If you have been following our journey, you know that, through this covid crisis, John and I have been looking for safe and affordable Florida adventures, where we can practice social distancing while still having a great time week; we found a real gem.
Babcock Ranch Eco Tours is a 90-minute tour through a working cattle ranch, natural Florida scrub, and cypress swampland that is both entertaining and educational. The tour is value-priced at just $24 for ages 13 & up and $16 for ages 3-12, an unheard-of value for a tour of this length.
We knew it was going to be a great tour from the start because the bus had no sooner pulled away from the boarding area when two white-tailed deer made an appearance.
John and I were like two little excited kids when the scrub cattle surrounded the bus. If you are unfamiliar with the term scrub cattle, the easiest way of explaining the breed is that they are the oldest breed of cattle in the United States, and they are direct descendants of the cattle brought to Florida by the Spanish explorers.
No sooner than the tour guide stopped the bus to explain the scrub cattle to us, the wild hogs and Sandhill Cranes showed up to try to and steal the show.
Ten minutes into the tour, John and I both wished we had brought our five-year-old grandson with us because there is no doubt in my mind how much children will absolutely love the up-close animal encounters.
Not only did we see Scrub Cattle, Sandhill Cranes, and Wild Hogs, but Turkeys and Alligators too. Lots of them. Bobcats, fox squirrels, and coyotes among other Florida wildlife and birds are commonly seen on the tour, as they freely roam the property.
There are different eco-systems on the ranch property, all having their own unique beauty to them, but to me, there is nothing like literally driving through a Florida Cypress Swamp.
It was not only the animal encounters that made this experience so wonderful but the human encounters as well. From the time we checked in to the time we left, every employee that we interacted with was not just enthusiastic about the ranch but passionate about it. A quality that made the experience that much more enjoyable.
Our tour guide, Rhonda, was extremely knowledgeable about the working ranch as it is now and its long history dating back to the late 1800s, giving us a glimpse into the life of a cowboy then and now.
Throughout the tour, we were thoroughly entertained while learning about the plants, animals, and different ecosystems that we were viewing. Our tour guide displayed a vast amount of knowledge in the presentation of it. Her love of nature and for the animals of the ranch truly enhanced our experience.
Babcock Ranch and Eco Tours is a fine example of two things: Florida has so much more to offer than theme parks and beaches, and you don’t have to spend a bunch of money to have a great time. We found this experience to be a real bargain adventure.
Items of Note
- Picnic tables are provided if you want to pack a lunch for after your tour, which because we are on a budget, I did. However, after we got off the bus and John smelled the Barbecue cooking from the Gator Shack restaurant at the ranch, well, let’s just say he was not happy with my packed lunch.
- Once you turn onto the ranch from Fl-31, you will see the sod farm and the solar farm on the property, this is a working ranch/farm, and yes, you are in the right place; just keep driving to the very end, and you will find the tour parking and welcome center.
- Whatever you do, don’t forget your camera because trust me, you will have lots to photograph.
- There is a gift shop with reasonable prices. I mention this only because I’m not too fond of it when an attraction gouges its customers with high prices in their gift shop. (People with young children will understand why I am mentioning this.)
Babcock Ranch Eco Tours is located in Punta Gorda Florida which is about two and a half hours south of Tampa and about 35 minutes north of Fort Myers. Tours must be booked in advance at https://babcockranchecotours.com/
John and I love finding unique adventures, and in today’s times when money is tight, and safety is key, it is a real treat when we find one as enjoyable as this one was.
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