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Camping Lake Manatee State Park

A getaway for the weekend? Amazing fishing? Hiking? Wildlife? Check, check, check and check! We spoke with Manny Perez, who is the Park Manager at Lake Manatee State Park. He filled us in on where he’d spend an afternoon in the park, where to see bald eagles and how to pick the perfect campsite. Listen to our full interview here:

Camping Lake Manatee State Park Florida

Camp Florida: I’m talking with Manny Perez today. He’s the Park Manager at Lake Manatee State Park in Florida. How’s it going this morning, Manny?

Manny Perez: Oh, it’s going wonderful. It’s always a good day out here in the Park.

CF: So, let’s start with how long Lake Manatee State Park has been around and how it got started.

Manny Perez: Well, the lake is actually a natural reservoir, but it was dammed up and it provides drinking water for Manatee and Sarasota County. And so, they were seeing if there was potential for recreation in the State Park by Manatee County.

CF: Okay. And what are the most popular activities for guests in the Park?


Many Perez: Well, I think the lake is really the big draw. It’s very popular for fishing. It’s a very deep lake and it’s really known in the wintertime for the crappie fisherman and, in the summertime, bass; catfish all year long.

CF: Okay. And if I was staying there for the weekend and I wanted to maybe venture out for the afternoon, what are some attractions in the area I might check out?

Manny Perez: We have quite a few attractions in the area, in East Manatee County. There’s quite a few, you know, pick vegetables and aquaculture vegetables in the area, so there’s a lot of farming and produce.

CF: Cool.

Manny Perez: Where you can pick yourself. There’s a winery – which is just down the road, a few miles from us. There is the Speedway close by. And then we’re not that far of a drive into Bradenton, and then you have all the really interesting things on the Gulf. There’s Gulf fishing. Quite a few malls in the area.

CF: Okay. Two more questions for you, Manny. If you could spend just one hour in Lake Manatee State Park, how would you spend your time?


Manny Perez: That is a good question. I think my favorite is one of our hiking trails, called the Gofer Trail. It’s about a two-mile walk to do that within an hour. You get some really beautiful views of the lake, and there’s a lot of topography. You start up in one area that’s really sandy and then you kind of work your way down. A great place to see owls out there. I’ve seen bald eagles out there. I’ve seen deer out there. A lot of wildfires this time of year. I think that’s made us a little jewel.

CF: Okay, perfect. And if you could spend just one night in Lake Manatee State Park, which specific campsite would you choose and why?

Manny Perez: They’re all really good campsites. I think one thing that I like about the campsites is they’re so well buffered. You know, some camping experiences, you can kind of see the person, so it’s got a lot of buffer between them. I kind of like site 14, because you got kind of a view of the lake from there a little bit, because the sites are not right on the lake. They’re kind of up a hill. So, from 14 to 18 you’ve got more of a view of the lake.

CF: Perfect, that’s exactly the kind of info we’re looking to put up on our site for our visitors. Well, thank you so much, Manny, for taking some time to chat with us this morning about Lake Manatee State Park in Florida. We’ll go ahead and get that info right out to our visitors.

Manny Perez: Thank you very much.

CF: All right, thanks for your time.

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