Named after the English writer, John Ruskin, Ruskin was founded in 1908 on the banks of the Little Manatee River. It’s a laid-back town for exploring the sights of Tampa and is surrounded by national parks and marine reserves that support a diversity of native wildlife.
Things to do in Ruskin
Overlooking Tampa Bay is E.G. Simmons Regional Park, a waterfront wildlife sanctuary developed in the 1960s on a tract of native mangroves. It’s a popular setting for birdwatching, with grey kingbirds, great horned owls and loggerhead shrikes all spotted here. You can launch a vessel from the boat ramp to go saltwater fishing or cast a line from one of the park’s fishing piers.
To the north is the Manatee Viewing Center, a protected marine reserve where you can learn all about Florida manatees in their native habitat. Browse the interactive exhibits detailing the lifecycle of manatees and the challenges to their survival before stretching your legs along the boardwalk trail. Elevated views across the reserve are on offer from its 15-metre-high observation tower.
South-east of Ruskin is the Little Manatee River State Park, a 985-hectare aquatic preserve that protects sand pines, oak scrub and oxbow wetlands. In addition to being home to nine-banded armadillos, American alligators and river otters, it also provides habitat for Florida scrub-jays and warblers. You can explore along the 10-kilometre-long hiking trail, wildlife spot from horseback or rent a kayak to slowly paddle along the Little Manatee River.
Getting around Ruskin
Ruskin is around 40 minutes’ drive from Tampa and one hour from Tampa International Airport, which has flights to destinations across North America and Europe. Buses connect to Ruskin while renting a car is the most convenient way of exploring the region.