robinson preserve bradenton

Guide to Robinson Preserve in Bradenton Florida

Robinson Preserve is a great way to spend the day, especially for nature lovers.

Located in the corner of northwest Bradenton, Florida, Robinson Preserve is close to Anna Maria Island and the Tampa Bay area. This makes it a prefect day trip if you want something to break up your beach days or explore something a little different.

Robinson Preserve is an over-600 acre preserve. The area is made of former agricultural lands and has since been transformed into a coastal wetlands habitat. Today, you’ll find coastal grasslands, marsh, and mangrove habitat.

The coastal preserve is a unique place where you can enjoy biking trails, walking, kayak trails, and much more. There is something for the whole family to enjoy. This guide is to help you know more about what to expect!

Trails at Robinson Preserve

There are a couple of different trails in the park.

The first is 2.5 miles, which is very well maintained with plenty of space. It is a paved trail great for biking, rollerblading, or strolling. There is a trail map all throughout the path so you always know where you are.

There is also a 5 mile coastal trail in the park.

trails at robinson preserve

Water Activities

Robinson Preserve is surrounded by water. Not only will you have some incredible views from the coastal trail or observation tower, but you can also rent a kayak (or bring your own) to experience Robinson Preserve by water. You can paddle freely or follow one of the paddle trails.

There is a boat launch near the entrance of the park near the parking lot. If you’d like, you can take a 5-mile round-trip adventure through mangrove tunnels. It also has access to the Blueways Trails which goes through the Manatee River, Perico Bayou, and Palma Sola Bay area.

If you are local, there are kayak storage facilities that you can rent annually. However, there is currently a wait list.

a kayaker at robinson preserve

Playgrounds

There is a newer playground and picnic spots at the front of the south entrance of the park called The Canopy. It is a great place for kids who love to climb because there is a net tube, rope bridges, a tower, and treetop boardwalk loop. The Canopy Zone is open from sunrise to sunset. 

Wildlife

There is wildlife throughout the entire preserve. From dolphins in the water to lizards around the trails, you’ll definitely see some form of wildlife.

Some of the wildlife you might see include roseate spoonbills, wood storks, white pelicans, and bald eagles. And because it’s Florida, you might even see an alligator. From the water, you might even be lucky enough to see a dolphin or manatee. It’s always a fun experience to be able to see them in their natural environment.

a bird at robinson preserve

Observation Tower

The observation tower was our favorite part. It is 40 feet tall and offers the most amazing views.

robinson preserve observation tower

From the two-story structure, you can see four different counties and five bodies of water.

observation tower at robinson preserve

Tram Tour

You can take a free one hour tour via tram. This is only available September through May on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month. It is offered by Manatee County Natural Resources.

As mentioned, it is free but you do need to register online to reserve your spot.

Visitor’s Center

There is a Visitor’s Center at the north entrance to Robinson Preserve. It is located inside the historic Valentine House. The house was built in the 1800s. The land it was on had several hundred acres of citrus groves owned by the Preston family’s Manatee Fruit Co. The family donated the house to Manatee County in the mid-2000s.

The Valentine House Visitor’s Center has limited hours listed on their website.

Tips for Visiting Robinson Preserve

There are two sections of the park. The North Entrance has a tall observation tower and the South end has the a new playground (The Canopy Zone). The south end is also where the NEST (nature, exploration, science, and technology) is located. NEST does have specific hours, typically 9am to 12 pm on certain Saturdays. They also have events, such as yoga, and guided tours. The South end of the park is the newest part of the nature preserve.

Addresses for the two entrances: 

17th Ave NW; Bradenton FL 34209 (The “North” Entrance)

10299 99th St NW; Bradenton FL 34209 (The “Expansion” or “South” entrance/The main entrance)

There are restrooms at each entrance, which I suggest using as there are no restrooms along the trails. 

robinson preserve bradenton florida

We were actually expecting a quick 30-40 minute quick walk and were fairly unprepared. I would expect to spend at least 2 hours here, though many reviews indicate that people stay as many as 8+ hours. On a related note, make sure you are prepared with water and something to eat. There are a few picnic areas throughout the park.

The Florida heat is no joke. And if you are bringing your dog, don’t forget to bring water for him/her, too!

Robinson Preserve is open daily year-round (365 days per year) from sunrise to sunset. Entrance to the park is free.

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