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This was our first visit to Oscar Scherer State Park, why I’m not sure as we only live a few miles away. I literally drive by it whenever I go to the grocery store or ride my bike on the Legacy Trail. I’ve boated past on the Intercoastal Waterway, paddled past on South Creek and flown over in an airplane countless times.
I guess being Sarasota residents I felt I already knew everything about it. I WAS WAY WRONG. This is a fantastic Florida State Park. I can understand now why it is so popular. The facilities are very good considering how many people visit. And it’s not too polished that it doesn’t have that camping or state park vibe. No Disney here.
The campground is very large even for State Park Standards, over 100 sites. Many are along South Creek with water views although they are no pet sites as maybe there are gator issues.
We camped in site#69, the last pet site before the restricted sites along the creek#70- 90. The sites are quite large and private as the campground is mature with lots of native Florida foliage. We didn’t see any evidence of Raccoons or other campground mooches.
Lots of hiking in this park, if you cycle the Legacy Trail built on an old railway doesn’t offer much contour as it is pretty much a strait shot but runs from Sarasota to Venice and from Venice you can take the Venetian Waterway even further. Soon the Legacy Trail will go all the way to downtown Sarasota.
Finally the best part for visitors to the Sarasota area. You will probably not find a State Park as close to the US#1 Rated Beach Siesta Key, just a few miles or Sarasota and all her arts and culture(15 minutes) including The Ringling Museum, Van Wezel Performing Arts Center, St. Armands Circle, Lido Beach, award-winning restaurants, tiki bars, dinner cruises, and more.
In fact as I write this the US Olympic Rowing Trials are going on at Benderson Park about 15 minutes away, next door to the Apple Store. This is no joke the premier rowing facility in the world. And did I mention if you forgot anything there is a Publix about 1/2 mile front the front gate of the park?
OF NOTE: Of all the state parks we have visited, this had the most unfriendly group of campers we have ever encountered. Surly in fact. It was difficult to extract a return greeting of any type.
Perhaps it’s because this isn’t your normal group of happy wanderers, and those who truly enjoy the outdoors. More like COVID refugees or visitors doing“Florida on the Cheep” who have the time and resources to escape those areas of lockdown.
Our first clue was the amount of “resort wear” being donned in lieu of the normal camping duds and the overall lack of activity inside the park for the amount of campsites during the day. Well the park is smack in the middle of a major resort destination and it is high season. This all left the park less crowded for us.
Whatever the reason I hope the park guests can find some joy after all in the blessings that nature gives us no matter what the situation. Life is short. As the late, great Warren Zevon once said“enjoy every sandwich”.
We came in the beginning of February (8-11th) which seems to be a popular time due to the rarity of available spaces, but we were able to reserve online right after Christmas and got a block for three nights. Good time of year to come - not yet too humid, no bugs at all, warm days. We were pleasantly surprised at how quiet it was in our area. No parties going on or crazy loud families which seem to be our camping destiny of late (people don’t seem to know how to behave when they are camping). Seemed to be a more adult crowd, retirees, couples and friends who enjoy being outside. If you like to fish, kayak, or just hang out on the beach, this is a perfect place to relax. Our site was spacious, deep, and lots of privacy as there was a good amount of foliage between us and the neighbors. One warning, however, we noticed poison ivy in the wooded areas, just beware if you have kids or are susceptible yourself. Gave it four stars instead of five due to that and the outdated bathrooms. They suffice, but have a bad layout. The showers are okay, but there is no private changing area. You step out of the shower into a common changing area. Not much space to put your stuff in the shower. They are cleaned often, but there is no humidity control so it’s always damp and slippery in there. There are two washers and dryers at each bathroom location, $1.75 each and do a good job. If you need quarters, go to the camp store as there are no change machines near the laundry areas. Overall a nice place, easy to get to, not too far from other stuff, great beaches.
The only good thing that happened to us during the“Covid Crisis” is some camp grounds needed to reset. Turtle Beach was no exception and provided us an opportunity for a staycation. It was both fun and strange as I lived on Siesta from 2003 to 2017. It is the ONLY camp ground ON the beach I’m aware of in Sarasota County. It is an INSANELY POPULAR destination.
Since Siesta Key has been named“America’s Best Beach” by Trip Advisor, Travel& Leisure and many other ranking authorities for over a decade, it’s easy to see why this camp ground in particular is difficult to reserve. This is a county owned facility under Sarasota County Parks and Recreation who overall do a very good job with all of our public park facilities. I shouldn’t use the term camping, as it’s more like a RV Park with older facilities, small spots better suited to small and mid-sized rigs.
There may be 40 total spots. When it rains, many are”waterfront” until the rain drains into the sand and out to the Gulf. That’s the bad part, the good part is EVERYTHING ELSE. So much to do at Turtle Beach from walks, kayaking, bicycling, swimming and the beach is only a few steps away complete with tiki picnic tables.
A free county run trolley runs from the campgrounds to Siesta Key Village about every 20 minutes or so from 8am til 10pm. It doesn’t have a particular schedule and two trolleys criss cross all day basically taking you wherever you want to go on the key. Downtown Sarasota is only about 15 minutes and there are lots of shops, restaurants, grocery stores, and big box stores all equally accessible by car, bicycle or Uber.— As far as campgrounds go I give it 3 stars as it is adequate.
The park is managed by Sarasota County Parks and Recreation. To my knowledge, this is their only campground and they do not have core experience managing campgrounds this type of facility and it shows. The hosts were the worst I’ve ever encountered and their attitude borders on complete apathy. They seem to have barricaded themselves in their campsite where they can freely smoke and hold court with their friends. Check out the pics.
This is a beautiful park close to the Tampa area. The campsites are separated into 2 areas. Most are small and open. On our visit, there were NO friendly people here. Some good hikes in the park. There are a few places to launch kayaks and I went from campground up to rapids and back down. Good paddle, lots of birds. Roads are paved in park and its a big circle so great for bike riding. There are large day use areas and a beautiful huge pool. Concessions were closed not sure if seasonal or covid? There is a neat suspension bridge and class 2 rapids along hike. Also a CCC museum (closed). Don't arrive before check in time because you have to wait in day use area until "it's time" for you to check in. Great park but not a great vibe.
Down for a week kinda last minute and he was able to give us a good spot. Decent size spot with stone drive and cement patio. Bathrooms and showers are kept clean. Nice laundry facilities with area to play cards if you wanted. Pool area is nice with shade spots. Friendly people all around campground Bike and walking path is close by Also has trolley that goes different places with a stop close by. Would definitely stay again
This is kind of our go to Florida State Park as we live very close and really enjoy the hiking, biking and paddling the river and lake. We typically book last minute as“In-Season” campsites are often difficult to find. In addition, the lower campground is sometimes flooded out or closed for repairs putting even more pressure on the two campgrounds closer to the main park entrance which is further from the lake and general store.
I may have reviewed this park before but always find different things to share. Their are three main campgrounds:
(1) Old Prairie where we usually stay. This is an older campground with a more rustic, state park vibe. Maybe 20 sites typically hosting smaller trailers, vans and tents etc.
(2) Palmetto Ridge is more more or less across from Old Prairie with a more open and modern looking vibe and where you will see more of your typical RV crowd of Big Rigs and larger trailers
(3) Big Flats is about 3 miles down the road from the entrance close to Lake Myakka where the tour boat, boat ramp, general store etc is found. We have never stayed here as it has been closed for repairs, maintenance and flooding on numerous occasions. Perhaps something to consider if you are booking way in advance.
The reason Myakka is so popular to Florida visitors is it has outstanding beauty, a real Jurassic Park feel but is very near Sarasota with all the beaches, museums, restaurants and activities literally less than 1/2 hour away. Lots of people vacationing Florida on the cheap like to set up home here“in-season” and jump from site to site and stay as long as they can. Summers are much easier to find a site.
We are lucky to live so close. We are here more in the summer and swing seasons. This park makes an excellent 2 or 3 day adventure or a great Basecamp for your Florida vacation. You won’t be disappointed.
NOTE: Some of the public facilities have been closed due to COVID including the “Canopy Walk” which is very cool so you may want to check if that sort of thing interests you.
It is always interesting to me how all the Florida State Parks are a little different as the park manager seems to have some autonomy. Certain parks have public facilities closed like the Canopy Walk here at Myakka but another Florida State Park might have their observation tower open even though the structures are similar. Go figure.
Really enjoyed our stay here, good size lot, #10, with electric, water, picnic table and fire ring. Clean dump station. Natural trees providing privacy between lots. A lot of walking trails for people and horses. A surprise was the amphitheater. Washers and dryers are located outside the bathrooms. Friendly hosts and other campers. Would came again.