Looking for someplace a little different to take the kids this summer? Someplace where they can chase a butterfly or two hundred? How about a place you can take along a Florida bird guide and spend some family time seeing how many different birds you can spot. Maybe you are just looking for an interesting place for a family hike and or picnic. Or maybe you are just looking for a neat place to spend the day in the fresh air while still being able to social distance during the Covid 19 crisis. Whatever your reason for wanting to get out of the house, John and I found a unique and interesting park in Lake County Florida, that might just interest you.
Pear Park is on a tract of land that was once part of the University of Florida’s agricultural department. The land now is part of the Lake County Park’s system and has some unique features leftover from its previous use as well as some new features that are sure to please the nature lover within.
During our hike, we were surrounded by butterflies and if that wasn’t enough, a visit to the butterfly demonstration garden provided even more butterfly encounters. If you have children that are even remotely interested in butterflies, or if you yourself are an amateur Lepidopterist (a person who studies butterflies), I can think of no better place than Pear Park to practice some butterfly identification. Take along a butterfly guide book or use your phone to google your findings. Perhaps make a game of it, like John and I did. We learned a few things and had a great time doing it.
Pear Park also features a wildlife watchpost where one can sit and view out over the land and trees surrounding it. It is a fantastic spot to sit and wait patiently for wildlife to make an appearance.
The watchpost is elevated and a ramp provides easy access.
Surrounded by trees, wetlands and acres of Scrub Jay restoration area, the watchpost is a great and relaxing spot for bird watchers of all skill levels.
Pear Park is full of color in every direction with wildflowers growing everywhere but the park is also home to a 3 year research study being conducted by the University of Florida.
Another interesting project going on at Pear Park is the vineyard with an assortment of varieties of grapes growing.
Kiosk are scattered about giving a wealth of information about the plants, animals, reptiles, and insects that thrive in Florida and within the park.
Bordered by the Palatlakaha River on the North and West, the river trail provides a beautiful scenic and shaded hike, however, one should note that animal encounters are always possible.
The river trail is a bit narrow and may be somewhat challenging for families with smaller children and for you tall people, watch out for those low limbs. However, those two things aside, the River Trail is an absolutely gorgeous hike and I highly recommend it.
Animal encounters are Possible!! so always be mindful of your surroundings.
There are two entrances to Pear Park. One is at 5241 Legacy Blvd and that is where you will find picnic facilities, playgrounds, and restrooms. (Due to Covid the restrooms at this entrance are the only ones open at the time that this is being written.) There is also a dog park at this entrance. (dogs are not allowed on any of the trails)
Another unique feature at Pear Park is the Life Trail, where visitors can get in some exercise too. The Life Trail is near the picnic and playground area. If you are into pickleball, courts are also available.
Around the corner at 4800 University Boulevard is another entrance that is closest to the butterfly garden and wildflower research area. The restrooms at this entrance are not available due to Covid. The indoor nature center is also currently closed.
The walk from one entrance to the other is appox. a mile to a mile and 1/2 so if you need the restrooms often or if you have small children I would recommend stopping in at the restrooms first, then drive over to the University entrance to view the features over there. (If you plan to picnic you will have to drive back over to the entrance on legacy but it is better than hiking 2 miles or more when you have to use the restroom. Just saying, because I learned that the hard way on my visit.
Pear Park is in Leesburg Florida, about 1 hour and 25 minutes northeast of Tampa.
Go early if you can as there are several miles of trails in full sun, however, the River Trail provides plenty of shade and you may want to save that hike for later in the day when it is hotter. The picnic and playground area is also under the shade of gorgeous big oak trees.
Entrance and use of Pear Park is absolutely free so plan a picnic, grab a butterfly guide and a bird guide and enjoy a value day of family fun while learning a thing or two in the process. Life doesn’t get better than that.
And don’t forget to bring your camera!!
John and I are always looking for interesting and unique places to enjoy quality time together and with our family and Pear Park fits the bill for us.
We hope you enjoyed this post. John and I are continuing our journey during the Covid crisis by visiting outdoor Florida locations with the most potential of providing safe family outdoor fun. With the times as they are, outdoor activities are the safest and if you ask me, the most needed. Hopefully not only will you find our posts entertaining but informative. If you would like to learn more about great places to visit and things to do in Florida then please subscribe to our site so we can send future posts straight to your email inbox. To get in on the Florida conversation, interact with us, make new Florida loving friends and ask Florida questions, then please join our facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/THEVIEWFROMFLORIDA/groups/