge that it’s really our second : )

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Visiting Florida State Parks

Mermaids in Little Mermaid show at Weeki Wachee State Park

When people think of visiting Florida, a lot of times they immediately think of visiting Disney or going to Harry Potter world. While those are fun, there’s more to Florida than amusement parks. Like visiting the Florida State Parks.

With an average cost of entry to each park of $3 to $8 per car,  it’s very inexpensive to learn more about Florida’s ecosystem and history. Another great perk? The parks are so vastly different you can be at the beach on the west coast of the state one trip, be visiting Florida’s highest waterfall and natural sinkholes the next and then head off to the battlefield where the Second Seminole War began.

The tallest waterfall in Florida at Falling Waters State Park

To put all of this perspective and help Florida visitors and residents decide which parks are right for them, I’m going to be blogging about my visit to each of the 175 venues in the Florida Park Service system. I’m really excited about this and although there are blogs here written previously about parks such as Blue Spring and the Ybor Museum, updated posts will be written about them. I’ve previously written exclusively about Weeki Wachee, and won’t be creating a new blog for that park.

What We’ll Be Talking About

Every park is different but there are a few things that are consistent to most locations. So we’ll be talking about each park and mentioning Things To Do, Rentals, Accommodations, Pet Friendly and Food & Restrooms. We’ll try to be fairly standard so readers can compare each park as equally as possible.

Annual Passes and State Parks Passport

There are couple of tools to use when going to the state parks that will make the trips easier. The first is the Florida State Parks Annual Pass.   This pass provides entrance to each park for a flat fee ($60 for individuals or $120 for a pass that allows entrance to up to 8 people to each park). It’s perfect for full-time residents, snowbirds or even those who want to visit Florida RV parks. Did you know that many of the Florida state parks offer camping facilities, including those for RVs?

Honeymoon Island restaurant with Florida State Park passport overlooking beachAnother is the State Parks Passport, which will help me keep track of which park has been visited and how many more there are to go. The passport can be purchased at select state parks and is divided into 8 categories to help you locate the one closest to your region. Every time you visit a park you get your passport stamped by a park ranger; once you’ve gotten all of your stamps, you’ll receive a free annual family pass!

How Long Will It Take??

According to a park ranger at Honeymoon Island, it takes the average person 3 to 4 years to visit all of the parks. It might take longer than that to produce all of the blogs. But my love of the natural beauty of the state of Florida will get me through. I hope you’ll come along for the ride!

Want to follow my adventures of visiting all of the state parks in Florida? Sign up for my newsletter and be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

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Beers of the Northern Pinellas Trail – Tarpon Springs and Palm Harbor

Pinellas Trail leading into Palm Harbor

Pinellas County, Florida is a popular destination thanks to its beaches. What many who visit the area don’t know about is a well-kept local secret – the Pinellas Trail. Covering 38 miles from north to south, the former railroad tracks have been converted to pavement for pedestrians, in-line skaters and bicyclists to relax and exercise.

In addition to great views and a safe place to exercise, there are 11 craft breweries that dot the 10 miles of trail from Tarpon Springs south to Dunedin. All locally owned, each brewery offers something a little bit different for beer lovers.

Since many wouldn’t be able to do all 11 breweries via the trail in one day, we’ll be splitting this into two blogs – one with the breweries of Tarpon Springs and Palm Harbor and the second blog with the breweries in Dunedin located close to the Pinellas Trail.  Here’s part one . . .

Tarpon Springs

The northernmost city in Pinellas County, Tarpon Springs is known for its Greek heritage and connections to the sponge diving industry. A quiet town, Tarpon Springs is seeing a rebirth and is home to three breweries all within steps of the Pinellas Trail.

Two Frogs Brewing Company – 151 E. Tarpon Avenue – Specializing in clean ales that are perfect in the Florida heat, Two Frogs is a play on the last name of the father-son owners, Michael and Chad Croake. Located in the town’s former drug store, Two Frogs often has live music on weekend nights (children aren’t allowed in the bar after 8pm). Snacks and sodas available.

May We Suggest: Mandarin Dreams Wheat

Brasserie Saint Somewhere – 312 E. Tarpon Avenue – Inspired by traditional Belgian-style beers, Saint Somewhere is owned by Bob Sylvester, a local brewing legend. Originally brewed in a warehouse and brewing since 2006, Saint Somewhere recently moved into an early 1900’s farmhouse. With different sitting area and local historical photos on the walls, Saint Somewhere has a quiet quaint feel.

May We Suggest: Anne

Silverking Brewing Co. – 325 E. Lemon Street – Located in the original Tarpon Springs jail and firehouse, Silverking is a brewery centered around fishing. There’s lots of fishing paraphernalia displayed throughout the brewery. Did you know that silver king is another name for the Atlantic Tarpon fish? With 8 staple beers, most of their selection is less than 6% ABV.

May We Suggest: Marshall Jones IPA

Palm Harbor

Just south of Tarpon Springs on the Pinellas Trail is the unincorporated city of Palm Harbor. Less downtown and more suburb on this portion, the Trail passes two breweries that sit right on the trail and are less than a quarter mile from each other.

de Bine Brewing Company – 993 Florida Avenue – 2,500 square feet of brewery houses de Bine

Brewing. With indoor and outdoor seating and a small loft area to relax, de Bine offers 14 taps of beers that are ever changing. They offer snacks, wine and non-alcoholic drinks. There’s also a stage area where they host live music and comedians on select days.

DeBine Brewery

Taps at DeBine Brewery in Palm Harbor, FL

May We Suggest: Fresh Tart Berliner Weisse

Stilt House Brewery – 625 US-19 ALT – Located in a small strip mall next to a pool supply store, you could easily miss Stilt House if you weren’t looking for it, especially from the Pinellas Trail. Since the Trail is located behind Stilt House, keep an eye out for it on the left as you head south just past the Palm Harbor overhead trail marker. There are over 15 beers on tap in a wide variety of styles along with wine and non-alcoholic drinks.

May We Suggest: Pinellas Trail Cream Ale

Stay tuned for our second part of Beers of the Pinellas Trail  . . . coming soon!

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8 Simple Things Not To Do In Florida

Florida is a very large state. From Pensacola Beach (in the upper left hand corner of the state) to Key West (the teeny tiny dot waaay at the bottom of the state) it would take about 12.5 hours to drive. To say that Florida isn’t monolithic is an understatement. In fact it’s so diverse in different areas, there aren’t many rules to how to visit the state. But there are some things that you don’t do when in Florida:

  • Don’t swim in lakes or canals or sit on their edges – A lot of visitors from the north think that a lake is a great place to cool off in or walk the dog in. Don’t. Because alligators. Alligators live in many body of waters in Florida. Some like springs where people can and do swim are monitored, usually by the state. And springs are crystal clear so you can see around you. Florida lakes are shallow and murky which is exactly the hunting ground that alligators enjoy and they’re not monitored on a regular basis. So you don’t know what’s out there. There has been a slight uptick in alligator attacks recently but that’s because more people are moving to the state which means more interaction with the reptiles and people, not because alligators love attacking humans.  Also do not let your pets play near lakes because alligators do like to feed on small animals. All that said it’s not uncommon to see locals water skiing and doing standup paddle board on lakes. It’s being aware that’s the key (and probably not falling off!) Oh and you should also never swim in any body of water in Florida at dawn or dusk. That’s when alligators and sharks tend to feed.

 

  • Since we’re talking about reptiles – don’t be afraid of lizards! Lizards are a big part of the Florida lifestyle. They’re really all over the place and while they can seem creepy most of them are an important part of the Florida eco-system (some, like iguanas, are an invasive species). We recently visited New York and there were house flies both indoors and outdoors. We couldn’t figure out why we don’t see a lot of house flies where we live in Florida and then we thought “lizards!”. So thanks to all the lizards not only for entertaining our cat but also for eating all those flies and other pesky bugs.

 

  • Don’t forget to drink a LOT of water. It’s hot here. And humid. That heat and humidity can be very surprising to people who are visiting and it can hit them in dangerous ways. So drink more than your normal amounts of water while you’re here. The easiest thing to do is bring a reusable water bottle for each family member when you come down. All the amusement parks and state parks have water fountains for you to fill up.

 

  • Don’t be vain. Wear a hat! Sure it might mess up your hair. But Ft. Myers on average has 114 days of temperatures over 85 and Orlando has 106. Some parts of the state don’t have a lot of trees which makes it even harder to find a little shade. So bring along a hat to help you avoid a bad sunburn on your face or heat stroke. For women who need to be stylish there are lots of options out there for great travel hats. For guys, lucky you – they sell baseball caps at every beach store in the state.

 

  • And speaking of sunburn – don’t forget to wear sunscreen. No matter what your skin type or color, you need to wear sunscreen and reapply it on a regular basis all over your face and body. As an African-American woman I wear sunscreen to help not only prevent skin cancer but also to help minimize damage to my skin that can cause wrinkles. Even people with a lot of melanin can get a sunburn and even get skin cancer. Did you know that skin cancer is what killed Bob Marley? No one should take a chance so put on that sunscreen. A bad sunscreen can lead to sun poisoning so a combo of the hat, lots of water and sunscreen will help minimize your chances of spending your Florida vacation stuck inside due to sunburn or even worse in the hospital.

 

  • Don’t miss the local breweries in the area you’re visiting. As of late 2017, there were 195 breweries throughout the state. Beer at JDubs Sarasota, FLThat’s a lot of local beer businesses giving you, literally, the local flavor of where you are. One thing we love to do when we go to a new city is find a craft brewery. Why? Because not only will you meet local people who can give you great hints of things to do in the area but also because craft breweries are generally family and pet friendly. They’ve become a bit like the corner store was 100 years ago. Even if you don’t like beer more craft breweries have wine choices and sodas. And if they don’t the majority don’t mind if you bring a can of soda in with you so you can sit with your friends and family while they’re sipping on their brew.

 

  • If you see a manatee out in the wild, don’t play with it, tease it with a water hose (they seem to like spinning in them), touch it or try to ride it. You will go to jail. If Manatee in Floridayou just have to swim with a manatee you’ll need to visit Citrus County on the state’s west coast. It’s the only place in the US where it’s legal to swim with them. But you still can’t touch them. We know – they’re adorable and slow and you could really catch up to one if you tried. However manatees, being slow, get injured and sometimes killed by boats which makes them a threatened species. There are lots of opportunities to observe them in the wild or while being rehabilitated so you can enjoy them without putting them in danger.

 

  • Don’t think that Florida is only about mouse ears and wizard wands. As I said earlier Florida is extremely diverse. If you’re a book lover, visit the homes of Zora Neele Hurston, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings or Ernest Hemingway.  If you’re a lover of camping and the outdoors visit one of the 175 Florida State Parks. Enjoy shopping or eating – there are local restaurants and stores in every corner of the state. Music? Theater? Art? Sports? Historical sites? Whatever you want to do Florida has it. So even though we love our amusement parks there’s more to Florida than Mickey.

If you remember these don’ts when you visit the Sunshine State you’re sure to have a great experience and hopefully remember your visit with a smile!

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