So many times do I drive past Weedon Island when going to work, but I seldom visit, which is truly a shame as it’s a beautiful local gem that’s totally underrated in my opinion. I recently went back to the natural wonder and fell in love all over again. Lush greenery, beautiful boardwalks, humming wildlife, and stunning views that only Weedon Island can offer.
Weedon Island is a 3,190-acre natural preserve residing along the shores of Old Tampa Bay in northern St. Pete. The area was formerly occupied by Native Americans, who still have an impact on the grounds today. Currently, the preserve is home to a host of native plants and animals including armadillos, turtles, a vast array of birds, and more.
On the grounds is a Cultural and Natural History Center, an educational resource that offers history on the indigenous peoples who once lived on the preserve, as well as activities such as interpretive hikes and workshops. I highly recommend giving the history center a visit as it’s enlightening and provides a connection to the surrounding nature and preserve that’s deeper than imaginable.
What I love most about Weedon Island is that there are a variety of activities in which one can partake, so each visit can be different than the one before. There are numerous trails and boardwalks for those who want to walk or hike. If you’re into water sports like me, you can rent a kayak and go for a paddle, or bring your fishing gear and try to catch local faves like snook and sheepshead off the fishing pier.
Whatever you choose, you’re bound to have a unique and adventurous visit at Weedon Island Preserve. And who knows. You’ll probably leave knowing a little more about the island and this part of town than you did when you first arrived. And that, to me, is the best part.
The Ultimate Guide to Weedon Island
What to Bring and Wear
Here’s a list of what I consider to be the essentials:
- Water and/or sports drinks: you’ll definitely want a bottle or two, especially if you’re going on a hike. The St. Pete sun is bound to shine and you want to make sure to stay hydrated.
- Sunscreen: put some on 10-15 minutes before you go outside and carry it with you for reapplication in case you’re outside longer than two hours.
- Bug spray: there’s plenty of bush, mangroves, and everything else that brings bugs. You’ll hear them singing, so douse yourself before heading out and carry some just in case.
- Sunglasses and/or hat: even though the trees provide some shade, I highly recommend both sunglasses along with a hat or visor for ultimate protection.
- Comfortable walking or hiking shoes: you’ll more than likely be doing a lot of walking and parts of the trail can get muddy, so wear sturdy walking or hiking shoes for comfort and protection.
- Trail map: make sure to grab a map or have it on your phone before starting your hike. Some of the trails are long and meandering and it’s good to hold a map in case you lose your way.
- Snacks: I like to hold granola bars or fruits and veggies when I hike in case I run low on energy. The heat and humidity might drain you quicker than you think.
What to Do
- Take a Hike: Literally. Weedon Island boasts of trails including the Interpretive Trail, Boyscout Loop, as well as boardwalks and the observation tower. Be sure to wear comfortable walking or hiking shoes, and bring a camera!
- Go Fishing: At the end of Weedon Drive NE is a fishing pier where fishermen both local and from afar often catch local favorites like snook and sheepshead.
- Rent Kayaks: You can launch your own kayaks at the canoe/kayak launch that’s adjacent from the fishing pier. You can also rent kayaks onsite through Sweetwater Kayaks, a locally owned kayak and paddling rental business.
- Visit the Natural History Center: One of the preserve’s goals is to reconnect people with the environment, and this Natural History Center is vital in accomplishing that. The center provides activities including interpretive hikes and exhibits that appeal to all ages. Make sure to stop by the gift shop that offers a variety of items including works by local artists that would make great gifts for friends and family.
Cultural and Natural History Center
1800 Weedon Drive NE
St. Petersburg, FL 33702
Have you been to Weedon Island? What’s your favorite thing to do?
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