Stretching south from the entry to Tampa Bay and east from Perico Bayou, the 487 acres of Robinson Preserve, owned and managed by Manatee County, stretch across broad tidal flats. Visitors can bike, or hike across the fascinating landscape, passing lakes, salt marshes, tidal pools and mangrove woodlands; a lookout tower, boardwalks and scenic wooden bridges complement the natural beauty and launch sites provide access for those wanting to explore the refuge with canoes or kayaks.
Birders will observe an excellent variety of raptors, waders and costal sea birds at the preserve. This morning, my wife and I saw ospreys, wood storks, white ibis, American white pelicans, anhingas, yellow-crowned night herons and a host of shorebirds, among other species. Those interested in the natural and human history of the preserve are advised to stop by the Visitor Center in the Valentine House, across from the parking lot.
From Manatee Blvd. in northwest Bradenton, turn north on 75th St. and proceed to 9th Avenue; turn left (west) on 9th and drive to its intersection with 99th Street. Turn right (north) on 99th and continue to the Robinson Preserve entrance, on your left. Refuge access is free to the public but the hours vary throughout the year (generally from sunrise to sunset). Plans to expand the preserve to the south are currently underway.