Oscar Scherer State Park

By Laurén Ettinger

Florida is full of beautiful wild spaces waiting to be explored. Tucked away amidst suburban sprawl, Oscar Scherer State Park is a woodland oasis in Sarasota, Florida. Whether you want to hike, bike, camp, or get on the water, Oscar Scherer State Park has it all!

Ways to Explore Oscar Scherer State Park near Venice and Sarasota, Florida. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com
Photo courtesy Florida State Parks

Oscar Scherer State Park History

Established in 1956, Oscar Scherer State Park was given to the state of Florida by Elsa Scherer Burrows in memory of her father. The land was originally a 460-acre ranch and was additionally expanded by 922-acres in 1991. The area protects important Florida scrub-jay habitat and creates outdoor recreational space in a rapidly developing part of the state. Oscar Scherer State Park’s land is one of the last pieces of acreage inhabited by scrub-jays and the only protected population of this fearless bird in southwest Florida. The Florida scrub-jay is a blue and white/gray sound bird with a long tail. About the size of a robin, scrub-jays like to hop along the ground and trees looking for acorns and insects to eat. The only habitat these birds live in is scrubby flatwoods and low-growing oak scrub found in the sandy soil of Florida.

Florida Scrub Jay. Photo credit Jennifer Huber
Photo courtesy Florida Rambler/credit Jennifer Huber
Boardwalk trail at Oscar Scherer State Park in Osprey near Venice and Sarasota, Florida. Photo courtesy Florida State Parks. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com
Photo courtesy Florida State Parks

Activities to do at Oscar Scherer State Park

There are so many wonderful outdoor activities to be explored at Oscar Scherer State Park! Naturally, avid birders will greatly enjoy visiting to see the Florida scrub-jay in its natural habitat. There are also over 200 species of birds that live and visit the park, including Bald Eagles. Weekly bird walks are offered by the Friends of Oscar Scherer State Park. Other wildlife that can be viewed in the park include American alligators, bobcats, gopher tortoises, and more. Make sure to stop by the visitor center to pick up an animal list from a park ranger.

Bikers can pedal through a total of 10 miles of trails including a large section of the Legacy Trail. To read more about biking or walking the Legacy Trail, check out my feature article here. Remember to bring a helmet for any bikers age 16 and under as Florida law requires it. If hiking is more your speed, there are more than 15 miles of trails for you to explore. Trail maps can be picked up upon entrance to the park.

For those looking to spend the day on the water, Oscar Scherer State Park is a great place for canoeing, kayaking, swimming, and fishing. Paddlers can rent canoes or kayaks for $15 per hour and paddle out onto South Creek (January 2020 prices). Guided canoe trips are offered every Wednesday and a night paddle is offered once a month. Along the creek, paddlers will see a variety of plant species and birds including heron and osprey. Fishers can check out Lake Osprey, a three-acre freshwater lake the provides ample opportunity to catch bream, bluegill, bass, and more. Saltwater anglers can head to the creek or the fishing dock off Lester Finley Trail.

Kayakers at Oscar Scherer State Park in Osprey near Venice and Sarasota, Florida. Photo courtesy Florida State Parks. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com
Photo courtesy Florida State Parks

With so many awesome activities to choose from, visitors may want to consider staying at one of the 104 RV or tent campsites. All sites can be reserved in advance online. 

Oscar Scherer State Park Activities & Wildlife. Ways to Experience This Park Near Sarasota & Venice, Florida. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com
Photo courtesy Florida State Parks

Written by: Laurén Ettinger | Author Website

Laurén Ettinger runs the travel and vanlife blog Flit Float Fly Away where she shares travel tips and stories from life on the road with her dog. She is the Assistant Editor at Siesta Publications for Must Do Visitor Guides where she manages social media, writes blog articles, and assists in editing print and online copy. Laurén also works as a freelance copy editor and proofreader. She holds a M.S. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University's School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution and a B.A. in Anthropology and a B.A. in Global Studies from Appalachian State University. Follow her adventures on instagram or her blog www.flitfloatflyaway.com

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