Lake Manatee State Park in Bradenton, Florida is a year-round escape for recreational enthusiasts. The park, which extends three miles along the south shore of Lake Manatee has temperate weather and is enjoyable any time of the year.
The park's namesake originates from when a dam, built in the mid-1960s, was constructed across the Manatee River. Even though the name suggests that there are manatees present in the park, manatees can only live in shallow coastal waterways and rivers. Because the park's location is next to the lake, and not the river, there are no manatees in the park.
The park has RV and tent camping as well as many different outdoor activities suitable for people of all ages. Lake Manatee State Park has preserved its natural habitat of pine flatwoods and sand pine scrub and offers camping comforts with a beachy feel.
RV Rentals in Lake Manatee State Park
Transportation in Lake Manatee State Park
Lake Manatee State Park is approximately a the thirty-minute drive east from Bradenton, Florida. The park is just under sixty miles south of Tampa.
There are two park entrances: the main entrance and a secondary entrance. RVers should enter the park's main entrance heading east on State Road 64. The main entrance is closest to the park ranger's station, camping facilities, and the beach access. Park patrons pay an entrance fee. Please be aware if your RV has more than eight people, there will be an additional fee per person after eight.
Campgrounds and parking in Lake Manatee State Park
Campsites in Lake Manatee State Park
Lake Manatee Campground
People who like to camp within walking distance to a swimming beach will love the Lake Manatee campground. The 60-site campground offers reservable back-in sites ranging in size from 40—65 feet. Spots not reserved are filled on a first-come, first served basis. Water and 30 amp electricity are available at every site, and there is a dump station near the entrance of the campground. The campground has two bathhouses, and a playground and picnic area are within walking distance. The campground allows well-behaved pets, but be aware that pets are not permitted in all areas of the park. The maximum stay in the campground is 14 consecutive nights. Quiet hours are from 11 pm to 7 am.
Seasonal activities in Lake Manatee State Park
Lake Manatee has a designated swimming area that is walking distance from the campground. The swimming area has a playground, shower, restroom, and a picnic area nearby. Although the lake is a manmade lake, the water is still susceptible to adverse weather conditions, and swimmers should only enter the water if the swimming conditions are safe. Swimmers should note that there isn't a lifeguard on duty.
Lake Manatee is considered one of the best fishing locations in the region. Visitors can fish along the shorelines of the lake, or they can fish from a boat. Only boats with motors up to 20 horsepower are allowed on the water. Please contact the Florida Wildlife Commission to learn about fishing rules and regulations.
For people who want to enjoy the water, but don't want to fish, try enjoying the lake from a canoe or kayak. Wildlife viewing is a different experience from the water! Lake Manatee has 2,400 acres of water to explore, and what better way to see the lake than on a boat? Bring your own boat and use the canoe and kayak launch to access the water.
Hiking is an activity the whole family can enjoy. Get out and observe Florida's beauty by foot. Visitors should pick a trail map when entering the park. Lake Manatee State Park has four and a half miles of trails to explore. Much of the park is remote, so prepare yourself with the proper supplies when heading out for a hike. Always be aware of the weather, and keep a distance from the wildlife.
For family fun, try riding bikes through the paved two and a half-mile bike trail that loops around the campgrounds. The road is flat and easy to access. If a flat road isn't adventurous enough, opt for the off-road, varied terrain trail that winds two and a half miles through the park. If you don't have your own bikes, you can rent fat-tired beach cruisers at the ranger station.
Do you and your family like to explore? Are you an experienced geocacher? The Florida Park Service works with Operation Recreation GeoTour to provide a fun experience for adult and kid geocachers. Lake Manatee State Park as has forty caches on site, and it's a great place to take part in the high-tech treasure hunt. Check with the park for more information.