Circle B Bar Reserve is the perfect day trip for both Tampa residents looking to escape the congestion and also Orlando tourists who are looking for a relaxing day off from the theme parks. Located in Lakeland, the reserve is just an hour drive from both cities. Here you will enjoy a refreshing change of pace from the overcrowded cities.
Circle B Bar Reserve is one of the nicest parks in the area. It also is one of the best places for spotting alligators in their natural habitats. We saw 10+ on our first visit, and this was in January (gators are more commonly seen during the earlier spring months). Luckily, the temps were a bit higher than normal, thus plenty of gators could be seen out basking in the sun (they prefer temperatures in the lower 80’s-low 90s). In fact, there are so many everywhere that you will come across the following Wildlife Crossing sign.
Several miles of hiking trails through diverse landscape will give you a great workout and plenty of picture taking opportunities. Bicycling the trails is another option, and in my opinion, a much better option on warmer days. You can cover all the trails much faster, get a small breeze, and not spend as much time in the sun. If you are not up for a hike or bike ride, you can always sign up for a 2 hour guided tram tour (due to the popularity of these rides, reservations are a must!).
Alligator Alley is the must-see at the preserve. The 1.5 mile trail is flat, easy, and mostly shaded. Alligators line both sides of the path, especially during the ideal weather conditions. What a great place to visit on your trip to Florida! Take advantage of this free opportunity to see alligators and other wildlife as opposed to paying big bucks for an airboat ride. Some are very easy to spot out, while others are more hidden. Keep your eyes open! Take a look below…
Pretty lake views make your trek down Alligator Alley even more exciting. Take a few looks below.
Aside from alligators, Circle B is a prime spot for birdwatching. You will see many different species while walking the various trails. We were lucky enough to spot a bald eagle on our trip.
Take a look at the many different bird species you will possibly encounter on your visit.
Gopher tortoises are also commonly seen, so keep an eye out.
Aside from viewing wildlife, the refuge is in general a gorgeous place to walk around. It’s really nice to visit something so natural after visiting so many busy beaches and theme parks. You will experience all different types of landscapes including: lakes, oak hammocks, marshes, and swamps.
Below are some of the pretty views you will experience at the preserve.
Next time you find yourself in the Orlando or Tampa area, be sure to take a side trip over to Lakeland to visit the beautiful Circle B Bar Reserve. If you are a fan of alligators, this is your place! Be sure to sign up for the tram ride well in advance as it sells out very quickly. The short hour drive is more than worth it for the wonderful scenery and abundant wildlife you will come across on your visit.
Always keep in mind that alligators can attack at any time and the trails at Circle B are pretty narrow. Never walk too close to the edge and keep kids and pets far away from any freshwater. Read about some more Alligator safety tips to ensure a peaceful visit.
Circle B Bar Reserve is located at: 4399 Winter Lake Road, Lakeland, FL 33803. Hours: Everyday from 5am to 7pm (8:30pm during daylight savings time).
Call (863) 668-4673 to make your tram reservation.