The Bill Sadowski Nature Preserve in Palmetto Bay is the only greenspace of its kind in the area. It has three distinct habitats within its compound: pineland; tropical hardwood hammock; and a drained everglades slough. It is roughly 30 acres in size and is open from sunup to sundown, although if you're driving there, the car gates are open only from 10:00AM - 5:00PM.
As you drive into the park you'll notice monkey bars and nice, soft sand for the little ones to the right. Keep driving into the parking area and you'll see the campfire ring with built-in benches. A lot of groups have held scary storytelling around the fire here.
In the main building there are live animal exhibits. Here you'll find mostly fish and turtles, all species that live in the surrounding canals. The park manager, Barbara, tells how years ago, when they took kids fishing on the canal, it wasn't unusual for them to catch 100 fish in an hour. Now they're lucky to catch 3. That makes the efforts taken on by this park, and others like it, that much more important.
There are after-school programs and summertime programs for kids of all ages, all focused on nature study and preservation. You can also schedule an Eco-Adventure tour. One of the tours has you paddle a canoe on the canal from Bill Sadowski Park all the way to Coral Reef Park and back. It's a moderate pace but will take about 4 hours. Instead of driving past a canal, you get an inside-out perspective!
The preserve has a canal as one of it's boundaries and you can rent canoes here. Feel more comfortable on foot? There's a nature trail that is only about 3 feet wide and travels in loops around the natural Florida flora. My mother's a chicken and didn't have the guts to walk it. She took a peek in at where it started and it reminded her too much of one of those labyrinth mazes. There is a short loop if you don't have time, or the inclination, to walk the full trail. The short loop takes about 5 minutes and the full trail about 20.
The butterfly garden on the premises is open air. Butterflies are not kept against their will here =) Instead, they are enticed to come for long visits by making sure their favorite plants are on hand and blooming.
Picnics are encouraged but please make sure you pick up after yourself. If you're lucky you'll see a parade of peacocks as I did on my visit. Peacocks actually make a lot of noise and, while beautiful to see, are not so nice to have as neighbors. They're messy and loud.
Every Saturday night, weather permitting, from 8:00 - 10:00PM, the Southern Cross Astronomical Society sets up telescopes on their own observatory pad at the park. It's free and fun. Check the weather and head on out!
- Bill Sadowski Park & Nature Preserve
- SW 176 Street & SW 79 Avenue, Palmetto Bay, FL
- Open Sunup - Sundown for walk-ins
- Car gates open 10AM - 5PM
- 305-255-4767 for park info
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