A flash of pink on the mudflats means the roseate spoonbills have swooped in for a visit, using their oversized bills to sift through the soft muck for their dinner. Terra Ceia Preserve State Park is an aquatic preserve protecting the ragged northern shoreline of Terra Ceia, an island to the north of Palmetto and Bradenton with a historic settlement and home to one of Florida’s larger archeological finds, the Madira Bickel Mound.
Open: 8 AM until sunset daily
Nearly 2,000 acres of wetlands, mudflats, mangrove forests, marshes, and tidal ponds make up this preserve, a puzzle of waterways to be threaded through along the 3-mile Bishop Harbor Blueway, with picturesque names like Hell’s Half Acre. The preserve lies within sight of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and is bisected by I-275, accessible only from US 41 north or from the water.