Blurs of blue flash between the diminutive scrub oaks as a family of Florida scrub-jays settle in, curious as to your approach. These colorful birds are only found in Florida, and Oscar Scherer State Park is their biggest stronghold in southwest Florida.
Fees: $4-5 per vehicle
Open: 8 AM until sunset daily
Leashed pets welcome
Hemmed in by burgeoning Gulf Coast development, this state park is an island of natural habitats squeezed between Sarasota and Venice. Opened in 1956, the original 462 acres were a gift bequeathed by Elsa Scherer Burrows as a park in memory of her father Oscar, who in 1872 devised a process to dye shoe leather, sending ripples through the fashion world.
Activities center around Osprey Lake, with South Creek flowing towards the Gulf, a delight to paddle in search of manatees. The Legacy Trail, a paved bicycle trail connecting Sarasota and Venice, slices through the forest, and a network of hiking trails gets you up close to scrub-jay habitat and out farther in the woods than you would have imagined possible along this coast.
Explore the park
- Lake Osprey Trail - Circling Lake Osprey, the wheelchair-accessible Lake Osprey Trail at Oscar Scherer State Park offers an exploration of the uplands surrounding the artesian-spring-fed waters.
- South Creek and Lester Finley Trails - The South Creek and Lester Finley Trails are part of the South Trail System at Oscar Scherer State Park, focusing on the flow of South Creek towards Little Sarasota Bay.