Lettuce Lake Park: Walking Amongst Florida Swamps
The Tampa Bay area is home to a handful of beautiful parks. One of the best is Lettuce Lake, located near the University of South Florida, in north Tampa. This gorgeous park enables visitors to take a walk along a 3500 foot shaded boardwalk across hardwood swamp forests. The scenery is spectacular, especially the beautiful cypress trees.
Along the way, you might even catch a glimpse of a gator! In fact, Lettuce Lake Park is well-known for being one of the best places in the city for spotting gators in their natural habitat.
Plenty of shade coverage along the way – A great place to come to escape both the city noise, tourist congestion, & Florida heat!
Views of the swamp
Sadly no alligators seen on this trip. Below, the only wildlife we encountered…
In addition to the boardwalk, a beautiful nature trail (about a mile or so long) takes you through the beautiful native plants of the area. The shady path offers a much needed escape from the heat. We got drenched on our hike, although it was in the 90’s, so we really didn’t mind. In fact, it helped cool us down tremendously! I recommend leaving early in the morning as afternoon thunderstorms are very common during the summer months.
The observation tower (pictured below) gives you the opportunity to take in panoramic views of the Hillsborough River. A beautiful sight – be sure to bring with your camera!
What a beautiful view!
Also available within the park: a bike path/running trail with fitness stations, a canoe launch, picnic tables, and a fishing pier.
A beautiful tree-lined biking/jogging path (about a mile long)
One of Tampa’s best parks
Lettuce Lake Park is a great escape from all the traffic and congestion in Tampa. This beautiful area is great for recreation of any kind. Whether you feel like taking a nature stroll, a relaxing bike ride, a jog, or a ride in your canoe, you will find Lettuce Lake a scenic place to do so. The peaceful relaxed setting of Lettuce Lake will definitely bring me back for another visit. Hopefully, we will spot a gator the next time around! Update: on a return visit, we did see a gator. Take a look below!
Tips for a great visit
*An umbrella is a must, especially if visiting on a summer afternoon! On the other hand, you may be looking forward to a cool down! As always, it is best to visit any Tampa parks during the cooler fall and winter season. Heat exhaustion is not uncommon. Arrive early in the day if visiting during the hot & humid spring and summer months.
*Bring with plenty of water!
*Pack your camera in case you come across a gator.
*Wear light, loose fitting clothing. If it is already hot outside and you add in exercise, you risk overheating yourself.
Lettuce Lake Park is located at 6920 E Fletcher Ave, Tampa, FL 33637 (across from USF). Parking is $2 per vehicle. Spring & Summer hours: 8am-7pm, Fall & Winter hours: 8am-6pm.
Have you visited Lettuce Lake? Have you ever spotted an alligator? What are your favorite parks in the Tampa area?