This summer we’re going to do something completely different. We’re skipping the theme parks and we’re going native. We’re going to explore the natural wonders of Florida. Our first stop on the list is the Turkey Creek Sanctuary in Palm Bay. I took my kids to Turkey Creek when they were young and thought my grand kids would also enjoy it.
Turkey Creek is a 130 acre sanctuary located in Palm Bay, Florida. It offers a 1.85 mile boardwalk nature trail, jogging trails with exercise stations (1.5 miles), a nature center, and a place on the creek to enter by canoe. It also includes the salty hammock and pine ridge habitats.
It’s a fairly easy hike through the sanctuary. The board walk is easy to navigate and is mostly shaded. Most of my family joined us, so we skipped the jogging trails and stayed on the boardwalk. It’s an easy walk around the sanctuary. There are no inclines and the structure is solid enough for baby strollers (my two great nieces joined us on the walk). There are several places to stop and rest along the way. Overall, the sanctuary is fairly shady.
I did manage to take a few photos of the flowers. There’s a butterfly garden at the entrance to the sanctuary. I was secretly hoping to sneak a photo of a butterfly or two but my two grand kids kept spooking them. It was like trying to hit a moving target, so I gave up and focused on the wildflowers.
The sanctuary is filled with palmetto and scrub palms, plus many other varieties of trees, shrubs, and plants. Many of the palmetto had hidden bee hives nesting on its leaves.
The sanctuary is home to gar fish, turtles, manatee, alligators plus raccoon, skunks, snakes, osprey and owls. We didn’t see any manatees or alligators this visit, but there were too many turtles in the water and on land to count. We also saw many gar fish, too.
I’m not sure who would get close enough to a gator to feed it, but apparently it happens enough to call for its own sign!
There were bat and bird perches in the sanctuary. Yes, Florida, is home to about 14 different varieties of bats. I lived here for years before I ever saw the first bat. Now I see them all of the time.
We also have a large number of owls that live in the state, about nine different varieties, I think. You can find owls during the day just about in any area with trees.
We spent most of our time near the water in the hopes of seeing a few manatees and gators. I didn’t catch a glimpse of either, but we had a good time watching the turtles swim around in the creek.
The old trees are one of my favorite things about the sanctuary. I love the look of the huge cypress and old oak trees that are draped in Spanish moss. It makes you feel like you’re in old Florida, and it gives you a hint of what it was like here in the days before the theme parks and the tourists.
We did go down stream a bit in search of manatees, but we were too late. Next time we’ll come later in the day and look for them. We did stop by the Margaret Hames Nature Center, but it too was closed for the holiday.
It took us about 2 hours to visit the sanctuary and complete the boardwalk trail. Admission is free.
Learn more about the Turkey Creek Sanctuary and other environmentally endangered lands in Florida.
Margaret Hames Nature Center
1518 Port Malabar Blvd NE, Palm Bay, FL 32905