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Visiting A.L. Anderson Park: Tarpon Springs, Florida

Traveling has always been one of my passions. It exposes us to new cultures and experiences and makes the world a more tolerant place.

A.L. Anderson Park in Tarpon Springs

A.L. Anderson Park in Tarpon Springs

A Hidden Gem Off Route 19

As you drive the busy stretch of Route 19 from Clearwater north up to New Port Richey, there would appear to be very little of interest to draw the attention of a visitor to the area. However, savvy tourists, as well as locals who happen to reside in the area, know of another hidden gem that lies just off of the insanity of Route 19 in Tarpon Springs.

We discovered Anderson Park many years ago and have enjoyed numerous visits to this beautiful oasis in the years since. This park offers a welcome escape from the urban madness that exists all along Route 19. The strip malls, car dealerships, and many restaurants hide this park well and give little indication of what exists just a few hundred feet off of the highway.

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Things to Do in Anderson Park

Whether you are looking for a great place to sit and read a book, walk a nature trail, take pictures of wildlife, romp in a playground, or launch your boat into Lake Tarpon, then Anderson Park has everything you are looking for. And, lest we forget about our four-legged friends, they also have a dog park.

Anderson Park, officially known as A.L. Anderson Park, was first opened in 1966 and now resides on 135 acres of rolling terrain with access to Lake Tarpon. There are nine covered picnic areas with grills located throughout the park that can be reserved for outdoor events. Plenty of parking is available at various locations in the park and on our countless visits, we have never encountered more than just a few other visitors here.

The Nature Trail and Boardwalk, although short, follow the shore along the lake with numerous scenic vistas looking out over Salmon Bay and Lake Tarpon. Each scenic overlook has a picnic table so you can sit and watch for wildlife or relax with a snack while taking in the view.

The trail traverses through a cypress forest that is home to numerous local species and you may see lizards, snakes, squirrels, armadillos or a variety of other animals along the trail. The boardwalk section of the trail is elevated, well maintained, and extends out over the water so you can look for fish, turtles, alligators, snakes, and water birds.

In case you’re curious, A.L. Anderson Park is named after Alphonse L. “Andy” Anderson. He was the former Pinellas County Commissioner (1959–71) and Mayor of Gulfport, Florida.

He is remembered for his tireless work in helping to preserve Florida’s waterways and marine environment and for establishing many parks in Pinellas County, among them Anderson Park.

Visitor Information

Anderson Park is open daily from 7 am until dusk. As with all of Florida’s county parks they are closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. There is a $5 daily parking fee for the Boat Ramp, $6 for vehicles with a trailer. The fee to reserve one of the sheltered picnic areas is $25 and reservations can be made online.

If you are not utilizing the boat ramp or reserving a pavilion, there is no fee to simply visit the park.

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Where Are the Alligators?

Whenever we are in Florida and meet other folks visiting the sunshine state, they inevitably ask us, where does one go to see alligators? Well, Anderson Park is the perfect place to see not only alligators in the wild, from a safe distance, but also turtles, snakes, armadillos, osprey, and numerous other birds.

On our most recent visit, we were fortunate to see two small alligators and presumably one of their parents, a very large gator. We also spotted two snakes; a rat snake and a black snake that could have been an eastern indigo snake or a black swamp snake. There seemed to be an abundance of turtles present for our visit and they ranged from tiny newborns to fairly large turtles. The usual assortment of Florida birds was also seen including ibis, snowy egrets, heron, osprey, and cormorants.

Interesting Alligator Facts

  • Alligators have been around for approximately 37 million years and are commonly referred to as "living dinosaurs.”
  • There are actually two species of alligator—the American Alligator and the lesser-known and highly endangered Chinese Alligator.
  • The American Alligator is native to the southeastern United States. The largest populations are found in Florida and Louisianna with about one million alligators found in each state.
  • The Chinese Alligator is found only in the Yangtze River of China and there are more of them in captivity than in the wild.
  • The largest alligator ever recorded was over 19 feet long.
  • Although often confused with the crocodile they are totally separate species and a close look at their features reveals some notable differences in appearance.
  • In the wild alligators can live up to fifty years. They typically live longer in captivity and an alligator born in 1936 in captivity is still alive today.
  • The survival rate for newly hatched alligators is very low, only about 10 to 20 percent. At this early stage in their life, they have many predators. Once they reach a few feet in length their odds increase greatly with only larger alligators and humans being a threat.

If you are visiting the west coast of Florida in the Tampa area and want to find a great little park for a picnic or a short hike with a great chance of seeing alligators and other native Florida wildlife, then head up Route 19 to Tarpon Springs and A.L. Anderson Park.

We make it a point to visit every time we are in the area and we have never been disappointed with the wildlife we have seen. The park is clean, well maintained, offers great views of Lake Tarpon, and is conveniently located right off of Route 19 in Tarpon Springs.

© 2015 Bill De Giulio

Comments

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on May 02, 2020:

We enjoy Tarpon Springs often when we are here visiting. It certainly has a unique history and we enjoy the Greek food at a few of our favorite restaurants in town. Great place to spend an afternoon.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 02, 2020:

While we never visited Anderson Park, my mother and I did enjoy visiting Tarpon Springs, the "Sponge Capital of the World." That town has an interesting history.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on April 07, 2016:

Thanks Stella. We go there often when visiting the Newport Richey area. Great place to go for a walk, watch for wildlife, have a picnic, or just relax. Thanks for the visit, have a great weekend.

stella vadakin from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619 on April 07, 2016:

Sounds like a good place to visit when in Florida. Great Hub, Stella

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on April 07, 2016:

Hi Peggy. Thank You. No worries, I always keep my distance from gators. A zoom lens gets me close while keeping a safe distance. Thanks so much for stopping by, have a great day.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 07, 2016:

What a beautiful park! Thanks for showing it to us. You certainly got some closeup photos of those alligators! Hope you were at a safe distance!

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on January 30, 2016:

Hi Stella. It's a great place for a short walk or a picnic. A very relaxing break from the insanity of route 19. Have a great day.

stella vadakin from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619 on January 29, 2016:

Thanks for sharing about the park. I have never been to the Anderson Park, but will try and remember to stop for a visit.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on January 16, 2016:

Hi Besarien. Unfortunately I think it's for real. You would think common sense would prevail when it comes to alligators but apparently not. I suspect that people want to feed them from the Boardwalk, which is definitely not good for the gators.

Next time your in the area give it a visit. A Happy New Year to you also.

Besarien from South Florida on January 16, 2016:

Hi Bill! Have never been to Anderson Park, but am often in the area. I will definitely check it out. Your photos are wonderful!

Do we really need to advise people not to molest gators or is that a joke? I can't tell anymore. Happy New Year!

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on January 15, 2016:

Aww join the club Bill. More snow and cold this week and weekend. Snow melted over here. You're welcome and you too, my friend. Stay warm!

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on January 15, 2016:

Hi Kristen. It's one of our favorite parks to visit. Unfortunately I am now back in western Massachusetts and freezing just like everyone else, although it really has not been a bad winter so far. Very little snow to date but we have a ways to go. Thanks for stopping by, have a great weekend.

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on January 15, 2016:

Bill, great photos for this great travel lens. This sounds like a great place to visit and enjoy nature at the same time. Hope you're staying warm there in Florida.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on January 10, 2016:

Hi Flourish. Yes, I don't mind seeing them from a safe distance but certainly wouldn't want a close encounter with one. It amazes me how wildlife can flourish in these pockets of nature in an otherwise busy area. Thankfully there are a number of county and state parks for the wildlife. Thanks again, have a great day.

FlourishAnyway from USA on January 09, 2016:

Loved the alligator facts and photos. Just wouldn't want to get too close.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on January 02, 2016:

Hi Dianna. Every now and then I make it to South Florida and there are some great parks there also. I really enjoy looking at the wildlife and just being outside. Thanks for stopping by and a Happy New Yar to you.

Dianna Mendez on December 31, 2015:

We have yet to travel up that way for a visit. We live in South Florida and see many of the animals you show. They are fascinating to watch (not partial to the gators and snakes though). Thanks for the information on this interesting park.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on December 19, 2015:

Thank you Suhail. These parks are right up my alley also. Whenever we are in Florida we try to visit as many parks as possible to view the wildlife. We've been very fortunate over the years and have seen some amazing wildlife. Thanks for stopping by. Have a great weekend.

Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on December 19, 2015:

I love those Florida parks. Teeming with wildlife, they are a haven for nature and wildlife photographers like me.

I am sure many hubbers frequenting Florida parks will find me doing some serious photography between January and March.

Thanks for sharing a beautiful hub on a destination of my immense interest.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on December 19, 2015:

Hi Johan. There certainly are. Thanks for stopping by and a Merry Christmas to you there in South Africa.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on December 19, 2015:

Thank you Linda. Still amazes me the interesting places that are in the most unlikely of places. You could drive right by this park and unless you happen to notice the sign you would go right by. It's one of our favorite places to go and look for wildlife in the area. A wonderful Christmas to you and yours also.

Johan Smulders from East London, South Africa on December 19, 2015:

Some great places in Florida! Thanks for sharing this one.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 19, 2015:

How lovely to find this park hidden by a highway. It sounds like a great place to observe wildlife. Thank you for sharing the interesting photos of the animals, Bill. I hope you have an enjoyable Christmas.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on December 19, 2015:

Haha. Hey Bill. As long as the gators stay where they belong and I stay where I belong we'll all get along just fine. :) A very Merry Christmas to you and yours also.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 19, 2015:

The idea of relaxing in a park with alligators does not compute with me. :) Other than that, great park and wonderful article...as always. Merry Christmas to you and yours, Bill.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on December 19, 2015:

Thank you John. Very relaxing place to spend some time. We always make it a point to spend a few hours there when we are visiting down in Florida. Have a great weekend.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on December 19, 2015:

Excellent hub, Bill. The info about this park draw you in and you made Anderson Park a must see when in the area. Great work,.

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