Crown jewel. That’s what Oscar Shearer is to the Florida State Park system. Located in Osprey, FL (near Venice on the west coast), this is a flat-out great state park, and it really is a beautiful cocoon away from the hustle and bustle. We may not be the only ones who think that – just try booking a campsite. For those who have been here I am preaching to the choir.
There are hiking and biking trails, and a great spot to put in if you brought a kayak or canoe. We didn’t bring our boats on this trip, but have been out paddling right from the campground in the past and it is beautiful. If you feel so energized for about a 3-mile paddle (one way), you can paddle out to the intracoastal and head north a mile or two and land yourself on the beach of a tiki bar (Casey Key Fish House) for a cold beverage or two. Don’t ask me how I know this, but I’ve heard the paddle back to the campground feels a little longer after a couple of cocktails than it does to get to the Tiki bar (couple of photos from a previous trip). Uber for kayaks – that’s what we need.
We biked right from our campsite to the Legacy Trail, which is a 10-mile rail-to-trail paved route that goes from the outskirts of Sarasota to Venice; very nice and well maintained. When you get to Venice, the trail continues on to the Venetian Waterway Park which is a 9.3-mile concrete biking path. We didn’t cover the entire length of the two trails, but did put away a little over 21 miles on this particular ride, and close to 12 miles the day or two before. Karen subsequently did more of the Venetian Trail while I sat at our campsite and ate bon bons.
There is also 10+ miles of hiking trails within the park, which are really beautiful. The trails are flat (it is Florida after all), but you should prepare for some sandy sections; better to hike than bike.
There is one small section of trail closed off during the winter, in order to provide some privacy and protection to bald eagles who nest here and raise families. There are two nests visible – one occupied, the other not. The unoccupied nest was close so you get to see the huge size of the nest – probably 6-8 feet across and maybe 3 feet deep.
While we couldn’t get close to the occupied nest (the nest in the tree is probably ¼ mile away), it was really cool to see the eagles and their two young babies (eaglets as they are called). We saw the eaglets just outside the nest; eaglets will stay in the nest for about 10-12 weeks, but when they do leave, they usually stay close to home for a few more months after that.
But if you are not interested in kayaking, hiking, or biking, how about taking the kids for a swim? How can you NOT take your kids to swim in the lake here?
Too short a stay here this time, but we took what we could take.