Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Eight ways to enjoy summer in eastern Hillsborough

Sweaty and sunburned? Looking for ways to keep cool in the sweltering humidity or stay dry in a torrential rainstorm? Ahhh, the joys of a Florida summer. Before you retreat to the air conditioning, allow us to share some spots around east Hillsborough that might make the season bearable — maybe even fun.

E.G. Simmons Park

Tucked away at 2401 19th Ave. NW in Ruskin, this spot offers a day at the beach without having to cross any bridges. Bring a picnic lunch and settle in the shade of a little lifeguard stand with views across the bay of downtown St. Petersburg and Tampa. On a recent afternoon, dolphins frolicked near the swim area and mangrove swamp. Also available: a campsite, boat launch and fishing piers. Park entry is $2 per vehicle and $1 extra per person over eight. Launching a boat costs $5.

Lithia Springs Park

The freshwater spring at 3932 Lithia Springs Road is a popular, albeit chilly, swimming hole on the Alafia River. Water temperature stays at 72 degrees all year. The 160-acre park also has camping sites, a playground and picnic spots between cypress swamps, hardwood hammocks and high sand hills. Park entry costs $2 per vehicle and $1 per person over eight.

Sydney Dover Trails

If you have a horse, take him or her out for a trot. If you don't, take yourself out to trot. This 7.5-mile trail at 535 N Dover Road, east of Brandon, is nice and shady. There's plenty of room for hikers and bikers to share space with horseback riders.

Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve

These 8,000 acres in Ruskin, off Gulf City Road, include mangrove islands flush with fish, paddling trails, seagrass beds and oyster reefs. According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, archaeological sites show evidence of pre-Columbian inhabitants. Go boating, fishing, bird-watching or just swing by for the beautiful view.

Little Manatee River

Included in the Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve, this river flows almost 40 miles from Fort Lonesome to Tampa Bay. Two local outfits offer canoe rentals and shuttle service to the river: the Canoe Outpost, on U.S. 301 S in Wimauma, (813) 634-2228; and Little Manatee Kayaking LLC, in Ruskin, (813) 777-0021. Call ahead for reservations and shuttle details.

McCormick's Waterski Wakeboard and Cable Park

In the mood for adventure? Take a trip to Seffner for lessons on waterskiing and wakeboarding. The park, at 2020 McCormick Lakes Way, includes cable-track obstacle courses for riders of all levels on a man-made lake. Summer camp is also offered Monday through Thursday. Visit or call (813)681-4441.

Big Bear Farms Inc.

Pick your own organic vegetables at this Plant City family farm, 7606 Kinard Road. Growers use no chemical pesticides or fertilizers. The farm recommends bringing a hat and coming in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the midday heat. But make sure to come before mid July for the best picking options — mostly tomatoes and okra, said owner Ken Der. Visit or call (813) 986-1152.

Mountain biking trails at Alafia River State Park and Balm-Boyette Nature Preserve (PDF)

The Alafia trails are at 14326 S County Road 39 in Lithia. Park admission is $3 per car and $4 for cars with two to eight passengers. The Balm-Boyette trails are part of almost 5,000 acres of protected Florida scrub preserve, just south of Brandon. Both are maintained by the local Swamp Mountain Bike Club. Visit for details.

Kim Wilmath can be reached at (813) 661-2442 or [email protected]

Eight ways to enjoy summer in eastern Hillsborough 07/08/10 [Last modified: Monday, July 26, 2010 5:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Michael Connelly's 'Two Kinds of Truth' is Bosch at his best


    Harry Bosch's office is a long way from his former desk in the Los Angeles Police Department's elite robbery-homicide squad.

  2. Local craft beer of the week: Malt liquor? Yes — 3 Daughters Brewing's Ctrl + Malt + Del

    Bars & Spirits

    In 2004, Delaware's Dogfish Head Brewery was well into the process of making a name for itself through envelope-pushing beers, like 120-Minute IPA and World Wide Stout, brews notorious for their astronomical alcohol content.

    Photo by Justin Grant
  3. History rewrite: What if Dalvin Cook, Lamar Jackson had landed at Florida?


    Two days before suiting up in the Under Armour All-America Game at Tropicana Field, Dalvin Cook announced a change of heart.

     Florida State Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook (4) on a run in the first quarter of the game between the Florida State Seminoles and the Florida Gators at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla. on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016.
  4. He sings, he acts, he ministers -- Meet Heanon Tate


    God gives every person unique talents to use them, says Heanon Tate, pastor of Force of Life Church in North Tampa.

    Heanon Tate, pastor of Force of Life Church in North Tampa.  Tate, 46, is a musician, actor, athlete and minister. He has appeared off Broadway and in television shows including Army Wives (in which he had a reoccurring role) and Homeland.