Along the Pinellas Trail in Palm Harbor, Wall Springs Park is a perfect escape for folks who like their wilderness tamed and safe. The namesake springs – which do bubble up fresh water within a few hundred feet of a mangrove-lined bayou – were a popular natural swimming hole and spa for more than a century, but like many such places in Florida, fell out of popularity and into disrepair.
Pinellas County brought the property back to life with a host of urban amenities, including a paved trail system more than a mile long, a boardwalk for birdwatching along the spring and its outflow basin, several fishing piers on the Gulf of Mexico, a massive playground with a sun canopy, and the one surprising addition that blew me away – the largest open-air observation tower I’ve encountered yet in Florida.
The tower is built like a giant Lincoln Log structure of telephone poles, and the multiple decks are big enough to hold an entire classroom of kids. From the top, you get a sweeping view of the Gulf, including distant Anclote Key and Honeymoon Island. Stop in for your own personal panorama!